As we approach the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, it’s clear that mobile advertising has hit a tipping point. That conclusion is inevitable from any number of facts. For one, Google has announced that more searches on its platform take place on mobile devices than computers in 10 different countries, including the United States. Second,
There aren’t a lot of rules on the Internet. The World Wide Web is a wild west environment where the standard rules regarding sales tax, privacy, and decorum don’t apply. All of which makes it seem like a strange place for self-regulation. And yet, that’s the mission of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council, the industry body…
We live in a world of product innovation. There is sea change going on in media and technology. It seems that there is a new media platform and revolutionary device announced every week. Advertising is the currency that allows the offering of free information and services in media to consumers. Consumers absolutely want free content…
It’s hard to overstate what a “thing” Advertising Week has become. Since it was launched in 2004 by the late Ken Kaess, then chairman of the 4As, Matt Scheckner, and a team that included Burtch Drake, Ron Berger, and Mike Donahue, the conference of advertisers and advertising professionals now comprises more than two hundred and…
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made a number of changes to its regulations and guidelines in 2013. Specifically, the FTC updated its “.com Disclosures” guide to provide advertisers with more specific instructions for complying with the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in various forms of new media. Moreover, the updated guide…
Concluding the three part prediction series, I turn to Will Smith, Brown Shoe Company’s Chief Marketing Officer, to get his thoughts on what 2014 holds for the retail industry.
2014 Predictions within the Retail Industry and How They Have the Potential to Affect Marketing and Advertising, with Brown Shoe Company’s Chief Marketing Officer, Will…
When we think about advertising law and regulation, we typically focus on Washington, D.C. and the federal regulatory agencies – for example, the FTC’s guidance, including in many industry-specific areas, the FDA’s regulation of food products and cigarettes, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s efforts of late in the financial services sector, among others. But state Attorneys General are also very active in the enforcement of consumer protection and advertising laws and regulations, both independently within their jurisdictions and jointly through multi-state investigations and actions. The increased presence of many advertisers in digital and social media does not have geographical borders, and state regulators can take issue with the advertising claims and methods used in these new media platforms along with more traditional ones.
State Attorneys General offices use consumer protection laws and regulations to help shape public policy and improve communications to consumers, but they are also subject to, and driven by, the partisan politics of elections and the complex webs of relationships that operate day-to-day in state governments. This can mean national advertisers may face state regulation from a number of different angles.
The Way I See It
- I see state Attorneys General becoming increasingly active in enforcing consumer protection laws, with increased initiatives to regulate online, mobile, and social media.
- I see state regulators initiating investigations and taking action in response to national advertising campaigns, which have an impact on consumers within their states and which may not comply with the letter of each particular state’s unique laws and regulations. There is a greater need than ever to carefully consider these nuances when vetting national advertising materials.
- I see a complicated political structure in each state when it comes to interpreting regulators’ motives and actions, and a symbiosis between the actions and interests of federal regulators and their state counterparts.
The Way The Industry Sees It
I sat down with Al Shelden, Ex-Senior Assistant Attorney General of California who was in charge the state’s Consumer Law Section, to get a state regulator’s perspective on some key consumer protection issues.
As a former state regulator, how important do you think state Attorneys General are for shaping regulation of national advertisers and big brands? How did you view national advertising campaigns during your tenure in California?
The state Attorneys General have a long history of shaping the regulation of national advertisers and big brands. Starting in the ’80s and ’90s, the states were the first to challenge “health” advertising by cereal, fast food, and vitamin companies. We also were the first to challenge the use of deceptive environmental claims in advertising. The FTC and Congress followed. Today the states are leading the way in actions against pharmaceutical companies for off label promotion of drugs. The states’ actions and adoption of legislation against the deceptive use of sweepstakes and other product promotions also preceded federal action in these areas. Likewise, actions brought by the Attorneys General involving improper telephonic solicitations and advertisers’ improper use of information they obtained from customers lead to the adoption of telephonic seller registration, do not call and privacy protection laws, first on a state level and then on the national level. Since national advertising in California affects tens of million California residents, we always viewed it, and still do, as “local” advertising, meaning that any advertising which is used to obtain business from California residents must comply with California law.
What has been the historical relationship between the Federal Trade Commission and state Attorneys General? What is the current relationship like?
Historically, the relationship has been one of benign neglect, conflict, and cooperation. In the 1960’s, when those states that did not yet have consumer protection laws started to adopt them, a large portion looked to the FTC and the FTC Act. During the ’60s and ’70s, the FTC and the Attorneys General “got along” but seldom regularly worked together on issues. Starting in the early ’80s, things between the Attorneys General and the FTC became somewhat “testy” when, under Chairman James Miller III, the FTC adopted its “deception” and “unfairness” policies. Many states thought these policies incorrectly defined FTC case law requirements for advertisers and argued they should only be viewed as the FTC’s own enforcement guidelines. Because some states’ laws tie the meaning and interpretation of their laws to FTC regulations and decisions, there was great concern. One state, Missouri, changed its consumer law so that it was no longer tied to FTC law. Things remained cold until Janet Steiger became FTC Chair in 1989. She worked tirelessly to reach out to the Attorneys General and convince them that going forward the Attorneys General and the FTC needed to be trusting partners who should be working together toward the same goals. Her term marked the true beginning of the Attorneys General and the FTC working cases jointly, sharing information and deferring to one another in the proper circumstances. Improving relations continued under Robert Pitofsky’s tenure and while there have been periods of ebb and flow since then, things again were very harmonious during Jon Leibowitz’s term as Chair and David Vladek’s term as Head of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. There appears to be no reason to think that such cooperation will not continue during the term of Edith Ramirez as Chair.
