Product Placements on YouTube – Regulations and Tips
Product placement is now a very common practice on YouTube, and many YouTubers no longer hesitate to seek partnerships with brands in order to professionalize their content and generate income. It allows them to improve the quality of their videos and to offer increasingly rich content.
With rules to respect for the best possible impact on the target audience, handling product placements on this platform remains complex.
In this article, we will give brands all they need to know in order to carry out effective product placements on Google’s video platform.
Tip for influencers: don’t hesitate to sign up for free on Influence4You to take advantage of product placement campaigns on YouTube.
Part 1: Product placement regulation
First, like any commercial practice, product placement on YouTube is governed by various articles and laws, which we are all required to comply with.
So, what does the law say? In the UK, the Advertising Code states that ads must be “obviously identifiable marketing communications”. In 2014, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned a campaign for Oreo biscuits featuring several YouTubers that did not clearly label the videos as ads. This ruling implies that the Code also applies to vloggers. At a minimum YouTubers should label their sponsored videos with an identifier such as “Ad”, “Advertising”, “Advertising Feature” or similar.
In the US, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ask influencers to respect laws against deceptive ads and reveal their relationships with brands. The guidelines state that when “making an endorsement in a video, the disclosure should be in the video and not just in the description uploaded with the video”.
In both countries, it is mandatory for YouTubers to be absolutely transparent with their community about ads, partnerships and product placements.
This is something you shouldn’t worry about at all, as long as the influencer follows his/her editorial line and actually likes the product. If you’re an influencer, please read our tips and essential information here.
Subscribers know that quality and entertaining content can be the result of product placement, regardless of the influencer’s interest (Beauty, Fashion, Lifestyle, Humor, High-tech or Gaming).
For example, when a YouTuber chooses to talk about a video game or when a beauty YouTuber decides to talk about a face cream, it is customary for them to tell their subscribers whether the game or the cream was sent to them for free or not or if the video is part of a “partnership/sponsorship”.
This shouldn’t impact the opinion of the viewers, as long as the YouTubers remain impartial and honest with their community.
In recent years, new public health objectives and policies have emerged. As a result, new organizations and legislation have been created to achieve these goals.
In the UK, age-restricted products like alcohol and gambling, must not be advertised directly to under-18s. This applies to smoking and vaping. In order to respect the law, marketers are expected to take into account the age/demographics of the influencer’s followers.
In the US, the three major alcohol supplier trade associations have adopted voluntary advertising and marketing codes. They agreed, among other things, that marketing communications should be placed only in media where at least 71.6% of the audiences is of the legal purchase age. As for tobacco, ads are banned on various media including television. However, they are allowed on user-created contents. A nicotine warning statement is mandatory on all posts that show nicotine-containing products, including e-liquids.
You must therefore take these regulations into account, their ins and outs, before launching your campaign on YouTube. Make sure that the video you are sponsoring does not contain any elements that could link age-restricted products to your brand. Unless, of course, your brand sells age-restricted products.
Food and beverage industry
With one in three children leaving primary school overweight or obese, the UK government has ensured advertising rules to help tackle childhood obesity. Indeed, the promotion of Foods High in Fat, Sugar and Salt (HFSS) products is limited. According to Section 15.18 of the CAP Code: “HFSS product advertisements must not be directed at people under 16 through the selection of media or the context in which they appear. No medium should be used to advertise HFSS products, if more than 25% of its audience is under 16 years of age.” Marketers are expected to use demographic data available about the audience of the influencer they are working with. Regardless of the audience’s age, “claims that state or imply a food prevents, treats or cures human disease are not acceptable in marketing communications for food products” (Rule 15.6.2). This applies to ads for food or supplement brands including product claiming weight loss. Over in the US, the FDA is in charge of evaluating the scientific evidence of health claims.
With the technicalities out of the way, it’s time to dive into the meat of the matter: practical tips you can use for product placement success!
2. 12 tips for product placement on YouTube
1. Choosing the right YouTuber
When managing product placement on YouTube, the first essential step is to find a YouTuber who offers the type of content that is appropriate for the product/service or the brand itself and whose audience is the one that brand wishes to target.
This is the essential starting point for any successful product placement campaign. It can be extremely complicated to carry out when you are not very familiar with the video-sharing website.
Indeed, there is now a large number of people creating content on YouTube and selecting the right person requires a lot of work. It’s important to find someone who:
- Is similar to your target audience.
- Has a style that appeals to the brand.
- Have a number of views/videos or subscribers in line with the brand’s budget.
- Create the type of videos the brand wants to use.
For this reason alone, we strongly recommend brands to hire an agency that will provide them with the necessary support and advice to make the best possible choice among the YouTubers who may be an appropriate fit for the brand’s objectives.
2. Keep the YouTuber’s style
Once you have selected (alone or with the help of an influence agency) the right YouTubers for your product placement, the next step is to talk about the style of the video.
Brands often (wrongly) tend to try to overly supervise the way the product or service will be presented in the video.
This is a mistake. YouTubers are creative professionals. Their success and their tens, hundreds of thousands or even millions of subscribers didn’t happen by chance.
They know by heart which types of videos, style and settings are most appreciated by their community, which is also the target audience the brand wants to address. They will know exactly how to best introduce the product/service to their subscribers for maximum impact. This is why brands should only share key messages and 3 or 4 demands to respect, but leave it up to the influencer to keep their usual style.
3. Don’t use too many YouTubers in one campaign
When a brand wants to set up a product placement campaign on YouTube, they may be tempted to select several YouTubers to ensure a large and diverse audience.
