Joint Nordic position on covert marketing in digital media

The Nordic Consumer Ombudsmen agree on a joint position on covert marketing in digital media. The position concerns advertising in social media as well as paid-for content in journalistic media.

GATHERED IN SWEDEN: The Consumer Ombudsmen from the Nordic countries.
GATHERED IN SWEDEN: The Consumer Ombudsmen from the Nordic countries.

The Nordic Consumer Ombudsmen gathered in Karlstad, Sweden on the 27th and 28th of April to discuss the problem of covert marketing. There is wide agreement that this is an important issue. It is important for consumers to know when they are subjected to marketing, and who is relaying the commercial message.

– The rules, stating that it must be clear and evident what is marketing and what is not, is the same in all the countries, says The Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman Gry Nergård.

Covert marketing is a rising problem, as advertising in digital media becomes increasingly widespread. Earlier The Consumber Ombudsmen have focused mostly on advertising in social media. Now they are turning their attention towards native advertising and content marketing as well, where commercial messages are hidden in editorial content.

When marketing takes on new forms that differ from traditional advertising, the law requires a higher degree of clear and evident identification of the commercial intent of the content. The consumers should quickly and easily be able to understand that they are dealing with commercial communications. For this to happen, advertisers, bloggers and editors all have to take responsibility.

– Every person or entity that materially contributes to the marketing  is responsible for ensuring compliance with these rules. The rules apply no matter what format the commercial message is in, or in what kind of channel it is relayed, says Gry Nergård.

– The consumers shall easily be able to separate between personal or editorial content and advertising. If the message is of a commercial nature, this has to be explained to the reader.