Advertising has recently, rapidly added a new wing to its business: celebrity social media #sponcon. Reality TV stars, third-tier entertainers, and bloggers considered famous for reasons nobody can quite name get impressive money to shout out senna teas, waist trainers, and so on. But the FTC may be coming to bust up the party.
Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the FTC is concerned about endorsements that aren’t very clearly presented as advertising, and soon, even a gentle little #sp might not be enough to keep the feds off your back.
The Federal Trade Commission is planning to get tougher: Users need to be clear when they’re getting paid to promote something, and hashtags like #ad, #sp, #sponsored —common forms of identification— are not always enough. The agency will be putting the onus on the advertisers to make sure they comply, according to Michael Ostheimer, a deputy in the FTC’s Ad Practices Division. It’s a move that could make the posts seem less authentic, reducing their impact.
Regarding those hashtag disclosures specifically, “If consumers don’t read the words, then there is no effective disclosure,” Ostheimer explained. “If you have seven other hashtags at the end of a tweet and it’s mixed up with all these other things, it’s easy for consumers to skip over that. The real test is, did consumers read it and comprehend it?” Buddy, it’s the Internet—nobody reads anything.