Most YouTube Influencers Still Don't Disclose Sponsored Deals, Study Says Same goes for Pinterest influencers, according to this Princeton study.

By Mariella Moon

entrepreneur daily

This story originally appeared on Engadget

Getty via engadget

It's been almost a year since the FTC warned social media influencers that they should "clearly and conspicuously [disclose]" if they're being paid for a post or video. But according to a new Princeton University research, most YouTube and Pinterest influencers still don't add proper disclaimers to the content they produce.

The researchers analyzed over 500,000 YouTube videos and over 2.1 million unique Pinterest pins from August to September 2017 for the study. They found that 3,472 videos and 18,237 pins in the bunch had affiliate links, but only 10 and seven percent, respectively, contained written disclosures.

Those that did have disclosures didn't even follow the FTC's guidelines, which recommend lengthier explanations than "hey, these are affiliate links." The FTC wants influencers to be very clear in their wording: for instance, as Wired said, they can write "I make a small commission every time you purchase through these links."

According to lead author Arunesh Mathur, his study doesn't even represent all types of undisclosed affiliate partnerships, since they didn't take coupon codes and other linkless deals into account. That said, the researchers also didn't take into account any disclosure YouTubers mention in the video and those written in languages other than English. Mathur, however, is "fairly confident that only a tiny fraction of content creators disclose affiliate links at places other than the description."

Advertising on social media without the proper disclosure has become a huge issue in recent years. Just take a look at celebrities' accounts, and you'll see them promoting products without saying whether they're getting paid for the post. It's not the advertisements themselves that are the problem, it's that without the proper label, people won't know whether influencers are simply recommending a product they like or if they're getting paid to praise it.

Instagram, YouTube and Facebook have labels influencers can use to indicate sponsorship, but they're a bit too subtle for the FTC. Things might change as more and more social media superstars pop up. Mathur and his team, for one, believe the answer lies in browsers: they plan to develop an extension that can automatically detect and highlight affiliate marketing campaigns.

Mariella Moon is an associate editor at Engadget.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Business News

I Tested the 'Invest As You Shop' App to See If It Really Makes Investing Less Intimidating

Grifin is an app that tailors a user's investments to their spending habits. Now, the app is getting even more personal.

Business News

Here Are 3 Strategies Startup Founders Can Use to Approach High-Impact Disputes

The $7 billion "buy now, pay later" startup Klarna recently faced a public board spat. Here are three strategies to approach conflict within a business.

Business News

'This Can't Be True': Google Responds to Viral Hoax Claiming the Company Is Shutting Down Gmail

The fake news release started making its way around X on Thursday.

Business News

Vice Will No Longer Publish Content on Its Website, Lays Off Hundreds of Staffers

Vice Media CEO Bruce Dixon announced the news in an internal memo to employees on Thursday.

Diversity

As a Black Woman CEO, I Built a Remote Company Not Just to Save Money — But to Mirror My Commitment to Diversity. Here's How.

To fuel innovation and global success, you absolutely need diverse perspectives — and having team members all across the world with varying thought processes, life experiences and viewpoints is the key.

Business News

Report: The Majority of Recent College Grads End Up in Jobs That Don't Need Bachelor's Degrees

Two research companies looked at a dataset of 60 million Americans.