AI Project to Monitor Influencer Ads – winner of the BPA Special Mention

27 July 2023

This month, we wrap up the series featuring the innovative EASA Best Practice Awards 2022 projects submitted by our members, with a focus on exploring ROK’s AI Project to Monitor Influencer Ads. Let’s find out more!

In Turkey, as well as in the rest of Europe, Influencer Marketing has taken center stage. To ensure that this kind of commercial communication is truthful and responsible, ROK and the Turkish Ministry of Trade (MoT) developed a guideline called the “Guideline Regarding the Commercial Advertising and Unfair Commercial Practices by Influencers.” The guideline promotes transparency in influencer marketing by disclosing the relationship between the advertiser and the party distributing the advertising communication on each social media platform. Six months after the publication of the guideline, ROK decided to double down on its efforts and launched the “AI Project to Monitor Influencer Ads” to ensure compliance with the guidelines and raise awareness among both influencers and other industry players regarding the provisions outlined in the guideline.

Through this Project, ROK has established official cooperation with the statutory authority, the Turkish Ministry of Trade, for the first time. The monitoring, which focused on 50 influencer accounts with the highest marketing communication content, assessed the following points:

• The content of influencer posts determines whether they qualify as marketing commercials.

• If the content qualifies as a marketing commercial, it is checked for any prohibited goods/services.

• The presence of any goods/services in the ads that are banned is also examined.

• Compliance with national ad regulations and ICC Codes is assessed.

• The necessary disclosure within the context of the guideline is verified in the content.

• The compliance for this category is monitored using “keyword search,” particularly in food supplement ads, with the aim of taking necessary actions proactively, without waiting for complaints.

This initiative had the overall goal of raising awareness about the world of advertising self-regulation and about the content of the guideline. In addition to this, the monitoring aimed at protecting consumers from misleading content by influencer posts.

Challenges and results

The budget of the Project posed a significant obstacle since it had to be in foreign exchange currency. Turkey has been facing economic distress since 2018, resulting in high inflation rates and currency depreciation in the country.

Furthermore, the outputs of the AI monitoring process have to be controlled by human resources. The monitoring process involves 50 influencers and is conducted weekly, which means controlling around 650-700 posts. This includes differentiating system-based errors, correcting any misclassifications, identifying posts in the grey area, and preparing the weekly report for MoT. Given that RÖK is a very small SRO with only 3 staff members, this task has been quite challenging.

Nevertheless, this project has yielded substantial results. Firstly, it garnered media attention, with the Turkish national press covering the project and its outputs. Secondly, ROK achieved a significant milestone by establishing official cooperation with the statutory authority for the first time.

Moreover, there has been a dramatic increase in compliance with the guideline’s provisions. Through sanctions applied by MoT and warnings issued by RÖK, influencers have started explicitly using the necessary disclosures in their posts involving marketing communication. In March 2022, the lack of explicit disclosure in marketing posts was around 57%. However, due to the necessary actions taken within the scope of the Project, whether through sanctions or raising awareness, this ratio dropped to 21% by the end of July.

In case you missed the news about the Best Practice Awards, you can find here the other winners. We will post a spotlight on their projects, keep an eye on EASA website!