Parents Of YouTube's Highest Earner Ryan Kaji Hit With Investigation
The parents of YouTube's highest earner, Ryan Kaji, have been accused of not fully disclosing sponsored content in his videos.
Ryan, 8, is the star of channel Ryan ToysReview, on which some 21 million subscribers watch him unbox toys, play with them and review them. As if this doesn't sound like a perfect enough life for a boy his age, he is also making millions in the process - $22 million (£17.8 million) between June 2017 and June 2018 in fact, according to Forbes.
However, consumer watchdog Truth In Advertising has now accused Ryan's parents, Shion and Kieu-Loan Guan, of not always clearly disclosing when sponsored products are incorporated in videos - which is 90 percent of the time, the watchdog claims.
Some of Ryan's more high profile partnerships include a deal with Walmart, which is making a line of toys called 'Ryan's World', and another with Nickelodeon, which has a show on his channel called Ryan's Mystery Playdate.
In its complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, Truth in Advertising said Ryan's content might not be as innocent as it seems.
The complaint read: "It is often difficult to discern the innocent (or sometimes not so innocent) antics in Ryan ToysReview videos from the sponsored content. And for preschoolers, it is impossible to discern the difference."
It continues: "When a YouTube video directed to children under the age of five mixes advertising with program content, as Ryan ToysReview videos frequently do, the preschool audience is unable to understand or even identify the difference between marketing material and organic content, even when there is a verbal indicator that attempts to identify the marketing content.
"Ryan ToysReview's sponsored content is presented in a manner that misleadingly blurs
the distinction between advertising and organic content for its intended audience."
Responding to the accusations in a statement, the parents said they always complied with advertising regulations.
The statement read: "The well-being of our viewers is always the top priority for us, and we strictly follow all platforms' terms of service and all existing laws and regulations, including advertising disclosure requirements.
"As the streaming space continues to quickly grow and evolve, we support efforts by lawmakers, industry representatives and regulators such as the FTC to continuously evaluate and update existing guidelines and lay new ground rules to protect both viewers and creators."
Featured Image Credit: YouTube/Ryan ToysReview