Does Your Sponsored Content Meet the FTC’s New Rules?

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Does Your Sponsored Content Meet the FTC’s New Rules?

By Jonathan Crowl

If your brand publishes sponsored content from advertisers, pay close attention: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has regulations covering this content, and companies can pay dearly for failing to follow the rules—but the real-world penalties may not be what you would think.

A recent survey from Izea and Halverson Group found that only eight percent of marketers reported a strong understanding of the Federal Trade Commission’s rules governing promotional content, and one-third of those marketers weren’t even aware that such regulations existed. As content marketers are increasing their use of sponsored assets to increase engagement among their consumer base, this represents a looming threat: Marketers could be unwittingly setting their employers up for unwanted FTC action, complete with hefty fines up to $250,000.

What are the Risks of Non-Disclosure?

What will the FTC do? The odds are, nothing. Unless your content is highly visible online, or has infuriated a consumer base and prompted a flurry of reports to the FTC, non-disclosures of promotional content isn’t likely to bring your company down. The FTC has a lot of latitude in how they handle these cases, and depending on how blatant the violations seem, they could choose to simply issue a warning or request a retraction or other action from the content’s publisher.

As Ad Age notes, one of the most notable violations was in 2013, when Lord & Taylor enlisted 50 fashion bloggers to promote the same dress. But those bloggers weren’t told to disclose the arrangement as sponsored, which prompted inquiries from the FTC. Lord & Taylor avoided serious action from the FTC, but they became a cautionary tale for other brands seeking similar paths to promotion.

In reality, the real risks may not have anything to do with the FTC at all. Misleading consumers is a cardinal sin for any brand, and the attention that comes with non-disclosure can destroy a company’s standing with its consumers. Even if an FTC inquiry doesn’t lead to serious action, the media attention could cause significant brand damage. Companies could escape punishment from the FTC and still suffer greatly in the long run. That’s why the FTC’s rules should be followed even though the FTC may not seem like an imminent threat: In a way, those rules are protecting your company from a much greater threat.

Read full article and learn more about the FTC here.

Here’s How To Make Sure You,
Your Business & Website Is FTC Compliant

By now it should be clear how important it is for you to be FTC compliant. But how can you do that without spending $7,500-$8,000 or more on Internet Attorneys?

Smart business owners around the world are doing it with the help of FTC Guardian.

FTC Guardian is a service that is 100% focused on helping to keep you get and stay FTC compliant and fully protected. And right now, we are offering a free training to give you the knowledge, information, and guidance that you need to stay out of trouble with the Federal Trade Commission.

The training is titled: 3 Tragic (Legal) Privacy Policy List Building Mistakes That Can Get You In Hot Water With The FTC Today – Resulting In Your Business Being Shut Down… And How To Solve It!

Here are some of the things you’ll discover on the training:

  • Real-Life Examples of People Who Didn’t Think They Were At Risk, But Who Got Nailed By The FTC, And Why It Could Happen To You, Too
  • Why 2014 Was a Significant Year For Online Businesses, And Why You Should Be Worried!
  • The 3 Enormous Powers The FTC Has That Can Change Your Life – And Your Family’s Life – Forever!
  • How to Avoid FTC Claims When Collecting Leads With Optin Forms
  • 3 Privacy Policy Mistakes Every Digital Marketer Is Making, And Why You're In The FTC Crosshairs.
  • And Much More…

Remember: legal protection is a massively important part of your business, and it’s one you cannot afford to ignore any longer.

Go here to register for our next FREE training and make your business is FTC compliant today!

Disclaimer:  This article is provided for informational purposes only. It’s not legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is created. Neither the author nor FTC Guardian, Inc. is endorsed by the Federal Trade Commission.

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