PewDiePie Incident Means More Scrutiny for Influencers

The Wall Street Journal
Mike Shields

The very public downfall of YouTube’s top star, PewDiePie, is giving brands a good deal of pause over how they work with influencers to advertise their products to millions of young viewers.

Marketers aren’t about to yank their ad budgets from YouTube, and most probably won’t stop working with these video creators who draw hard-to-reach teenage audiences. But ad buyers say they expect brands to ratchet up the scrutiny they place on YouTube, the influencers they work with, and the various middlemen involved in brokering deals in the social marketing ecosystem.

This week, Walt Disney Co. severed ties with Felix Kjellberg, who goes by PewDiePie, and Google’s YouTube canceled his show after The Wall Street Journal revealed he made anti-Semitic jokes and showed Nazi imagery in his videos. While the second season of his show on YouTube’s subscription service was called off and his channel was pulled from its Google Preferred advertising program, Mr. Kjelberg can still post videos to his channel and ads can appear before them.

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