The FTC Act’s prohibition on “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” broadly covers advertising claims, marketing and promotional activities, and sales practices in general.
The clip above is from a panel at the SxSW in Austin, Texas and the session was about influencers. The panel covered a variety of aspects of what influencers are and where they are found and spent a fair amount of time bashing Klout, Kred, PeerIndex and others for being “unreliable tools” as one panelist called them. However, you couldn’t talk about influence and ignore the guidelines set out by the Federal Trade Commission (FCT.gov). Overall, the panel felt they were not only fair, but needed.
- The FTC paying close attention to Twitter and making sure each tweet discloses.
- They also specifically made sure that mobile is included, explaining that the medium doesn’t change the requirements for disclosure.
- Hyperlinks are not enough to reach disclosure, the message needs to convey the “importance, nature and relevance”.
- Thoughts on how if your scrolling through content, the ad shouldn’t scroll with the content; and
- That Analytics means you can no longer claim to be innocent. Read more about this here Takeaways from the FTC’s new online advertising guidelines
As for my thoughts, I am stuck balancing a middle ground. I feel that you should know who you’re listening too and there should be some emphasis on freedom of speech in a manner that doesn’t require a set parenthesis every two seconds. I should be able to praise or bash whoever I want in the manner I choose for my own reasons. I am curious, when we complain about a brand, must we disclose that we use them, in what manner and now how long? Interesting requirement that makes for sites that offer reviews…
Should I disclose that the video clip at the beginning of this article was gathered because I was granted access to the SxSW as Press and I didn’t pay the $1,000 others did to attend? Should I mention that I have a business relationship with Ekaterina Walter, one of the panelists, and that’s why I was in that session? Is it crucial that you know I wanted to use the clip because I expect additional business dealings to take place with the panelists and SxSW so it’s a good idea to use their branding, or am I cleared by the fact that SxSW makes their press and video policies clear and I openly present myself as a digital professional? I was recently featured in an article by Long Island Business News, one that was done freely by a journalist but garnished me some business. So, do I have to tell you that too? What about the fact that I have been a panelist with Pedram Tabibi and I may solicit his support from time to time… Should every speaker at an event have a label that discloses “I have been paid $XXXX.xx to be here and speak to you or have been granted free access and food”?
The point is, the FTC is making it really hard to be me, an individual whom has many relationships, benefits from many aspects of favors or financial rewards in my industry. If I have to start adding lines of disclosures next to every mention of a relationship that I benefit from my content, and livelihood, will die. The consumer should have some responsibility for knowing who they are listening to and have a method or manner in with which to measure the value in that voice or content, I for one, do not think consumers are as unintelligent as the FTC would have us treat them, after all I am a consumer and know when Chris Brogan, Mari Smith, Jason Falls or say President Obama attend an event in their industry (especially if their speaking), it likely has to be that they didn’t pay to be there and in fact if it’s a subject tied to their industry they are going to have relationships with those individuals, many of which have a direct effect on their earnings and profits.
I get the need for clarity, my concern is when it forces us to destroy our voices, our content, and in turn, our livelihood. After all, even if you don’t have a relationship or know the person, your either making a living talking about it, or hoping to do so!
- SxSW 2013 Influencer Panel (Video Clip)
- Takeaways from the FTC’s new online advertising guidelines
- .com Disclosure Guidelines from the FTC
About Basil Puglisi
@BasilPuglisi is a Content Contributor and the Chairman of the Board for Digital Ethos. Basil C. Puglisi is also the Digital Marketing Manager for PMG Interactive. As the Digital Marketing Manager he provides oversight and support to Digital Campaigns, from Website Development to Search and Social Reach.