We recently blogged about the rise of YouTube celebrities and for years now brands have been tapping into their highly engaged audiences through brand endorsements.
The influence of these YouTubers has been picked up by the media this year, uncovering that YouTubers can earn in the region of £100k in return for a day of product endorsement on their channels.
The latest revelation comes from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) who have noticed that some YouTubers have been breaking advertising standards. Today, the ASA have ruled that Vloggers must clearly declare when a brand has paid for a product to appear in a video.
YouTubers must now clearly mark ‘advert’, ‘promo’ or add a symbol onto the video or in the title. Simply saying ‘this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of *brand*’ isn’t going to cut it anymore. These changes are to protect the YouTuber's audiences who are often very young in age.
In our experience, we’ve managed relationships between brands and YouTubers where both parties have been keen to endorse the campaign message while making it look as natural and as discreet as possible. So these new rules will be a significant change for YouTubers as they work hard to maintain relationships with their loyal subscribers.
With this standardised approach to YouTuber endorsements being enforced by the ASA, the crucial effect yet to be seen will be the impact on subscriber loyalty and engagement. Does this new ruling change the commercial opportunity for brands and YouTube partnerships?
YouTubers owe their success to their loyal fanbases - they know better than anyone that the right content tailored to the audience has the potential to draw in mass support and engagement. As YouTubers grow their fanbases, commercial opportunities begin to appear and the line between fan loyalty and financial gain can become blurred. If the new ASA ruling jeopardises fan loyalty, we predict YouTubers will simply minimise the volume of product placement on their channels to avoid losing subscribers. It may be that YouTubers move over to brands' owned channels when promoting products in return for payment.