The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) had released a draft of guidelines back in February and we heard a lot of chattering around the same for straight two months. From influencers like Dolly Singh, Vishnu Kaushal, Sherry Shroff, Raghav Meatlle, Aanam C, and more to Brands like Pepsi Co, Nestle, Tata, P&G, Star, etc. everyone put forward their opinions. 

Subhash Kamath, Chairman, ASCI, said: “We received an overwhelming positive engagement and feedback from influencers and others for the draft guidelines, as well as suggestions to finetune and clarify some points. After extensive discussions, we are now launching the final guidelines that balance the interests of consumers, influencers, agencies, advertisers, and all other stakeholders. I urge everyone to follow the ASCI Code and the guidelines and be part of this change promising transparency and responsibility.”

ASCI after considering all these opinions made a final guideline for all the social media consumers, influencers and advertisers. This guideline was extremely necessary at this point in the Influencer Marketing industry because it has become difficult to distinguish between an advertisement and content in general. It is almost unethical if the consumer doesn’t know what he is consuming and hence is influenced in the wrong manner, unintentionally. 

Along with the guidelines, ASCI is also approaching to educate people about influencer marketing and what is the ethical way to carry it forward. To achieve this, they will be having one social media platform where they will be addressing dos and don’ts, FAQs, and other queries that can be beneficial to the influencers taking brand deals. 

Now that we have enough context about the Guidelines, let’s have a look at them. 


As digital media becomes increasingly pervasive and more consumers start to consume advertising on various digital platforms, it has become important to understand the peculiarities of these advertisements and the way consumers view them. With lines between content and advertisements becoming blurry, it is critical that consumers must be able to distinguish when something is being promoted with an intention to influence their opinion or behavior for an immediate or eventual commercial gain. Consumers may view such messages without realizing the commercial intent of these, and that becomes inherently misleading, and in violation of clauses 1.4 (misleading by omission) and 1.5 (abuse trust of consumers or exploit their lack of experience or knowledge). 


Disclosure of Advertisement is the most essential part of the guidelines. Anyways, there can be several loopholes to this and all of them have been answered ahead. 

  1. Disclosing that the content created is for the brand and is an advertisement is of utmost importance. 
  2. This point is also valid when there is no monetary involvement, that is, if the advertisement is barter, PR gift, discounted prices, trips, and other such special perks influencers get. It is important to disclose the same with your audience. 

In simple terms, if you have received a gift from the brand, you need to put #gift or #advertisement in the deliverable. 

  1. Disclosure is also important even when your opinions on the products are unbiased and you genuinely believe in that too. 
  2. If you have paid the whole amount and loved the product/service and genuinely want to recommend it to your followers (that is, no involvement of the brand is involved), you don’t have to put any disclosure simply because there is none. 

Apart from that, anything that you doubt about – just disclose. It’s better to be safe than controversial. Here is a tagline for you – “When in Doubt, Call it Out”. 

With this, it is also important to note that the disclosure must be clear. 

  1. The disclosure done on the content should be direct and not hard to miss. 
  2. They shouldn’t be on the About Me, Profile, or Bio. They should be on the content where the consumers are going to look at. 
  3. Disclosures should not be disturbed with other hashtags or in any way “hidden” 
  4. Using the platform’s disclosure tool should be considered an addition to the influencer’s disclosure. For example, Instagram’s paid partnership tag. 


  1. If the video is for 15 seconds or less, the disclosure should stay on the screen at least for 3 seconds. 
  2. For videos more than 15 seconds and less than 2 minutes, the disclosure should be for 1/3rd of the length of the video. 
  3. For videos of more than 2 minutes, the disclosure should stay on the screen for the entire duration. 


  1. The disclosure should be announced at the beginning and the end of the live stream if there is any advertisement involved. Apart from that, if the live stream is to stay on the feed/channel of the influencer, appropriate text regarding the same should be added in the caption. 
  2. If there are any audio media, disclosure should be announced at the beginning and end of the episode as well as every break that is taken in between. 
  3. The disclosure should be understood by an average consumer. 
  4. The language of the disclosure can be in English or any other regional language in which the advertisement is made for a better understanding of the audience. 
  5. A virtual influencer has to add that he is not interacting with a real human being. The disclosure must be direct and upfront. 
  6. Responsibility for the disclosure lies with the Advertiser and the influencer. To understand better, when the advertiser is in material connection with the influencer, its responsibility is that the influencer advertisement is under the guidelines issued. While the responsibility of the influencer is to make the disclosure. The advertiser has a right to ask the influencer to take down the post if it adheres to the guidelines issued by ASCI. 
  7. Due Diligence: The influencers are advised to review and satisfy themselves that the advertiser is in a position to substantiate the claims made in the advertisement.

Now let’s have a look at the disclosure labels that are permitted to use as per the situation. 

  1. Advertisement
  2. Ad
  3. Sponsored
  4. Collaboration
  5. Partnership
  6. Employee
  7. Free Gift

If you are wondering who is going to monitor these and take care that the guidelines are followed, here is your answer. ASCI has a French Technology Provider, Reach. 

Manisha Kapoor, Secretary-General of ASCI said, “The Reech Influence Cloud platform uses Artificial Intelligence to identify lack of disclosure on posts of a commercial nature on social media. Machine learning algorithms and pattern searching Regex maximize accuracy. As part of ASCI’s increasing focus on digital content, we will continue to deploy advanced technology solutions to keep track of advertisements that violate the ASCI code.”

It is also important to note that these guidelines will apply to all the influencers from June 14th, 2021. 

So in our opinion, these guidelines issued are extremely important to regulate Influencer Marketing that doesn’t have many laws. These guidelines will help the consumers to know what they are consuming and the transparency in the content will create social media a better and safer place for the brand, influencers, and consumers. 

Lastly, let’s all follow the guidelines and commit to the ethical advertisement. The way to go ahead is to go ethically. 

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