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Does your brand work with influencers? Use this guide from Klarna to keep on the right side of advertising standards.

Lauretta Roberts
21 June 2021

Consumption of digital media skyrocketed during the pandemic as locked-down consumers turned to their smart-phones for inspiration, entertainment and, of course, shopping. According to data from DoubleVerify daily online content consumption around the world has soared since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, doubling on average from 3 hours 17 minutes to 6 hours 59 minutes.

As a result, digital influencers (and the brands that collaborate with them) have gained greater power, but with that power comes greater responsibility and greater scrutiny.

This is particularly important when you consider that according to recent study by Censuswide on behalf of Klarna, little more than a quarter of UK consumers (27%) understand the use of advertising hashtags, so for the most part people are unclear as to whether they are consuming ads or independent editorial and have little understanding of the commercial relationship with brands and influencers.

While #ad seems like the most simple-to-understand flag to those familiar with social media marketing, nearly half of all consumers did not realise this meant the influencer had been paid to create the content.


of Brits did not know that #ad meant an influencer has been paid by a company to promote a product or service.

Source: Censuswide survey on behalf of Klarna

This lack of understanding – and in some a lack of transparency – can lead to a distrust of content viewed on social media which is amplified by high profile cases of brands and influencers being rapped by the ASA for falling foul of its guidelines, which can be open to interpretation.

In the world of financial services, it is crucial that this issue is addressed to ensure consumers are fully informed of the nature of the content they are viewing. As such, leading payments provider Klarna has grasped the problem, with its trademark energy, and has established a task force to establish best practice in this space, which it will not only adopt across its own channels but is also making available for all brands to benefit from.

Klarna spearheaded the formation of The Influencer Council and has created an accompanying white paper containing recommendations and best practice to provide greater clarity around advertising guidelines. Experts on the council are:

  • Christian Howes, Data & Analytics lead and broadcaster (Chairman)
  • Nicki Capstick, Marketing Director, PrettyLittleThing
  • Clare Seal, Creator of My Frugal Year, founder of The Financial Wellbeing Forum and author.
  • Rupa Shah, Founder & Director of Hashtag Ad Consulting
  • Joel Gladwin, Head of Policy at Coadec
  • Kia Commodore, founder of financial literacy platform, Pennies To Pounds
  • Amelia Liana, Youtuber and Blogger
  • Owen O’Kane, Psychotherapist, author and former clinical lead for an NHS mental health service
  • Lian Hirst, Founder of PR & Digital agency TRACE Publicity
  • AJ Coyne, Head of Marketing, Klarna

Over the course of several months, this group came together to discuss the issue of how to ensure greater understanding among consumers regarding owned and paid-for content. It has also created a toolkit which includes branded stickers, Instagram story templates and badges to clearly illustrate the nature of the post, whether it’s an advert, part of an affiliate agreement or gifted. This will be adopted by brands, influencers, consumers and agencies working with Klarna.

Explaining the move head of marketing AJ Coyne said: “By launching the Influencer Council, we set out to learn more about how brands, influencers and consumers interact with posts on social media and to create more clarity amongst online advertising guidelines.

“Each session has sparked fascinating discussions on responsibility, terminology and transparency and I believe that we’ve created guidance that is clear, easy to adopt and, most importantly, drives change for the better. These guidelines go further than any have done previously and set a precedent for brands across all industries to follow suit.

“We would like to thank all our Council members for their involvement and hope that our  Whitepaper will encourage brands and influencers alike to work together to create a transparent community.”

Influencer Council Chair, Christian Howes, added: “It’s been an honour to chair the Influencer Council and I am proud to have helped deliver a set of guidelines which will deliver greater understanding amongst consumers and influencers.

“The industry is constantly evolving and so we will continue our meetings bi-annually to ensure that our guidelines keep up with the latest trends and are applicable across all platforms.”

The white paper covers easy to digest advice in areas such as Geographic Challenges, Age Range, Transparency in T&Cs, Brand Promotion vs Financial Service Promotion, Brand Collaborations, and Mental Health among others.


Source: The Klarna Influencer Council white paper

It advises brands on all matters from how to assess appropriate influencer partners, the use of language, tone of messaging (see above), the use of accompanying music and best practice across different social media platforms from Instagram to Youtube, TikTok, Clubhouse and Twitch.

It’s all too easy for brands to, unthinkingly, put pressure on consumers to buy and over-spend with something as simple as an ill-considered hashtag, an inappropriate piece of music or image, at a time when the world is recovering from the greatest global trauma of our lifetime. Klarna and The Influencer Council are determined to create best practice that will help brands produce entertaining, effective and creative content in a responsible way.

Of course, this is fast moving world and The Influencer Council has vowed to meet twice a year to keep on top of the major changes. Indeed, it may meet more frequently should a seismic event happen in the market that requires immediate attention, and its guidance will be updated accordingly.

To learn more about The Influencer Council and ensure your campaigns adhere to best practice to deliver the best results for you and your followers, visit The Influencer Council’s dedicated web page here and download the free white paper.


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