Guidelines being drafted, but major player takes wait-and-see approach

The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (Asas) is drafting its first advertising guidelines for social media, but one of the biggest players in the blog advertising community here may want no part of it.

Blogger management agency Nuffnang's chief executive Cheo Ming Shen said his company is concerned that social media agency Gushcloud - recently exposed for launching a smear campaign with Singtel against other telcos - is helping to map out the guidelines too.

"For an organisation that has such a negative reputation, I feel that their involvement could be detrimental to the entire process," he said.

Asas had invited key stakeholders in the social media advertising industry to be a part of drafting the guidelines, which will help set clear boundaries in what is a largely unregulated landscape.


They include Nuffnang (a global community of over 900,000 blogs), Gushcloud, and media companies Singapore Press Holdings and MediaCorp.

Mr Cheo said his firm had raised the issue with Asas.

"We are concerned that the legitimacy of any guidelines that are set up with Gushcloud will be greatly questioned," he said, adding that his company will adopt a wait- and-see approach.

"If we feel that Gushcloud will negatively affect the legitimacy of the guidelines, we will pull out and make our own guidelines public."

But Asas' legal adviser, Professor Ang Peng Hwa, said the authority will continue to engage both Nuffnang and Gushcloud to create the guidelines.

"When you make rules, you have to make them with the key stakeholders, even if some of them have made mistakes. Social media advertising is a new area and we are all learning."

Prof Ang, who is also one of two vice-presidents of the Consumers Association of Singapore, added: "Usually, big companies want to be a part of such guidelines to show the public that they are ethical."

When contacted, Gushcloud's chief executive Vincent Ha said the firm is "committed to work with all parties to create industry guidelines". "We are a young company, we respect the views of other industry players, and we would like to move forward and grow together," he said.

This article was first published on March 22, 2015.
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