Archive for the ‘FTC’ Category

Incentivized Marketing is Coming Under Fire

May 3, 2007

Two recent articles bring to light the challenges in the incentivized marketing business:

Mark Meckler’s excellent iLegal column this week entitled ‘Incentivized’ Offers and the FTC – Things Are Heating Up” in DM Confidential most pointedly warns advertisers and affiliates to pay attention to the FTC’s actions around incentivized marketing.

“The inside word is that the FTC is going to really turn up the heat in the next several weeks, and intends to launch actions against multiple entities which it believes are running incentivized offers without appropriate disclosure. Industry buzz says that several major companies who have seen tremendous growth from running this sort of offer are being scrutinized and are at risk.

The legal sands are rapidly shifting for the incentivized portion of our industry. If you operate in this space, now is the time to make sure that your sites and offers are 100% compliant, to the best of your ability. After the FTC contacts you, it’s too late, and the FTC is going to extract their pint of blood, in addition to forcing you to comply.”

And Laurie Peterson of Mediapost published an article about ValueClick’s recent quarter’s success, and how it’s being tainted by the fears of an impending investigation by the FTC:

Stanford Group this week issued its own bulletin, stating “we believe the FTC is investigating deceptive Internet advertising by several companies, particularly relating to offers claiming or implying “free” products. While it is unclear whether ValueClick is one of those companies, the practices being investigated could negatively impact ValueClick’s lead generation business.”

So, my personal advice to you, if you’re an advertiser, affiliate or publisher is to make sure you understand what “free” means if you’re going to use it to market a product. Understand the implications of that offer, and make sure you’re delivering. And make sure you’ve read the FTC’s Dot.com Disclosure document, and are following it’s guidelines.

And keep an eye on the developments around this topic. It’ll be interesting to see what happens this year.

update: Here’s another post on this topic that’s worth reading from 5 Star Affiliate Programs.

Notes from the “Online Crime and Identity Theft – Following the Bits & Bytes” panel at AOTA

April 19, 2007

I’m at the AOTA Summit in Boston this week…. and am trying to take notes at all of the sessions. Here’s the notes from the “Online Crime and Identity Theft – Following the Bits & Bytes” panel.

The speakers in this session were:

Scott Parsons
Deputy Assistant Secretary, US Dept of Treasury

Daniel Larkin
Chief Cyber Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Sana Coleman Chriss, Attorney
Federal Trade Commission
Marketing Practices Division

I personally took away most from Sana, at the FTC:

The FTC sued Jumpstart Technologies last year because they were sending out commercial messages, as if they were from personal addresses. So, think about how you do “send to a friend”? Is it a commercial message, but sent from a person, or should it be sent from your company? Do those “send to a friend” messages include an unsubscribe link? Are you scrubbing against that suppression list before you send that mail? Are you honoring the 10-day opt-out requirement of CAN-SPAM

Has a great program for consumers: OnGuard Online

They’re having a Spam Summit in D.C. on July 11th and 12th (I’ll be there and will report back on those developments)

Daniel at the FBI provided a lot of great information about who spammers are, where they live, and how the FBI goes after them. It’s a wild world out there still for the email spammers. Wow… I now more fully appreciate the challenges that face the FBI when it comes to spammer investigations. One other key point I took away from Daniel is that they face lots of confusion in the marketplace about how people can and should share information with law enforcement… At the end of the day intelligence is the key to what the FBI can actually prosecute.

And Scott gave some great perspective on why protecting consumers from ID theft and cyber-crime is super important, not just for the US Treasury, but rather for the whole US economy.