Adhering to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) Guidelines is an extremely important part of working with influencers 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 ask influencers to hide that they are working with your brand or being sponsored to feature your product. Hiding sponsorships won't make your branded content more authentic or organic, it will likely have the opposite effect. Importantly, one of the most valuable and amazing aspects of working with influencers is that they strip the glossy exterior and add a human component that makes your brand more relatable. Also, influencers put a lot of time and effort into growing their viewership and viewers appreciate transparency. Finally, 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 you are paying an influencer to mention, feature or review a product through FameBit, you are required by law to be clear and transparent about that sponsorship and ensure that the influencer discloses that he/she is working with your 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 ask influencers to make a verbal disclosure right at the very beginning of the video or within the first 15 seconds of mentioning the brand/product/service that they are endorsing.
HOW SHOULD INFLUENCERS SAY IT?
We recommend being upfront and using clear statements. 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”
The statements should be tailored to the specific situation. So, for example, if a brand pays for only part of an influencer’s content, a disclosure could 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 creator to develop content.
VIP Platform disclosure review Process
On the VIP platform, we take one additional step. Before sharing a creator’s 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 ask influencers to disclose the sponsorship clearly in the description text above the fold so that their audience can easily see it. We recommend that you ask creators to 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 you provide the influencer with tracking links and coupon codes to include in the description field, we recommend placing the FTC disclosure before your links and any other information. Keep in mind that merely having the influencer include a link or mention the 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 influencers to add an additional disclosure that is visible on- screen, we recommend adding a permanent burned-in text overlay disclosure. You should 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.
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.
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. You are responsible for ensuring that each creator makes 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 ask creators to place them at the beginning of the post but also ask creators to 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 hired influencers for is for YouTube only, in the event that influencers decide to share any of your brand links or repurpose the content associated with the campaign on other social media channels, we recommend that you ask and remind influencers to include a proper FTC disclosure at the beginning of the post.
WHAT IF AN INFLUENCER DOESN’T WANT TO INCLUDE A DISCLOSURE?
If an influencer asks to not include a disclosure or to remove your disclosure, please notify the influencer that the FTC mandates that all paid endorsements be clearly and conspicuously disclosed. Inform the creator that you are required by law to comply with the FTC guidelines. If the creator 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 refuse to approve creator content that otherwise meets your requirements simply because you do not approve inclusion of one of the recommended disclosures, we will not release the content but will require full payment from you.
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.