For many YouTubers, getting the chance to review or get a free product and pay from a third party sounds too good to pass up! In the past few years we have seen YouTubers become influencers with hundreds of thousands to millions of subscribers in their respective spaces such as technology, gaming, beauty and more. Advertisers and companies are attracted to YouTubers now as they captivate an audience (Subscribers) they want to target. There are a few things you should consider before taking a product placement or engaging in a sponsored video!
1. Promotion Aligns with Audience
Make sure the product aligns correctly with your audience. The first thing you should do when getting involved with some sort of a sponsored video is to make sure it aligns with the interests of your audience. Lets say you’re a beauty YouTuber and you get a vacuum cleaner to review. This doesnt align well with the interests of your audience as they are only interested in seeing beauty related videos. Therefore if accepting a product placement or speaking about a product make sure it holds the interest of your audience as it is better for the advertiser involved and you as the video will still receive good feedback from viewers.
2. Promotion Disclosure
Disclose that you got the product for free or are getting paid by the company. This is one of the major guidelines. You must disclosed that the video is sponsored by a company or you got the product for free to review at the start of the video. You may not know but this is actually law. YouTube paid promotions are covered by a law called the FTC act and Lanham act which covers the promotion itself and false advertising. The FTC guidelines state that you must make the relationship to the company known to the viewers and make the disclosure clear and conspicuous. What they mean by clear and conspicuous is by telling the viewers straight up in a simple fashion without any confusion or misleading words, it also means that this disclosure should be at the start of the video and not at the end where nearly most of the audience drop off. So something simple like “This is a paid review” “Company X was kind enough to send me this product to review for free”
3. Be Honest
Be completely brutally honest, dont get blinded by money. This guideline is purely to help you retain your audience. Disclose in the video that even though you got the product for free that you will be objective with your criticisms and unbiased. If you seem too promotion orientated, telling your subscribers that the product is amazing in a bid to promote it for more $$ but the product is really sub par and not at all as advertised, you are going to get really bad feedback from your viewers which may result in a bad reputation on your part and losing the trust you have built up with your audience.
4. Read the Contracts and Agreements
Read the contractual agreement thoroughly before entering into the promotion. If you are offered a sponsorship with a company, they will more than likely provide a contract. Be sure that you read the contract thoroughly and make sure all the guidelines of the contract comply with firstly your ethics and obviously FTC Guidelines. For example, that you are allowed to disclose you are getting paid for this sponsored video and you can express your unbiased opinion
Have YouTubers Gotten In Trouble With the FTC?
Yes, In 2016 Warner brothers contacted a few large YouTubers including the one and only pewdiepie to promote their game, the Shadows of Mordor. They paid these YouTubers to review the game on their YouTube but they provided strict guidelines for the reviews of the game so that the YouTubers couldn’t talk about any glitches or bugs in the game, talk negatively about the games such as aspects of it you didn’t like and pushing a call to action where you got your viewers to go to the site to sign up for the game.
The FTC and Warner Bros did reach a settlement on the issue but the FTC Advised that “Consumers have the right to know if reviewers are providing their own opinions or paid sales pitches. Companies like Warner Brothers need to be straight with consumers in their online ad campaigns.”
What are the consequences of not disclosing product placements or sponsored videos ?
When the FTC receives complaints or manually reviews your video, if it finds a reason that your video is violating the law, you may get a warning to remove the video or change the content but if this is not met you could get a fine of up to $16,000 per violation of the FTC law.