The FTC recently put out a document where they publicly responded to several frequently asked questions their team gets asked about their sponsorship disclosure guidelines.
Four of the questions offer clear insight into what disclosures need to look like in YouTube videos:
What if I upload a video to YouTube that shows me reviewing several products? Should I disclose when I got them from an advertiser?
Yes. The guidance for videos is the same as for websites or blogs.
If I upload a video to YouTube and that video requires a disclosure, can I just put the disclosure in the description that I upload together with the video?
No, because it’s easy for consumers to miss disclosures in the video description. Many people might watch the video without even seeing the description page, and those who do might not read the disclosure. The disclosure has the most chance of being effective if it is made clearly and prominently in the video itself. That’s not to say that you couldn’t have disclosures in both the video and the description.
I guess I need to make a disclosure that I’ve gotten paid for a video review that I’m uploading to YouTube. When in the review should I make the disclosure? Is it ok if it’s at the end?
It’s more likely that a disclosure at the end of the video will be missed, especially if someone doesn’t watch the whole thing. Having it at the beginning of the review would be better. Having multiple disclosures during the video would be even better. Of course, no one should promote a link to your review that bypasses the beginning of the video and skips over the disclosure. If YouTube has been enabled to run ads during your video, a disclosure that is obscured by ads is not clear and conspicuous.
My company, XYZ, operates one of the most popular multi-channel networks on YouTube. We just entered into a contract with a videogame marketer to pay some of our network members to produce and upload video reviews of the marketer’s games. We’re going to have these reviewers announce at the beginning of each video (before the action starts) that it’s “sponsored by XYZ” and also have a prominent simultaneous disclosure on the screen saying the same thing. Is that good enough?
Many consumers could think that XYZ is a neutral third party and won’t realize from your disclosures that the review was really sponsored (and paid for) by the videogame marketer, which has a strong interest in positive reviews. If the disclosure said, “Sponsored by [name of the game company],” that would be good enough.