Sunday, September 27, 2020
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Can You Trust Influencers on YouTube?

Brands love YouTube influencers for their perceived authenticity. Can you trust them?

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Ah, YouTube. Creators being creative, making videos about stuff they’re passionate about, and sharing them with the world. But YouTube has been around for over a decade now, and it dominates as THE place for video content. Because of that, it’s WAY more of a business now than anyone could have imagined. Enter the influencer — a social media personality with a homegrown fan base that they’ve been interacting with for years. Brands love them, and are paying influencers top dollar to promote their products. We head to VidCon to ask fans, brands, and other YouTubers — Can you trust what’s on YouTube?

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What are influencers?
The advertising world refers to many of the stars on YouTube, Instagram, and other social media platforms as INFLUENCERS, because they have their own, home-grown fanbase that they have been interacting with for years. To capitalize on that fanbase, companies pay these influencers to promote their product or service.

Why do marketers pay influencers to promote their products instead of just doing traditional commercials?
At the end of the day, influencers possess something that advertisers can’t purchase directly — authenticity, and authenticity is YouTube’s thing. According to a study sponsored by Google, 4 in 10 YouTube subscribers between the ages of 18 to 34 said their favorite creator understands them better than their friends!

What are the rules about influencers advertising products on YouTube?
New research out of Princeton University found that out of thousands of videos with paid endorsements, only 10 PERCENT disclosed that information to the viewer. And many of the videos that DID have disclosures didn’t even follow the guidelines outlined by the Federal Trade Commission, which is the government agency responsible for regulating commerce in the U.S. Basically, you can’t just have hashtag ad or something like that buried somewhere in the YouTube description. The disclosure needs to be clear and easy to find.

SOURCES:
An Empirical Study of Affiliate Marketing Disclosures on YouTube and Pinterest
https://arxiv.org/pdf/1803.08488.pdf

Why YouTube stars are more influential than traditional celebrities
https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/youtube-stars-influence/

Decline in TV viewership
http://www.businessinsider.com/tv-vs-internet-media-consumption-average-chart-2017-6

Highest Paid YouTubers of 2017
https://www.forbes.com/pictures/5a275d6931358e286471a7e8/the-worlds-highest-paid-y/#6600c80c2583

Warner Bros. Settles FTC Charges
https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2016/07/warner-bros-settles-ftc-charges-it-failed-adequately-disclose-it

FTC endorsement guidelines for influencers
https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking

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