The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) today released new guidelines for video bloggers clarifying the application of UK advertising rules, in particular the CAP Code, to advertising in vlogs.
The guidance focuses on improving transparency through clear identification of advertising content. It has been published in response to last year’s ASA ruling on Mondelez UK Ltd, in which the ASA decided that a number of YouTube videos from established vloggers featuring references to Oreo biscuits were misleading in that they were insufficiently identifiable as marketing content.
To help resolve any ambiguity in the wake of the ruling, CAP has highlighted a “key rule” for vloggers: “if the content is controlled by the marketer, and not the vlogger, and is written in exchange for payment (which could be a monetary payment or free items) then it is an advertisement feature and must be labelled as such”.
The guidance provides the following 8 scenarios which demonstrate the application of UK advertising rules to vlogging marketing practices:
- Online marketing by a brand – where a brand collaborates with a vlogger and makes a vlog about the brand and/or its products and shares it on its own social media channels
- “Advertorial” vlogs – a whole video is in the usual style of the vlogger but the content is controlled by the brand and the vlogger has been paid
- Commercial breaks within vlogs – where most of the vlog is editorial material but there is also a specific section dedicated to the promotion of a product
- Product placement – independent editorial content that also features a commercial message
- Vlogger’s video about their own product – the sole content of a vlog is a promotion of the vlogger’s own merchandise
- Editorial video referring to a vlogger’s products – a vlogger promotes their own product within a broader editorial piece
- Sponsorship – a brand sponsors a vlogger to create a video but has no control of the content
- Free items – a brand sends a vlogger items for free without any control of the content of the vlog
This can only be a good thing for advertisers and vloggers alike. It should go some way towards clearing up any uncertainty for marketers following the Mondelez ruling and help simplify compliance matters for this increasingly popular advertising practice.
Increased transparency should improve the effectiveness of vlog marketing by improving viewer trust. The core vlog audience of millenials, a group generally highly aware of marketing practices and inclined to reject any perceived inauthenticity in their media consumption, are likely to respond well to upfront practices from vloggers partnering with brands.
As Shahriah Coupal, Director of CAP, argues, the guidance should “give vloggers greater confidence that they’re sticking to the rules, which in turn will help maintain the relationship and trust they’ve built with their followers”.