Home  › Marketing › Strategies

U.K. Regulators Clamp Down on Sponsored Tweets

  |  January 14, 2011   |  Comments

Paid-for status updates on social networks must be prominently disclosed.

Regulators in the U.K. have set a precedent requiring clear disclosure of sponsored posts on social networks and microblogging services.

In July the Office of Fair Trading launched an investigation into the practices of blog network Handpicked Media, following concerns that "individuals engaged by [the company] were publishing online content which promoted the activities of [its] clients, without sufficient disclosures in place to make it clearly identifiable to consumers that the promotions had been paid for."

That investigation closed last month, and according to the OFT the company failed to disclose paid posts on blogs and microblogging services including Twitter, as required by U.K. law. Those requirements have been in place in their current form for all media - online or off - since 2008, but the action taken against Handpicked Media is the first time the OFT has applied the provisions to online activity.

Following the investigation Handpicked Media has signed undertakings to comply with the law and ensure such infringements are not repeated, the OFT said. However a statement issued by the regulatory body suggested other companies operating in the space should take notice of the decision. "The action taken in December 2010 provides clarity and certainty to companies, their marketing departments and advertising agencies on the disclosure requirements that apply in this area," it said.

Due to the global nature of services like Twitter and Facebook, the OFT said it is working closely with the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. to ensure consistency between the two territories regarding future breaches. The pair have agreed on a "memorandum of understanding."

The OFT has not issued guidelines detailing exactly how disclosures should be presented, but said they "should clearly identify, in a manner prominently displayed with the editorial content such that it would be unavoidable to the average consumer, that the promotion has been paid for or otherwise remunerated."

On Twitter specifically, the body suggested the use of a hashtag to indicate promotional activity.

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Sept 5 to take advantage of Super Saver Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jack Marshall

Jack Marshall was a staff writer and stats editor for ClickZ News from 2007 until August 2011. 

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

Resources

Jobs

    • Senior Director US Agency Ad Sales
      Senior Director US Agency Ad Sales (Expedia, Inc.) - ChicagoJob Title:  Senior Director US Agency Ad Sales   Position Overview: The Senior...
    • Senior Director US Agency Ad Sales
      Senior Director US Agency Ad Sales (Expedia, Inc.) - New YorkPosition Overview: The Senior Director US Agency Ad Sales is responsible for managing...
    • Digital Marketing Analyst
      Digital Marketing Analyst (GovLoop) - Washington D.C.Are you passionate about audience acquisition? Love effective copy and amazingly effective...