New media agency 3BlackDot has responded to questions regarding its employment of popular YouTube stars for promotional purposes, stating that although it understands the concerns over the blurred line between objective coverage and paid promotion, it will ensure that being compensated doesn't influence the opinions of its broadcasters.
Announced last week, 3BlackDot was founded by Machinima executives Angelo Pullen and Luke Stepleton and has already signed up influential YouTubers Syndicate and SeaNanners for paid-for promotional work on their channels.
"We do not believe authenticity and compensation are mutually exclusive," a company representative replied when GamesIndustry.biz asked about the dangers of employing YouTube stars to advertise products. "Understanding that there is a fine line, we do not believe that authenticity is inherently jeopardized if people are compensated for their efforts. The promotion, marketing, and distribution we provide is for products we believe in. We would never put our audience at risk by working with products or services we cannot get behind. Authenticity is our absolute guiding principle."
Confusing the distinction between 'objective' and advertorial content further is the fact that the company's YouTube representatives will continue to produce their own material alongside 3BlackDot's advertising work.
"Transparency is key to maintaining an open and clear relationship between Influencers and their communities"
"Our belief is that Influencers should have the freedom to work with any client that aligns with their brand," says 3BlackDot. "Part of the value 3BD brings to the table is being able to help Influencers identify authentic integration opportunities and managing the relationships."
However, "If and when necessary, paid promotions will be labelled as such," the company statement maintains. "Transparency is key to maintaining an open and clear relationship between Influencers and their communities.
"We are currently working on how to best denote their relationship with 3BD."
The issue of YouTube stars taking money from publishers to promote games has come under close scrutiny of late, as major players such as Yogscast have been forced to reveal the extent of their deals with publishers and developers. The issue is further complicated by the variance in international broadcasting regulations governing product placement and the declaration of interests. That said, a recent survey revealed that more developers have been asked for, or taken part in, deals which saw them pay for coverage on 'traditional' media, namely websites, than they have with YouTube and other video media.