Media Authority Update on Advertising Labeling for Online Media - First Recommendations on Labeling for Audio-only Content

14.07.2021

After about two and a half years, the state media authorities have published an update to their guidelines on labeling of advertising on social media offers.

Similar to the preceding version of the guidelines, the new guide is structured as a labeling matrix with subdivisions according to the type of content and scenarios as well as the media offerings. A new feature is the subdivision of media offerings into video, audio and predominantly static offerings (text/image). This makes sense, since different labeling requirements apply to video and audio offerings than to image/text offerings. In addition, the inclusion of audio offerings in the guidelines for the first time takes into account the increasing popularity and importance of podcasts.

The following is an overview of the most important findings and changes:

  • The mention or presentation of products, services, brands, companies, regions, events, travel, etc. on the basis of a cooperation must always be identified as advertising, regardless of whether a consideration was provided in return.
     
  • As in the previous version of the guidelines, the state media authorities advise that advertising on static offerings (image/text) should be clearly labelled using the established terms "Anzeige" or "Werbung" in German language at the beginning of the respective posts. In the case of podcasts, the advertising is to be labelled by an acoustic hint or jingle. The continuation of the editorial part of the podcast is also to be made clear, if necessary, by an announcement or the jingle, insofar as this is not already clear from the transition itself. In the case of video content, the state media authorities advise the display of the word "Werbung" or a corresponding statement announcing the advertisement.
     
  • Insofar as posts about products, services, brands, companies, regions, events, travel, etc. are published on the basis of the user's own motivation without any commercial incentive from third parties, they are generally not intended to be advertising and do not need to be labelled as such. In this context, however, the guide explicitly points to recent case law in which "tagging" of personally purchased products was assumed to be a commercial act requiring labeling if the accounts in question are also used commercially.
     
  • The so-called "sponsoring" of content is new to the guidelines. This means (financial) support from a sponsor. According to the recommendation of the media authorities, this should be indicated at the beginning of the program; an additional indication is possible before and after commercial breaks and at the end of the program. However, the reference must not contain any appeals to buy the sponsor’s product.
     
  • In the opinion of the media authorities, advertising links and discount codes must always be labelled as advertising. Affiliate links should also be identified with an asterisk and provided with a corresponding explanation for such affiliate models.

The media authorities' new guidelines take into account the trends and developments in online media, especially the rapidly increasing importance of audio content on audio-only platforms such as Clubhouse and in podcasts. In this respect, influencers and advertising companies alike receive important pointers for the correct labeling of advertising content in online media. However, it should be noted that the guidelines are only recommendations of the state media authorities, which are neither binding for the courts nor can they replace a legal review in individual cases. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding the labeling of advertising and the integration of advertising in editorial content.