However, this is a trap that you should not fall into because many YouTubers have the same communities and an “overflow” of videos about the product or service can damage its image.
It is better to precisely determine the target you want to reach and select a small number of YouTubers who are able to reach them in the best possible way and engage the largest number.
4. Allow the YouTuber to be unbiased
Whatever the product or service offered, it is important to see the relationship between brands and YouTubers as a collaboration rather than a simple advertising contract.
Indeed, they prefer to be given free rein both in the making of the video (as we have seen) and in giving their opinion about the product or service received for the product placement or partnership.
YouTubers will never agree to promote a product or service that they don’t like or that they think won’t be useful to their communities. Their credibility is at stake and they could lose “everything” in a matter of moments if they were found guilty of deceiving or lying to their subscribers.
It is therefore essential to trust them. If they agree to talk about a product, it is because they think it would be good to show it to their community, or even to support it if the community doesn’t share their opinion. Take for example a book or a movie: YouTubers will only talk about it if they really enjoyed it and will be ready to defend it when members of their community disagree. Making sure the influencer really liked the product is very important when doing a product placement campaign.
5. Don’t forget about payment
As with any partnership between a brand and an influencer, product placements must be fairly compensated. Because making videos and managing a community is a full-time job and because YouTubers bring to the brand their community, their legitimacy AND their endorsement.
This may pose certain constraints:
- You need to have a very good knowledge of the market price in order to avoid disappointments and to pay the right price.
- Knowing how contracts with YouTubers work. Content creators can have different and complex legal forms (registered self-employed, limited companies, foreign companies, copyright…).
As an agency, we are used to dealing with YouTubers and they particularly appreciate our expertise and our knowledge of their particular environment. Conversely, brands appreciate the fact that they have one contact person to manage everything easily and avoid the tax and social risks related to these – often – self-employed creators.
6. Call to action
An effective product placement must, by definition, incite the target audience to take action, which generally translates into the purchase of the promoted product.
Today we know that 9 out of 10 people consult reviews online before making a purchase.
Here again, YouTubers are very influential. They are listened to very carefully due to the video format and their product or service recommendations are generally massively followed by their subscribers.
Ultimately, if a YouTuber prompts his community to take action, whether it’s downloading a mobile app, going to a website, or signing up for a service, chances are a significant portion of their community will do so. But don’t forget to tell the YouTuber to call to action.
7. Give out a promo code
The best way to get people to perform a certain action is to provide a special benefit to the Youtuber’s subscribers (a promo code, a gift, a special offer…).
This will help bring significant traffic for the brand.
Indeed, subscribers particularly appreciate promo codes or advantages that their favorite YouTubers can bring them.
For example, it’s not unusual for servers to crash for a short time because of the number of people an influencer brought to a brand’s site.
Therefore, it is important to consider setting up promotional benefits when setting up a product placement campaign on YouTube. It will help maximize traffic and is a perfect call to action.
8. Keeping the pace throughout the year
When carrying out product placement campaigns on YouTube, it is also important to establish a long-term plan. This is especially true when the brand intends to rely on several influencers to promote its product or service.
Brands that choose to rely on several influencers may be tempted to have all the videos published in a short period of time in order to maximize the impact of the campaign and reach a large number of people at the same time.
However, we recommend spacing out the publications throughout the year, in order to maintain continuous contact with the targeted community/communities.
Moreover, YouTubers often share a good part of their communities. For this reason, subscribers tend to feel overwhelmed when all the videos about a product are released at the same time. They no longer see the product placement as part of the video and as something that helps the influencer create said video but as just an advertisement that is drilled into their heads.
This will obviously depend on the type of campaign you want to set up. But it is generally more interesting to space out these publications and keep a regular rhythm throughout the year.
9. Work with the long tail
When an advertiser wants to set up a product placement campaign on social networks, it is quite natural (at first) to consider working with the influencers with the largest communities, in order to reach a maximum of people and create a strong impact.
Ignoring less influential but important YouTubers (with fewer than 100,000 subscribers) is a mistake.
Indeed, by asking them to put forward your product or service, you can reach a large target by accumulating their various communities. They are what we call “long tail” influencers who are hyper-targeted and influential on their respective themes.
The influence platform Influence4You is an easy way to connect influencers with brands.
Who knows? Maybe among these less important influencers are hidden future social media stars…
10. Don’t neglect mobile phones
Mobile web browsing overtook desktop browsing.
This phenomenon particularly applies to young people, with a rate of over 98% among 15-34-year-olds.
Product placements with YouTubers (or with influencers on other social networks) guarantee that the campaign will be mobile-optimized as well as to desktop-optimized without having to worry about the technical aspects (no need to design banners in 10,000 different formats for instance). Another advantage, and by no means insignificant: product placement avoids ad blockers (Adblock …) and is a “cookieless” media.
Now, if you’re doing a campaign that links back to your website… don’t forget that your site needs to be responsive because the majority of the audience will be on mobile.
11. Use other social networks
We have focused our article on YouTube, but it is also possible to carry out product placements on different social networks including TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook ..
Videos are the medium most suited to this type of campaign because it allows a complete presentation of the product or service as well as a contextualized use of it.
However, YouTubers are often active on several social networks and can use them to promote a brand, a product or a service on all their different accounts. It’s very interesting as the audience reached can be considerably larger when all the accounts are taken into account.
12. Contact us
The #1 influencer agency, Influence4You knows social media and its various actors inside out. Thanks to our experience, we were able to develop privileged relationships with each of them, allowing advertisers to set up their campaigns quickly and confidently.