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Ryan ToysReview might be one of the most popular youtube pages out there, but with great power comes great responsibility – and that responsibility might be catching up to them
What’s up guys it’s Emile Ennis Jr here with Clevver News and Ryan and his parents are facing pretty serious accusations regarding the methodology of native advertisements in their Youtube videos
Truth in Advertising – a consumer watchdog company is accusing Ryan ToysReview of posting misleading advertisements in disguise as regular videos
Ryan has been on Youtube since 2015 – when he was just 3 years old.
He’s most known for his unboxing and toy review videos, and currently has over 1500 videos uploaded to Youtube
Well, some of those videos are paid advertisements, like this one for Colgate
And Truth in Advertising is saying that they are deceptively marketing towards preschoolers by not disclosing clearly enough that these videos are ads
But it’s not just his youtube videos. His Instagram page, run by his parents, is also chock full of sneaky ads like this one once again for Colgate!
Consumer Watchdog put in an official complaint with the FTC – the Federal Trade Commission – and said that Ryan’s channel “deceptively promotes a multitude of products to millions of preschool-aged children in violation of FTC law”
They continued “Unfortunately, it is often difficult to discern the innocent antics in Ryan ToysReview videos from the sponsored content, and for preschoolers, it is impossible to discern the difference”
They argue that commercials for children on television are more easily distinguishable because of the very obvious break from the television program.
But on Youtube, when ads are done natively in videos by the talent, it’s difficult to tell when you are watching sponsored content.
“The perceptual cues present in television programming that allow five year olds to identify ads are completely lacking in Youtube videos that natively embed sponsored content within the program, such as Ryan ToysReview videos do,” they say “thus it is not surprising that preschoolers do not realize that they are being marketed to in these online settings”
Ryan’s family, of course, doesn’t agree that they are doing anything wrong.
The family said in a statement that they support any new “ground rules to protect both viewers and creators”
And it’s hard to tell in a situation like this, where laws about online content are not explicit. Youtube is still a generally new medium when compared to television and radio – where the FTC focused their efforts for years.
Still, the law that Ryan’s family is supposedly breaking states that ads “must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in a manner that will be easily understood by the intended audience”
Meaning kids need to realize they’re watching a commercial – whether it features Ryan or not
Just like teen girls need to realize that Kourtney isn’t just posting about Sugar Bear Hair Vitamins because she thinks they taste good – she’s getting paid to post about them.
Even if they might not be working
Ryan and his family have made a fortune off of their youtube channel and the rest of their social media. Ryan was one of the highest paid youtubers last year, making about 22 million dollars all through brand deals.
They’ve partnered with brands like Colgate, Arbys, and Walmart
And they usually don’t put “hashtag ad” like most other influencers are forced to do.
Ryan’s dad said “The well-being of our viewers is always our top priority. Creating content that is safe and appropriate for our young viewers and their families is very important to us”
But while Youtube is still a relatively new platform, there’s no shortage of precedents for celebrities getting in trouble when they don’t clearly mark an ad.
Kim Kardashian and Rihanna are just two people who have had to take posts down when they did not label an ad correctly. And a lot of this started as early as 2016.
There was even an official letter from members of congress earlier this year that asked the FTC to investigate deceptive online marketing strategies aimed towards children.
Ryan’s channel, along with Jake Paul were both mentioned in the letter, so its only a matter of time before some changes are coming to Ryan’s channel!
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