Greg Gerik wrote an insightful post about one of my presentations on the importance of the FTC’s disclosure requirements. Read it here.
He makes a great point:
If you do not know the rules, you should not play the game. The time to learn how to … properly manage a sponsored campaign is not when you are in the middle of it. Any agency, manager, or strategist that is worth their salt should have awareness of these basic, foundational parts of the digital world.
In 1938, FDR signed the Truth in Advertising rules that gave the FTC the authority to protect against “Unfair and Deceptive” practices. Since then, they’ve seen the rise of every new marketing practice: TV, Direct Mail, Multi-level-marketing, infomercials, and e-commerce. And each time, there was a rush of get-rich-quick folks who saw each new medium as a way to cheat their way to easy sales. And every time, the FTC stepped in and cleaned it up and held marketers to the same standard.
Today, it is silly for a bunch of social media marketers looking for a shortcut, and bloggers looking for a payday, to think that they are exempt from or better than the rules that the rest of us have lived by for 75 years.
Nothing new here, folks:
- It has always been illegal to solicit false endorsements.
- It’s always been illegal to pretend your ads are the opinions of regular consumers.
Think about that next time some “content marketer” selling “native advertising” tries to tell you that your ads will work better if you pretend that they are news stories.