Adverts watched by millions of young people on YouTube who follow the “vloggers” Zoella and Alfie Deyes at times feature sugary products, an i paper investigation has found.
If they were broadcast on terrestrial TV, the adverts would likely break Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) rules, the investigation shows, prompting calls for regulations to be tightened.
It is not known if the vloggers are aware of the products advertised before their posts and there was no response from their management companies when contacted by i. The regulations do not apply to vlogging sites and there were calls yesterday for regulations to include them.
Graham MacGregor, the chairman of Action on Sugar which campaigns for healthier diets, urged: “Regulations about online advertising need to mirror that of TV advertising.”
The adverts feature sugary products including Coca-Cola and Haribo sweets, inquiries have shown.
Regulations for broadcast TV set up by the Advertising Standard Authority state that “ads for high in fat, salt or sugar products (HFSS) can’t appear around programmes that are commissioned for or are likely to be of particular appeal to children up to 16 years of age.”
Zoella, real name Zoe Sugg, posts about two videos a week on YouTube on subjects ranging from “My Everyday Makeup Routine”, viewed five million times, to “Little Ways to Change Your Life” (2.4 million).
When clicking on the videos, 30-second adverts for sugary sweets and drinks at times appeared before the videos played. One advert even featured an online gambling site.
It was a similar story with the “Pointless Blog” produced by Zoella’s boyfriend, Alfie Deyes, which gets 36 million views a month, and the “Dan Is Not on Fire” channel which is produced by Dan Howell and has more than four million subscribers.
In most cases, adverts on YouTube videos are “determined automatically” by the Google AdSense system and are “based on a number of contextual factors” relating to the video.