Insights Do the VSP rules really level the playing field?

The revised audiovisual media services Directive (AVMSD) led to the UK’s introduction of regulatory requirements for video-sharing platforms (VSPs).

Under these rules, providers of VSPs are required to take measures to protect under-18s from harmful content in videos and protect users from videos containing content that incites violence or hatred, and certain types of illegal content. These general requirements apply to all VSP videos, as well as advertising.

What does this mean for adverts on VSPs?

There are several specific advertising requirements, many of which are common to the Broadcasting Code and/or B/CAP Codes.

For example, adverts included on a VSP must be readily recognisable as such, and must not use techniques which exploit the possibility of conveying a message subliminally or surreptitiously.

Do the requirements now match those for TV?

On first look, the requirements for VSPs seem to fall short of the advertising requirements for television – the prohibited categories of advertising are certainly more limited. Yet, while the rules are certainly light touch versus linear television, the new requirements will ensure that users have far more insight into whether advertising is present in the content they are watching.

For example, VSP providers are now required to provide functionality for users who upload content to declare the presence of advertising, and ensure that users who upload content make use of this functionality as part of the terms and conditions of the service. This includes sponsorship and product placement which are included in the definition of “audiovisual commercial communication” within the AVMSD.

In addition, VSP providers must clearly inform users that a video contains advertising where they have knowledge of this, or its presence has been declared by the uploader using the functionality provided.

So, while the permitted advertising on platforms like YouTube and Twitch is broader than that of linear television, the VSP rules do go some way to at least start to hold VSP providers to account and make advertisers and other uploaders understand the importance of advertising recognition.

This article was first published as part of our “Expert insight on advertising, marketing & sponsorship” publication. Read insights on similar topics in the full publication here