Bronwyn O'Neill looks at the issue of promotional content by beauty and fashion bloggers, and asks is it all ethical?
A handful of years ago, you couldn’t have imagined that people would be making a living out of talking to cameras in the comfort of their own home. Here we are in 2017, the UK have left the EU, Trump is president of America and some of the highest paid people in the world talk to their smart phones all day.
Beauty bloggers and Youtubers have thousands of followers and are a perfect way for companies to advertise their products. These people are already talking about makeup products they use every day, so beauty brands would be stupid not to jump at this opportunity for native advertising.
However, this type of advertising has become more and more controversial, with fans of bloggers becoming more distant as don’t feel like they can trust their once favourite bloggers. Under the law, bloggers must state if they are being paid to promote a product. So if you see #ad on someone’s Instagram post, you’ll know that this is a paid promotion.
Even the Kardashians have been the centre of this controversy after a consumer watchdog group gave them a week to take down any paid promotional post that did not mention being an advertisement or they would contact the Federal Trade Commission. The group said that the five sisters had over 100 advertisements not marked as such, from fit tea to hair supplements.
The biggest problem for disclosing promotional content seems to be on Youtube, however. Although many vloggers pop a small note about working with a brand at the end of their description many people do not read the description, relying on the video instead. However, many of the beauty bloggers don’t mention that they are being paid to talk about a product and this can lead many of their fans to buy products that aren’t as incredible as they are made out to be.
Another issue that bloggers have been under fire for are promotional codes. Do you ever watch a blogger and they tell you to use a code to get a percentage off a certain item? What many people don’t know is that every time their code gets used, that blogger gets paid. So it’s not surprising that many bloggers promote brands that they have codes for. There are a handful of beauty bloggers from the US that have come under scrutiny for constantly pushing codes for brands like Morphe.
Understandably people are becoming less and less happy with bloggers who always seem to be pushing codes, talking about certain companies and not being one hundred per cent truthful. The bloggers at the top will fall quickly if this continues as new bloggers emerge on the scene that understand that the people who watch them want full disclosure.