Truth in Advertising Online, More Challenging Than Ever
CHICAGO - Regulating truth and ensuring fairness, taste and decency in advertising is more challenging since the explosion of social media, according to a keynote address presented to the National Advertising Division Annual Conference.
Scott Cotherman, the president of a healthcare public relations and communications firm made the assessment. "We live in a society where ethical standards are now assessed and measured as quickly as a person turns on a computer," warned Cotherman. "While technology brought great advances, it also delivered chaos and uncontrolled messaging sent through various social channels."
Social media, defined by Wikipedia as the online technologies people use to share content, opinions and experiences, have given consumers the power to view banned ads through sites like YouTube; adversely impact brand market share and companies' market capitalization as a result of widely disseminated blog rumors; and shape brand experiences through chat rooms. Organizations established to monitor and self-regulate truth in advertising have found themselves challenged in trying to manage within an otherwise uncontrollable external messaging environment.
Longterm, Cotherman says "regulating tomorrow's advertising becomes more complex and difficult. It also means that advertisers must learn to understand and accept the impact online social networking sites have on consumers' perceptions and loyalty to brands, and on the companies that market them, too."