The Incidious Nature of Advertising on Blogs and Youtube

I’ve decided that I need to better align my youtube channel and blog with my values and to be more consistent in how I do this. I also want to vent a little bit about my frustration about advertising on youtube and blogs and hopefully by doing so you might become a little bit more aware about times you are being advertised to!

I really don’t mind advertisements that are obviously advertisements. I think youtube and free blogs are wonderful platforms, they enable every day people to express themselves on all sorts of topics and connect without people from all around the world. And this form of traditional advertising is what makes these platforms economic from a business standpoint and therefore able to exist. The problem is we all get this idea that it is this grass-roots every day production, that what the people we are reading or listening to are saying is what they really think and we really identify with youtube personalities and blog writers as similar to ourselves. However these amazing platforms have been highjacked by a more insidious form of embedded advertising which is shaping the content of what we watch and read. This comes at varying levels of obviousness, sometimes it wouldn’t even be noticeable but it is all pervasive and really makes me sad.

For example I recently noticed that multiple youtubers that i regularly watch were all wearing the same necklace. It it just because this is the current fashion, or all these people just coincidently had the same style sense? The one video i watched which was vlog style involved a youtuber receiving her necklace in the mail. It became obvious that there is some company out there sending this same necklace to multiple popular you tuber to get their product out there. In most videos the product wasn’t discussed, there were no discount codes or affiliate links, but we were being presented with the same item over and over again. It can’t help be more embedded in our minds when we think about our own product purchases.

There is other more obvious advertising too that is very common: people doing reviews (often paid, or at least they get to keep the products sent to them). Review videos especially detailed ones can be useful if you are wanting to make a big purchase and need to do a lot of research before hand. But it is difficult to know these days how honest these reviews are. If someone is being paid to do a review or they have just been sent something for free they are far more likely to review something favourable so that they can stay in the ‘good books’ of the companies in order to get more work or free stuff. I must say though I find it very annoying just how much of the content now produced on youtube and blogs is commercially driven. I might think i’m going to get to watch a nice video on someone’s morning routine and then realise part way in it is just an advertisement for a whole bunch of beauty products.

The other thing that has brought these thoughts and annoyances up for me is the number of times i’ve been asked by people to provide brand names and even company websites for different things i talk about on my videos. At first i didn’t do this at all. It didn’t seem relevant to anyone as i was talking about the TYPES of things not specific brands. On top of that if someone asked where i purchased something then chances are it isn’t going to be relevant to them. I live in rural Australia, it is from a local store to me there is an overwhelming chance it is not local to you. I also have a lot of 2nd hand things and things i purchased many years ago so would not be easily obtainable now by someone. So that is entirely irrelevant information i don’t want clogging up my channel.

Of course sometimes I did put down brand names and even links due to this pressure my viewers gave me. It guess it is what everyone is used to these days this kinds of information.

But then one day i was asked what brand coffee machine and washing machine i had and decided enough was enough that I needed to get more consistent with my policy in regards to this. When it was a big international brand names like makes my coffee and washing machines the reality was made more obvious to me. If i’m providing brand names in my videos and links then effectively i’m advertising (for free no less) for these companies. And i’m absolutely not happy to do this and feel that this is completely against my values and the values i try to communicate with my channel. I feel like this needs to be a consistent policy overall. It won’t matter if something is made by some little zero waste startup company or a multinational because otherwise i won’t know where to draw the line.

I’ve also previously talked about how I turned down opportunities to partner with several companies which would involve me making essential veiled advertisements on my channel to promote their product (in which i’d gain payment for any sales made as a result of my videos). I will continue with this policy of turning down these opportunities. It is not as though they’d make me much money, and it opens me up to being yet another ‘sell out’ channel. Please note i don’t necessarily blame other youtubers and bloggers for accepting these offers. I’m more frustrated with the system and realise many of these other people creating content have different values to me that don’t preclude them from becoming tools of a commercial system.

You may have noticed i do however have my videos monitized, i always have, and almost every other youtube video by everyone else is too. This means there are often advertisements at the beginning of my videos or popups which are all selected by youtube. I feel this is not a contradiction with my channel. It is obvious to everyone these are ads and also that these not companies i personally endorse. As i said i believe this form of advertising is what supports youtube as a platform and i’m ok with that. Also it does provide me a very tiny amount of pocket money which thus far i’ve always put towards improving my channel such as the purchase of a microphone for improving voice-overs etc. So ultimately whether my viewers realise it or not, this ultimately will benefit them in their enjoyment of the viewing experience.

So will i ever advertise anything on my channel within the content of my videos or this blog? Well I won’t rule it out entirely. I’d have to be 100% supportive of the product as i’m someone that thinks almost every is unnecessary and a waste of money there is unlikely to be much that fits with my values. Right now the only thing i can think of that i might is perhaps if i read an amazing book or something like that i’d want to be able to recommend it with it’s name. And then i’d know that you could just get it from the library and not necessarily need to purchase it. Likewise I do have some ideas for some things I might write or make myself that could give value so would definitely let people know if i did this. However I certainly won’t be accepting free products for reviews or be paid to recommend anything.

If you haven’t worked it out already the mission of My Minimalist Baby is to inspire you to live a life with intention, to live a life without excess stuff, to live a life that creates less impact on the environment and to be free to live in alignment with your own values. It is not my job (and i get to decided what the job is for My Minimalist Baby) to do the research for you on where you can buy products. I’m sorry but if that is what you came here for then you’ll have to look elsewhere.

X Ange



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