Social media influencers must now abide by a strict set of rules set by the UAE's National Media Council when posting sponsored content online.
Previously, only traditional advertising channels, such as TV, radio and print, were covered under the guidelines that were released in 2011.
The new guide also includes a set of special conditions for social media, stating that all adverts must be clearly identified. Beauty brands are known for their prolific use of influencer marketing. However, recently certain brands have taken a step back from using influencers with big followings in favour of smaller accounts with an authentic and engaged following. Though the new guidelines won’t eliminate influencer marketing in the region, they are aimed at creating more transparency and protecting consumers from opinions that appear to be genuine but are, in fact, paid for.
Dr Rashid Al Nuaimi, executive director of Media Affairs at the NMC said in a staement: “The advertisements must appear distinctively and separately from any other media content. Clear borders should be placed between the advertisement and other content and time intervals should be placed in the event of a broadcast.”
In addition, ads should not contain false or misleading claims and shouldn’t exaggerate claims around the product or service being advertised.
Al Nuaimmi added: “The rapid growth of the global media sector has seen the advertising sector in the UAE play an ever-increasing role in driving the economy.”
Images or words that could offend public morality must also be avoided, according to the regulations, and before any content relating to health, education or real estate is posted, approval must be sought from the concerned authorities.
Sponsored posts should feature hashtags such as #advertisement or #paid_ad tha are clearly visible at the start of the post and not be obstructed by the use of too many hashtags. Although these are guidelines and not laws, infringements will be subject to a fine of AED 5,000 (US $1,370).