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YouTube Cracking Down on Brand-Integrated Vids?

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YouTube (s GOOG) has notified some of its content creators that independent brand-integration deals in their videos could violate YouTube’s terms of service, reports MediaWeek.

The move comes at a time when YouTube is working overtime to convert its massive viewing audience into money. The site has made a number of moves in the past month to make itself more advertiser-friendly, including changes to its community guidelines and courting more professional content. Kevin Nalty (a.k.a. “nalts”) received a letter from YouTube about his brand-integrated videos, but told MediaWeek, “It’s not unreasonable…They are paying these high bandwidth fees, and they don’t want to be seen just as a dumb pipe.”

Aside from dumb pipe issues, these integrations could muck up YouTube’s own efforts to sell advertising as some brands may not want to run an overlay ad on a video that already has a sponsor.

A number of YouTube celebs have worked independent sponsorship deals into their online video work. One of the best known is Lucas Cruikshank (a.k.a. “Fred”) who has parlayed his high-pitched fame into sponsorship deals with Zipit Wireless and 20th Century Fox.

According to MediaWeek, YouTube will soon be announcing a new formalized process for brand-integration videos.

9 Responses to “YouTube Cracking Down on Brand-Integrated Vids?”

  1. @nalts
    just for context I am ex-VideoEgg and currently at imeem where I produced Gimme5 ( a short form video series sponsored by Wrigley’s 5 Gum…

    YT has to allow the integrations. And has to try and upsell you on additional reach and features. YT should treat Nalts as the agency and not interfere with your relationship with the brand unless they have facilitated it.

    • Nalts makes the entertainment content and integrates the brand partner into it
    • Nalts figures out how much reach you can deliver via YT, TubeMogul, etc… given its own endemic reach… without spending an extra dime. that’s part of your value.
    • Nalts then determines how much additional distribution it needs to buy to satisfy your brand partner. Then you go buy it from YT, an ad net, whoever…the brand cares about reach, probably is agnostic to location
    • Now, you and your brand partner figure out what additional units you want to include in the campaign. Do they need interactivity with the video? OK, go buy overlays from YT at a set CPM/CPC. Do they need/want to own the companion page inventory? OK, Nalts buys it from YT for a set CPM/CPC or wherever else you’re distributed… Do they just want to block their competitors from advertising on their campaign? OK, just buy a lower “Block” from YT where they can still run ads just not for Brand X, Y, Z.

    You see where I’m going. YT doesn’t block you from taking brand dollars. They facilitate making this a bigger and better campaign than you could alone, on your own.

    If you want to rap about this further please hit me on my blog or via the all powerful Twitter

  2. @jeff reine Interesting POV. I think the challenge is that brands want wide reach and integrated content. I would agree this isn’t Google’s long suit, but the power of ads plus integrated content (sponsorships/product placement) is proven in the American Idol & Coke deal. Often brands buy media because it’s a prerequisite to get the more valuable in-show placements that are hard to skip and provide credibility and context. So given the marketer’s demand, what should YouTube do (and I like those options you outline since every one of my clients wants hyperlinks within the video). Allow it? Partner? Allow it with the condition of a media buy?

  3. Neno Brown

    @Liz- You have a point, true product placement cant be automated, YT will have to police this or turn a blind eye.


  4. This is almost wholly unworkable. (I’ll note that I haven’t read YT’s TOS, but regardless of the fineprint…) If “Fred” makes a video where he extols the virtues of Coca-Cola for 2 minutes who’s to say he was paid or not to do so? If he drives a Ford Fiesta to kindergarten and then sucks down Red Bulls? Was he paid? Is it an ad?

    What about all of the actual ads that simply show up on YT?

    What about all of the ‘viral videos’ that brands create every day in the hope that they’ll catch fire like hamthrax and drive whatever metric they’re trying to drive that day?

    YT cannot and should not touch anything inside the frame. They can, and should, charge for
    – additional units for the Sponsor (overlays, pre/post, companion) to support the integration
    – additional exposure (homepage, featured, sponsored) to drive views
    – blocking ads from a given video.

    But inside the frame is the content creator’s world, and far too tangled for YT to try and regulate. If BrandX simply wants the association with Content CreatorZ and doesn’t care about the three things above… well…

  5. Neno Brown

    I think YT will develop a Zunavision led product placement partnership/intergration, and would prefer users paid for this service.

    • @Neno — but ZunaVision only gets at the overlay bit of it, what about true product integration into the storyline, etc? I feel like the best YouTube can do is offer some standards and practices, and require people to disclose.

  6. maddie

    Well this isn’t surprising but it will hamper their efforts to attract the quality programming they seek. Once again everyone wants to make a buck but no one is thinking about the price of production. Content producers who are producing programming that isnt UCG-style have actual production costs. I think producers who make great content will find other places to put their content rather than it getting lost on YouTube anyway, especially if they’ve been smart enough and successfully enough to have secure s few sponsorships of their own.