Contracts For Dollars -- Vloggers Will Have To Grow Up Fast

Influencer marketing is growing up. It has to. Last week we saw YouTubers calling out their platform's owner, Google, over labelling some content as "not advertiser-friendly." Today we have the unveiling of ISBA's draft contract that brands can use to seek clarity on deals with influencers. No doubt this will be seen as more "nanny state" or the "grown ups" trying to take over the channel, but -- as if the vloggers need reminding -- it's these guys in suits that are holding budget.

I got called out on social media by several angered influencer protagonists who claim that YouTube is censoring the net. It's actually doing nothing of the sort. It's simply forewarning advertisers that a particular video or vlogger is producing content that is not likely to be the kind of material they want their brand name next to. It's purely and simply a brand safety issue. Vloggers can consider themselves lucky that they got away with being potty-mouthed for so long. It might have gotten them huge audiences because they were saying the things young people don't hear on mainstream television, but then again, it's for a very good reason that grown-up channels don't want to cuss because it's not only bad form -- it keeps the advertisers away.

Vloggers can continue to do exactly what they're doing. Nobody will stop them -- although their bank manager might have a little input on the correct course of action.

Interestingly, the ISBA contract is mostly centred around ownership of videos they sponsor, so there is clarity on whether the brand can use clips for their own marketing purposes. There are also clauses about curtailing the temptation for a vlogger to bad-mouth a competitor brand to protect an advertiser from looking like they are taking a cheap shot at a rival. What is apparently missing, though, according to Campaign, is a clause clarifying that the commercial relationship must be acknowledged in the video. This can only presumably be attributed to ISBA expecting brands and vloggers to already know that this is a requirement. It has been a bug bear of many a campaign, with influencers and an influencer marketing agency recently getting rapped for not ensuring commercial relationships are always acknowledged.

So not mentioning that you have been paid to promote a product or service is out, and so too is hoodwinking advertisers to put budget next to potty-mouth presenters they wouldn't dream of investing in through any other channel. Now there are going to be proper contracts outlining rules about what happens to content and who can use it.

If it sounds like vlogging and influencer marketing is growing up, it's for the very good reason that it is. It has to. 

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