As one of the biggest shopping festivals in the country called Singles Day is approaching, Beijing is warning people to beware of fake Livestream ads. The government is vigilant after a mishap on a Taobao seller’s Livestream.
Broadcast watchdog issues warning
On November 1, the Chinese broadcasting watchdog issued a notice to e-commerce platforms to adopt stricter content control protocols on Singles Day. It called for “civilized and standardized expressions” in all marketing campaigns and live-streamed content and warned against false ads. It also warned against misleading content and vulgarity.
Though the National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) has only asked platforms to be vigilant on Singles Day, the move signals that authorities have started focusing on Livestream content in the country. The e-commerce live-streaming business is flourishing in China and regulatory action could curb the industry right when it blooms.
The government has already enforced strict controls over gaming and entertainment livestreams because of which Douyu and Huya have also increased security on their platforms. With stricter rules in place, social media influencers could be impacted drastically. Frequently called key opinion leaders (KOLs), these large social media pages often team up with popular brands and showcase their products to the users via livestreams. The Chinese e-commerce segment has recently started exploring immense growth opportunities in video content-including both live streams and short videos.
What led to the regulator’s warning?
Last week, popular livestreamed Li Jiaqui, also known as “Lipstick King” faced public outrage after he tried to promote a non-stick frying pan to users. On October 30, he was promoting a pan that should cook an egg without sticking to the bottom of the fan. However, the egg didn’t just stick but also burned on the pan in front of an audience of over 400,000. Jiaqui has previously sold over 15,000 units of lipstick in just five minutes.
The Hoffman Agency’s head of digital APAC Nicolas Chan noted,
“Advertising is scrutinized by authorities for inaccurate, false or misleading claims. Adverts are also outright transparent about their sponsored nature. Paying influencers for their ‘opinion’ is currently a loophole around this integrity that warrants a revisitation of current regulation.”
Critics suggest that Jiaqui’s case indicates how influencers or KOLs will endorse products without fact-checking or trialing with them first. A Weibo user Wu Xiangdong pointed out that KOLs should not endorse products that they have never used or those of poor quality.