A new ruling from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) means that YouTube stars have to make it clear if they are promoting a product in a post.
While the new guidelines will only apply to UK-based video bloggers, or vloggers, due to the limits of the ASA’s jurisdiction, they have already led to some companies stating that they will change how they market within the country.
Previously, firms intent on internet marketing, from Liverpool to London, could send YouTubers with high numbers of subscribers a product to review. For a fee, these vloggers would then promote the item, although, according to the ASA, they were not always “clear and upfront” about being paid for the product plug.
Speaking to the BBC, which helped to raise the issue, the ASA’s Lynsay Taffe said that as many of the social media stars had built up their audience through authentic, interesting content, it meant that subscribers could be misled through the promotions.
Although vloggers are allowed to make money in this way, some commentators believe that the issue may be indicative of a wider problem with the industry. For example, Ben Bradshaw MP, the former Culture Secretary under Labour, has pointed out that while print, television and other traditional advertising methods are well regulated, there is a “loophole” when the content moves online.
Following the ASA ruling, Mondelez, the company behind Oreo Biscuits, which was the original focus of a BBC Newsround investigation into promotional vlogging, has stated that it will change its content. Further, a number of the YouTubers have taken measures to mark their advertorial content.