Does YouTube’s “Includes Paid Promotion” Tag Satisfy FTC Guidelines?
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What Marketers Must Know About YouTube’s “Includes Paid Promotion” Tag
In the past few years, influencer marketing has progressed tremendously, particularly on YouTube, with creators in the one to three million subscriber range now earning an average of $125,000 per sponsored video.
Influencer marketing is becoming a substantial component of advertising budgets, and as it grows, the industry is facing stricter FTC regulations. 2017 was a year characterized by increased FTC enforcement, during which 90 brands and influencers were delivered warning letters for failing to meet the FTC’s guidelines for sponsored content.
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’ll break down YouTube’s “Includes Paid Promotion” tag and define what is, how it fits in with FTC guidelines, and what it means for influencer marketing on YouTube and beyond.
What Is YouTube’s “Includes Paid Promotion” Tag?
Most simply, YouTube’s paid promotion tag is a written disclosure that YouTubers can add to the beginning of any sponsored video.
The tag states the words, “Includes paid promotion” and appears in the bottom left corner of a video. Its purpose is to call out sponsored content to viewers in a clear, standardized way.
Using the tag is optional and creators can add it to any existing videos without losing video views. YouTube’s help page also offers a step-by-step guide walking creators through the feature.
How Does YouTube’s “Includes Paid Promotion” Tag Fit In With FTC Guidelines?
Though the tag gives users one way to disclose a video as sponsored, the FTC’s updated guidelines state that using the tag alone doesn’t sufficiently disclose sponsored content to viewers. When creating a sponsored YouTube video creators are instructed to use a combination of the following three disclosure methods to successfully meet FTC disclosure guidelines.
1. Verbally disclose sponsored content at the start of videos
At the beginning of the video, 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.
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 and easily understood and should 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"
Within the video description and above the “Show More” button, creators should use clear and unambiguous language to inform viewers that a video is sponsored. Examples of appropriate language include, “This video is sponsored by…”
How Will 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 considered sufficient. Similarly, Facebook and Instagram’s paid partnership tags are not considered adequate disclosure by the FTC.
In light of this, it’s clear that the industry has a way to go before acceptable disclosure options become standardized. There are a slew of ways to disclose sponsored content, but confusion around appropriate disclosure continues to run rampant, and the FTC’s rejection of YouTube, Facebook and Instagram’s built-in disclosure features may only heighten this confusion.
Platforms and the FTC have yet to work together to bridge the compliance gap. Only time will tell whether platforms will be able to develop improved disclosure tools that fully satisfy FTC guidelines.
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January 17, 2018 By Mediakix Team