The Federal Trade Commission is currently investigating Google's $750 million purchase of mobile ad network AdMob. Rumor has it that the group is planning to block the deal. That would make a lot of people happy — including Google's competitors. But it's starting to look like the anti-trust investigation is not focused on Google's dominace in the mobile ad space. Rather, it seems that Google's success in search precedes its entrance into other markets.
With one Google foe in particular, the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog, it looks like an ax to grind in one area can just as easily be deployed to block the company's ambitions elsewhere.
Google's overwhelming dominance in search is proving to be a hindrance in other areas of its business. Like mobile, where the search giant's $750 million purchase of AdMob is rumored to get blocked by the Federal Trade Commission sometime this week.
Despite the fact that Google has not proven itself to dominate in any sector other than search, the company's reputation seems to precede its success in mobile. But blocking the Google-AdMob deal would be preemptive regulation at its worst. The mobile ad market is still anyone's game.
Privacy advocates and online advertisers alike have long awaited a bill from Congress that will tackle the issue of behavioral advertising online. Today, Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Cliff Stearns released (R-Fla.) a "discussion" draft of the bill (pdf here) that requires advertisers to allow consumers to opt-out of online tracking.
Considering that is already standard business practice, it appears that the online ad industry's efforts at self-regulation have been initially successful. But privacy advocates are not going to take this setback lying down.
If there were any doubt about the Federal Trade Commission making good on its promise to crack down on blogger freebies, it has been laid to rest this week. The group just completed an investigation of retailer Ann Taylor. They won't be asking for any reparations from the company, but that's only because Ann Taylor cooperated and promised not to offer any more $10 gift cards to bloggers.
For bloggers thinking they would remain outside the FTC's purview, this case could serve as a warning that all sponsorships are under scrutiny.
The online ad industry already has enough trouble with the Federal Trade Commission. They don't want President Obama making any more.
Speaking in New York this week, Obama reiterated his interest in fixing Wall Street. But a Senate bill being drafted to achieve those goals, known as the Wall
Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, includes a provision that would also extend the reach of the FTC on advertising practices.
A group of advertising industry advocates is speaking out to get the
revisions — that Former FTC chairman Jim Miller says would be
"like putting the FTC on steroids" — dropped. If they fail, the FTC will have jurisdiction over many more businesses. And fines may start adding up.
Social networks are increasingly popular with marketers, and that means they're increasingly popular with the government bodies that regulate marketers.
In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued guidelines designed to set boundaries on what marketers can and can't do in the world of social media. So it's no surprise that a similar effort is now taking shape across the pond in the UK.
Google isn't afraid of failure. The company loves experimenting and will readily accept failures if they mean it finds success sooner. But if there was any new product for which Google would
probably want a 'do over', it would be Buzz.
The Gmail-based social network sparked a user revolt, and a formal
complaint has been lodged with the Federal Trade Commission alleging
that Google is violating the law and its own user agreements with Buzz. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner in Canada is already looking into Buzz as well.
When the FTC first announced that it was looking closely at blogs and social media, one of the groups that many thought would come under close scrutiny was mommy bloggers.
Flash forward to today. The FTC rules are in place but it's business as usual for mommy bloggers who get free product in exchange for product reviews on their blogs. That's according to a survey of 130 mommy bloggers conducted by Mom Central Consulting.
Just as marketers increase their spending on social media marketing comes potentially discouraging news: consumers are trusting their friends a whole lot less.
According to AdAge, the 2010 Edelman Financial Services U.S. Trust Barometer found that only 25% of those surveyed considered friends and peers to be credible sources of information. That's down from 45% in 2008.
How much is a single tweet worth these days? According to Sponsored Tweets, quite a lot. The Twitter advertising platform has gotten a lot of press for how much it charges advertisers to access the Twitter feeds of some of its clients. For instance, reactions to Kim Kardashian's tweet price (reportedly $10,000) could easily have their own Twitter feed.
But as high profile Twitterers try to cash in on their growing popularity, there are increasing disclosure issues. The Federal Trade Commission released new guidelines this fall proving that they are getting serious about presenting advertising to consumers online. And if pay-per-tweet options become serious business, they could easily attract regulatory scrutiny, an issue I've written about here.
In light of the issues surrounding Twitter sponsorships and advertising, I caught up with Ted Murphy to discuss the issue. As CEO of Izea, Sponsored Tweets' parent company, Murphy focuses on sponsored conversations across platforms from Twitter to Facebook and all manner of blogging platforms. According to him, the issue of advertising disclosure in social media is easy to resolve. But that doesn't mean the FTC won't be coming after a few brands and individuals in the near future.