Are Sponsored YouTubers With Undisclosed Deals Breaking The Law?
As YouTube publishers specializing in commentating and reviewing have become ultra popular, the pressure to infiltrate with brand messaging has followed suit. Yesterday, Eurogamer released a dissertation on undisclosed advertorials on YouTube in the gaming industry. While there are set rules in the U.S. and Britain concerning endorsements, internationally the lines are more blurred.
Due to the massive increase in gaming audiences, lead by PieDiePew with more than 28.6 million subscribers, agencies have sprouted up to push their releases on YouTube. Electronic Arts (EA) has an entire division, EA Ronku, that is devoted to connecting “…top YouTube gamers directly with the people that make the games.”
According to Eurogamer, EA Ronku invites publishers to create videos on a commission basis and has paid YouTube publishers £10 ($17.11) for every one thousand views that a video gathered. Other gaming companies like Ubisoft allegedly paid a YouTuber nearly $15k to create a series of videos and attend Gamescom without any disclosure at all. Some of these types of videos can include the publisher simply playing the game without commenting on any bugs/glitches or bad gameplay.
For the videos where these financial agreements are not currently being disclosed, one thing is certain — this goes directly against YouTube’s Terms of Service. YouTube clearly states the following rules for their video creators:
YouTube creators can not include promotions, sponsorships or other advertisements for third party sponsors or advertisers in their videos where YouTube offers a comparable ad format, including but not limited to instream pre-rolls, image overlays, third-party or sponsored title cards, video bumpers and third party logos. This is a violation of Section 4 of our Terms of Service and when we become aware of it, YouTube reserves the right to disable monetization and/or remove videos with such unauthorized third party promotions and penalize the uploader’s account accordingly.
Furthermore, YouTube has a specific policy on paid product placements that are available to YouTube Partners only. Any video that features a monetary exchange needs to be checked as a “paid product placement:
Paid product placements are defined as pieces of content that are created specifically for a sponsor and where that sponsor’s brand, message, or product is integrated directly into the content. A typical example of a paid product placement is one in which a marketer pays a partner to specifically mention their product or brand in what would normally be the editorial part of the content.
If you are a marketer and looking to gain traction via a YouTube Partner, you’ll need to ensure that all videos are marked with product placement in the monetization options — for both your sake and the sake of the publisher.
For a further look at this phenomena going on currently in the gaming world, see the fantastic article over at Eurogamer.