Cash for comment is alright in Social Media

There is currently a trend amongst Youtube Vloggers (US) that transperancy is not a rule of social media and doing cash for comment is acceptable.

TV show Lie to Me have paid a number of vloggers to talk about their latest show with no disclosure from the vlogger about being paid.

The content is good, it is engaging, it is not a stretch from what these vloggers normally produce. So that makes it okay, right?

From a Vlogging source I was told that the reason they do 'cash for comment' is because they do not want to risk losing a large percentage of their audience (by doing full disclosure, they will be deemed as a sell out), whereas with cash for comment, a large percentage of their audience will not notice.

What is your opinion on self disclosure within Youtube? Do Vloggers need to be upfront about advertorial?

Gavin made a really good point on this subject on my post about Hill88 doing cash for comment

'When individuals begin to see themselves as mini-media businesses, the lines blur. Unfortunately, very few people have the capacity to deal with where that can take you - remember, the media businesses such as Fox have legions of people who have turned people into celebrities and celebrities into household names. There are disciples and practices around doing this. The difference is that it is done in a way that always reflects back on the "parent brand" (in the same way that Channel 9's stable of celebrities reflect back on Channel 9).

Individuals, on the other hand, are personal brands. There are fewer disciplines (and sometimes even awareness levels) in place. And as personal brands are built around trust and authenticity, any undisclosed dalliance with larger brands can be very damaging.

Unfortunately, once an outcome is achieved and the hard-earned brand equity has been extinguished (for cash/product/promise), those individuals (and their personal brands) can be easily discarded ... '

If the States is anything to go by, we may need to realign our thoughts about our vision and values of Social Media Advertising in Australia.

Update: Australian Hughsnews is getting paid cash for comment by Fox in the competition.


The Lost Agency said...

hmmm... well i guess its better than being paid by companies to digg their articles under different logins, who are all strangely friends...

how is this any different to interviewing a sponsor on a podcast...?

Daniel Oyston said...

@ The Lost Agency. It is different from interviewing a sponsor on a podcast because 1) sponsors are disclosed (therefore everyone knows that they sponsor) and 2) because what is said by an interviewee is not necessarily the views of the interviewer (although you would assume there is some a

I personally do not see a problem with cash for comment so long as the person is aligned with the product/theme etc. If they wouldn’t then they are absolutely lying.

I don’t know much about it but isn’t it kinda illegal? E.g. John Laws, Alan Jones etc? Or is that just in the radio community? Regardless, if it is illegal only in radio then those rules are based on the fact that people can be misled by cash for comment and that ultimately it is a bad thing.

@Julian. For a while some of us have been noting that the rules of social media are being defined by those that practice it (by that I mean active bloggers etc) in the hope of keeping the corporates/brands from “polluting it” … but maybe the cracks are starting to appear?

flashman said...

"A shill is an associate of a person selling goods or services or a political group, who pretends no association to the seller/group and assumes the air of an enthusiastic customer."

Hugh, you're a shill mate.

Julian Cole said...

@flashman; After the SMH article (,

I think HughsNews got the raw end of the stick on this one. I think he makes a valid point in that he does have control over what he produces.

We are currently in a formation time where we are still trying to figure out what is acceptable and what is not in this space.

I was not taking sides, I was just trying to open the discussion up on this blog!

Anonymous said...

The particular audience makes all the difference.

If your audience knows you have/will accept cash for comment and are still with you then what does it matter? However if your audience believes you are an independent commentator then surely non-disclosure becomes more of an issue for the publisher.

Chris Brogan faced a storm in a teacup over his Kmart posts but he had clearly stated their involvement up front.

If someone I read/watch is paid, and is open about that, I could care less. But endorsements without disclosure with money involved feels kinda grubby.

I'd love to see a paid commentator laying into said product or service but I guess that'll never happen

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