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The Attorney General Tri-State Commission and automotive manufacturers are cracking the whip and cracking down on automobile ads on YouTube.

YouTube used to be a safe haven where car dealers could place their video car ads, car walk-arounds and employee videos as they would. It was easy. They would open a YouTube channel and post whatever they thought the public would enjoy or might capture the attention of potential customers. These videos, like videos by any other everyman or woman, could be left up online ad infinitum. But no longer.

As digital advertising becomes more popular and prevalent, it can no longer be dismissed as a free-for-all. Anything posted by an auto dealership or franchise must now adhere to the same rules enforced for traditional advertising such as newsprint, radio, or television.

  • Any videos that display an outdated price offer can no longer be displayed.
  • Non-compliant videos cannot be displayed anywhere after the end date has passed according to the Attorney General Tri-State Commission.
  • Non-compliant videos cannot be displayed anywhere according to the automobile manufacturer.
  • Walk-arounds of vehicles no longer available are considered to be fraudulent according to the Attorney General and non-compliant by the manufacturer.
  • Videos displaying pre-owned vehicles that have been sold can no longer remain on the channel.
  • Any employee, former or present, that did not sign a release form, cannot be featured in any video on the dealership’s channel as they can sue the dealership.
  • Dealer videos featuring the actual dealer as the principal may not refer to former employees no longer at the dealership unless they have signed a release form.
  • All other offers, especially credit offers or bonus offers may not continue to be displayed by the dealer after the end date.

These restrictions may seem harsh, but they are the same guidelines with which other forms of advertising must comply. Failure to abide by these guidelines will result in fines from the Attorney General’s office, letters from the manufacturers, and/or sanctions by both.

Considering the staggering amount of material currently online, this may appear to be a daunting prospect to the individual dealership or franchise. Farming out the task may be the most expedient and practical way of dealing with the mandatory channel clean-up. For a small fee the dealership’s advertising agency can be prevailed upon to initiate the clean-up and maintain their channel’s integrity on their behalf. An advertising agency can also design the YouTube campaign and monitor any analytics to give the dealership the biggest bang for their buck.

As digital online advertising moves forward into the future of the business, everyone needs to remain vigilant and pro-active. Someone somewhere is always watching. And we can all be glad about that.