YouTubers + sponsored videos go hand in hand like Dan and Phil, Miranda Sings and lipstick and CaptainSparklez and Minecraft. But could this be the end of sponsored content?
Not quite, but Jenna Marbles has declared she’ll no longer be doing sponsored videos. In five short years, Jenna has climbed to 15 million subscribers with brands and broadcasters falling over her to get her thumbs up. But, according to Jenna, this means her fans no longer entirely trust her.
“I think that with the internet, the most important thing you have is that you’re a genuine person and people trust you. People trust that when you turn on YouTube it’s really you. Working with brands and things can be great and a lot of people do it really well, but for me, it feels very much like stuffing my own pockets with money and taking advantage of the people that are there to see me.” Jenna told Larry King.
A bold move considering Jenna rakes in hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. But no matter how many of us realise YouTubers are also businesspeople, most people still see them as genuine friends. And genuine is the key word in this issue.
Across the globe stars have managed to find themselves in trouble for not stating product placements or advertising in their content and, as a result, they’ve been fined thousands and scolded by fans. Just four years ago, sponsored content wasn’t entirely a thing but there’s hardly a single big company that hasn’t used the influence of social talent in recent years. Sponsored videos tend to have lower viewing figures than their “genuine” counterparts and stars are becoming more and more eager to disguise the “Ad” in the corner of their thumbnail or in the title of their video.
Of course, these videos are what pays the bills and allows our favourite YouTubers and Internet celebrities to keep producing great content full time, no-one is dismissing that. But Jenna’s openness about the fact she no longer wish to take part in advertorials thus dismissing potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars per year may well be part of a new wave of YouTuber for its creators.
From backlash regarding Zoella’s ghost-written book to even the most hardcore fans rolling their eyes at the price of merchandise, stripping content back and breaking away from the chains of managers and networks may well set a precedent for some of YouTube’s up and coming stars.
Whatever the outcome for future Internet celebrities, we salute Jenna for making a courageous move in a time where YouTube is seem as an “easy way to make big bucks”.