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Digital Media

YouTube stars can fess up to paid promotions easier now

Google's video site adds the option to stick a text FYI on any clip, but it won't require creators to disclose when they've taken money to talk up a product.

Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

It may start getting clearer when a YouTube video was paid for by an advertiser, but only if the creators feels like sharing.

On Tuesday, YouTube said it added an optional feature that puts visible text on the first few seconds of a video. The text reads "Includes paid promotion" in the lower left corner.

Creators on YouTube who build up a meaningful audience can unlock a lucrative way to make a living: paid content. Companies and brands, eager to target a particular creator's audience, recruit and pay a YouTuber to make a video incorporating their product somehow.

The practice allows YouTube creators to avert the ad revenue split that Google holds onto from the commercials, but it has attracted scrutiny from the US Federal Trade Commission. This year, the FTC said it would be cracking down more frequently on advertisers who go the route of paying influencers like YouTube stars without disclosing the sponsorship clearly.

YouTube said creators can also choose to add the new text disclosure to any existing video without losing their view count or other video metrics.

"Since there is no global disclosure standard, creators and brands should check and follow applicable laws as they may vary greatly by region," the company recommended in its blog post.