In the past months, I had the opportunity to contribute to a study for the European Parliament, at the request of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee (IMCO): The impact of influencers on advertising and consumer protection in the Single Market.
_The influencer marketing industry has grown significantly in recent years. Consumers engage with influencers voluntarily but are at the same time exposed to advertising that relies on the relationship between the consumer and the influencer, which raises concerns about the protection of consumers. The objective of this study is to provide information and analysis on the impact of influencers on advertising and consumer protection in the Internal Market. In particular, this study aims to:
- Define influencers and examine the key features that make someone an influencer; *Analyse the relevance of these market actors in the Internal Market from a business and consumer perspective;
- Provide an overview of how influencers and their related market practices are currently regulated;
- Provide an overview of practices that could be followed; and
- Design tailored policy recommendations to tackle market practices that harm consumers. The study findings are based on a literature review, desk research and interviews at EU level, in the Member States and in non-EU countries, and a social media monitoring exercise._
Influencer marketing remains a term of art that focuses on advertising as a business model for individual entrepreneurs on the Internet. However, the study also makes an overview of other relevant business models outside of advertising (e.g. donations or subscriptions), which can be useful in visualizing a broader scope of the content creator economy (for a commentary on the difference between the terms 'influencer' and 'content creator', check this post by Sophie Bishop). Web Monetization is also included as a business model on p. 40. While the study was very much focused on consumer protection issues arising out of advertising by influencers under European Union law, it shows a wide array of additional implications for the content creator economy.
Perhaps a broader, more international discussion on consumer protection awareness could be interesting also for a lot of the creators in the Web Monetization community (and beyond)?