For Vloggers, It Pays To Be Honest

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The term “vlogging” no longer elicits the confused looks it once did. Today, more people are aware of video blogging as a legitimate, not to mention profitable, career path.

For YouTube’s most popular content creators, joining the vlogging community early has led to a loyal online following. Beyond channel subscribers and ad revenue sustaining their livelihood, vloggers are finding more opportunities to extend their brands outside of YouTube. Zoe Sugg (known as Zoella) even broke the record for fastest selling debut novel with her book Girl Online.

To put that in perspective, J.K. Rowling was the previous record holder.

Surpassing J.K. Rowling’s fastest selling debut novel record, Zoe Sugg is now a powerful force in the publishing industry in addition to being one of the most popular vloggers on YouTube. Photo Credit: time.com

Sugg owes many of those sales to her almost 7 million subscribers with whom she has built trust and credibility through her channel. While ads playing before video content is nothing new on YouTube, more companies have taken notice of the strong vlogger-viewer relationship fostered by those like Sugg and now shift ad dollars to sponsor vlogs rather than preview them.

Sponsored content ranges from vloggers making grocery store visits to Asda, talking about smartphone apps like Skype Qik, and featuring home products from retailer B&Q. As vloggers promote brands in ways that don’t communicate like traditional ads, the lines between paid and non-paid-for material have blurred.

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Zoella’s brother and fellow vlogger, Joe Sugg (ThatcherJoe) recently posted a video labeled as an ad featuring the Skype Qik video messaging app.

The Advertising Standards Authority, the UK’s independent advertising regulator, recently created stricter guidelines for vloggers paid to promote a product. The change came after UK vloggers paid to promote Oreos via a “Lick Race Challenge” did not clearly label their videos as ads, bringing in to question whether sponsored videos are deceptive. Now, vloggers must include the word “ad” in the titles or thumbnails of their videos.

From the perspective of a viewing audience, the ASA explained if paid-for content appears “in a format that we’d normally expect to be non-promotional, we should be told up front about whether it’s an ad so that we can decide whether we want to continue viewing. In simple terms, it’s not fair to falsely promote a product.”

-R

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