Italian House About To Issue Rules For 'Influencers'

  1. The legal framework in Italy does not provide for regulations specifically meant to govern marketing performed in an online environment. With every year bigger slices of ad budgets shifting to social media, lawmakers start to wonder whether the traditional principles and their implementing criteria, are still suitable to regulate all the new means and techniques used for diffusing commercial communication on online platforms.

  2. Just as in many other countries, local experts recently started debating how one of the basic requirements, calling for all commercial communication to result transparent and immediately recognizable as such, could be efficiently implemented with respect to the peculiarities characterizing social media marketing. Just transferring the traditional requirements to social media, clearly did not appear as a viable solution, as there frequently was simply not enough space available on such media for inserting proper alerts, high lightening the advertising purpose of a message or a post.

  3. In addition, the 'influencers' started to appear - or, better, to crowd - social networks, gathering huge numbers of followers and collecting increasing compensations from advertisers, interested in taking advantage of the hype these 'online VIPs' are capable to give to their products or services.

    In absence of any specific regulation of influencers' promotional activities, things were getting out of hand and worries appeared on the horizon about an 'anything goes' scenario. A provision, contained in the Italian Consumer Code and considering as an unfair and illicit commercial practice the use of editorial content in commercial communication without proper information to the consumer about economic contributions, did not appear sufficient to prevent abuses in influencer marketing.

  4. Therefore, the Italian Advertising Self-Regulation Organization (IAP) was the first to move and to address the problem through the recently released 'Digital Chart', a document meant both, to individuate the most common forms of commercial communication in use on the Internet as well as to assess how the problem of transparency and reconcilability of promotional messages is currently been dealt with in the digital context. The background idea behind the initiative is to provide - in a successive step - the Advertising Industry with guidelines and best practices to rely on, when allocating their commercial communication in this specific play...

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