Ofcom: Nearly 50% of children ‘unaware’ vloggers are paid to endorse products

Despite children becoming ‘rapidly trusting’ of the content they find online, Ofcom says nearly half (47%) of 12-to-15 year olds are unaware that vloggers are paid to endorse products or services.

Over recent months, brands such as Britvic and Oreo have had vlogger endorsements banned for not correctly stating they were advertisements.

And Ofcom’s latest Children and Parents: Media and Attitudes report calls for ‘greater transparency’ from brands when it comes to marketing to children.

“The internet allows children to learn, discover different points of view and stay connected with friends and family,” said James Thickett, Ofcom’s director of research.

“But these digital natives still need help to develop the know-how they need to navigate the online world.”

Ofcom’s key findings

Ofcom claims that 8% of online British children now use YouTube as their preferred choice to discover “true and accurate” information – a figure that has grown from just 3% in 2014.

Yet despite this trend, only half (52%) of are aware that advertising is the main source of revenue for YouTube.

And even for children who have grown up with the internet, there appears to be room to improve their digital know-how and understanding of advertising.

“One in five online 12-15s (19%) believe information returned by a search engine such as Google or Bing must be true, yet only a third of 12-15s (31%) are able to identify paid-for adverts in these results,” adds Thickett.

Nearly one in ten (8%), meanwhile, believe information from social media websites or apps is “all true” – doubling from 4% in 2014.

The report gives credence to calls for marketers and brands to lessen their child-focused online advertising.

Earlier this year, research commissioned by the Mothers’ Union, found that four in five British adults are concerned about the ‘commercialisation of childhood’, while 81% believe that the media encourages children to ask their parents to buy advertised goods through ‘pester power’.

This week, YouTube launched its YouTube Kids variant in the UK market in a bid to give brands a more ethical way of targeting children online.

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