The CMA’s crackdown isn’t the first attempt at regulating influencers. The UK’s advertising regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), already has rules in place for paid influencer content. However, the CMA worries that these, as well as other consumer protection laws, are not being properly observed by influencers.
In the United States (US), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has established guidelines for influencer content paid for by brands. Platforms like Instagram and YouTube have also offered their own solutions to the issue, each launching “paid tags” to be used in conjunction with sponsored posts.
7 Ways That Twitch Streamers Monetize Their Channels To Earn Money
Twitch.tv, the Amazon-owned livestreaming video platform, is a major player in both the video game and online video industries. Twitch livestreams broadcast the gamer playing a video game, while fans livechat and engage with both the streamer and fellow followers in a chatroom setting. Professional Twitch streamers can make hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars per year by sharing live videos on the platform.
How do Twitch streamers make money?
7 Ways Twitch Streamers Make Money:
Paid subscription revenue to Twitch streamers' official channels
Donations and Bit Cheers from Twitch followers
Advertising revenue via Twitch and other social channels
Sponsorships from video game industry brands
Professional gaming, including eSports sponsorships and winning tournaments
Twitch is known for its generous monetization options for creators. This opportunity for gamers to make money has fueled the popularity of the niche platform in spite of fierce competition from behemoths like YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming. Video game enthusiasts flock to Twitch to watch elite gamers play popular games, rewarding them by becoming a paid channel subscriber or sending “Bits,” Twitch’s virtual currency. Even beyond the Twitch platform, professional gamers have found ways to earn a living by tapping into their fervent fanbase.
FTC To Regulate Media Companies' Native Advertising And Sponsored Content
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) vowed in 2017 that it would hold media companies accountable for failure to properly disclose sponsored content and native advertising. Having regulated brands and social media influencers for years where sponsored posts are concerned, trade publication WWD reported that the FTC started taking notice of one of the primary sources of revenue for media companies in light of waning returns on more traditional digital advertising.
Designed to safeguard consumers against misleading content — particularly ads masquerading as organic or unpaid posts — FTC guidelines require paid content to be posted with clear, unambiguous disclosures. These guidelines aren’t new for brands, and influencers have become well-acquainted with them with the rise of social media platforms. But for media companies, this signals a new era in sponsored content, content marketing, and native advertising.
Marketers have taken notice, shifting ad dollars from traditional venues like television to reach digital consumers online and through mobile apps. In the process, influencer marketing has grown to become a $1 billion industry on Instagram alone. With the recent launch of long-form video platform and YouTube competitor, IGTV, Instagram is poised to capture even more users and ad dollars moving forward. Read More>>
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Content Marketing: What Is It, Why It's Important, & Best Examples
The phrase “content marketing” gets thrown around a lot, typically without much in the way of context or explanation as to what, exactly, it means. It sounds relatively straightforward — after all, content is, in some form or another, the driving force behind the majority of marketing efforts. But understanding what constitutes content marketing, what sets it apart, and how it overlaps with other types of marketing is vital to using it effectively.
As influencer marketing becomes an increasingly substantial component of advertising budgets, the industry faces stricter FTC regulations to ensure utmost transparency and avoid costly violations. For example, the FTC sent warning letters to 90 brands and influencers in April 2017 for failing to comply with FTC guidelines for sponsored content.
Following this move, Mediakix conducted a study to review FTC compliance among Instagram’s top 50 celebrities. The troubling results—that 93% of top social media endorsements violate FTC regulations—coupled with the FTC’s determination to place more onus on brands and influencers has thus set in motion stronger FTC enforcement.
Social Media Platforms Respond To Stronger FTC Regulation
In the wake of the FTC’s crackdown, social media platforms are introducing features that foster increased transparency in sponsored content. Both Instagram and YouTube are among those that have added sponsored content disclosure features. Here, we break down YouTube’s “Includes Paid Promotion” tag to define what it is, how it fits into FTC guidelines, steps for making videos FTC compliant, and what it means for influencer marketing on YouTube and beyond.
What Is YouTube’s “Includes Paid Promotion” Tag?
YouTube offers a tool for declaring paid promotional content within videos. It’s available to creators as they upload content in the form of a small checkbox that serves as an indication to YouTube that the video is sponsored. Checking this box results in a small text tag on the video that says, “Includes Paid Promotion.”
Most simply, YouTube’s paid promotion tag is a written disclosure that YouTubers can add to the beginning of any sponsored video. The tag appears in the bottom left corner of a video (see image above) for the first few seconds that viewers watch. Its purpose is to call out sponsored content to viewers in a clear, standardized way, so as to blatantly signal to users that the video has been produced in partnership with a sponsor.
Using the tag is optional and creators can add the disclaimer to any existing videos without losing video views. YouTube’s help page offers a step-by-step guide walking creators through the feature.
How Does YouTube’s “Includes Paid Promotion” Tag Fit Into FTC Guidelines?
Though the tag gives users one way to declare a video as sponsored, the FTC’s updated guidelines state that using the tag alone doesn’t sufficiently disclose sponsored content to viewers. It’s too easy to miss and doesn’t make the nature of paid promotion or material relationship between brand and creator entirely obvious.
