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Top 5 Ways to Guarantee Brand Safety in Video Influencer Campaigns

In recent months, some marketers have raised concerns that their ads may be running alongside hateful or inflammatory content on platforms like YouTube.  While opinions vary on how widespread the issue is, several brands including AT&T and Johnson & Johnson temporarily halted their ads until they got straight answers.  YouTube quickly scrambled to announce new third-party tools which will allow brands more control over where and how their ads are served.

It’s a complex issue, one made even more complicated by the rapid growth of programmatic advertising which can arguably jeopardize brand safety without proper configuration and maintenance.  

With YouTube poised to become America’s most watched platform, it’s not a viable long-term strategy to abandon the channel. As such, many advertisers are turning to video influencer marketing as an attractive alternative.  Instead of relying on typical formats like pre-rolls, brands are partnering with influencers to integrate products natively into their content.

Still, many marketers remain on the fence about video.  When speaking with new clients at Trending Family, the feedback we hear most often is that brands are used to working with traditional bloggers but feel video is somehow more permanent.  Further, the perceived “lack of control” over what’s said and shown in the video seems too risky.  However, that couldn’t be further from the truth!

Here are the top 5 ways to guarantee brand safety in video influencer campaigns. 

1. Create a clear, succinct influencer brief, yet allow creative freedom

The single most important task for a brand is to provide Key Messages and guidance on expectations for influencers’ finished assets.  As an example, Trending Family recently partnered with Spin Master to launch a video influencer campaign for their Hatchimals toys. While past campaigns may have focused on unboxings, these videos were specifically intended to educate consumers on how to properly hatch and care for their Hatchimals.  The brand asked influencers (and their kids) to share their “Top 5 Lovable Moments” but otherwise gave them latitude to craft content authentic to their channel.


2. Require influencers submit a concept/outline and deliver a preview before anything goes live

As part of the brief, influencers should be required to submit a plan on how they will implement the Key Messages and Call-to-Action.  On behalf of Tabasco and Hunter PR, Trending Family launched the #Tabasco10 campaign with influencer “Tatyana’s Everyday Food” - a challenge to create any recipe with a curated list of ten ingredients.  Prior to filming, Tatyana submitted several recipe ideas for the client to review to ensure everyone was on the same page.  Additionally, once everything was produced and edited, Tatyana submitted a video draft for final review and approval.  These simple “checks” can avoid surprises along the way.  


3. Require monetization be disabled

The other way that influencers make money on YouTube is by receiving a share of revenue for the ads that run before, during, or after their videos.  However, when partnering with an influencer for native content, it’s important to require monetization be disabled for any sponsored video.  This avoids the possibility of a competitor’s ad running alongside your brand’s video.

4. Require FTC disclosure

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently cracked down on some big brands and high profile influencers for failure to properly disclose sponsorships.  When launching video influencer campaigns, it’s critical your brand is adhering to the most up-to-date FTC disclosure guidelines.  As an example, Trending Family launched a Back-to-School campaign with kids’ clothing retailer Crazy 8 and family influencer KittiesMama - sponsorship disclosure is clearly indicated in the lower right corner at the beginning of the video as well as in the description box.

 5. Have a discussion about comments and moderation

When influencers release sponsored content, there will always be a small handful of viewers who don’t appreciate it.  Every influencer has a different approach for how they handle negativity or trolls; some choose to ignore or delete while others address it directly.  Prior to launching any campaign, make sure to have a discussion with each influencer about how you’d prefer they deal with it, and the messages they should use in replies if they do engage.    

The most powerful thing about partnering with video influencers is that they have worked tirelessly, sometimes over many years, to build a very intimate relationship with their audience.  In reality, when marketers are too obsessed with brand safety and require influencers to read sales copy from a script, everyone loses.  Why not just hire professional actors at that point?  Authenticity is the key, and modern audiences respond best to relatable stories. By putting these simple checks and clear communication measures in place, marketers should feel free to have a little faith and loosen the creative leash.  


Justin Moore photo

Justin Moore is Founder/CEO of Trending Family, a video influencer marketing agency that helps brands/agencies connect specifically with "family-friendly" social media influencers. Justin and his wife April have 1M+ subscribers on YouTube and have worked with hundreds of brands from General Mills to Walmart.  They currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area with their two sons, Liam and Jacob, and three cats.

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