Marketing News Roundup: FTC Social Media Influencer Crackdown and Instagram's Verification Black Market

Marketing News Staff
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​​A weekly roundup of the marketing headlines you might have missed.​​​​

Sep 11, 2017

FTC Warns Social Media Influencers Must Disclose 'Material Connections'

Twenty-one social media influencers were warned by the Federal Trade Commission last week that they may be in voilation of the FTC Act as it relates to the disclosure of material connections between brands and influencers. The warnings come as the FTC settles its first complaint against individual social media influencers, Trevor “TmarTn” Martin and Thomas “Syndicate” Cassell, who are widely followed in the online gaming community.

Martin and Cassell, the owners of online gambling site CSGO Lotto, had advertised their website on social media through their own accounts and those of paid influencers without disclosing their ties to it. The settlement requires the owners to "conspicuously disclose any material connections with an endorser or between an endorser and any promoted product or service."

The commission sent 90 educational letters to social media influencers in April informing them of the disclosure rules. The FTC provided updated endorsement guidelines following the announcement of the settlement. The public will have until October 10, 2017 to comment on the consent agreement. At that time, if the commission perceives the it to be in the public interest, the consent order will be made final, and violations of it may result in civil penalties up to $40, 654.


Instagram Verification's Black Market

"These guys pay all their bills from one to two blue checks a month," an anonymous middleman tells a reporter for Mashable in an insightful piece that shines a light on the illicit world of back-channel authorization of Instagram accounts.

The little mark next to a user's account name is intended to verify the purported identity of the user. But, as Mashable notes, it also acts as a de facto status symbol that can add gravitas and prestige to an otherwise basic account -- an intriguing marketing facet for wannabe influencers who can pull it off. Other platforms have blue check verification systems, but Instagram seems to be more exclusive with no official request process. As a result, a market for verification has arisen between check-seekers and third-party operators who have personal connections to get accounts approved. Said operators will either approve blank accounts and sell them to interested parties, or shepherd existing accounts through the hidden approval process for a fee that ranges anywhere from "a bottle of wine to $15,000."

Source: Mashable

Roku Goes Public; Advertising Plays a Huge Role

Roku, a video streaming company, filed to go public just before Labor Day. Fortune says much of the company’s success will rely on how advertising pans out.

Roku has an accumulated deficit of $244 million over its history and still does not make money. 

“Roku collects money two ways: by selling hardware, which it calls ‘players’; and by selling advertising and taking a cut of revenues from the video publishers on its platform,” Fortune says. “The player business, which constitutes the majority of Roku’s revenues, is declining. The ad business is growing, but … Roku gets next to no revenue from Netflix, which accounts for a third of its usage.”

It also gets no revenue from YouTube, its other gigantic streaming partner. However, as Adam Lashinsky of Fortune writes, “they too have a right to dream that magic will become reality one day.”

Source: Fortune

A Look at Amazon’s Pitch Deck

Ever wanted to see how Amazon pitches advertising agencies? Digiday has posted Amazon’s pitch deck to give us a look.

“Amazon’s pitch to agencies focuses on Amazon’s own power as a shopping behemoth, according to a pitch deck obtained by Digiday,” the website says. “Its pitch emphasizes that its data reflects how people research, consider and purchase things, not only on Amazon but elsewhere. It’s a clear shot at other platforms like Google and Facebook — the wealth of the data Amazon has on its customers is beyond what those behemoths have.”

Source: Digiday

How Figit Spinners Conquered 2017

This time last year there was no such thing as a fidget category of toys. Now it seems to be all anyone wants. And it's happened faster than any toy craze in recent memory. The Economist traces the beginnings of the fidget fixation to February. Three months later, all 20 of the top-selling toys listed on Amazon were some variation of fidget doohickey. According to NPD, it took three weeks for fidget spinners to become a global phenomenon. At least 19 million units of the toy — which are unpatented — have sold in the 12 "rich-world" countries tracked by NPD.

Fueling the growth: social media. "Fidget spinners were a plaything that children themselves discovered and shared on social media, particularly on YouTube and Instagram," The Economist reports. This has upended the traditional toy development process, which takes place over months and sometimes years.

Source: The Economist

Are You Ready For Some Football?

The NFL is launching a new ad campaign geared to coincide with the start of its regular season that hypes the beleaguered league as the longest-running entertainment show on television. The campaign comprises four different commercials produced by the agency Gray that center of the "drama and anticipation" of the game.

The NFL is in the midst of a rare vulnerable spot as ratings dipped 8% last year compared to 2015. The new campaign, titled "Let the Show Begin," speaks in a "decidedly younger" voice, according to NFL CMO Dawn Hudson, while also using slick movie-grade production techniques. 

Source: Wall Street Journal​

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