ASA rules against hidden advertising by vloggers

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The massive popularity of some YouTube vloggers has meant that seeing a product promoted by one of the platform's major stars has become extremely attractive to advertisers, but the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against a perceived lack of transparency in come cases.

Addressing the recent presence of Mondelez UK Ltd's Oreos in five videos documenting a Lick Race' challenge posted on the channel of Dan and Phil and Tom Ridgewell, the ASA said there was not enough indication within the videos that the vloggers had been paid to promote the biscuit brand.

The ASA investigated after receiving a complaint from a BBC journalist concerned the videos were not in keeping with UK advertising standards.

The ruling thus states that, in cases where the advertiser has paid the vlogger to feature a particular product, and has control over the content that is produced in association, this must be made clear to the viewer. This allows the viewer to then make a decision on the product with all the information at hand.

In this case, it was decided that the disclosure statement of "Thanks to Oreo for making this video possible" and similar in four of the five videos that have since been banned wasn't sufficient to waive the lack of transparency elsewhere in it, which encouraged viewers to also participate in the game.

In the new ruling, the ASA states: "We considered this should apply to the general audience of the ad and considered that, given that these ads were on online video channels that were usually editorial-based, the commercial intent would have needed to be made clear before viewers engaged with the content."

The rise of vloggers on YouTube has thrown up a variety of new and complex issues for advertisers, and requires those who participate in videos containing promotions to tread the line carefully in order make such deals as transparent for the audience as possible.

Caroline Preece

Caroline has been writing about technology for more than a decade, switching between consumer smart home news and reviews and in-depth B2B industry coverage. In addition to her work for IT Pro and Cloud Pro, she has contributed to a number of titles including Expert Reviews, TechRadar, The Week and many more. She is currently the smart home editor across Future Publishing's homes titles.

You can get in touch with Caroline via email at