Skip to main content

Influencers in Native Advertising

By Ashley Fisher on September 21, 2016

This Q&A is part of our series ‘meet the speakers at Native Advertising Days introducing the different speakers and their field of work.

Ashley Fisher, counsel for Global Brand and Sponsorships at Visa Inc., follows the evolution of influencers closely. She advises on a range of advertising and marketing matters, social media initiatives, and several of Visa’s sponsorship. At Native Advertising Days, she will be addressing some of the most burning legal questions of native advertising.

The use of influencers with thousands of followers on YouTube, Instagram or blogs is a branch of native advertising that is getting more and more popular. But what should you look out for when using influencers? Ashley Fisher shares her insights.

What is your view on labelling when it comes to influencer campaigns?

Properly disclosing the relationship between an advertiser and influencer is key. Failing to properly disclose the connection between an influencer and a brand not only poses a legal risk, the lack of transparency may erode trust in both the influencer and brand.

Related content: How to Choose the Right Influencers for your Brand

Doesn’t labelling go against the personal message of influencers?

I find fashion product bomb campaigns on Instagram to be really fun and effective – you see a dress or hat over and over-styled in different ways by influencers and it really gets the product top of mind.  And I think they are just as effective when they also meet their legal obligations and provide proper disclosures.  A #sponsored works great for product bomb campaigns and guess what – I’m still excited about the dress if I think it looks great and I’m going to buy it, and I have more trust in the brand whose dress it is because their influencers were transparent about their relationship to the brand.

What are the main pitfalls of influencer campaigns in your view?

Sometimes, Influencers want to take shortcuts on disclosure obligations to avoid being seen as a sell-out; this is an important conversation to find ways to make appropriate disclosures in the context of each situation.  Brands also need to remember the basics – an influencer has the same obligations as the brand to make only truthful and supportable statements about the brand’s products or services, and educating an influencer about the products or services can go far in trying to mitigate an enthusiastic influencer from possible over-representations.

It’s important to know where the boundaries are of what can and can’t be said by the influencer.

More outspoken or vociferous influencers may have stronger feelings about maintaining a particular tone or content of their messages, or may be eager to engage in dialogues with other users about the subject of a campaign.  This can present challenges in making sure that the brand’s relationship with the influencer is appropriately disclosed.  And while it’s something of a dream scenario to have a well-known influencer discussing your products or services organically with other users, it’s important to know where the boundaries are of what can and can’t be said by the influencer.

On the flip side, some non-celebrity influencers with valuable audiences are frequently engaged by different brands; some might even have something like a sponsored post of the day. In those cases, it’s key to make sure that the influencer is able to hold the trust of his or her audience and isn’t seen as just pushing the daily sponsored message and the solution should not be to fail to meet disclosure obligations.

What is the most important change in the way brands use influencers - and are they here to stay?

The most obvious change has been the evolution from use of celebrities and well-known personalities as endorsers to relationships with everyday consumers – first blogs, then social media channels, YouTube videos, now Snapchat and other emerging channels.  To me, things are coming full circle with some influencer campaigns resembling a traditional product placement, but with a nontraditional piece of content – the influencer’s own rather than mass media productions. And with the quality and accessibility of content capture capabilities getting better every day, the craftsmanship of some of the content out there now is quite impressive. Given this improvement in quality and ever-increasing audience reach; yes, I think influencers are here to stay.

Do you have one piece of advice in particular when it comes to influencer campaigns?

The most successful influencer campaigns closely align the brand’s campaign objectives and message with the influencer’s audience and natural tone. And the best disclosures are those which are clear and conspicuous and also work with influencer’s natural tone. Make it a part of the conversation with your influencers.

Ashley Fisher will be speaking at Native Advertising DAYS on November 16th-17th. Here you will be presented with inspirational cases, solid insights and actionable tools that you can take home and implement right away. Other speakers include Stephanie Losee, Head of Content at VISA, Jason Miller, Global Content Marketing Leader at Linkedin, Michael Villaseñor, Creative Director of Ad Innovation and Marketing at the New York Times, and Rebecca Lieb, Leading Industry Analyst on Native Advertising.

Want more? Sign up for the Native Advertising Institute Newsletter and get weekly insights and news from the people who live and breath native advertising. 

Photo credit: