How can I make sure I don’t fall foul of the regulator when advertising to customers on Twitter?

Tweets can be a fast and innovative way for retailers to communicate with customers. However, there are numerous ways to fall foul of regulations when devising advertising campaigns for Twitter.

One of the principal rules of the codes governing advertising practice is that marketing communications must be obviously identifiable, according to Kerry Gwyther, head of commercial regulatory at law firm TLT. Recent adjudications by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on Twitter advertising campaigns have tested the meaning of this rule, prompting the publication of guidance.

Recent examples were the tweets sent by footballers Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere as part of Nike’s Make It Count Twitter campaign, in which they used the hashtag #makeitcount The ASA concluded that even though there was a link to Nike’s website within the tweets, the reference was not sufficiently obvious and therefore the tweets were in breach of the rules.

“This serves as an example of how cautious marketers must be when conducting advertising campaigns on Twitter,” warns Gwyther.

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) felt Nike could have used #ad or #spon. It highlighted the following points to consider: will the audience quickly recognise the content as an ad because of its context? Can the audience easily distinguish advertising from editorial content? Are the ads presented in a space where audiences would expect to see adverts?

Gwyther adds that if the answer to any of the above is no, then retailers should consider special measures to obviously identify their communication as an ad. An easy option is to specifically refer to the advertiser, the product and include the all-important #ad or #spon.