Native ad rules get stricter as vloggers blur lines between ads and content

19/08/2015

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has issued new guidance for vloggers who promote products online, following a series of controversial YouTube advertorials in recent months.

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The guidelines covers sponsorship, product placement, ‘advertorial’ vlogs, vloggers promoting their own products, and brands sending vloggers items for free with no editorial control of the content.

The new rules apply across all media, including online and social media, state that if a vlogger is paid to promote a product or service and an advertiser controls the message, vloggers must clearly signpost that they are advertising.

CAP’s guidance follows a landmark Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling last year.

Shahriar Coupal, the director of the Committees of Advertising Practice, said: "Wherever ads appear we should be confident we can trust what an advertiser says; it’s simply not fair if we’re being advertised to and are not made aware of that fact.

"Our guidance will 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."

The UK advertising regulatory framework is one of the most sophisticated and well funded in the world so it typically acts as a lead for countries across the rest of Europe and beyond. Lack of transparency in vlogging has been a much greater challenge, particularly in the Far East and Eastern Europe, so these initiatives are likely to have a big impact far beyond the UK.

Last year the ASA said several vlogs praising Oreo biscuits were not clearly marked.
The Cap guidelines discuss several scenarios in which text clarifying that content is sponsored, or that a product placement arrangement is in place, might be added to videos.

"A key rule under the Cap code is that if the content is controlled by the marketer, 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," it says.

However, the guidelines noted that when free items are sent to vloggers without any editorial or content control over videos exerted by the brand in question, there is no need for them to follow the CAP code.

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