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Privacy advocates and online advertisers alike have long awaited a bill from Congress that will tackle the issue of behavioral advertising online. Today, Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Cliff Stearns released (R-Fla.) a "discussion" draft of the bill (pdf here) that requires advertisers to allow consumers to opt-out of online tracking.
Considering that is already standard business practice, it appears that the online ad industry's efforts at self-regulation have been initially successful. But privacy advocates are not going to take this setback lying down.
If there were any doubt about the Federal Trade Commission making good on its promise to crack down on blogger freebies, it has been laid to rest this week. The group just completed an investigation of retailer Ann Taylor. They won't be asking for any reparations from the company, but that's only because Ann Taylor cooperated and promised not to offer any more $10 gift cards to bloggers.
For bloggers thinking they would remain outside the FTC's purview, this case could serve as a warning that all sponsorships are under scrutiny.
The online ad industry already has enough trouble with the Federal Trade Commission. They don't want President Obama making any more.
Speaking in New York this week, Obama reiterated his interest in fixing Wall Street. But a Senate bill being drafted to achieve those goals, known as the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, includes a provision that would also extend the reach of the FTC on advertising practices.
A group of advertising industry advocates is speaking out to get the revisions — that Former FTC chairman Jim Miller says would be "like putting the FTC on steroids" — dropped. If they fail, the FTC will have jurisdiction over many more businesses. And fines may start adding up.
Social networks are increasingly popular with marketers, and that means they're increasingly popular with the government bodies that regulate marketers.
In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued guidelines designed to set boundaries on what marketers can and can't do in the world of social media. So it's no surprise that a similar effort is now taking shape across the pond in the UK.
Google isn't afraid of failure. The company loves experimenting and will readily accept failures if they mean it finds success sooner. But if there was any new product for which Google would probably want a 'do over', it would be Buzz.
The Gmail-based social network sparked a user revolt, and a formal complaint has been lodged with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that Google is violating the law and its own user agreements with Buzz. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner in Canada is already looking into Buzz as well.
When the FTC first announced that it was looking closely at blogs and social media, one of the groups that many thought would come under close scrutiny was mommy bloggers.
Flash forward to today. The FTC rules are in place but it's business as usual for mommy bloggers who get free product in exchange for product reviews on their blogs. That's according to a survey of 130 mommy bloggers conducted by Mom Central Consulting.
Just as marketers increase their spending on social media marketing comes potentially discouraging news: consumers are trusting their friends a whole lot less.
According to AdAge, the 2010 Edelman Financial Services U.S. Trust Barometer found that only 25% of those surveyed considered friends and peers to be credible sources of information. That's down from 45% in 2008.
How much is a single tweet worth these days? According to Sponsored Tweets, quite a lot. The Twitter advertising platform has gotten a lot of press for how much it charges advertisers to access the Twitter feeds of some of its clients. For instance, reactions to Kim Kardashian's tweet price (reportedly $10,000) could easily have their own Twitter feed.
But as high profile Twitterers try to cash in on their growing popularity, there are increasing disclosure issues. The Federal Trade Commission released new guidelines this fall proving that they are getting serious about presenting advertising to consumers online. And if pay-per-tweet options become serious business, they could easily attract regulatory scrutiny, an issue I've written about here.
In light of the issues surrounding Twitter sponsorships and advertising, I caught up with Ted Murphy to discuss the issue. As CEO of Izea, Sponsored Tweets' parent company, Murphy focuses on sponsored conversations across platforms from Twitter to Facebook and all manner of blogging platforms. According to him, the issue of advertising disclosure in social media is easy to resolve. But that doesn't mean the FTC won't be coming after a few brands and individuals in the near future.
The Federal Trade Commission came under fire when it released new disclosure guidelines on sponsorships this fall. Most vocal were bloggers concerned that anyone online could be fined up to $11,000 for disclosure violations.
But Len Gordon, the FTC's Northeast director, thinks speculation surrounding the new rules has been overblown. Speaking at Venable's "mini-summit" in New York this morning, Gordon took a moment to dispel rumors that his agency will be banging down the door of mommy bloggers who accept free samples of soap without posting about it.
You may not be able to fit a whole lot of words into 140 characters but a growing number of individuals and businesses think that it doesn't take more than 140 characters to produce a profit.
While Twitter focuses on building its platform and brand, plenty of third parties have been focusing on using Twitter as a marketing platform of their own. From established companies like Dell to upstarts like Sponsored Tweets, many are trying to cash in on Twitter.
It's probably no surprise that the blogosphere caught fire when the FTC officially announced rules meant to regulate blogger payola and social media endorsements. And it's probably no surprise that, by in large, some of the blogosphere's most prominent voices found plenty to criticize in the FTC's efforts.
And for good reason. Because no matter how well-intentioned the FTC's regulations may be, they're going to be pretty darn difficult to enforce. After all, it appears that the rules would cover activity on plenty of websites and the number of people who could potentially violate them is astronomical. If you live in the United States and can set up a blog or post an affiliate link somewhere, you could conceivably qualify for an "educational" experience courtesy of the FTC.
The Federal Trade Commission today announced the penalty for bloggers, celebrities and lay people who fail to disclose receiving payment for endorsements. Starting December 1, anyone who endorses a product, virtually anywhere, without disclosing brand relationships will receive a fine for $11,000.
This is the first time the FTC has updated its guidelines since 1980. Clearly some updating was neccessary. But enforcement is another story.
$11,000 is a steep price to pay for endorsement violations. And the fees will likely come out of brands' pockets.