Influencer marketing - advertising on the social web

A large number of posts on social media contain product presentations and are aimed at teenagers and young adults

In a communication science report by the Hochschule der Medien (Media University) commissioned by the Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media (KJM), direct purchase appeals among children and young people on social media (YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, TIKTOK) were investigated. The following results are recorded in it: Internet content (videos, photos, etc.) by influencers refers to a high degree to products that are not only mentioned in the posts, but are particularly staged. This happens, for example, on the basis of tests and recommendations. In addition, there is insufficient labeling of promotional content. 5% of the contributions examined are particularly problematic, since they direct e.g. purchase appeals to children and young people. On the positive side, topics and products that are of particular interest to children play only a minor role(source: KJM online, as of 10/2018).

Advertising content on the social web using the example of BibisBeautyPalace
YouTube star Bibi from BibisBeautyPalace is slowly growing up! Bibi is beautiful longer no longer alone: The man at her side is called Julian and together they have been tackling all the hurdles that life offers them for quite some time - not only in real life, but also video-violently on the two YouTube channels BibisBeautyPalace (5.4 million subscribers) and Julienco (3.7 million subscribers).
The JIM Study 2017 also confirms the importance of the BibisBeautyPalace channel for young people in Germany: The favorite YouTube offerings or channels (here, young people were able to give up to three mentions) show enormous diversity and generate hardly any notable frequencies. In terms of spontaneous mentions, however, Julien Bam leads with 6%, followed by BibisBeautyPalace with 5%, Gronkh and LeFloid with 4% each. In general, the video portal YouTube enjoys particular popularity among young people: 88 % of young people use YouTube at least several times a week (source: JIM Study 2017,

YouTube star fascination: Up close
and personal
Bibi's YouTube videos are somewhat reminiscent of the printed Bravo photo love stories of past generations. Young adults make themselves available as role models for teenagers by living through all the small and big problems of growing up. Certainly in the age of social media, thanks to Instagram and photo filters, everything is a little prettier, a little more styled, a little more straightforward.
The idea that Bibi could be the older sister, the ideal whose advice is sought, is obvious: regularly appearing videos that are accompanied cross-medially by Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat posts, for example, are so exciting for young people precisely because they suggest proximity to the video star. Social media features make it possible to interact with the YouTuber by "liking" or commenting under their latest video. Questions and issues raised by users are addressed in subsequent videos.

The thin line between advice and product placement
On the basis of the videos, which are mostly recorded in their own homes, YouTube users are allowed to take a look into the living room, kitchen and, more recently, the children's room of the two protagonists. Bibi and Julian have been the proud parents of a son for a few weeks now.
The gray and white styled rooms are the perfect background to showcase products that are used in everyday life with a child.
For example, in Bibi and Julian's current video "24 hours with baby ♡ daily routine", several products are the focus of the camera lens: right at the beginning of the video and again in succession, the brand of radiant heater can be seen exposed above the changing table. The diapers and wet wipes of a well-known manufacturer are repeatedly in the foreground as well as the brand of the baby basket. The video, which lasts just under 11 minutes, is additionally interrupted by commercials: pre-rolls and mid-rolls are advertising videos that are switched by YouTube at the beginning of or during the video, as are advertising pop-ups that are placed on the video surface. The latter can, after all, be closed with one click. A labeling of the video as advertising content is not given. However, products may appear in videos embedded in a plot as long as the value of 1000 euros is not exceeded. In the context of product presentations, the YouTuber's opinion must be expressed honestly, i.e. advantages and possible disadvantages must be addressed.
At least an explanation of affilated links is given in the description text of the video.

Influencer marketing - what is it?

Influencer marketing is advertising within social media, such as YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and, which are popular with children and young people. The "stars" of the industry, also called influencers, stage themselves within personal profiles, usually across media. They use videos, photos or "stories" to report on their everyday lives.

Labeling of advertising content on the social web
Legal principles also determine the labeling of advertising content for the Internet: For example, (Section 58 (3) in conjunction with Section 7 (3) of the Interstate Broadcasting Treaty) states that "advertising must be easily recognizable as such and must be appropriately set off from the other content of the offerings by optical and acoustic means or spatially."
In reality, however, the boundaries between editorial content and advertising content are often fluid, making it particularly difficult to monitor implementation within the dynamically developing field of advertising - among other things, new platforms and forms of advertising are constantly being added.
The flyer FAQs: Answers to advertising questions in social media references to products on YouTube & Co. "Am I allowed to do that? How am I allowed to do that?" provides YouTubers with guidance on labeling requirements.
Addendum: The new guide of the media institutions: Werbekennzeichnung bei Social Media-Angeboten incl. die Kennzeichnungs-Matrix Social Media replaces the FAQs since 22.11.2018. 

Teaching advertising competence
In addition, the Hochschule der Medien study found that young people are competent in dealing with promotional content in influencer posts. However, younger teens in particular were challenged by unexpected forms of advertising. Regardless of the adolescents' knowledge of advertising forms, buying impulses definitely emanated from the content, i.e., the adolescents wanted to buy the products or bought them afterwards.
It therefore makes sense to strengthen the advertising skills of children and young people: at school and at home. (Informational) materials that address the specifics of forms of advertising on the Internet and address YouTube in particular can be found below.

Further information:

For young people:

For parents:

For educators:

For YouTubers:


Reporting advertising violations: