When The FTC Speaks, Brands Need To Listen

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When The FTC Speaks, Brands Need To Listen (Especially When It Comes To Influencer Marketing)

By Allison Schiff

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sponsored content disclosures on the mind.

A complete lack of disclosure led to an FTC settlement with Lord & Taylor in March after the brand enlisted bloggers to post images to Instagram promoting one of its dresses.

As FTC senior attorney Robin Spector told AdExchanger at the time, “What we are asking people to do is not onerous. It’s just putting #ad in there. That doesn’t require that much space and effort.”

The type of disclosure matters – for example, FTC guidance from 2013 already called out #spon as an inadequate disclosure; Kardashian clan, take note – but it's also about more than just tossing a hashtag in there and calling it a day.

The placement of the disclosure is key. Including #ad at the end of a post after a string of other hashtags is likely too subtle – others might say too sneaky – for consumers to notice.

One way to avoid the FTC’s ire without sounding like a commercial is to use a more conversational tone, said Corbett Drummey, CEO of influencer platform Popular Pays. “It’s possible to include a disclosure using natural language that’s also in line with the brand,” Drummey said.

Unfortunately, most aren’t doing the greatest job at labeling sponsored content. More than 70% of native ads don’t provide adequate consumer disclosure and appropriate transparency, according to recent research by the Online Trust Alliance. The OTA suggests that websites use clearer, more consistent terminology to label their native ads and delineate native units from page content through the use of borders, horizontal lines or shading.

With social media influencer marketing representing is a far murkier space than native, brands need to navigate it in a way that doesn’t abuse consumer trust (or piss off the FTC).

Read full article and learn more about Sponsored Content, Native Ads and Social Media here.

Here’s How To Make Sure You,
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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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