That said, this tool is helpful for keeping influencers on the right side of FTC regulations because it signifies another effort to disclose, and it also helps YouTube place better, more effective ads by avoiding the placement of competitor ads on sponsored content.
4 Steps To Making Sponsored YouTube Videos FTC Compliant
When creating a sponsored YouTube video, creators are instructed to use a combination of the following four disclosure tips to successfully meet FTC guidelines.
1. Verbally Disclose Sponsored Content At The Start Of Videos
The FTC guidelines are clear about the fact that disclosures must be easy for audiences to find. That means that disclosures displayed solely in video description boxes don’t hit the mark, as not all users direct their attention below the video.
Instead, disclosures should be in the videos themselves. At the beginning of the video (not the end), YouTubers should verbally disclose that a video is sponsored. Unambiguous language like, “This video is sponsored by…” should be used. Ambiguous phrases such as, “Thanks to..” are unacceptable. The FTC states that verbal disclosures should be, "read at a cadence that is easy for consumers to follow and in words consumers will understand.”
2. Use Text Overlay Disclosures At The Start Of Sponsored Videos
In addition to providing a verbal disclosure at the beginning of a video, creators should include text overlay informing viewers that the video is sponsored. This written disclosure must appear on the screen long enough to be read (per FTC guidelines) and easily understood. They should also include unambiguous language such as “paid advertisement” or “sponsored advertising content.”
3. Use Clear And Unambiguous Disclosure Language In The Video Description Above "Show More"
Creators should use clear language to inform viewers that a video is sponsored within the video description and above the “Show More” button. An example of appropriate language includes, “This video is sponsored by…” If disclosures are included under the “Show More” cut on YouTube, audiences are less likely to see it, as not all viewers will click to expand to see the full description.
4. Guarantee That All Claims In Videos Are Truthful
Disclosures are vital to FTC compliance, but brands and influencers must also ensure that all claims made within videos are truthful and can be backed up. The FTC is responsible for safeguarding consumers against deceptive advertising, and while we often talk about that idea in the context of disclosures, false claims are a major part of deceptive advertising, too.
Video creators must be sure that whatever claims they make within videos are based on truth and fact. They should feel empowered to include opinions, but in talking about tangibles, claims related to quality, durability, results, and performance should be limited to factual, provable statements.
How Does YouTube’s “Includes Paid Promotion” Tag Impact The Influencer Marketing Industry?
YouTube’s paid promotion tag is a step towards standardizing the disclosure of sponsored content across the platform. It signals YouTube’s shift towards encouraging transparency and FTC compliance amongst its users.
However, the FTC’s recent disclosure guideline updates make it clear that using YouTube’s built-in paid promotion tag alone is not sufficient. Similarly, Facebook and Instagram’s paid partnership tags are not considered adequate disclosure by the FTC.
It’s evident that the industry has a long way to go before acceptable disclosure options become standardized. There is a slew of ways to disclose sponsored content, but confusion around appropriate disclosure practices runs rampant, and the FTC’s rejection of YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram’s built-in disclosure features only heightens this confusion.
Social media platforms and the FTC need to bridge the compliance gap. Only time will tell whether platforms can develop improved disclosure tools that fully satisfy FTC guidelines.
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A Complete Guide: How To Advertise On Instagram
Instagram is a social networking powerhouse that currently boasts over 800 million monthly active users, 250 million of whom use its Stories feature on a daily basis. Accordingly, brands interested in reaching Instagram’s deep well of users are constantly looking for the most effective techniques to advertise on the trending and popular social platform.
In order to give brands a better understanding of Instagram’s advertising landscape, we’ve developed a comprehensive guide which details the many ways the social platform can be leveraged to reach potential customers.
Native advertising and influencer marketing offer distinct opportunities in terms of form/medium, reach, and engagement. Below, we’ll take a look at what these differences mean for businesses, as well as which approach might be most beneficial for a particular campaign.
To illustrate how today's biggest global brands are leveraging the reach and engagement of the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app, we've compiled a list of over 30 Instagram case studies, including each campaign's creative strategy, examples of how companies created their brand-sponsored content (with and without digital influencers), and the results for each marketing initiative. Read More>>
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The Updated 2018 FTC Endorsement Guidelines: What Brands Must Know For Sponsorships On Social Media & With Influencers [Infographic]
The FTC's new endorsement guidelines for sponsored content rests on a simple assumption: consumers are likely to react differently to recommendations that come from trusted friends (or social media stars) than from people who receive compensation to endorse a product. To that end, the FTC is attempting to create more transparency in sponsored social media content by placing more onus on brands (and in some cases, on influencers too) to openly divulge the relationship between companies and the digital stars who recommend their products or services.
While the FTC now offers more guidance on exactly what it expects proper disclosure to look and/or sound like—the agency even published a simple Q&A to address marketers' basic concerns—the ever-changing nature of social media makes establishing a set of clear-cut rules nearly impossible. Instead, the FTC offers a number of guidelines that brands can follow to convey a reasonable degree of transparency to digital media/social media consumers.
Based on our experience developing sponsored social media content for global brands, we've identified what we believe to be the most important FTC endorsement rules below. Read More>>