🗽 FTC issues influencer update guidelines

112 | FTC's first revision around endorsements and influencers for 14 years

Issue #112 | Your reading time this week is 7 mins. 25 secs.

Welcome back to the Creator Briefing. Here’s just some of what we’re looking at this week:

  • FTC’s new guidelines around endorsements and influencer content

  • KSI & Logan Paul get bottled on stage - it’s only a stunt

  • North Korea turns to YouTubers to spread misinformation

  • Aussie influencer tech firm first to get its methodology audited

  • Influencer marketers forecast strong sector growth in two surveys

If you were forwarded this newsletter, sign up here to get your own weekly copy. And let me know what you think of this week’s edition in the poll a the end. Big thanks to the 28 of you who have already voted - more on that below.

FTC issues influencer update guidelines

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued new guidelines around influencers and endorsements. We’ve waited a long time for the update. The last Endorsement Guides were revised 14 years ago in 2009.

Given the long wait, it’s a wonder the FTC didn’t wait just a few more days and publish after the July 4th celebrations. Instead, the release came late last week ahead of the federal holiday in the US. That aside, what can we learn?

Here are the main revisions:

  1. A new principle regarding procuring, suppressing, boosting, organising, publishing, upvoting, downvoting, or editing consumer reviews so as to distort what consumers think of a product;

  2. Addressing incentivized reviews, reviews by employees, and fake negative reviews of a competitor;

  3. Adding a definition of “clear and conspicuous” and saying that a platform’s built-in disclosure tool might not be an adequate disclosure;

  4. Changing the definition of “endorsements” to clarify the extent to which it includes fake reviews, virtual influencers, and tags in social media;

  5. Better explaining the potential liability of advertisers, endorsers, and intermediaries; and

  6. Highlighting that child-directed advertising is of special concern.

Big takeaways

Kids need to be protected differently to adults - “Children and teens can react differently from adults. A disclosure that works with adults might not work with younger individuals. Indeed, research suggests that disclosures will not work for younger children. Accordingly, advertisers and endorsers should be particularly careful in their use of endorsements directed to this audience.” Perhaps unhelpfully the FTC doesn’t provide suggestions on what would work best to declare ads to kids and teens.

Tough on TikTok - The text description on TikTok is in small print, it doesn’t stand out, and it often doesn’t contrast against the background of the video. Also, TikTok videos often have many competing elements. FTC reasons that placing a disclosure in the text description is very unlikely to be clear and conspicuous. New guidelines suggest that we content creators want viewers to read something, they should superimpose much larger text over their videos.

De-influencing - If a creator criticises a competitor of a brand that s/he’s paid to endorse, s/he should disclose his/her paid relationship.

Free stuff - The word “Gifted,” by itself without a brand reference, won’t cut it. However, “Gifted by XYZ” (when XYZ is a brand name) should be okay to denote when all the creator’s received is a free product.

Travel influencers - If a brand takes the creator on a paid-for trip, all resulting content should be disclosed. The exceptions would be either if a post is non-promotional, e.g., a close-up of the influencer’s child without tags or other clues as to the location. Or if the creators posts about a shop for instance just because they like it and the shop has nothing to do with the paid-for trip.

Two FTC documents provide all the info:

FTC considers ban on buying fake followers

In a bid to turn back time to 2016 the FTC is seeking comments on proposed measures that would fight deceptive practices including a ban on buying or selling fake social media followers or views to misrepresent their importance for a commercial purpose.

Influence is King

This newsletter is supported by Fourth Floor – a digital marketing agency that fully understands the power of influence. Fourth Floor is an insight-led creative, social and influencer agency that enables games businesses to engage audiences, build emotional connections and get results. They build bespoke campaigns by combining any number of their services, which include advocacy, production, commerce and events. Find out how they can help your business at fourthfloor.co 

Prime stunt: KSI & Paul pelted with bottles

Someone once stubbed a cigarette out in my mouth whilst I was singing karaoke very poorly in a pub down the Bethnal Green Road. Logan Paul and KSI appear to have added a similar move to their Prime Hydration marketing playbook.


«Vi må få det til å se ut som dere hater oss» sa KSI. Se mer fra dagen hos @vgramp også 💖 #ksi #ksiolajidebt #loganpaul #prime #oslo

Last week as the YouTuber duo launched Prime in Copenhagen the crowd pelted them with Prime bottles. Unlike my experience at the Salmon and Ball in 1989 the pelting was a stunt designed to grab yet more attention from the mainstream media.

We’ve talked in the past about Prime’s marketing strategy. 

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