Kim Kardashian is notorious for setting Twitter trends with her fashion-forward tweets. But would a consumer buy the same product knowing she was paid up to $20,000 for tweeting it?

The term “native advertising” refers to when an advertiser masks ads as editorial content in an effort to market more seamlessly to consumers. The intent behind this practice is to make advertisements less intrusive and to associate a brand with an experience.
Continue Reading The Risks of ‘Native Advertising’

Advertisers are using social media platforms such as Twitter to reach an unprecedented number of people cheaply and instantaneously. With some celebrities enjoying a following of over a million fans, advertisers have found a new way to maximise the traditional celebrity endorsement model and extend the reach and exposure of their promoted goods and services

At a recent speaking engagement at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, David Vladeck, Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said that the FTC is creating a legacy of enforcement that changes expectations and baselines. Vladeck used strong words to describe the FTC’s hardline stance on enforcement, saying that the FTC has “sent a signal to the fraudster community” that “if you engage in this kind of fraud, we’re going to take everything you have and then try to burn down your house.” He noted that the FTC has obtained in the last three years more than 300 redress orders worth hundreds of millions of dollars for consumers, and that it has obtained 150 occupational bans against bad actors. Berkeley law professor Ted Mermin also spoke at the engagement. According to Mermin, under the Obama administration, the FTC has been more aggressive than it has been over the last 35 years in bringing judicial actions, bringing an average of 57 actions annually, far more than any other President over that time (the next closest was President George W. Bush with 36 actions annually).

While Vladeck’s strong words seem to be focused on consumer scams and other types of fraud, reputable businesses should also take note, particularly with respect to their advertising practices. As companies continue to come up with innovative ways to reach their customers (see, for example, Twitter’s new targeted advertising tool), it is important that they understand the regulatory landscape in which they operate. As a baseline, advertisers should ensure that their ads are not misleading, and that their corresponding privacy policies are current and truthful. However, it is also important for the FTC to understand the realities of a competitive landscape and refrain from creating a chilling effect on innovation and competition by over regulation and aggression.
Continue Reading FTC’s Increasingly Aggressive Role in Enforcement

Gilbert Gottfried is looking for gainful employment, and Aflac is looking for a new voice-over man. Gottfried was terminated Monday as the voice behind Aflac’s iconic duck when he tweeted jokes and one-liners over the weekend about the recent crisis in Japan that Aflac determined to be tasteless, inappropriate and insensitive. “Gilbert’s recent comments about

You’re a cutting edge digital agency, right? You have the capabilities to drive and manage your clients’ social media presence. Now, the question is, do you really want to? Today, Chrysler decided not to renew its contract with New Media Strategies (NMS) two days after an NMS employee tweeted from the @ChryslerAutos account: “I find

Ordinary Joes, footballers and even members of the clergy have all got themselves in hot water when making comments on Social Media sites. Twitter is on course to have 200 million users by the end of 2010. There are currently over 50 million tweets of 140 characters or less each day. However, as multinational corporations,

Today, Twitter and the Federal Trade Commission settled charges that the micro-blogging site had engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices because of “serious lapses in the company’s data security.” The FTC began an investigation into Twitter after hackers obtained administrative control of the service, accessed tweets that consumers had designated private, and sent out phony tweets (from then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama, Fox News, and others).

In its complaint, the FTC alleged that Twitter was vulnerable to these attacks because it failed to take certain reasonable steps to prevent unauthorized administrative control of its system. Those steps included…
Continue Reading @SecuredTweets: Twitter settles privacy charges brought by Federal Trade Commission

For the past few months, my colleagues and I have been giving speeches regarding the legal and practical challenges inherent in social media. One of those “practical” challenges is developing a strategy to monetize social media initiatives. While this is of importance to brands using social media services, it is certainly important to the services