U.K. Government Clamps Down On Sponsored Videos

Britain’s independent advertising watchdog is continuing its clamp down on unethical YouTube advertising.

The latest set of videos to catch the ire of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) includes Beauty Recommended, a video series hosted by several YouTube beauty gurus, including vlogger and model Ruth Crilly. The series is produced and sponsored by Procter & Gamble, and features favorable recommendations of products by P&G’s Max Factor brand.

However, one of Crilly’s videos for Beauty Recommended was recently removed after the ASA claimed the video did not include adequate disclaimers about sponsorships before the video.

Beauty Recommended videos include text suggesting that it is associated with P&G; however, the ASA has ruled that just using a title card at the beginning of a video does not provide enough information for the consumer to adequately decide how the “reviews” contained in a video may be influences by brands.

“It wasn’t until a viewer had selected and opened the video that text, embedded in the video, referred to Procter & Gamble… We considered that viewers should have been aware of the commercial nature of the content before engagement,” the ASA said in a statement.

To comply with this interpretation of the law, many YouTubers put the text “#sp” or “Sponsored” in the title of their videos.

This isn’t the first time the ASA has clamped down on sponsored YouTube Content. Last year, a video sponsored by vloggers Dan Howell (danisnotonfire) and Phil Lester (AmazingPhil) was removed after the ASA claimed the video was not properly marked as sponsored.

The use of sponsored “reviews,” “haul videos,” and other kinds of recommendations is a brand new type of advertising that is still evolving quickly. However, regulators all around the world agree that consumers have the right to know if the person recommending a product is being paid to do so. In the U.S., the FTC has similar rules to Britain’s ASA but they are rarely enforced.

However, with more and more ad dollars flowing towards YouTube and other online destinations, that may change in the near future.