Partner Debbie Brett, in our Corporate & Commercial team, considers the regulatory position on video blogs (vlogs).
CAP (the Committee on Advertising Practice) has issued clarification on the regulatory position on video blogs (vlogs). If a vlog is considered to be an ad, then both the vlogger and the advertiser are considered responsible for accurately labelling the advertisement.
There is nothing wrong with vloggers, marketers or agencies entering into commercial relationships: what’s wrong is if consumers are misled. Vloggers should ensure that consumers know when they are watching an advertisement, and when they are watching editorial content.
The four main questions to consider are:
1) Does the video count as an advert?
- Is the advertiser paying the vlogger? This could be monetary payment or gifting free items.
- Does the advertiser have editorial control over the video? For example:
- Drafting content;
- Having final approval;
- Restricting the vlogger on promoting competitors.
If so then it is an ad. CAP sets out specific scenarios (here) which will help vloggers determine whether their videos are advertorial, and therefore required to be labelled appropriately, or marketing communications, which are covered by the CAP Code’s general online remit.
2) Does it need to be labelled?
In some contexts, it’s obvious that a video is an ad. For example where a vlog features on a brand’s own social media channels, the context is likely to make it obvious, and it’s less likely to need a label. However, if the vlog is published on the vlogger’s own social media channels, and it’s done in the style of their other videos, it’s classed as an “advertorial” and so will usually need to be labelled.
3) Is the label placed appropriately?
- In the description box: No. This text is not immediately visible when viewing YouTube on a tablet, app or mobile browser, and doesn’t appear in video listings, so placing your identifying label here is unlikely to be sufficient.
- Thumbnails and titles: Yes. These are always visible, so including an appropriate label in either of these is likely to be acceptable.
Consumers should be informed at the outset, and before they engage with the vlog, that it is an ad. Finding out it is an ad after selecting it, at the end of a video or half way through, is unlikely to be acceptable.
4) What is an acceptable label?
Acceptable labels, which are sufficient to identity an ad, include “advertisement feature” and “#ad” but do not include “sponsored”, “in association with” and “brought to you by”.
For further information or legal advice, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0118 951 6800.
This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.