Branded content responsibility lies with brands and vloggers insists YouTube's Derek Scobie following Oreo ad ruling

The responsibility of clearly labelling branded content lies with the brands and creators who post the videos, according to the head of YouTube brand propositions Derek Scobie, who made the comments following the ASA's admonishing of Mondelez’s Oreo native ad.

Speaking to The Drum at the International Content Marketing Summit in London, Scobie shrugged of the suggestion that YouTube may begin to specifically advise brands and Vloggers about how to be transparent with advertising, and said that it is something the Google-owned platform already lays out in its guidelines.

“I think it’s important to understand that legally the content owner is responsible for their content and that it meets legal requirements, regulations and YouTube’s own community guidelines. So our policies are clear on all of those and the level to which we would advise or guide someone is within the limits of that.

“Some of what we do already is that we help our content partners on YouTube, and brands that may work with them, understand that there are different ways they might be able to communicate that [paid for] relationship to the user.”

That advice includes making the title of the video clear, including information about the relationship in the description box and using annotations on top of the video as a means to demonstrate that relationship.

“It’s really then up to the brand and the content creator to make sure that they do that," Scobie said. “That lies with them, that’s their legal responsibility”.

Asked whether the ruling by ASA, which told Mondelez to ensure future ads on YouTube made commercial intent clear prior to consumer engagement, would grow into a large issue for the industry, Scobie disagreed and said it would in fact provide an opportunity to have a higher level of transparency.

“I don’t think it’s going to become an issue, it’s going to become a great opportunity. I don’t think there’s anybody in the industry who doesn’t warmly welcome more guidance and clarity on how we should work as content creators and as advertisers.

“What the ASA ruling does is it asks brands to be more specific about the relationships they have with content creators, and for content creators to demonstrate that. And I don’t think that makes things any less powerful in the way brands can work with creators to connect with audiences, it just allow them to be more transparent and clear with those audiences that watch.”

Scobie admitted that YouTube has “a long way to go” in terms of how advertising on the platform develops but added that the focus on the issue from brands, content creators and regulatory bodies is positive step.

He eschewed the notion that brands may be less attracted to native advertising with vloggers now that the relationship must be made clear at the start of the ad, and said those brands who have in the past hidden that relationship should be called into question.

“I think that what matters is that users should be clear on the relationship with content creators and the brand. If brands in the past have tried to hide that then you should question why they tried to.

“The most successful campaigns between brands and creators are where there is a strong affinity between the two and where the user doesn’t find it surprising or unusual that a creator might be working with that brand.”

Earlier today the advertising trade bodies ISBA and the IAB warned brands to be respectful of their consumers and clearly label paid-for vlogger content as advertising.

The IAB is currently in the midst of drawing up more evolved guidelines.