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YouTube vloggers must be clearer on advertising

YouTube video bloggers (vloggers) are going to have to make it clear that they are engaged in paid-for product advertising on their clips, as the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) turns its eye to online matters.

This comes about following a ruling the ASA made against Mondelez UK, which revolved around five YouTube videos showing challengers attempting to lick cream off Oreo biscuits as fast as possible. However, there was no mention of the fact that the vloggers had been paid for their biscuit licking antics, and thus a complete failure to disclose this product placement.

As the ASA says, it is important to know when an advert is an ad, so the audience isn’t misled into believing a “cool” YouTube vlogger actually really does like Rich Tea biscuits (or whatever – and no, we haven’t been paid by Rich Tea to dunk that mention in, incidentally).

We don’t have to know an ad on TV is an advert, because it happens in the commercial break, but as the ASA writes: “In this case, because the ads were on online video channels that were usually non-promotional, the commercial intent should have been made clear before viewers clicked on the content.”

The regulator further notes: “We’re going to be communicating clearly to advertisers the outcome of this ruling and raising awareness amongst vloggers of the need to disclose when the content of their blogs is paid for.”

So be warned – as ASA also observes, if you do engage in this sort of practice with your YouTube channel, when your avid viewers and fans find out, they might not be too impressed with your levels of integrity.