Mohamed Mansouri: Leading content creators towards more responsible influence

A real desire for transparency is felt by the public of influencers. Where does this growing need come from?

Influenza is a rapidly growing sector: if in 2019 it represented 9 billion dollars, in 2022 it rose to 15 billion. For 2023 forecasts exceed 20 billion dollars. Its weight has more than doubled in 4 years and, like any young sector, influence must be framed by rules. Among the 150,000 content creators in France, many of them are not always aware that they have obligations. However, well before the vote on the law last June, everyone was already subject to the same legal framework as advertising. As the industry continues to grow, communities require more and more transparency, so it was necessary to go further. The trend is quite encouraging, as this awareness seems to be spreading: according to our Responsible Influence Observatory, in 2021, 27% of commercial content was not identified as such. In 2022 this percentage rose to 17% and in 2023 transparency continues to grow. improve.

What will the law change in the daily life of content creators? What impact will it have on consulting agencies and PR brands?

The law adopted on June 9 defines the practice of commercial influence as that exercised by any person who mobilizes his reputation to communicate content for consideration (remuneration, gift, invitation) in order to promote a good or service. The text first requires that content creators show a statement specifying the commercial nature of their publication. It offers two mentions: “Advertising” or “Commercial collaboration”. They must appear for the duration of the promotion. The use of filters or artificial intelligence must also be specified. The law then imposes the obligation of a written contract between the influencer and the brand, as soon as the fee exceeds a certain threshold, in order to formalize their collaboration. The way to protect both parties by defining the obligations of each. Finally, the text recalls that some sectors are subject to a strictly regulated framework for advertising (alcoholic beverages, cryptocurrencies, etc.), or that they simply do not have the right to do so (non-pets, tobacco, sports predictions, aesthetic medicine, certain financial products, etc.). The agency, the brand, the agent and the influencer are jointly liable for the damages caused to third parties in the execution of the commercial influence contract which binds them. Therefore, everyone has a duty to be vigilant.

How can deviations between all existing publications be identified?

Thanks to advances in technology and artificial intelligence, we can develop algorithms to enhance content that uses a commercial lexical field (“I’ve been invited”, “Thanks to [nom de la marque]», highlighting a brand, etc.). Today, thanks to this method, we can analyze almost 45,000 contents a year. It is also possible to use specific lists of influencers if we want to target our search. After this first automatic sorting, the ARPP lawyers, specialized in communication law, analyze these contents. In the event of non-compliance with ethical standards, there are various methods of action: for example referral to an advertising ethics jury (the JDP, made up of members of civil society). On a regulatory level, the law provides for sanctions that can go as far as a ban on exercising commercial influence, up to a fine of 300,000 euros and two years’ imprisonment.

How can content creators be more aware of responsible influence?

Those who break the law are often those who ignore the ethical and regulatory framework. There is therefore a real pedagogical challenge to sensitize these targets. This is why the ARPP has launched the Responsible Influence Certificate: a training course to address the best practices of the sector through concrete cases. Intended for all influencer profiles, it takes place over half a day and ends with passing an exam. Those who obtain it undertake to respect the rules they have been taught: otherwise the ARPP sends them a message to warn them. If they repeat, they could have their certificate revoked. Today 820 influencers have it and some brands have even made it mandatory. For them it is a real question of brand safety since they aspire to work with profiles attentive to ethical issues: fight against sexist stereotypes, greenwashing, etc. There is no sustainable market without trust and influencers are increasingly understanding this. At the same time, the ARPP continuously carries out awareness-raising actions: masterclasses and training courses aimed at all those involved in influence and advertising communication, but also educational campaigns on platforms such as Instagram or TikTok. What we did with Meta and the influencer Cassandra Cano was particularly successful, with 31 million views!

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