New Study Finds that 90% of Affiliate Marketing Arrangements on YouTube are Not Disclosed

With the misuse of data dominating the digital marketing landscape, it’s fairly safe to assume that transparency is going to be a key focus for all platforms in 2018 – which will mean more insight into how your personal data is being used, but also a broader view into influencer marketing partnerships, and why certain people are endorsing particular products.

And while the platforms themselves are taking measures on this front (Facebook and Instagram have recently rolled out their new branded content tags to highlight paid partnerships), a new study by researchers from Princeton University has found that some 90% of affiliate marketing ads on YouTube and Pinterest are not disclosed, in violation FTC guidelines.

According to Wired, Princeton researchers analyzed a sample of over 500,000 YouTube videos and more than 2.1 million unique Pinterest pins collected from August to September 2017.

“Of those, 3,472 videos and 18,237 pins had affiliate links. And of that subset, researchers found that only 10% of YouTube videos, and 7% of Pinterest pins, contained any written disclosure.”   

The findings will no doubt spark a wider examination by the FTC, which recently announced a new crackdown on sponsored posts on social, in response to rising consumer concerns.

As noted, Facebook – on both their main platform and on Instagram – has been pushing its ‘Branded Content Tags’ to denote such arrangements.

A renewed investigation will no doubt put more focus on their use, and prompt other platforms to be extra vigilant in their policing of such efforts.

What does that mean for marketers? You need to know the rules.

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With influencer marketing on the rise, it’s important for brands to understand their various requirements, and to adhere to the regulations as set by the FTC (you can see the FTC rules here).

Using influencers to boost your brand messaging can be a great, effective way to boost exposure, but as more focus switches to the legal use of social platforms and data, you can expect there to be a bigger push on such measures.

Best to ensure you’re operating within the rules. 

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