Updated YouTube Contest Guidelines: 5 Things to Know
Update: As of August 2015 the policies were updated again. Please see our most recent article on YouTube Contest Guidelines.
Earlier this year, YouTube issued a 2015 update to their contest guidelines. Basically, it explained that they were phasing out their contest gadgets that have been in place for a few years and that contests are now being governed by their simplified guidelines.
The YouTube contest guidelines give the usual contest verbiage shared by other social platforms, like Facebook and Twitter. Primarily, if you run a contest on their platform you are responsible for creating your own official rules, and for following all applicable laws and regulations for wherever you choose to run your contest. They also make it clear that they will not assume any legal liability and you must release them from liability in the rules you create.
Then they go into some specifics that only apply to YouTube that you may need to be aware of:
- You can only run a contest open to entrants 18 or older. Other platforms don’t address age, or allow entrants to be 13 or older. YouTube is very specific that you must limit your contests to 18+ only, which is important to consider if your demographic skews younger.
- You can’t use the platform functions, like voting or the number of video views, as part of your contest. The YouTube vote mechanism used to be the way many brands narrowed down the competition for many contests. Now you need to rely on judging entries based on pre-set criteria, or come up with another creative way to whittle down the competition.
- You can’t run a video contest on your own site using the YouTube API or embedded YouTube player. Before YouTube had contest guidelines, brands often designed their own site, asked people to upload videos to YouTube, and showed entries using an embedded YouTube player. According to guidelines, this is no longer allowed, which means that if you are hosting your own video contest you will need to collect, encode and compress, host all the entries and use your own video player (or license one) if you run a video contest on your site.
- YouTube can shut you down — at any time and at their discretion – even if your contest is in full swing. If you are not in compliance, YouTube can turn off your account or your brand channel without any warning. They also specify that they will take no responsibility for the financial or legal or PR mess that shutting you down might cause your brand.
- Videos can stay up after your contest is over (and even if you don’t approve them). Remember, videos on YouTube can stay up forever. And the user controls the content – not you. If you are a highly regulated brand, or want to control the content for a contest, YouTube is not the place for your contest.
And while that is a bit daunting, as long as you plan accordingly, YouTube is still the fastest, easiest and most popular video platform to run your video contest on! It just takes a little pre-launch planning to come up with the best solution.
If you are considering a video contest, give us a call. We have run contests with YouTube and on custom video platforms for over 10 years. We can help you figure out the best way to approach it for your brand.
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