Do you listen to the radio and watch TV? If you’re like me, you don’t. Terrestrial radio sucks ass, and TV is only worth watching with a TiVo, so its not often I hear or see commercials.
It seems like government regulatory agencies like the Federal Trade Commission have their sights set on online advertisers. Every new story from the FTC is related to someone(s) doing something (allegedly) shady with the Internets.
But have you seen some of the advertisements that play on traditional media?
Debt Crisis in America featuring Obama
I don’t know if this commercial still runs, it’s a little old. But I know I’ve seen it a few weeks ago on TV, so it had some staying power.
Imagine the balls it would take for any online advertiser or affiliate to speak Obama’s name on their landing page today. Of course, people did this when grant offers became popular a year or so ago. Within weeks the FTC shut it down.
But that Obama commercial above? That’s been running for months since then, well into 2010.
And its not like they’re just tying Obama’s name to it. The entire commercial is produced to look as official and misleading as possible. It’s got a goddamn clip from an Obama press conference! The balls!
So What the Fuck, FTC?
Government regulation is a killer for entrepreneurs, especially online advertisers. In some cases, government intervention is necessary. When something gets out of hand, it’s time to put the old kabash on it and ruin the fun for everybody.
So if government wants to regulate advertisers, why don’t they focus on some of the shit that is advertised on TV and radio? Why do they focus on the people that are using the new media – the internet, THE FUTURE, rather than advertisers using old media?
Why Does Traditional Media Get a Free Pass?
Just talking out of my ass, but the main reason is that its very easy to track on the internet. People can take a screenshot, and there is Exhibit A. People can send a link to their friends or report it to a government agency easily.
With TV, you’d be hard-pressed to find many people that know how to rip a commercial from live TV or Radio. Who is going to sit around waiting for that commercial to play again? What government regulator lackey would sit around watching and listening the thousands of channels out there? None.
On the internet – its static. Always there. Always ready to be linked and documented.
I don’t want to out anyone’s specific shit here, but here are some more examples of double-standards in advertising. Discloure is the main element missing from radio and TV commercials. If you ever heard an auto dealer / car commercial, half of it is disclosure. About 90% of any medical commercial is disclosure.
But advertising “newer” things, that are common on the internet, rarely has disclosure.
Free Laptop – “You mean a Free Laptop?” “Yes!” “What’s the catch?” “There is none! It’s absolutely Free!” You can’t do that shit on the internet, kids.
Colon Cleanse – “Right now, as part of a special weight loss experiment, we’re looking for 20 people in your area to try a Free Bottle of ColonBlowX. Call now!” No disclosure whatsoever about whats in store for the buyer. A phone agent is supposed to give disclosure, but often they won’t. There’s no way to audit individual conversations. Call centers record calls, but at random. And if a call looks bad for that advertiser, “Delete!”
Debt – Huge on radio and TV. The Obama example above is just one example. To be fair, debt offers online rarely disclose what they really are – shady as all fuck.
Anyway – the point of this post is: Fuck the FTC! Stop hating on the internet. Go watch some TV and listen to radio, and you’ll find some shady shit to go after within minutes. For fuck’s sake, they’re advertising to your grandma during daytime TV! You don’t want them ripping off your grandma, do you FTC?!