The Power of Social Media Influence: Morality in Youtube Sponsorships

by waackween_ on April 27, 2017 - 12:04am

The Power of Social Media Influence: Morality in Youtube Sponsorships

 

In every beauty and fashion content junkie’s Youtube subscription tab like myself, there are hundreds of makeup tutorials, fashion “lookbooks” and beauty product hauls and reviews uploaded by some of the most influential beauty bloggers like Michelle Phan, Ingrid Nilsen and Tanya Burr. Even if they started off with only a few amount of views and subscribers, they have become powerful entrepreneurs since many companies in the beauty industry noticed their influence on viewers’ buying habits and decisions, making many of them get sponsorships from these brands. In fact, on December 5th 2017, Beauty Recommended’s channel uploaded the Easy Lip Makeup for Winter Time | A Model Recommends video in which product placements were made by Procter & Gamble. In this tutorial, British model and blogger Ruth Crilly gave makeup advice using products from Max Factor, a brand owned by P&G, but the video “has been banned for not properly informing consumers that the clip was an advert for the brand” because the affiliated links listed in the description box direct viewers to an online shop called SuperSavvyMe, making viewers confused with the actual brand for which the video is advertising (Independent). But at first place, is it moral for brands in the beauty industry to promote brands by sponsoring videos of famous Youtube beauty bloggers, making them giving viewers impartial reviews? Even though some people argue that advertising through the content of Youtube videos is immoral since beauty bloggers should use Youtube as a platform to genuinely connect with viewers without the influence of brands, advertising through those celebrities should be allowed but controlled (xoJane).

 

To begin, Youtube beauty bloggers’ influence has tremendously increased throughout the years to dominate that of beauty brands and the latter has no choice but to endorse and sponsor these influencers that are “controlling the future of [the] brand[s]” (Tubular Insights). According to statistics, only 3% of Youtube’s beauty-related videos views are from brand-generated content, and “97.5% of keyword search results return non-branded content”, making brand associated content less present on social media and available to the public. This shows how introducing their products through a well-known Youtuber’s content is perhaps the most effective solution for them in order to maximize their visibility to eventually increase profits as this platform is because the number of Youtube searches for a “makeup tutorial” has tripled from 2010 to 2013 (Tubular Insights). This platform also “offers an environment that is not (…) ‘spatially fixed and temporally limited’”, making it a commodity to consumers, content producers and companies to make profit out of their content (Crick 274). In this way, because both Youtubers and companies gain more attention by connecting with viewers while advertising products and money from the purchases of many viewers, creating the greatest goods for the largest number of people, sponsorship through Youtube beauty bloggers should be allowed according to utilitarianism.

Despite the morality of Youtube endorsements, beauty gurus should control the way advertisements and sponsorships are made on their channels. Following the grounds of virtue ethics, their original videos should contain honest reviews and opinions of products and their sponsored ones should clearly and verbally state the specific brand or website with which they have partnered up in the video, because doing so expresses the virtue of honesty. Because the main devices used in a video is talking and visual content, at least one should be used to inform viewers of the sponsored content; it’s the advertiser, or in this case, the blogger’s responsibility to let the audience know that they are viewing an advertisement for them to decide whether or not to keep watching the clip, respecting the grounds of not using people as a means to reaching the goal of profit according to deontology. 

 

Furthermore, responsible advertising through Youtube video content is also exhibited when the choice is given to viewers of clicking on a sponsored link that leads to a certain website. For instance, when the advertised product is presented, a hyper video can pop-up from the screen to provide them the extra information that can be accessed only if they are interested, which “offers an alternative way to enable the precise targeting capability of online video advertising” while keeping the advertisement “relevant to a user’s activity and mindset” because it “only [displays] advertising information when the user makes the choice by clicking on an object in a video” (W. Gao et al. 15:46). Similarly, by linking the sponsored links in the description box underneath and verbally stating its presence in the video, the uploader gives a choice for people to view the information on the advertised product depending on their interest, because the box does not interfere with the content of the video. Thus, not only are these “less intrusive”, but most importantly “better targeted and likely to be more effective”, and it does not use the audience as a means to an end while potentially increasing the profits for both the content creator and the brand (W. Gao et al. 15:46).

 

Insofar as one can fit in a single post, beauty “vloggers” from Youtube can work with specific brands to promote their products in a moral way such that both can profit from the collaboration without losing virtues like honesty and while providing viewers with a choice to view the advertisement. Because “bloggers/vloggers are increasingly becoming a bigger influence especially for colour cosmetics where over 20% of consumers indicated that their purchase decision was influenced by bloggers”, it is important to talk about this topic because it will only increasingly touch a larger audience in the future with the rise of influence by entrepreneurs on Youtube (Euromonitor International).

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

“#ad | Easy Lip Makeup Tutorials for Winter Time | A Model Recommends.” Youtube, uploaded by Beauty Recommended – brought to you by Procter & Gamble, 5 Dec. 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-VAxiABfdE

“YouTube beauty tutorial led by model Ruth Crilly banned for being unclear video was advert for P&G-owned make-up brand Max Factor.” Independent, 27 May 2015, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/proctergamble-youtube- beauty-vlog-banned-by-advertising-standards-authority-10278727.html

“Why I Don’t Trust YouTube Beauty Gurus Like Zella and Bethany Mota.” xoJane, 21 Feb. 2015, http://www.xojane.com/beauty/advertising-youtube-beauty-girls-zoella-bethany-mota

Marshall, Clara. “YouTube and the Beauty Industry: How Brands are Getting Crushed [Report].” Tubular Insights, 4 Feb. 2014, http://tubularinsights.com/youtube-beauty-industry/

Crick, Matthew. “Social Media Use in the Bronx: New Research and Innovations in the Study of YouTube’s Digital Neighborhood.” Journal of Technology in Human Services, no. 30, 2012, pp. 262-298. Academic Search Premier, doi: 10.1080/15228835.2012.746167

W. Gao et al. “Vlogging: A survey of videoblogging technology on the Web.” ACM Computer Survey, no. 42, 2010, pp. 15:2-15:59. Academic Search Premier, doi: 10.1145/1749603.1749606

Tyrimou, Nicole. “YouTube Bloggers and Celebrities in Beauty: Powerful Advertising Tool or Competition?” Euromonitor International, 23 Sep. 2015, http://blog.euromonitor.com/2015/09/youtube-bloggers-and-celebrities-in-beauty-powerful-advertising-tool-or-competition.html

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