Adhering to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) Guidelines is an extremely important part of being an influencer and of creating branded content. Creators and brands must make clear to their audiences that there is a relationship between them and the brands they are promoting. You should never hide that you are working with a brand or being sponsored to feature a product. You should also never say that you purchased a product with your own money when it was sent to you by a brand. Hiding sponsorships won't make your branded content more authentic or organic, it will likely have the opposite effect in the event your audience finds out. More importantly, having proper verbal, visual and written disclosures for branded content is required by law! These guidelines are intended to help you do just that.
The FTC requires that all paid sponsorships be clearly and conspicuously disclosed. In other words, if a brand is paying you to mention, feature or review a product through FameBit, you are required by law to be clear and transparent about that sponsorship and the fact that you are working with the brand.
At FameBit, we take disclosures very seriously. We also understand that the guidelines can be confusing so we’ve put together some best practices along with a direct link to the most up-to-date FTC materials to help.
To avoid misleading your audience, we recommend that disclosures be:
- In clear and unambiguous language;
- As close as possible to the ads to which they relate;
- In a font and color that’s easy to read;
- In a shade that stands out against the background;
- For video image disclosures, at the beginning of the video and on the screen long enough to be noticed, read, and understood; and
- For audio disclosures, read at a cadence that is easy for consumers to follow and in words that consumers will understand.
When it comes to videos, we recommend that you provide a verbal disclosure right at the very beginning of the video or within the first 15 seconds of mentioning the brand/product/service that you are endorsing. Verbal disclosures are the preferred way to clearly and conspicuously describe a creator’s relationship to a brand in videos.
HOW SHOULD YOU SAY IT?
We recommend being upfront and using clear statements. That can be a bit challenging since the FTC has some preferences about wording. As a result, we’ve come up with some suggestions to use. For example:
- “This video was sponsored by [Brand Name]”
- “I worked with [Brand Name] to make this video”
- “[Brand Name] paid me to make this video”
- “Hey guys, this is an ad for [Brand Name]”
- “Thanks to [Brand Name] who helped me make this video”
- “I partnered with [Brand Name] to bring you this video”
- “I collaborated with [Brand Name] to bring you this video”
The statements should be tailored to the specific situation. So, for example, if a brand pays for only part of a creator’s content, you might say:
- “[Brand Name] paid for this part of the video”
- “I worked with [Brand Name] to make this part of the video”
If a company is sponsoring content for multiple brands, you can say:
- “I worked with [Brand Name 1] and [Brand Name 2] to make this video”
The following two possible disclosures would also be sufficient as long as it is clear from the overall video that consumers will understand which products are sponsored:
- “I worked with [Company Name] to tell you about some of their great products”
- “I worked with [Company Name] on this video so I can tell you about some of their great brands”
We recommend using a disclosure similar to the suggestions above whenever you are working with a brand to develop content.
VIP Platform disclosure review Process
On the VIP platform, we take one additional step. Before sharing your content with a brand for final approval, we will look for a disclosure like the ones above. Using one of the suggested disclosures will facilitate review on our end; varying disclosures may involve delay, and we can’t guarantee approval. If a video disclosure is missing or inadequate, we will require re-editing to incorporate a clear and conspicuous disclosure before passing it to the brand. A clear and conspicuous disclosure is one that consumers can’t miss.
KEEP WRITTEN DISCLOSURES ABOVE THE FOLD
In addition to including a verbal disclosure, we recommend that you disclose the sponsorship clearly in the description text above the fold so that your audience can easily see it. We recommend that you place the disclosure in the video description field as close to the product/brand link as possible and within the first three lines of the description field.
If the brand provides you with tracking links and coupon codes to include in the description field, we recommend placing the FTC disclosure before the brand links and any other information. Keep in mind that merely including a link or mentioning sponsorship in the description is likely not enough to meet the FTC rules if it is not accompanied by a verbal disclosure.
If you want to add an additional disclosure that is visible on-screen, we recommend adding a permanent burned-in text overlay disclosure. Ensure that the on-screen disclosure appears on screen long enough to be visible and understandable and ensure that it is in a font and color that stands out against the background. We don’t recommend using annotations as annotations are not visible on mobile devices.
OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS:
The FTC disclosure requirements not only apply to YouTube video sponsorships but also to other sponsored social media content, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram posts. Each creator is responsible for making proper disclosures when creating content for these social media channels as well. We recommend making the disclosure clear and conspicuous at the beginning of the post using the word “AD” or “Sponsored.” Abbreviations of the word “sponsored” are not appropriate.
On platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, when using tags such as #ad, #sponsored, or #promotion, we recommend that you not only place them at the beginning of the post but also separate them from other tags so that the FTC disclosure is clearly identifiable and distinguishable from other tags. Disclosures shouldn’t be buried in the middle of a posting or at the end. You should consider how it will appear on mobile devices without scrolling down.
Even if the campaign that you were hired for is for YouTube only, in the event that you decide to share any brand links or repurpose the content associated with the campaign on other social media channels, we recommend that you include a proper FTC disclosure at the beginning of the post.
Some platforms in which you are contributing content may make other tools available to help you understand FTC requirements or incorporate disclosures in videos and other materials. Their information and tools may be updated from time to time, so you should check their websites periodically for more information.
WHAT IF A BRAND DOESN’T WANT A DISCLOSURE
If a brand asks for you to either not include a disclosure or to remove your disclosure once you submitted your video for review, please notify the brand that the FTC mandates that all paid endorsements be clearly and conspicuously disclosed. Inform the brand that you are required by law to comply with the FTC guidelines. If the brand insists, notify support@famebit for help.
Failure to include a disclosure is not only a violation of FTC rules, but a violation of our VIP Platform policies. If you produce content that otherwise meets brand requirements but fails to include a recommended disclosure, we will not approve the content and will not release payment. We may also suspend or even terminate your account and make you ineligible to participate in future FameBit campaigns.
As guidelines often change please be sure to visit the official FTC website for the most up to date information.
Helpful FTC Rules & Guideline Links:
This article is not meant to be all-inclusive. For more details please visit the FTC Website.