The International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) has rallied alongside the Competition Markets Authority (CMA) to produce global guidelines for YouTube Influencers partnering with brands.
The guidance is a result of the Online Reviews and Endorsements project group, and it aims to empower the Influencer to act transparently when they talk about third-party services.
It’s something agencies and brands are keen to explore too, because when advertorial content masquerades as an ordinary vlog, blog or social post, it usually spells bad news for marketers. Hello, fines and ‘name and shames’!
Influencers are officially advised to:
Disclose clearly and prominently whether a vlog, social posts, or guest writer’s content is paid for. ‘Paid for’ also means goods offered, or any other kind of incentive, in exchange for work.
Be transparent about commercial relationships that fueled the advertorial content.
Give a real opinion, even if the review isn’t glowing.
Say ‘No’ to a brand or agency if they aren’t happy with the three points above.
The Influencers we love are completely owning these guidelines already. Their video content feels natural, interesting and in truth, the sponsored or branded content is native and compels us to shop.
For example, we’d love to have a tour of the Lush factory just like tyrannosauruslexxx.
Even though it’s not a sponsored video (“This video was not sponsored! HA! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. I was bribed with a trip, though. Mmm bribery.”), as viewers we know she was offered an experience and it was her free choice to review it, or not.
She’s vocal about her love of ethical cosmetics, animal testing and human rights. A factory tour of an animal-friendly cosmetic brand is relevant to her community, true to her values and she’s completely transparent about why she’s there and what Lush gave her in exchange.
If you’re watching a video and you can’t tell either way what the deal is behind the scenes, it probably means the guidelines above have been flaunted or ignored.