On 28 February 2023, the umbrella organization of the 14 German media authorities (die medienanstalten) published the results of a transparency check (only in German) that they had conducted in relation to the labeling of social media content as marketing / advertising. In Germany, such labeling is legally required in order to allow consumers to distinguish between journalistic and commercial activities. In the past, die medienanstalten have published respective guidance (only in German) with best practices for influencers, brand ambassadors and organizations that cooperate with them.
For their transparency check, die medienanstalten focused on Instagram stories, TikTok clips and Facebook posts, particularly on so called brand stories. Brand stories look like journalistic content but are in fact advertisement in form of advertorials. According to the transparency check, only 14% of interviewees recognized such content as marketing and almost 50% regarded it as journalistic information. According to the interviewees, the latter was the case since they "know" and "trusted" the publisher.
These figures are regarded alarming by die medienanstalten and they thus made it clear that they are now going to enforce the statutory requirements.