Microsoft and Machinima advertising money causes flack over lack of disclosure

machinima_logoOver the last week, reports began to surface that an agreement between Machinima and Microsoft offered Machinima partners on Youtube the chance to make additional $3 per 1000 views on a video if it had neutral or positive coverage of the Xbox One.  All partner’s needed to do was include the tag  “XB1M13” and talk about the Xbox One and include gameplay footage of the game they’re playing.  The contract also required that creators did not disclose that they were getting advertising money, raising the ire of many news sites and gaming fans alike.  They also were not allowed to speak badly about Machinima or Microsoft during those videos, according to the contract leaked to Pastebin.

This report was joined by confirmation from another Machinima partner, saying this was not even the first of it’s kind.  He showcased previous e-mails that offered CPM (extra money per thousand view) bonuses for talking about things like E3 and Comic-Con.

Microsoft and Machinima have confirmed the contract (pictured here) is in fact legitimate, but admited no wrong doing while speaking to Arstechnica, saying “This partnership between Machinima and Microsoft was a typical marketing partnership to promote Xbox One in December. The Xbox team does not review any specific content or provide feedback on content. Any confidentiality provisions, terms, or other guidelines are standard documents provided by Machinima. For clarity, confidentiality relates to the agreements themselves, not the existence of the promotion.”  

Microsoft went on to say that they were not aware of individual contracts that Machinima handed out based on the advertising money it was offering.  It should be noted that the lack of disclosure is also against FTC regulations.  Creators must include that the piece of content they are releasing is being sponsored by them, as viewers deserve the right to know if the opinion in the video could be caused by those advertising dollars.

Xbox_One_ControllerThe promotion ended during December, and Microsoft has asked Machinima to add disclaimers to all the videos that received money as part of this promotion.  Machinima has sent a statement to the Wall Street Journal, saying it typically requires video creators to include certain language to say the video was apart of a promotion.  “That didn’t happen here and we’re evaluating why,” the statement said. “All participants are being asked today to include our standard language going-forward. We apologize for the error and any confusion.”

As expected, many on the internet is angry about these reports.  It certainly raises questions about the integrity of many youtube content creators, and the neutrality of the system in general.  Marketing Land’s Danny Sullivan compared the practice to nothing more then product placement in a TV show or film.

This reporter’s opinion:  I’m going to write an editorial article on this tomorrow, but for now I’ll leave you with this:  you can’t be certain anyone isn’t receiving money for making content.  Granted, every piece of news or entertainment on the internet, save subscription sites, is supported by advertisers.  That’s what I’ll leave you with for today, and write more on the subject when I’ve clarified my thoughts further.

by, Bobby Marquardt

sources: Arstechnica, Wall Street Journal, igameresponsibly, and Reddit Games


1 thought on “Microsoft and Machinima advertising money causes flack over lack of disclosure

  1. Pingback: Opinion: Machinima screwed up big time, but disclosure is the key for the future | League of Mediocre Gamers

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