Vlogging is a deeply personal, informal way of connecting with large audiences. At Sheffield Doc Fest 2016’s ‘Vlogs Vs. Docs’ panel, Jolyon Rubinstein from ‘The Revolution will be Televised’ said Youtubers connect with their audiences ‘in a way that alludes commissioners’.
The under 25 audiences connects with this content because they see the people who produce them to be ‘just like them’. Their honesty is the source of their power and watching their videos becomes a part of their subscribers everyday lives.
Watching television is a laid back form of consumption whereas vloggers are able to actively engage with their community and take audience feedback on board much quicker, making vlogging much more of a two way connection. This two way connection is likely to be one of the reasons the under 25s engage with vloggers so much.
Another way in which television and vlogs are different is the level of regulation. Only recently, (as of August 2015), did the ASA implement regulations in the UK regarding product placement and branded content for Vlogs. These regulations do not stipulate that vloggers can’t enter into a commercial relationship with a brand in the UK. They do however state that if a Youtuber is including paid product placement in a video they must disclaim it. Amazingly though this is still not the case in the States, I worry about the effect these ‘advertorials’ and product placements are having on the very young youtube audience who engage with and idolise these vloggers as they might not realise the youtubers are being paid to say they love the products they are endorsing.
Companies have to deal with tough restrictions when it comes to most advertising platforms so it is no surprise we’re seeing a rise in the number of companies reaching out to popular Youtubers and taking advantage of the unregulated online space.
However, a vast majority of vloggers are very young. Fully understanding and complying with the rules and regulations is a big responsibility and it can have considerable repercussions. Vlogger, Jonathan Joly advised bloggers to bear in mind that ‘The internet doesn’t forget.’ and that you have to be careful about which companies you align yourself with.