Having had an email account since AOL’s dial-up days (that sound!), I can honestly say that I have seen my fair share of online advertisements. As someone with over a decade in the performance marketing space, not everything that I have come across is something that I would feel comfortable, not only seeing, but also promoting. When building the online presence of your own personal or company brand, you will want to take some quick and easy steps to ensure that what you are marketing will not hurt you or your brand in the long run.
An old adage goes, “if you are a good salesperson, you can sell ice to an eskimo.” While that saying speaks to one’s ability to persuade others, it doesn’t necessarily follow that morals are taken into consideration.
Whenever I am prospecting for the next big campaign to promote, I ask myself four important questions before wasting time and resources on the activation process.
1. Is the content deceptive?
Every penny spent on advertising has one goal at the end of the day: to get a consumer to act, whether that action is to complete a purchase or to make an inquiry in order to increase brand awareness and education. However, not every method of getting a consumer to act is ethical. For example, while a free trial sounds like a great deal from a consumer standpoint, opting out of a continuity program can sometimes become a nightmare – especially when you receive your next credit card statement. I always like to make sure there is no deceptive, confusing, or misleading fine print to avoid potential issues with both consumers and the FTC in the future.
2. Is the content controversial?
Any campaigns that deal with controversial topics including politics, gambling, gun control, tobacco, alcohol, adult, and so on, should be avoided. If you are writing content for various brands, you want your message to be brand agnostic. You don’t want to promote anything people might consider offensive or overtly political at the expense of excluding yourself from brands wanting to be seen on purely wholesome content.
3. Is the content compliant?
As mentioned under question #1, many brands and their publishers make blatantly false claims in online ad campaigns that can quickly lead to lawsuits. For example, some affiliates will pretend to be a big-name brand knowing that consumers are more likely to engage with their content when really they have no direct affiliation with the company or the product and services they offer. Furthermore, over-promising or guaranteeing savings amounts, ‘free’ products, and ‘instant’ approval is a slippery slope into deception. While consumers love the idea of easy, free, and no-nonsense offers, make sure you can deliver on what your ad is promising.
4. Would you want it on the front page of the newspaper?
If the product or service that is being offered is not something that you would feel comfortable seeing on the front page of your favorite newspaper, then it probably is not something that you should be thinking about marketing for the long haul. Ask yourself if the content can be misconstrued or deemed as inappropriate to any reasonable audience and think twice about moving forward if the answer is yes.