Can YouTubers Make Videos With Ads and Lie? The Ethics Behind Branding


Hand And Gavel.

Being a YouTube creator comes with advantages. Creators have an outlet for their creative impulses and ideas, an audience that supports their work, and often the opportunity to work with exciting brands to create new content. However, all of this comes with added responsibility. YouTubers rely on the genuine personal connection that they build with their audience by creating authentic content. Those brand deals and sponsorships, awesome as they can be, complicate that. So how do you take advantage of brand opportunities without taking advantage of your fans? The answer is deceptively simple.

Do Your Homework

When brand deals and sponsorship opportunities start rolling in, it can be exciting and a little overwhelming. Take your time and do some research before you commit to anything. Find out more about the brand, their products, and their history before you take a deal. You don’t want to attached your good name to a brand and then find out that they’re involved in something that you don’t believe in or don’t support.

Ask Questions

If a brand is reaching out to YouTubers, then chances are they know a thing or two about the culture and etiquette of YouTube. They’re trusting you to share their message with your audiences in your own way. If a brand wants to tell you exactly what to say or how to say it, and it’s not something you feel comfortable with, then they may not be for you. Present the offer or promotion in the same authentic way that you usually do and your audience will appreciate it.

Endorse Products You Believe In

There are tons of brands out there that you love and use every day. There are also countless others that you don’t know yet but which you could fall in love with almost immediately. If you believe in a product then there’s no reason not to let a brand pay you to promote it. Remember that as a YouTuber your subscribers are your most valuable possession. Brands are coming to you asking to borrow them for a little while. Treat your audience like the priceless possession it is and only hand it off to someone that you know and like.

Tell The Truth

Fans don’t like feeling like they’ve been hoodwinked. Subscribing to a YouTube channel or following a creator on social media is usually a sign that you enjoy their content and trust their opinion. If you find out after the fact that a creator you love and rely on for tips or advice is taking cash in exchange for promoting a particular product, it can feel like you’ve been manipulated. Fans also know their favorite creators well enough to spot a fake or insincere recommendation.

Not only that, but there are Federal Trade Commission rules that state creators must declare if they’re being paid to represent the product they’re selling. Some creators skirt around the issue by simply dropping links or writing it in the description, but according to the FTC, creators should be prefacing any paid endorsement, review or advertisement with a statement like: “This is a paid review”.

Here’s what the FTC says exactly:

The basics are that the disclosure has to be in words that the consumer can understand – it can’t just be a URL or a link, it has to be in a place where consumers will see it. Certainly as a practical matter, the best thing would be to put it in the video itself, and for the person to say it.

While saying that a video is sponsored may lose you views for the day, it’s a smart move both ethically and for maintaining a strong honest relationship with your followers.

There you have it: so long as you’re upfront about what you’re doing, and make sure to treat your fans with respect, creating a sponsored video won’t be an ethical dilemma.


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