Recently, we noticed that German influencers started to label their posts differently. More and more of them used *Werbung or #anzeige in the post description on Instagram to disclose cooperations with brands or they marked their Instagram Stories with *Dauerwerbesendung or #sponsored. In this blog post, we show you how disclosing sponsored content is done properly. 

We updated this article and included the latest regulations! Find the updated, German version here.

There are rumors in circulation which claim that warning letters have been sent to influencers who did not disclose their paid cooperations accurately. In a recent case, influencer Uwe Schüder (Flying Uwe) was charged more than 10,000 Euros for not disclosing his Youtube videos as infomercials/ Dauerwerbesendung.

Bloggers, Instagramers, and YouTubers alike complain about the lack of accurate guidelines regarding the disclosure of postings.

Therefore, we examined several German laws and regulations to bring some light into the darkness.

The Fight Against Covert Advertising

In Germany, the Landesmedienanstalten (State Media Authorities) are mainly responsible for the regulation of advertising disclosures. The association of the fourteen institutions which regulate private broadcasting invoked laws in the context of covert advertisement.

The rules explained below mainly originated from the necessity to avoid covert advertising/ Schleichwerbung. This term describes the promotional presentation of products, brands, or services with the intention of disguising the advertising purpose. According to several German laws (Gesetz gegen den unlauteren Wettbewerb, Telemediengesetz, Rundfunkstaatsvertrag), this is strictly prohibited.

Due to increasing numbers of cooperations between brands and influencers, the State Media Authorities recently clarified the accurate use of disclosure of sponsored content in social networks due to the influencers’ responsibility for their followers. The association particularly highlights the importance of “transparency, honesty, and authenticity”.

Disclosing Sponsored Content in Germany

Disclosure of Sponsored Content


1 You independently purchase a product yourself

You purchase a product yourself and state your opinion in a written text, in a picture or video. As an influencer, you are free to share your thoughts about a product with your followers. If you like a product you bought yourself, you can let your audience know.

No disclosure necessary.

Non-sponsored Post

© schannaloves

Although no disclosure is necessary, your statements might still have a slightly promotional character. Keep in mind that you cater to a young audience which might be affected by your opinion.


2 A brand sends you a product or service for free

A brand sends you products or gives you services for free with the intention that you share your opinion regarding the product with your followers.

Case A

The brand does not include any guidelines on how to present the product. You are free to state your honest opinion, irrelevant whether it is positive or negative. You present the product with all its benefits or flaws in an objective manner. You do not have to mention the products in a posting or video.

No disclosure necessary.

No Guidelines

© beautyrella

Case B

The brand expects you to describe the product in a positive manner, aiming at persuading your followers to purchase the product. The brand might provide content-related guidelines.

Disclosure is required!

How to disclose:

1. “Werbung” in pictures. For videos: Alternatively, at the beginning of a video, display “unterstützt durch XY” and also state the free provision of the product by the company verbally.

Werbung

© carmushka

2. If a complete video revolves around the product, display “Dauerwerbung” or “Werbevideo” over the complete course of the video. Keep in mind: This also applies to the promotion of your own products (see Flying Uwe)!

Case C

A video mainly consists of editorial content but includes the products. The products are embedded in the plot of the video.

Disclosure might be required!

How to disclose:

  1. The product is worth less than 1,000 Euros: No disclosure necessary.
  2. The product is worth more than 1,000 Euros: This is called Produktplatzierung (Product Placement). State the product placement at the beginning of a video by displaying “Produktplatzierung”, “unterstützt durch Produktplatzierung”, or “unterstützt durch (Produktname)”.

Produktplatzierung© TamTam


3 A brand pays you to present products

Case A

Your video or picture mainly consists of the presentation of the product, the video or picture clearly focuses on the product. This is obviously advertisement and has to be labeled as such.

Disclosure is required!

How to disclose:

“Werbung” in pictures. In videos, display “Werbung” every time the product is displayed, or mark “untersützt durch XY” at the beginning of the video, plus stating the cooperation with the brand verbally at the beginning of the video. If the complete video centers around the product, display “Dauerwerbung” or “Werbevideo”.

Werbevideo

© funnypilgrim

Case B

Your video mainly consists of editorial content, but includes the products. The products are embedded in the plot of the video.

Disclosure is required!

How to disclose:

If the video does not focus on the product as a main part of the video, the video still has to be labeled as a product placement. State the product placement at the beginning of a video by displaying “Produktplatzierung”, “unterstützt durch Produktplatzierung”, or “unterstützt durch (Produktname)”.


InfluencerDB


4 Affiliate Links

Affiliate links are links to online shops. If a user follows this link and purchases a product, you will receive a commission.

Disclosure is required!

How to disclose:

These links have to be disclosed by “enthält Werbelink”.

Affiliate Links

© carmushka


Correct Placement of Labels

The terms need to be placed at the beginning of articles, posting descriptions, or videos.

For Instagram pictures, the terms can be displayed as hashtags in the post description. The hashtag, for example #werbung, has to be placed at the beginning if more than one hashtag is used. The terms cannot be disguised by placing them in between numerous other hashtags. The term has to be placed in the post description, not in the comments.

“Produktplatzierung” in videos has to be displayed at the beginning and at the end of the video for 3 seconds. During the video, “P” is valid.

“Dauerwerbesendung” or “Werbevideo” have to be displayed permanently. If the product is only displayed in a part of the video, but this part clearly focuses on the product (no product placement), the terms only need to be displayed during this part of the video.

Keep in mind: „Sponsored by“, „Gesponsert“, „Ad“, „Powered by“, “Partner von” are valid according to some sources, others mark them as insufficient. To be completely safe, we suggest using German terms like “Werbung” or “Anzeige” instead.

The Takeaway

The regulations regarding the disclosure of sponsored content in Germany are still not completely set.

For example, English terms used for labeling the sponsorship are up for discussion. A Statista study shows that especially young users do oftentimes not know the meaning of terms like “sponsored”. To be completely safe, use “Werbung” or “Anzeige” instead of “sponsored”, as English terms may not be valid legally.

Furthermore, some sources argue that even those posts, in which self-purchased products are promoted in a highly positive manner, have to be labeled as “Werbung”.

According to the FAQ of the Landesmedienanstalten, no disclosure is necessary in this case. The manner in which a product is presented impacts the fact whether the posting has a promotional character or a strictly objective one.

In the end, you cater to your followers. They appreciate your honest and authentic opinion but are aware that you are being paid for cooperations at times. Disguising cooperations will only raise suspicion and threaten your authenticity in the eyes of your followers. Disclosing sponsored content, however, is a sign of honesty towards your followers.


Sources:

Die Medienanstalten | FAQs Antworten auf Werbefragen in sozialen Medien

Gründerszene | Wie kennzeichnen Influencer ihre Werbung richtig?

Kanzlei Plutte | Schleichwerbung: “Sponsored” Hinweis ist abmahnbar

Dr. Schwenke | Risiken der Schleichwerbung – Rechtliche Grenzen bei Facebook und Instagram

Please note: Although we carefully collected the information mentioned in this article, we do not guarantee its accurateness.

We updated this article and included the latest regulations! Find the updated, German version here.

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