Tuning into this very healthy ‘ASCI Influencer Marketing Guidelines’ panel discussion reaffirmed our faith in responsible advertising and content creation.

In a recent round table with Social Ketchup and Social Samosa, Manisha Kapoor, ASCI Secretary-General, Dr. Falguni Vasavada, Creator and Professor & Chair, Strategic Marketing Area at MICA, Rajni Daswani, Director at SoCheers, Aarushi Sethi, Business Head at Pollen, and content creators like Saloni Gaur, Vedika Mehta, and Taneesha Mirwani discussed the what, why and how of the ASCI Influencer Marketing Guidelines. Even though each of them had a different point of view, all of them brought a new perspective to the table.

After ASCI announced its Influencer Marketing Guidelines last week, content creators, brands, and consumers were left with a lot of questions that were addressed in yesterday’s panel discussion. As consumers, these guidelines only help build the trust that we have in content creators and that’s one thing every panelist seemed to agree on. Saloni Gaur said, ” Brands straightaway say don’t put labels like paid promotion on your content, because people don’t want to watch ads. But from a consumer point of view, it makes sense.” While brands might react in this manner since labels like these automatically bring viewership down by a huge number, a huge takeaway from the discussion also was that these guidelines make sure that content remains the king. This is what Rajni Daswani had to say, “One challenge we’ve had is brands don’t want to put labels anywhere. They see influencer marketing as an organic way of getting traffic. We’ll see brands trying to work around this by saying, try to keep it as organic as possible. The good thing for creators is they won’t be forced now to do things they don’t want to do that brands usually want to do. Creators will have a lot more say in content now. Only content will speak volumes.”

“These guidelines might help brands understand that people are interested in seeing branded content because of the content we’d put. This could be positive also if we explain it right to our clients.” is what Aarushi Sethi had to say. Dr. Falguni Vasavada gave us a similar perspective on this. Here’s what she said, “Brands will have to do a lot of hard work with understanding this. Content creators need to have faith in their abilities. You have to smartly tap into your equation with your followers. This decision might make you pause and think about whether you even want to associate with a brand. Do you and your followers relate to this? You’re now a part of something mainstream. These rules will lead to newer monetization opportunities. Brands will find a way on how to tell a story in a better way and include content creators in strategy and planning. There will be a newer way of engaging and consistency and clarity of your content needs to be the hero. That shouldn’t change!” While most of the panelists were of this opinion, Taneesha Mirwani said, “Brands will now interfere even further with content strategy since we’re directly representing them now. I don’t think this will help us get more creative freedom.” How brands will react is going to be an ongoing debate until the guidelines are put in place from June 14, 2021. Vedika Mehta said, “Now we have more of a right to say no to a script because it doesn’t work for us and our audience. Earlier it got difficult to do this.”

Most of the panelists agreed that this industry needs a code of conduct and boundaries. And while these guidelines haven’t been well received necessarily, ASCI has been very inclusive by asking for suggestions from laymen and creators. In fact, the only penalty ASCI will be putting in place is asking content creators to reshoot the content if they are in breach of these guidelines. And given how much time, effort, and planning goes into creating content, this feels like penalty enough. Adding to this, Manisha Kapoor said, “Not following these guidelines will only lead to your reputation being questioned! Brands will see you as someone who doesn’t follow this. You’ll also only get brands who work like that! This is about self-regulation! Being responsible, transparent.”

Neel Gogia, Co-Founder of IPLIX Media, said, ”The ASCI guidelines are a welcome step forward in introducing transparency and authenticity across the ecosystem. However, every new initiative will face questions on its practicality. That debate is necessary to create a sustainable solution. Hence, in my opinion, the current recommendations might not be applicable to every influencer or every tool of influencer marketing. The lines are a little blurred.”

Read more about ASCI’s guidelines here.

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A 29-year-old storyteller, Shachi first fell in love with letters & words while scribbling on the back of question papers in school. Today, she creates content by drawing letters, talking about the little things in life. You will most probably find her at a coffee shop, sipping on iced coffee while brainstorming on the next thing to write about.