YouTubers Are Being Investigated After Claims They Secretly Made Money Off Viewers

2 May 2017, 12:01

We the Unicorns

By Benedict Townsend

The Advertising Standards Authority has said that it 'would investigate' claims YouTubers like Zoella made money by secretly advertising to unaware viewers

The Advertising Standards Authority has said that it 'would investigate' findings from British newspaper, The Daily Mail, which claims it has found evidence that top YouTubers (including Zoe Sugg and Tanya Burr) have made 'hundreds of thousands' of pounds through their viewers, without the viewers knowing. Even more are being investigated.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) is investigating the claims investigated

The claims centre on 'affiliate links'; a system employed by Zoe and many other YouTubers. When a YouTuber mentions a product in a video, they will often link that product for their viewers in the description of that video. When a viewer clicks that link and purchases said product, the YouTuber will receive some commission from the product's makers - for having got their viewer to click on the link.

After being investigated, Zoella is cited as apparently earning 'up to 18% commission on each item sold' via her description box.

the paper claims Zoe Sugg made thousands from affiliate links investigated

The Daily Mail claims that YouTubers did not make it clear enough to their viewers that clicking on links would make the YouTubers any money by avoiding using phrases such as #spon or #ad, which are now synonymous with influencers. They claim that making money in this way without publicly declaring it violates advertising laws in the UK, on the basis that discussing a product and then making money from referring people to said product is (they claim) roughly the same as simply just advertising that product.

Zoe and Tanya's management company Gleam rebuffed this claim, stating that "all of the videos are entirely editorial, made independently by the clients themselves without any external guidance".


What do you think of the situation? Do you think YouTubers should be clearer when using affiliate links? Let us know in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

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