Spotting industry trends and making forecasts for a year ahead is a challenge, especially in an age of constant change and technological developments. The way I see it, in terms of trends, it is critical to seek out the best when you need to spot trends and discern the real change elements at work. After offering my year in review and looking back at the trends in 2012, it’s time to also look ahead. We are at the dawn of a new year – a year filled with potential and uncertainty. So, let’s get some clarity on what the future holds.
The Way the Industry Sees It
I had the pleasure of speaking with Marian Salzman, CEO of Havas (formerly Euro RSCG) Worldwide PR, North America, who is viewed as the trendspotter in the world today, about her thoughts for the year ahead and some secret tips to spotting trends for the advertising industry.
I’m always fascinated by your annual trends reports. Without revealing any secrets, could you explain your process for identifying trends and making forecasts for the coming year?
My thing is pattern recognition, incorporating an eye for the oddball statistic. There would have been no metrosexual mania, at least not instigated by me, if there hadn’t been a few stunning numbers popping. Back in 2003, guys began to feel they were no longer guaranteed to be CEO of the bedroom or the boardroom. They suddenly had a serious interest in the kitchen. Straight men were increasingly comfortable socializing with gay men. 2003 seems like the dark ages, but it illustrates the kinds of observations that set me off on an investigation. Ever since Al Gore invented the Internet (kidding) in the early 1990s, I have been a huge information surfer. Today, this process can be automated for me with services such as Factiva clipping in real time. Finally, my trendspotting would be much less robust if not for an informal network of trendspotters around the globe who log in all kinds of sightings. (In fact, I did not invent the word metrosexual—it was invented by journalist Mark Simpson in the early 1990s. But it was forwarded to me by a colleague and I matched the word to my sighting, Men Get Softer – the rest was history.) This past year, I launched TrendsU, an e-learning program about how to trendspot, for all Havas staff around the world. About 550 people from around the world studied the four modules and shared their sightings with me, and even pictures are now compiled (the thousand-words adage never rang more true) on our TrendsU Pinterest board.[/a]
In 2012, you focused on the trend toward achieving a grainy, “Polaroid” effect for digital photography with the popularity of apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic. How do you think the world of apps and wireless will evolve in 2013?
Wireless will be so ubiquitous that discussing it will be almost like talking about the Internet or even the dial tone. I agree with a recent post of yours that it will be very interesting to see how the advertising, marketing and communications industries will adapt to a wireless world. I remember helping on a pitch for IBM back in the dark ages for which we interviewed people about the future, and Kevin Kelly, the co-founding editor of Wired, talked to us about the future like it would happen a week from Thursday. Well, it’s finally a week from Thursday, and always-on, constant connectivity is the new normal. People take mobile devices to bed, to the toilet and onto airplanes and assume, voilà, they’ll be connected because connectivity is a given. Back in 1993, Kelly told us connectivity would be like air or water. Apps for 2013 are like software was a decade ago, except that the innovations are coming every 22 seconds. Before you know you need an app, there it is. Simplification has been a trend for 15 years, and apps are the epitome of simplification. Branded apps are a given. Tablets are making apps even more essential. I want to do more on the fly, more quickly, and an app ensures I get it done, seamlessly. The app I expect next year is for voting – the most prehistoric thing we still do without much connectivity. Seriously, in 2013, you want me to walk to a school and fill out some paperwork and pull levers? How very last century. Once Americans can vote online using apps and smartphones or tablets, expect a much more engaged population to be that much more connected on issues and topics that matter to them.
It’s hard to believe 2012 is coming to an end. It was a big year for us here, with the launch of Madison Ave Insights in October, and a notable one for the advertising industry. As always, agencies tried to top the year before with bigger and better creative, regulatory agencies stepped up oversight and enforcement, and technological advances happened at a pace that seemed like every minute. From the Super Bowl to Cannes to the Summer Olympics to the Presidential election, marketers have been busy year-round with how to balance rapid change and new technology with threats from regulators and competitors while doing great creative and effective advertising. This has been a very hard dance to learn.
Among countless others, here are a few key trends and developments from 2012 that will have long-lasting implications for the advertising industry (that is, if the Mayan calendar is incorrect).
Data: Data is without a doubt changing the advertising industry. With more platforms and devices collecting consumer data, including smart phones, tablets, and mobile apps, data has increasingly become a critical tool for marketers and advertising agencies. Of course, we are all still learning the best ways to collect, manage, and use data without violating basic data security and consumer privacy standards. This year, data brokers have faced scrutiny for selling consumers’ data, and brands have been questioned for data collection practices. With data collection and management tools advancing, and data analytics becoming the “it” profession, all of us are eager to see what will be next and how the advertising industry applies and develops data to benefit all of the constituencies – consumers, marketers, agencies, publishers and technologists.…
Cash and credit and debit cards are certainly dominant in the payment space today. Some think change will never happen, but they are dead wrong. Mobile payment is in its infancy, but the benefits are clear: simplicity, convenience, relevance, and targeted offers and rewards. No more wallets with multiple cards, just one device. And this is only the beginning.
Consumers and retailers are eager to participate. Starbucks – a market leader – already offers a popular payment app. It has now moved further into mobile payments by partnering with Square to allow mobile payment at all of its 7,000 U.S. stores. Customers may soon even be able to pay with their phones while they’re still in their pockets. With Square, a cashier can see your photo as you approach the register, and you complete the purchase by stating your name. …