So YouTube is letting advertisers use creators’ video content as ads without their permission… You guessed it, this means missing out on monetisation opportunities from a creator perspective. Some of us might not even know our content is being used by brands if not notified.
The controversy came out when Taki Udon, a creator with 218,000 subscribers who reviews gaming electronics, noted in a video uploaded on YouTube last week that an ad from an electronics accessories company called Jsaux featured one of his previous videos — with a new title.
He said in the video this was enabled by a Google ad product called Smart Shopping Campaigns. These are ads that feature items from a merchant’s product feed and are shown across Google properties, including YouTube. According to an article by Insider, Udon was never notified that his content was being used for a company’s ad.
Brendan Gahan, partner and chief social officer at ad agency Mekanism, said that the issue of creators’ videos appearing in YouTube ads without their knowledge has long been a problem on the platform but is rarely discussed.
“I think that a lot of creators would be concerned about whether this will undermine their ability to do brand deals. If a brand can just promote the video, why work with a creator?” he said.
Interestingly, however, a YouTube spokesperson said that the Jsaux ad using Udon’s content does not violate its ad policies, but declined to say why.
“We have strict ads policies that govern the types of ads and advertisers we allow on our platforms, and we have additional requirements ads must meet in order to serve on YouTube,” the spokesperson told Insider.
The loophole is that unlike Instagram and TikTok, YouTube does not require advertisers to get creators’ permission to use their content. Chas Lacaillade, CEO of Bottle Rocket Management, a talent firm that works with tech YouTubers, said that it’s up to the advertisers and creators to hash out how a brand can use content through a contract — including the specific videos and a time frame for how long content can be promoted.