The ACCC says influencers must disclose when they post sponsored content – but admits it has never penalised anyone for breaking the rules

  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says influencers must clearly mark posts if they are advertising or sponsored content
  • No Australian influencer has ever been sanctioned or faced a penalty from the ACCC for not marking their posts as sponsored.
  • As the influencer industry has become more professional, industry groups have increasingly encouraged advertising disclosure.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Australia’s consumer watchdog has reminded influencers and online content creators that they must clearly disclose to their audience if content they’ve posted is sponsored, or face possible penalty.

But, despite this warning, no Australian influencer has ever been penalised for failing to mark a post as paid for by an advertiser.

A spokesperson for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said influencers have the same obligations under consumer law as any other form of advertising or marketing.

“Under the Australian Consumer Law businesses should not engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive,” the spokesperson said.

Misleading or deceptive conduct includes when an individual or business affects a consumer’s decision to purchase something based on false or misleading information, or by leaving out key information.

For influencers, this could include a post that creates the impression that they use a product that they don’t or failing to disclose that they’ve been paid or received a good for posting content.

The penalty for misleading and deceptive conduct is up to $500,000 for each post for an individual, or up to $10 million for a company.

An ACCC spokesperson confirmed that no individuals or businesses associated with influencer marketing had ever been handed a penalty by the watchdog.

For years, Australia’s influencer industry has attempted to professionalise by standardising disclosure of commercial agreements between influencers and brands.

In 2017, the Australian Association of National Advertisers released a set of rules for advertisers about influencer marketing that required influencers to disclosed sponsored content.

And in July, the Australian Influencer Marketing Council published its first ever code of practice for influencers which outlines best practice for creators, including how to disclose advertising on different types of content.

But both guides rely on voluntary compliance from advertisers and creators, and there’s no recourse against those who break the rules.

So, for now, regulation of Australian influencer marketing market remains unenforced – but the ACCC says they’re keeping close watch.