- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) plans to become more stringent in enforcing its sponsored advertising guidelines on paid social media campaigns, Bloomberg reports.
- The FTC will put the onus for adequate disclosure on advertisers rather than the social media stars doing the actual posting. Marketers are being warned that hashtags like #ad, #sp or even #sponsored might not qualify as adequate disclosure for a paid post.
- Michael Ostheimer, the FTC Ad Practice Division's deputy, told Bloomberg: “We’ve been interested in deceptive endorsements for decades and this is a new way in which they are appearing. We believe consumers put stock in endorsements and we want to make sure they are not being deceived.”
When doing influencer marketing on social media, marketers should be careful not to run afoul of the FTC's guidelines. Otherwise, the FTC could come after them, according to Bloomberg.
FTC actions against misleading social media posts have been relatively rare to date, but are growing in number. The FTC has already sanctioned some brands this year, including Lord & Taylor and Warner Bros., for social media campaigns that didn’t include proper disclosures.
In the Warner Bros. case, the campaign involved YouTube stars who were paid thousands of dollars to tout a video game, with no disclosure at all in the video ads. Warner ultimately wasn’t fined for the campaign but did get hit with a 20-year set of conditions based on creating an internal compliance program for sponsored advertising.
Until recently, online advertising, including the increasingly popular native ad and sponsored content formats, has not faced serious repercussions from the FTC. But the FTC has clearly shown that it means business and that state of affairs could change if marketers and influencers aren’t willing to comply with its guidelines.