YouTubers are turning into sales promotion shills

July 15, 2018

It seems that more and more popular YouTubers are turning their channels into sales platforms, and making what appears to be their usual content only for the sake of hot-linking to sales promotions on e-commerce sites like B&H and Amazon. Not only is this disingenuous, it might also be against the law, because the consumer is clearly being deceived. Let me show you two recent examples of that which popped up in my subscription feed these days.

Matt Granger suddenly recommending a great value portrait lens

It’s not so much about why Matt Granger recommended a good value Nikon portrait lens (he’s famous for being one of the biggest Nikon lens reviewers on YouTube), but more as to why now? - I’ll tell you why. It’s only, because Nikon is running a 50 USD discount for this lens for a limited time.

If you purchase it by clicking on one of his hot-links in the video description, he will be getting a commission.

Yes, Matt is mentioning all of this buried deep down in his video descriptions, but not really up front in the video:

Matt Granger is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Matt Granger is a participant in the B&H Photo Video affiliate program that provides an advertising commission if you purchase through our links.

If you purchase something from our affiliate links will get a small commission with no extra cost to you.

I’m not saying he’s not transparent (maybe not as transparent as I’d like), but what bothers me is that he’s now making content only because a brand has a sales promotion. That’s where I feel tech YouTube is starting to spiral downwards.

Sara Dietschy, a Sony fanboy, suddenly implying a switch to Fuji

I’m not subscribed to this channel, because I think the content is for the most part garbage, but she’s managed to get some attention in the tech YouTube community lately by collaborating with some larger tech YouTubers. That’s how I noticed her, and checked out some of her videos in the past. The below video was recommended to me by YouTube, so I decided to have a look. When I saw the clickbaity caption and thumbnail, I knew something was fishy.

The same story here: She’s making this video only because Fuji is running a big promotion on B&H for their X-T2 cameras (probably because the successor X-T3 is very close to the announcement).

The worst part is that she’s pretending she has no clue about the X-T2, and that she’s actually considering to get one - she’s not. She’s a Sony fanboy by her own choice (and also using that to shill for Sony in her other videos).

There are still alternatives

There are still tech YouTubers out there who are upfront about their promotions, like Zed Pro Media here in one of the recent videos. The whole video is about this current Fuji X-T2 promotion. There is an open discussion about it in the comments, and all the hot-links are in the description. This is how it should be done, it's very transparent.

If you just want honesty

There are very few photography YouTubers left like Ken Wheeler aka The Angry Photographer. There are zero hot-links in his video descriptions, he's not earning any money from B&H, Amazon or Sony & co, hence he can be honest with himself, and say whatever opinion he wants, even if it turns out to be unpopular with his viewers, as well as camera brands. To be frank, I disagree with many of Ken's opinions (like his dislike for the Nikon D5 and the Nikkor 105mm f/1.4, or his opinions on Fuji GFX), but I respect him for having his own opinions, instead of being affected by various outside forces offering him money. What's more and more happening on YouTube these days is that opinions are being watered down to the extent that they're just empty statements with no value. Nobody says anymore "This camera is better than the other camera" because xxx facts. It's all about keeping the money flow open from all sides. Look at Fro Knows Photo or Matt Granger: Both used to be Nikon focused channels, but when Sony, Panasonic and Canon started to offer them opportunities to make money, they began to completely change their channels into general gear reviews. Fro is still somewhat stating his opinions, but very often subtly, Matt Granger is mainly just rambling.

And now look at Ken Wheeler: Until today he has not reviewed a single Canon camera! Why? Because he has no interest in Canon. He's a Fuji/Nikon guy, and vintage lens guy. I'm 100% sure many brands have approached him in the past 3 years since his channel blew up, but he's still the same, he hasn't changed much - and I respect that. If he was like the others, he could've made much more money, but he chose not to. However, he's a dying breed. YouTube will go the Tony Northrup way (stating untruths, shilling for a brand, recommending only the most expensive gear). That will be the point where I will stop going there, because Google is trying to take away the control from the user (via curated subscriptions) and give it to the algorithm (which chooses to recommend the same commercial content with no real value). YouTube is clearly getting worse every year, and it's quite depressing.

1 comment:

  1. how dare you tell the truth about click-weasel kickback monkeys on youtube! Shame on you for exposing stranger danger and other make-a-buck asshats.


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