The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory body in the advertising industry, recently released “The Annual Complaints Report FY 21-’22”, which provides information on the complaints it reviewed and the ads it dealt with. The top six breach categories showed the rise of industries like gaming and cryptocurrency. Others included education, healthcare, personal care and food and drink.
The importance of the digital ecosystem was reflected in the fact that 48% of the ads handled by ASCI were published digitally. 29% of complaints filed were about influencers.
The regulator reviewed 394 virtual digital asset (VDA) listings, with 98% of the listings displayed on digital platforms. He noted that most of these ads were cases of influencer disclosure, where influencers talked about browsing VDA platforms or shared information about the platform’s category and usability.
“Of some of the ads that made misleading claims, claims about leadership and consumer confidence were the most common. Guaranteed earnings and performance comparisons with other forms of investment such as gold and equity investment followed. Other commonly found claims revolved around promoting the category through an endorsement program. claims as refer-a-friend and earn,” the report claims.
Mastering the Fininfluencing community
For some time now, there has been a growing clamor to control the widespread influence of social media influencers. These people have thousands of followers and often promote financial products without due diligence or warning. First-time investors, influenced by their legend and gourmet content, invest in tax products despite their poor knowledge.
An example is the recent merger of Vauld, a Singapore-based crypto exchange. A few weeks ago, motivational speaker and influencer Ankur Warikoo marketed it to his 2 million YouTube subscribers. He was not alone; other fine influencers like Akshat Srivastava, who has 1.12 million YouTube subscribers, and Booming Bulls, with 1.09 million subscribers too, promoted the loan startup.
But on June 21, Vauld founder Darshan Bathija announced that the company was laying off 30% of its workforce. A few days later, he wrote a blog post that the company suspended all operations – withdrawals, trades and deposits on their platform. He explained that this decision was made due to a combination of circumstances such as unstable market conditions, financial difficulties of major trading partners that inevitably affect Vauld and the current market climate.
As investors began to panic, news leaked that Warikoo was allegedly paid Rs 4.47 lakh for his Vauld promotional video. When he was criticized on social media for marketing the lending platform, Warikoo claimed that his own investments worth Rs 30 lakh were locked in the startup.
It’s not all a game
In the games category, ASCI saw a 472% increase to 383 reviewed ads. Of this, 99% of reported ads appeared on the digital platform, with TV and print accounting for just 1% each.
Statista reports that Indians spend an average of 2 hours and 36 minutes a day on social media platforms. Gaming is a big part of India’s digital landscape and this sector is hugely popular with young audiences who spend hours on their digital screens.
Given the high engagement rate of this medium, gamers have a significant influence, especially with their young subscribers. Brands leverage their digital presence to promote products and services, overtly or covertly.
Recently, WinZO, an interactive entertainment platform, engaged Ajey Nagar aka “CarryMinati” as its brand ambassador. As part of the collaboration, the content creator will generate gaming-centric WinZO content exclusively on its YouTube streaming channel “Carryislive,” which has 11.2 million subscribers, and a solo integration on its primary YouTube channel “CarryMinati,” which has 36.1 million subscribers. .
To bring some transparency to the ecosystem, last June ASCI introduced influencer guidelines that require influencers to label the promotional content they post. To monitor potential violations of these guidelines, the organization worked with a French technology provider, Reech.
Manisha Kapoor, Secretary General, ASCI, said: “The Reech Influence Cloud platform uses artificial intelligence to identify the lack of publication of commercial posts on social media. Machine learning algorithms and Regex (Regular Expression) pattern search maximize accuracy. of ASCI’s growing interest in digital content, we will continue to deploy advanced technology solutions to track ads that violate the ASCI code.”
As advertising increasingly moves to digital platforms, it becomes increasingly difficult to monitor ads for misleading content. It’s also because the explosion of digital screens means people are consuming more ads on their personal devices, making it difficult for regulators to understand their scope and impact.
“The volume of creative ad units has exploded, and it is estimated that the average person is exposed to 6,000 to 10,000 ads per day,” ASCI noted. In this ever-changing space, the regulator will remain standing and propose new ways to keep consumers safe without infringing on the creativity of content creators.