The FTC released two documents this week that are important to affiliate marketers, influencers and traders. All background information on the current status of the FTC can be found in my post. Partners notice: New FTC disclosure guidelines. It contains explanations, comparisons and updates of the FTC worth 7 years in one place.
At the moment, the FTC talks a lot about "influencers" and does not differentiate how they are paid. In affiliate marketing, we may want to know if they are paid for when people click their links or use their exclusive coupon codes, or if they are flat fees (or a combination of both). But for the purposes of this discussion it is FTC doesn't seem to care about payment details and is generally more concerned about the practice of influencer marketing and how brands use influencers to get away with advertising that doesn't look like advertising (they actually call it "Laundry advertising" and "Illegal Payola" that sounds even more sketchy!)
Statement by Commissioner Rohit Chopra
Let's start with the statement released on February 12, 2020. Regarding the review of the endorsement guides.
The commissioner argues that influencer marketing will reach $ 15 billion by 2022 It is becoming increasingly difficult for families and small businesses looking for truthful information. It also believes that technology companies are part of the problem and are not currently the solution.
In an interesting statement and amendment to the website that was fined last week, the commissioner says they want this "Focus on advertisers, not small influencers." In particular, "If individual influencers are able to report on their interests in order to earn additional money on the side, this is no cause for concern." Chopra seems to be most frustrated Past enforcement (like the agreement with Lord & Taylor) does not prevent "wrongdoing in the market" and would like to be able to impose major sanctions on companies that violate these provisions.
Chopra wants to review the endorsement guides and wants the FTC to:
- Develop specific requirements for any technology platform that will facilitate or benefit in any way from influencer marketing.
- Turn the “guidelines” into codified rules that allow both civil penalties and damages.
- Specify specific contractual requirements that all influencers must follow in their campaigns.
After a long time of wondering whether the FTC would actually take the disclosure guidelines seriously, we have our answer. Too much money is just being made not to do it.
FTC is looking for public comment
As mentioned in the Chopra statement, the Commission would like to review the current endorsement guidelines and is now asking for a public opinion: the FTC is asking for a public opinion on its endorsement guidelines
This is an opportunity for our industry to officially tell the FTC what we like and what we don't like about the guidelines. What can we do and what can't?
A proposed federal registry notice contains much more detailed information on what the FTC will consider. The questions are only a starting point and not a restriction of the comments. In addition, the FTC wants commentators to submit all available evidence and data, including consumer complaints. You can read them all suggested questions You yourself, but these are the ones that I noticed with my comments in the parentheses:
- The endorsement guides describe any Practices that are not deceptive or unfair? (Maybe we think we should be able to use the word "affiliate"?)
- What is the Degree of compliance with endorsement guides? Do covered companies and other companies that follow the suggestions of the guides regulate themselves… for example through trade associations? (We know that many, many partners fail to comply. If most fail to comply, what is the incentive for those who do?)
- What Charges or costs Have the guidelines imposed on small businesses in particular (OPMs, I think this could include you).
- There are a few questions about Reviews of free and discounted products as well as incentives for customer reviews.
- This is a big and important one, so I'll just copy everything !! "Some endorsers (including the authors of some product reviews) are Affiliate links through which you can buy the products they recommend. Should the guides address such links and if so, how? To what extent do consumers expect these endorsers to be compensated for purchases made through these links? If so, what compensation schemes do consumers normally expect? To what extent would knowledge of such compensation affect the weight or credibility of these notes? Is there a difference in consumer expectations or the weight attributed to confirmation between affiliate links to a product marketer and affiliate links to one or more retailers? If so, how, why and how should this be done? "
- What information do advertisers or the Operator of inspection websites or inspection platforms Do you need to think about creating, collecting, processing, or publishing reviews or reviews to prevent those reviews or reviews from being misleading or unfair? (This seems to come from this agreement from the last week I mentioned above. This means that they still focus on the publishers when it comes to affiliate links compared to the advertisers when it comes to Social media influencer marketing?)
This is just an example of the questions it contains. The FTC clearly knows that its guidelines are not really useful, are not followed, and do not have as many teeth as they would like. Now is our opportunity to set the course for the future. You can find more information about submitting your comments (including online or in paper form) in the Federal Register Notice. The date has not yet been fixed, but it will be around April 13, 2020.