British Ad authority clamping down on YouTube payola

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There have been far too many controversies lately surrounding YouTubers. Somehow, they became idolized on the internet as if they could provide the most clear and honest opinion, untouched by evil corporates. Unfortunately, that’s been exposed as complete hogwash, and the authorities are getting serious.

Speaking to BBC, the British Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) has warned vloggers that they need to make some changes. The controversy arose after several UK YouTubers were paid to praise Oreos, but none of the videos were clearly labelled as an advertisement. As a result, Lynsay Taffe from the ASA has explained that they will need to put the word “ad” or “promo” in the title of their video (or use a symbol in the thumbnail) so that viewers know it’s an ad before they click on it. According to Taffe, “Vloggers often have huge followings built on authenticity, built on them providing interesting, funny, natural content.”

We think it’s only fair that when they start promoting stuff on behalf of a brand – which is absolutely fine for them to do – that they do so in a way that’s clear and upfront with their audience.

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw sees it as a loophole that needed closing – the rules for advertising are quite strict on radio and TV, and should be applied equally to online video content. Of course, enforcing these laws will be difficult – YouTubers are only liable to the laws in their own countries, something that sounds like a nightmare to control.

I’m glad that some of these more nefarious dealings are coming out. As awful as they are, I hope it exposes the truth behind so many fake videos. As much as some YouTubers are honest and just showing their opinions and videos for their audience, it becomes too easy to take money from companies. It seems many people have their integrity for sale, and it makes me sad. Hopefully, these kinds of laws will be a deterrent for some of them. Now if only all game journalists could stop getting lumped together – some people might be willing to sell their opinions to the highest (or not even so high) bidders, but there are also those (*cough* like us *cough*) who pride themselves on honesty and integrity. Clear labeling and transparent communication are always the best means of addressing these kinds of issues.

Do you still believe in YouTube integrity? Which channels do you think are honest and fair, and which ones are absolute sell outs?

Last Updated: November 27, 2014

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