YouTube video bloggers warned on ‘misleading’ content

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has warned video bloggers they need to clearly display when they are being paid to promote products.

The announcement comes after a BBC journalist’s complaint lead to investigations which found a group of British YouTube bloggers who were paid to advertise a brand of biscuits without stating so.

Videos taken down

The videos encouraged viewers to compete in an ‘Oreo Lick Race’, where contestants race to lick the filling from a biscuit.

Five YouTube videos have been banned by the advertising watchdog. Four of them contained variations on the phrase, “Thanks to Oreo for making this video possible”, which was deemed too discrete.

The ASA said: “The commercial intent would have needed to be made clear before viewers engaged with the content.”

Mondelez UK Ltd, the firm who paid for the bloggers to promote their products has been told to “ensure the adverts did not appear in their current form again.”

Transparency must be promoted

There are defined rules that govern traditional advertising mediums, but online videos still remain relatively unregulated, even at a time when YouTube has one billion monthly users.

The importance of labelling ads helps users understand when they are being marketed to, and helps stop deceptive content.

If advertisers and video bloggers aren’t transparent, they risk breaching key principals of the Advertising Code and could be breaking the law.

What happens next?

The ASA has said they will be “communicating clearly the outcome of this ruling”, and will guide bloggers on “the need to disclose when the content of their blogs is paid for.”

In future, video bloggers may need to include the words “promo” or “ad” in the title of their video content or include a symbol which clearly tells the viewer they are watching an advert.