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Asci puts more onus on financial, health influencers in new ad guidelines

Asci said it is necessary that influencers in these two categories are qualified to provide advice and that these qualifications are stated upfront whenever they put out advertising posts

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Raghav Aggarwal New Delhi

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In an update to its guidelines for influencer advertising, the Advertising Standards Council of India (Asci) on Wednesday placed more responsibility on financial and health influencers.

For financial influencers, also called finfluencers, Asci said that when the advice is related to stocks or investments, they should be registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), and their Sebi registration number should be stated with their name and qualifications.

"For other financial advice, the influencer must have suitable qualifications such as an Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI) insurance license, chartered accountant (CA), company secretary (CS) etc. In addition, they must abide by all disclosure requirements as mandated by financial sector regulators from time to time," the new guidelines read.

For health influencers, Asci said that the influencer must have relevant qualifications such as a medical degree or be a certified nurse, nutritionist, dietician, physiotherapist, psychologist etc, depending on the specific advice being given.

"Inaccurate and deceptive advertising content in categories such as banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), and health and nutrition products and services, could significantly impact consumer well-being and financial security," it said.

Also Read: 'Conduct due diligence': Asci releases new guidelines for celebrities

The council also added new disclosure norms for such qualifications.

The details should be "superimposed on the visuals prominently and upfront, or mentioned as the opening remark in videos".

Moreover, for blogs or any text-based posts, the disclosures should be stated upfront "before the consumer has to read the post", the guidelines said.

"In the case of podcasts or a pure audio medium, they should be called out at the beginning of the advertising content," they added.

Influencers must also be able to provide proof of such qualifications and certifications if asked by Asci.

The guidelines for influencers were introduced initially in May 2021. They are aimed to help consumers identify promotional content and make informed decisions on products or services.

The guidelines, Asci said, have been amended "in keeping with the rapidly evolving nature and extensive impact of digital platforms."

Also Read: Crucial for ad makers to take permission to use work as AI input: Asci

"A 'one size fits all' approach can be dangerous in these areas and consumers should only follow the advice of qualified experts when engaging with brands or products in these categories. Unlike celebrities whom consumers clearly know the fields they belong to, they may not necessarily know which influencers have the necessary qualification and expertise to provide the right advice and also inform them of any associated risks," said Manisha Kapoor, chief executive officer (CEO) and secretary general at Asci.

"To safeguard consumers from the consequences of advice from non-experts, these additional requirements should now be followed by health and financial influencers." 

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First Published: Aug 17 2023 | 12:36 PM IST

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