Affiliate marketers often create YouTube channels, and Pinterest accounts to help promote their products. This can be a very effective way to get people’s attention, and help show them why the product being promoted is worth buying. In most places, including the United States, marketers need to disclose when they are using affiliate links in their videos, Pinterest posts, or other areas.
This rule was put in place by the FTC to help protect consumers from marketers who would otherwise make people think that they were just normal people reviewing a product, for example. Without a clear disclosure of the links, it can be hard for people to tell what is marketing, and what is just normal videos.
While the rules are pretty clear on this subject, it seems that most affiliates aren’t following them. Princeton University completed a new research paper, which found that 90% of all affiliate posts on both YouTube and Pinterest aren’t properly disclosed, if they are disclosed at all.
The paper looked at more than half a million videos on YouTube as well as 2.1 million pins on Pinterest. The data was gathered from August and September of 2017, and then analyzed and reported on after that. The official report was only released recently.
In it, they found that while affiliates aren’t disclosing the fact that they are compensated through their links, the videos and pins are very effective. These videos and pins actually generate more user engagement than content without those links.
While this news may not be too surprising, it is disappointing given that both YouTube and Pinterest provide marketers with tools that will automatically mark their promoted videos and pins as such. This means there is very little effort that needs to be made to do things properly.
The researchers of the paper wrote, “Such disclosure tools are a step in the right direction, however it is unlikely that such blanket disclosures will cover all marketing strategies. Future work could investigate what kind of affordances should be designed into social media platforms to enable affiliates to disclose clearly.”