What’s Hot in Digital Media? What’s Not Quite so Hot?

by Bill McClellan on Jun 29, 2017 2:10:11 PM Digital Marketing, Advertisements


It’s time to play a game called, ‘what’s hot and what’s not in digital media?’ The insight comes from the 2017 Government Affairs fly-in panel presentation entitled “What’s Hot & Not – Policy & Marketing Strategies for Digital Media.”

We were joined by Jonathan Gelfand, chief legal officer & SVP business development, BeachBody LLC, Rich Cleland, assistant director for advertising practices, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the panel was moderated by Jeff Knowles, partner, Venable LLP.

Our panelists explored the opportunities and challenges associated with issues in the blossoming digital landscape. Check out these three hot issues in digital media:

What’s Hot: Online consumer reviews.

What’s Not: Buying fake reviews.

Not only are fake product reviews harmful to consumers in the case of online reviews, they also hurt the competition, leading to an unfair marketplace. It’s nice to have partnerships with influencers, but it’s more important to require that they use your product and trust it before advertising it via their online channels. (This can only protect your company in the long run.)

Gelfand says that BeachBody has found that the average Joe is the best person to market their products. Their customers don’t believe endorsements coming from celebrities because they know that oftentimes celebrities have their own personal trainers to help them out. Including disclosures are especially important when working with influencers because consumers need to be aware of what’s involved in this partnership. The FTC requires any disclosures you use on your website to stand out and be in the line of vision that’s easy for consumers to read.

What’s Hot: Social media native advertising.

What’s Not: Deceptive social media native advertising.

What’s new about native advertising? Social media is blurring the lines as to when/how to disclose that digital content is an ad, sponsored or other paid promotion, which is almost the intention. The FTC issued a guide for how companies can make sure their ads are not deceptive. In the guide, the FTC says ads can be deceptive if they mislead consumers about their commercial intent. And the source of the advertising content must also be clear so consumers can easily make informed decisions about whether to interact with the ads.

Cleland says that more and more companies are frustrated that their traditional forms of advertising are no longer as effective. This definitely has merit! You already need to become more innovative day by day to stay top of mind for your consumers, but your consumers also need to be able to recognize your brand right away.

What’s Hot: Risk-free offers.

What’s Not: Risk-free offers with strings attached.

Backlash from risk-free offers that turn out to have some strings attached cannot be cured by a disclaimer according to Cleland. He says a consumer needs to walk away with no financial expenditures. Risk-free means risk-free and disclosures only negate this.

Some marketers that sell AuraVie, Dellure, LéOR Skincare, and Miracle Face Kit brand products learned the hard way. The FTC charged those marketers for deceiving people about their “risk-free” trials. According to the FTC, the companies told customers they’d need to give their credit or debit card information to pay a small shipping fee, but they ended up being charged close to $100.

If you think your ads, online reviews, or “risk-free” offers, may come close to crossing a line, it’s always best to check out the FTC’s website and do some research first. Better safe than sorry! 

 About the Author


Bill McClellan serves as ERA's Vice President of Government Affairs. Prior to joining the association, Bill worked as a lobbyist at the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association, covering the state legislature and Georgia's congressional delegation. Before working for the GADA, Bill managed political campaigns at both the congressional and state constitutional levels.

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