In September 2017, the Consumer Ombudsman discussed best practices for ensuring the identifiability of advertising with three YouTube networks: Splay Suomi Oy, Troot Network Oy Ltd (previously known as Töttöröö) and United Screens Oy. The Consumer Ombudsman had discovered that commercial cooperation, including advertising, sponsorships and product placement, is common on YouTube. Some commercial content is identifiable as marketing, while other material remains hidden due to a lack of identifiers.
The networks acknowledged their responsibility for ensuring that no covert advertising is present in their commercial cooperation projects. Openness and transparency were found to benefit viewers and all other parties involved in a commercial cooperation.
The Consumer Ombudsman asked the youtuber networks to instruct youtubers to indicate commercial cooperation properly. Previously, as a self-regulatory gesture, together with IAB Finland, the networks had prepared a guide for youtubers (2017), which provides instructions on the identifiability of marketing. The Consumer Ombudsman found the contents of the guide highly instructive but emphasised the importance of practical measures.
The meeting also clarified issues related to marketing to minors. Marketing to minors is permitted, but the criteria for the appropriateness and suitability of marketing are stricter the younger the viewers are.
Covert advertising was also discussed more extensively in the Consumer Ombudsman’s blog article (in Finnish) in April 2017.