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The Best Marketing Stories of the Week, Nov. 4–8

Marketing News Staff

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This week’s Marketing News Weekly Roundup features notable instances of impropriety among businesses in regard to customer data, communications and transparency. Think of this as a “how not-to-do.”

Report Finds Review Gating to Be Ineffective

A new study by GatherUp found that “review gating,” or the process of selectively sending enthusiastic customers and disappointed ones to different review locations, not only makes little difference in average star rating but might be hindering businesses from receiving a greater volume of reviews. Over the period of one year, the company measured what the ratings and review counts looked like for roughly 10,000 locations in Google, and found that the average star rating decreased by an insignificant margin–from 4.66 to 4.59. The number of reviews, however, rose nearly 70% to 53,000 from 32,000 the previous year.

Read more: Search Engine Land

The College Board Found to Be Selling SAT Test-Taker Data

The College Board, the nonprofit that owns the SAT, has been selling test-takers’ names and personal information to universities, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The data of those who take the college admissions exam is used by schools to entice students to apply in order to inflate their rejection rates and enhance their image of exclusivity. The increasingly competitive atmosphere surrounding college admissions in turn helps The College Board, which benefits financially from students becoming more motivated to invest added time and money into retaking the SATs.

Read more: The Wall Street Journal

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Changing Tides for Barneys, Zac Posen

It’s been a tough couple of weeks for fashion. Last Friday, Authentic Brands Group bought control of the Barneys New York name, with plans to license it to companies such as Saks Fifth Avenue. Barneys’ wares will be liquidated through private sale events for Barneys’ “most loyal” shoppers. During the Barneys news also came the announcement that designer Zac Posen’s eponymous line, which started in 2001, was also shuttering. 

Read more: The New York Times and The Cut

AT&T Fined for Lying to Customers About Throttling ‘Unlimited’ Data Plans

The FTC fined AT&T $60 million after the agency alleged the company lied to customers about its unlimited data plans, finding it throttled their data if they went over a particular threshold. The fine will be used to provide partial refunds to customers who signed up for unlimited data plans before 2011, and AT&T is barred from marketing plans off of the suggested speed or amount of data without also disclosing any restrictions such plans may have.

Read more: The Verge

PBS Unveils Subtle Rebrand

In hoping to position itself as a multiplatform network outside the realm of politics, PBS has unveiled a new logo and tweaked its core color to a purple-tinted blue. The new branding also employs a design that translates across media types, as it’s less of an eye-catcher. The new logo resembles the old, but with minor tweaks. The typeface is as large as the heads now so as to create the illusion of a single, unified logo, and the nose of the head has been turned upward to make the head appear more pensive. Consumers should expect to see the new logo regularly, as PBS is currently boasting more viewers than MSNBC, Fox News or CNN, and it’s lauded as the most trustworthy institution among networks.

Read more: Fast Company

FTC Gives Stern Reminder to Online Influencers to Disclose Endorsement Deals

The FTC has reminded online influencers and brands to clearly disclose any paid endorsement deals, a sign that the agency views current influencer practices as problematic. In an eight-page document, the FTC summarized prior agency guidance in which it sent out more than 90 letters to influencers and marketers demanding they comply with regulations. The agency had previously sent 21 warning letters to influencers regarding their Instagram posts.

Read more: Retail & Consumer Products Law Observer