Shai Masot: Hidden Advertising Is Going to Be Outlawed in Israel, Diplomacy Is Not Going to Help

 (photo credit: SHAI MASOT)
(photo credit: SHAI MASOT)

The Israeli attorney general recently weighed in on hidden advertising on Instagram, indicating that he is against it and that all advertising on the platform should be clearly labeled. 

What the Attorney General Said

Israeli attorney general Avichai Mandelblit called for any sponsored content on Instagram to be clearly labeled. He called for advertisers to demand influencers make it immediately clear that the content is a paid endorsement. He specified that this should be on the post itself, not on a separate link. He also clarified that it should be in Hebrew when the post targets Israelis. 

According to Mandelblit, when this information is not clear, there is a risk of consumers not realizing it is an ad. This would be a misleading advertisement. 

The Timing

Mandelblit made his opinion on social media advertising clear because of a pair of class-action lawsuits, both of which are in the Jerusalem District Court. The first looks at the ban on misleading advertisements that specifies it must be clear something is an advertisement. It looks at whether this applies to Instagram. The other looks at whether tagging the advertiser would be enough to make it clear that a post is an ad. 

According to Mandelblit, the law should apply to all platforms, including Instagram. He also said a simple hashtag or tag is not sufficient notice. Instead, he called for a notice at the beginning of the post indicating it is sponsored. 

Mandelblit and those who agree with him argue that this type of misleading advertisement on social media is even more important to consider than other forms. That is because many children are on social media platforms and have a higher chance of being misled. 

A Quick Refresher on Influencer Marketing

To help put this announcement in perspective, take a moment to refresh your memory on influencer marketing. 

What Is Influencer Marketing? 

Influencer marketing refers to when a company pays a celebrity or influencer or provides them with free products in exchange for promoting their product. Influencers are people with large followings on social media. 

How Does Influencer Marketing Work? 

With influencer marketing, a company sends a free product (and/or money) to an influencer. In exchange, the influencer creates a post praising the product and shares it on social media. It may or may not be labeled as an advertisement. 

The influencers’ followers see the product and become interested because the influencer is promoting it. This generates sales. 

The Likely Impact

If other countries follow the trend set by the Israeli attorney general, this could have far-reaching consequences for influencer marketing around the world. 

At first glance, this ban on hidden social media advertising seems to be a negative for companies who advertise on social media as well as the platforms themselves. However, it should provide benefits in the long run. The primary benefit will come in the form of transparency. 

By outlawing hidden advertising, consumers will have a higher level of trust in the platforms. It may also lead to platforms charging money for those who create influencer marketing accounts. This can help with overall transparency. In addition to the trust in the platforms, the lack of hidden advertising will increase trust in brands and influencers. After all, viewers will know that content posted by those influencers is not an advertisement pretending to be a normal post. 

Transparency May Hurt Some

While the transparency will help most social media platforms, influencers, and companies in the long term, there might be some exceptions. For example, newer influencers may have issues building up their brand and credibility or expanding their reach to get more deals without using hidden advertisements. 

About Shai Masot 

Shai Masot provides digital solutions to assist companies with their marketing operations. He has an M.A. in political and digital marketing and is a former senior political officer at the Israeli Embassy in London & VP Marketing Solutions at Imprint.