UK advertising regulator publishes YouTuber guidelines

A new set of guidelines published by the Committee of Advertising Practise have called for clearer signposting of advertising and marketing deals in YouTube videos.

The document examines a number of scenarios in which ‘vloggers’ should fully disclose any such commercial agreements. Those who are found in breach of the rules will need to answer to the Advertising Standards Authority, which last year publicised its concerns about the sector.

The advertising rules, which apply across media including online and to social media channels, state that ads must be obviously identifiable as such,” the documents reads.

If a vlogger is paid to promote a product or service and an advertiser controls the message then it becomes an ad. When that happens, like all advertisers, vloggers must be upfront and clearly signpost that they’re advertising.”

The outlined scenarios are as follows:

  • Online marketing by a brand – where a brand collaborates with a vlogger and makes a vlog about the brand and/or its products and shares it on its own social media channels
  • Advertorial” vlogs – a whole video is in the usual style of the vlogger but the content is controlled by the brand and the vlogger has been paid
  • Commercial breaks within vlogs – where most of the vlog is editorial material but there’s also a specific section dedicated to the promotion of a product
  • Product placement – independent editorial content that also features a commercial message
  • Vlogger’s video about their own product – the sole content of a vlog is a promotion of the vlogger’s own merchandise
  • Editorial video referring to a vlogger’s products – a vlogger promotes their own product within a broader editorial piece
  • Sponsorship – a brand sponsors a vlogger to create a video but has no control of the content
  • Free items – a brand sends a vlogger items for free without any control of the content of the vlog

CAP also stressed that, as requested by vloggers – advertising agencies and brands also have an obligation to be transparent when proposing any potential commercial partnerships. It also stresses that commercial vlogging deals are in no way prohibited – they must simply be clearly disclosed to viewers.

Wherever ads appear we should be confident we can trust what an advertiser says; it’s simply not fair if we’re being advertised to and are not made aware of that fact,” CAP director Shahriar Coupal said. Our guidance will give vloggers greater confidence that they’re sticking to the rules which in turn will help maintain the relationship and trust they’ve built with their followers.”

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