YouTube Whoops: Wawa Hoagie Ads Run Over Carls-Junior Sponsored Burger Videos

YouTube went to great lengths to ask (and even threaten video creators with reminders of their contractual obligations) to prevent stars doing sponsored videos. As I’ve addressed before, some advertisers were circumventing lucrative media spends by working directly with top stars. That’s especially smarmy when the Google folks pitched the star, and the agency or brand cut YouTube out (see my quotes in a MediaWeek article).

But YouTube recognized the desperation of YouTube stars — hoping to better monetize their content — and began to quietly relax that rule this summer… even inviting creators to choose whether ads should run, or indicate (voluntarily) that the video is sponsored, which automatically turns off ads.

Ironically, a recent Carls Junior campaign (in which stars were selected and paid via YouTube to endorse a $6 mushroom burger) shows that while most creators turned off InVideo ads, some are still allowing them… and now Wawa is snatching the inventory (see image below) with Hoagiefest ads. An oversight by the stars, YouTube or the agency?

wawa ad over carls junior promotional sponsored video

Who wins here? Nobody. If I was Wawa, I wouldn’t want my ads appearing next to Carls Junior sponsored videos facilitated by YouTube. If I was Carls Junior, I’d be frustrated that a competitor is buying ads over the content I commission and funded via a fixed-fee sponsorship. If I fund the star videos, I’d want either my own ads, no overlay ads, or at least category exclusion for some period. And if I’m the star, I’m jeapardizing future deals by ticking off paying sponsors.

Here’s hoping this was a technical glitch or a temporary oversight. A creator loves to double monetize (run ads over sponsored/endorsement videos) but it’s really not fair to advertisers… Especially the sponsor that commissions the video.

For example, if I did a video for a Holiday Inn, and left ads running… Motel 6 could capitalize on that video. Holiday Inn would feel cheated, and that’s why you won’t find ads running on any of my sponsored videos.

Solution: Whoever brokers the deal (in this case, YouTube with some digital agency partners) needs to set up the rules upfront and enforce them. Some of the videos got millions of views, which would otherwise produce significant ad revenue for YouTube and the creators beyond the generous check creators got for making the video. Future ad deals should reward the stars that get top views by buying all the inventory for the commissioned videos for a certain period of time, so the creator (and YouTube) are financially rewarded for getting the videos seen (which is ultimately vital and in the control of the star and YouTube). If necessary, cap it. Alternatively, ensure the fixed sponsor payment is sufficient enough to make it worthwhile for the star to turn off ads, knowing there will be no additional upside for the star if the video goes wildly viral (and that YouTube loses its incentive to “microfeature” the video by spotlighting and other ways).

But we don’t want these blunders making advertisers nervous about what can be terrific programs that combine the entertainment value of the stars with the impact of paid media, which incents YouTube to get the videos a broader audience than the star’s organic one…. and the combination of a CarlsJr overlay ad with the sponsored video would certainly increase awareness, intent, and purchase far beyond sponsored videos or ads alone.

11 Replies to “YouTube Whoops: Wawa Hoagie Ads Run Over Carls-Junior Sponsored Burger Videos”

  1. Who reads this stuff? Is this blog the correct place for commentary on the monetization of YouTube videos? I mean, it seemed like a well-thought-out critique, but is anyone who reads this blog going to care?

  2. Whomever posted this video ultimately has control over if ads show on it or not. My guess is that Wawa is just looking for exposure on YouTube as whole and Carl’s Junior is allowing all sorts of ad on their videos. Not a good situation, but Carl’s Junior needs to stop ads showing on their content.

  3. Are Carls Jr & Wawa actually competitors? I’m pretty sure Carls is west coast and wawa is east coast…is there any overlap? I could understand if they were across the street from each other but is there really any business stealing going on here?

  4. This page is taking forever to load and refresh. Could you shorten it up a little? most recent 3 posts maybe?

  5. I guess the whole system is still learning how to get the balance of advertising/sponsorship right from all sides. I find it slightly crazy how sponsored adverts end up having another advert overlaying them. It can be overload for the viewer in some cases, speaking from my own experience. Great and interesting article Kevin.

  6. I think Youtube is severely understaffed. Always has been. Always will be. Thank God high school kids get a 3 month summer break or nothing would ever get done at YT.

  7. @7 my very first thought when reading this

    now I think Kevin makes a good argument, wait, hold on, eating some chips… okay, and it could very well be that it was an over sight, but I think you might be looking at You Tube like TV – like old media. So on that note let me toss this salad.

    I’ve been to a number of third party web site that have a big ad in the corner for say, Holiday Inn, but a bunch of little ads placed elsewhere for other hotels in the same cities. I’ve seen something similar on TV too where one commercial will contradict another commercial back to back. Not sure that’s exactly the same, but you get my drift…

    So was it a glitch, or did somebody not read the contract, or do the advertisers really care as long as they are up on You Tube?

    I don’t know, but I think your advise is sound and I’ll tell you why. Now I don’t watch commercials, I have weapons to destroy them on sight and a very quick draw of the mute second to none, but I discovered that I’m not immune to the alluring tools of advertising…

    Now some here may already know that I watch a lot of news, and by the end of this past week all I wanted to do was go out and have a beer.

    go ahead click read my blog


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  9. I go entirely from the viewers standpoint when considering this stuff. And I have to imagine a viewer is slightly irritated by the overflow of advertising on their favorite star’s video. It’s probably annoying enough to them that their star is doing a sponsored video.

    Not that I am against sponsored video, but I’d say you get a free minute on them and if it’s not obvious it’s going to be a damn good video in that first minute of “ok, I like this person so I will watch,” I think they will turn on you.

    And I can’t see that person responding well to a brand mix-up. Whether it’s not understanding or ignoring altogether out of frustration, I don’t see how that can end well – especially if the video is just a 2-to-3-star.

    And in all honesty, a lot of them are just that.

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