Paid Promotions And Review Copies Are Not The Same Thing

In its efforts to clamp down on influencer shills, YouTube is trying to drag review material into the realm of ‘sponsored posts’, which seems rather questionable.

We’ve noticed recently that a few people – including people who we’d otherwise respect – kicking off on YouTube about ‘paid promotion’ and the people that they see as disobeying the rules about putting an announcement of such on videos.

The YouTube rules on paid promotion are fairly simple – too simple you might think, but perhaps making a certain sense in an age of ‘influencers’ who are taking money to shill products and not actually telling anyone, thus making their reviews and recommendations seem honest opinions rather than financially motivated. Stopping that makes a lot of sense, but the idea that we should call anything that talks about something we have not paid for seems a bit excessive.

Like many people who write about movies, music, books and ‘the arts’, I get sent review copies or given passes to events from time to time. While there is a certain expectation that I will review said items, there is no obligation to do so – and certainly no obligation to say anything nice. As regular readers will attest, we have torn some releases to pieces and the only reason we don’t do it more often if because we’re a lot pickier about what we ask for these days.

To call those reviews ‘paid promotions’ though… well, that seems to imply that we are taking money to write about those works. To me, it sounds like ‘sponsored post’ – or ‘advertising’ to be blunter. There’s nothing wrong with advertising – it helps keep many sites and publications going and if it is clearly shown to be advertising, then that’s fine. But if we start to label reviews as ‘paid promotion’ then surely it lowers the reader’s trust in what they are reading – they will think that positive, even glowing reviews have been paid for and so are not honest. That seems a bad way forward.

Suffice to say that if we are paid to write/talk about anything – which seems rather unlikely – then we’ll make that very clear; if we are just sent review material, however, we won’t be calling that ‘paid promotion’ unless forced to, and then will be making it very clear that no money has changed hands. We guarantee that nothing you have read or will read on The Reprobate has been anything other than genuinely held opinion, and if we ever run promotional copy then it will be clearly labelled as ‘sponsored and paid promotion’. Not that we are expecting to be snapped up as influencers any time soon.

Anyway, in our latest video, your humble editor explains our position. We’ll be back to examining odd beer, strange purchases and interviewing interesting people later this week.

Help support The Reprobate: