80% believe digital advertising should be regulated the same as advertising according to research conducted by The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland

  • 59% said content that appears false and not authentic annoys them
  • Only 7% have trust in what influencers post
  • YouTube and Instagram ranked most popular social channels among under 35s, with 80% using them daily

8 in 10 people believe digital advertising should be regulated in the same way as traditional advertising, according to new research from The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI), the independent self-regulatory body committed to promoting the highest standards of marketing communications in Ireland. The research looks at the influencer industry in Ireland and reveals the impact on consumer behaviour and attitudes. The survey results are based on the views of 1,224 participants across a broad demographic, interviewed online and representative of the adult population.

While younger respondents are more familiar with the practice of influencer marketing (93%), the research found 80% of respondents in the 45-54 age bracket surveyed believe greater regulation is required in the influencer marketing industry, with 76% of under 35s in agreement. Moreover, 19% believe influencer content to be responsible, while only 7% have trust in what influencers post. When it came to photoshopping, filtering and content that appears false and not authentic, 59% said it annoyed them– all having a significant impact on consumer trust.

In terms of the most widely used platforms, YouTube and Instagram were ranked the highest by under 35s, with 80% using these social channels daily, closely followed by Facebook at 76%. Of those who use social media, 70% follow influencers, bloggers or celebrities. When it came to content, the research revealed social media users follow musicians and bands more frequently than other types of content (50%), closely followed by political activists and politicians (40%). Surprisingly, fitness bloggers or influencers were the least popular cohort at 22%. Of those who use social media, 70% follow influencers, bloggers or celebrities and a significant 76% use social media for tips and inspiration, with 41% saying they use social media for this reason frequently.

Orla Twomey, Chief Executive of the ASAI, commented on the digital landscape in Ireland:

“The growth of social media over the past decade has undeniably changed marketing and advertising in a lot of ways – a major part of that has been the rise of social influencers.

“Responsible influencer marketing involves being upfront and clear with the audience so that people are not misled and know they are being advertised to. However, more often than not many still fail to meet the specific requirements. The ASAI has worked to increase compliance in this space as advertisers continue to up their investment. Influencer marketing has enormous potential if it’s done right but if done wrong, it can have long-term negative impacts on brand and personal reputation.

“In terms of what’s next for influencer marketing, the ASAI will be holding a virtual webinar in February 2021 where we will reveal the second half of our research which looks at consumer attitudes and the effects of influencer marketing on consumer behaviour. We would encourage as many influencers as possible to attend as there will be a full panel discussion on the future of influencer marketing and how better trust-based relationships can be achieved from the onset.”

The ASAI has strict guidelines around how influencer content should be flagged having introduced guidance on the ‘Recognisability of Marketing Communications’ – covering posts that have been sponsored and gifted.  For more information on the ASAI’s upcoming webinar and how to sign up, please visit www.asai.ie

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland is financed by the advertising industry and committed, in the public interest, to promoting the highest standards of marketing communications that is advertising, promotional marketing and direct marketing. The objective is to ensure that all commercial marketing communications are ‘legal, decent, honest and truthful’.

Members of the ASAI are required to abide by the Code and not to publish an advertisement or conduct a promotion which contravenes Code rules. The Code covers commercial marketing communications and sales promotions in all media in Ireland including digital (online banners, websites and social platforms), print, outdoor, radio, TV, leaflets/brochures, and direct marketing.


The research was carried out by Amarach Research. Fieldwork took place from 21st – 23rd October 2020 with a sample of 1,224 participants.

Further information on advertising self-regulation, the ASAI and the operation

of the system is available at  www.asai.ie

Follow the ASAI on Twitter @THE_ASAI