Influencer Marketing vs the FTC

Like it or not, the FTC is on the warpath over a number of issues, including influencer marketing and failing to properly disclose native advertising for what it is – ads, not content.  There are a number of issues that have been addressed over the past couple of years, with DotComDisclosures in 2013, and the new guidance from earlier this year.

[RELATED: Kim discussed the native advertising disclosures situation on her blog earlier this year]

The case with influencer marketing comes under both of the guidance documents issued by the FTC, and the agency seems to be pursuing non-compliant companies with at least some zeal.

MediaPost had an article this week detailing study results that show at least 1/3 of marketers are non-compliant when it comes to properly disclosing their native advertising and influencer marketing campaigns.

More significantly, the study suggests publishers may not be complying because the explicit nature of federal recommendations may not perform as well as more ambiguous approaches favored by some publishers and advertisers.

Sponsored is the preferred term for compliance, but many marketers appear to find more satisfying results by substituting the word Promoted.

The study found the highest click-through rate (0.19%) was achieved by native ads labeled “promoted,” and the second-highest (0.17%) by those labeled “partner” content. “Sponsored” ranked third with a click-through rate of 0.16%, while native content with no disclosure achieved a rate of 0.15%.

[RELATED: Quick summary of FTC rules and regs for influencer marketing and native advertising]

Kardashian/Jenner Instagram Violations

And last but not least, TINA.org, a watchdog and compliance group, filed a suit alleging that the Kardashian/Jenner family were violating the FTC guidelines as well, specifically with their Instagram marketing.

TINA.org recently concluded an investigation into the Instagram accounts of Kim Kardashian-West, Khloé Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and Kendall Jenner and readily found over 100 posts that violate FTC regulations because they fail to communicate the material connections between the women and the companies.

Chief takeaway here is watch out when you’re advertising your product or service using influencer marketing, native advertising or other “tricky” means of pushing out sponsored content or similar materials.  More than one company has already been fined, and there are likely to be many more actions coming down the pipeline.