SINGAPORE: In an attempt to boost consumer trust, Singapore's influencers must now declare any commercial relationship with prominent disclaimers, according to new guidelines.

The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) outlined at a recent event the ramifications for marketers of new industry guidelines, which specifically target disclosure and transparency around paid content.

(For more, including content-specific points about how paid content should be disclosed, read Warc's report: Navigating Singapore's new influencer guidelines – a how-to guide.)

All marketers who create digital or social media content targeted at Singapore audiences — including media owners, advertising and marketing agencies, brands and influencers themselves — must comply with the new guidelines, which were developed in consultation with ad industry stakeholders.

"[Influencer marketing] has become like a cowboy town for everybody. But the rules have not changed. The rules on deception are the same. You cannot deceive people on any media. That is against the law," said Benjamin Lee, Social Media Director at Tribal Worldwide, who is also an influential blogger in Singapore.

Under the ASAS guidelines, influencers must declare any commercial relationship with prominent and platform appropriate disclaimers.

Disclosures are required for sponsored content and paid-for reviews (such as preview events, product launches and food tastings), testimonials and endorsements also must be clearly indicated.

Any fake endorsements presented as being from impartial sources are not allowed either – and this includes comments on web pages with no disclosure of the connection between the endorser or critic, and the provider of the product or service.

"Every dollar we spend is really dear, no matter how we spend it, which is why we love the concept of earned media, especially why all the social networks are so critical to us," said Lisa Watson, Chairwoman of the Direct Marketing Association of Singapore.

"If we do it and practice it in such a way that we strain and damage the trust consumers have towards us as a brand or in our industry, and even in our country ultimately, that is incredibly expensive to recover," she added.

"The same power influencers that can help us build brands can also destroy them. If you want somebody to trust you, you have to be clear. You have to be honest in your transaction. You want to be decent in that definition of the relationship, and you have to be truthful and ethical in your communication."

Data sourced from Warc