Don’t fall foul of new ASA rules for ‘vloggers’

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Transparency and authenticity is not just a vital asset for brands jumping into the vlogosphere, it’s critical for vloggers too – and a new guide from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) helps everyone be upfront and clear with their fans, followers and advocates.

The new guidance (available here) comes in response to calls for greater clarity from vloggers about when material in vlogs becomes advertising and how they can make that clear. It follows an ASA ruling last year in which several vlogs (where there was a commercial relationship between the advertiser and the vloggers) were found to be misleading because they did not make clear before consumers engaged with the material that they were ads.

Brands such as Asda have embraced vloggers on their own channels. Last year at a CIPR event, Asda’s Dom Burch shared the success of ‘Mum’s Eye View’, a YouTube channel launched last year, which to date has over 170,000 subscribers. (For more: check out this slide deck from a similar event Dom led for ISBA back in May 2014).

Asda, and many others, have had great success in working alongside vloggers to create their own content for the channel – and is one of eight scenarios addressed within the new ASA guide.

The guide provides practical advice on how and when the rules kick in. The scenarios covered in the guidance are:

  • 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’s 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

The advertising rules do not cover or prohibit vloggers entering into commercial relationships and the ASA does not regulate editorial opinion.

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