The objective of the Advertising Code of Practice Social Media Guidelines is to protect consumers by encouraging brands to exercise ethical constraints on paid social media campaigns.

The guidelines were first introduced to the digital industry in October 2018, followed by a defined consultation period and a date for formal adoption thereafter.

Matthew Arnold, chief engagement officer at VML and the IAB South Africa Agency Council, says, “This important addition to the Advertising Code of Practice has been written for the industry, by the industry. It was an important part of our process to invite and acknowledge key stakeholder perspectives in finalising the document.”

The Advertising Code of Practice Social Media Guidelines was spearheaded by IAB South Africa; Gail Schimmel, CEO of the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB); and Terry Murphy of The Marketing Mix. They have been supported by a relevant collective of industry bodies and stakeholders, including brands, agencies and publishers.

Schimmel adds, “As the ARB, we champion the rights of the consumer through the promotion of responsible advertising. Social media is a fast-evolving space, which has resulted in some uncharted legal territory. We are confident that through defining social media best practice, in partnership with the digital and marketing industry, we will encourage ethical and appropriate social media campaigns.”

The Advertising Code of Practice Social Media Guidelines provides best practice on identifying and declaring paid social media and influencer campaigns on all channels, including goods exchanges. It also defines misleading content in the form of deceptive claims, offers or business practices (by commission or omission). The detailed document will enable businesses to leverage social media ethically and influencers to engage with their audiences honestly.

“Businesses that adhere to ethical social media guidelines are more likely to earn the trust of consumers and thrive in a digital economy,” adds Paula Hulley, CEO of the IAB South Africa.

“We thank all the participants within the media and marketing industry, for their insights and collaboration to finalise this addition to the code,” concludes Hulley.

The guidelines will be released in April. Schimmel will present at the Digital-In-Law SA Briefing taking place in Johannesburg on Wednesday, 29 May, with a focus on the new social media section of the Advertising Code of Practice

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