In late 2015, the Federal Trade Commission issued a lengthy statement advising advertisers and publishers against deceptive use of native advertising. In particular, the FTC intended to crack down on ads embedded within content in such a way that the sponsorship was unclear to typical consumers. Much of the advertising world took note of the FTC advisory and some firms adjusted. However, some marketers likely viewed it as guidance without much teeth. Recently, the Commission showed it is committed to consumer protection when it warned 90 celebrities about their lack of social media sponsorship disclosure.
The following is a look at the details of the FTC warning, along with insights on why you should care. Does it change the way you use influencer marketing?
FTC Warning Details
Celebrity influencer marketing has become prominent in the social media age. Brands love the massive following and engaged audience that top celebs maintain. Instagram and Twitter are among the channels on which sponsored posts are most common on celebrity profiles. The problem for the FTC is that many of these actors, athletes, and other famous people fail to disclose which messages are paid versus those that are personal content.
While the Commission commands sponsorship disclosure for all brands, it is likely using the 90 educational letters it sent to Kourtney Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Allen Iverson, and others to enhance awareness of the point.
Examples of Disclosure Concerns
Celebrities and other influencers often post images and content highlighting lifestyle activities, travel, social experiences, and product usage. Some of these messages are genuine posts presented in the same social construct that other social media users enjoy. However, when no mention is provided by the influencer, a follower likely assumes the mention and love for a brand are genuine. If the message is paid, the potential conflict of interest is obvious.
First and foremost, the Commission expects any person or brand to disclose sponsored content when its nature is not obvious. When the Oreo Twitter profile promotes Oreos, for instance, the financial interest is obvious. If a celeb is given promotional consideration for a post (money or product), the message must include a clear disclosure that is easily visible. On social media channels, “#ad” or “#sponsored” are common disclosure formats.
Why You Should Care
If your brand uses celebrity or non-celebrity influencers, insist that your branded content includes disclosure. The FTC statement in 2015 called particular attention to the responsibility of advertisers providing native content even more than that on publishers. Take this warning as a sign that the Commission is serious about protecting consumers from deceptive native practices.
Even if you don’t utilize social media influencers, it is likely you do or will engage in native advertising. The majority of ad content currently falls into this category, and the trend is upward. While native investment offers ample return when effective, consider this FTC move a signal that it is serious about marketers playing by the rules.
Ensure Compliance in Your Digital Marketing Efforts
Don’t let the FTC warning of celebs scare you away from native advertising opportunities. Instead, recognize the importance of doing things the right way.
Maximize your digital advertising and avoid mishaps with an expert partner. Contact us today for more information on best practices for healthcare marketing compliance including HIPAA and more. At Response Mine Health, we’re dedicated to ethical, compliant marketing, and we’re ready to partner with you to acquire more patients.