Amazon is super-sizing, as the company’s Chinese arm entered into the freight forwarding business.
What does it all mean for FBA marketers and sellers?
Maybe nothing, maybe something; let’s take a snapshot of the situation and discuss.
Amazon Registered As A Freight Forwarder (Which Isn’t What You May Assume)
When news broke, some folks assumed Amazon bought a fleet of cargo ships to better facilitate overseas shipments. But that’s not quite accurate because Amazon registered as a freight forwarder, not an ocean liner.
Is the difference between ocean liners and freight forwarders significant? Sure is. In the simplest terms, ocean liners can operate fleets of ships. Freight forwarders, however, are considered “non-vessel operating common carriers” – meaning they can buy space on cargo boats at wholesale costs, but not run boats.
Will Amazon’s Move Into Freight Forwarding Hurt Stateside FBA Marketers? (Some People Think So)
Why did Amazon make the move? We can only speculate, but it seems like a long-term, cost-cutting maneuver. The change will likely accelerate the buy-to-delivery pipeline, which is ideal for both Amazon and its users.
Some people worry, however, that an insular, Amazon-run, Sino-U.S. supply chain has the potential to pummel stateside FBA marketers and sellers. How? Since foreign shipping times would decrease, the number of Chinese manufacturers marketing directly to U.S. buyers would probably increase, competition would stiffen, margins would narrow – and profits would be harder fought.
Are the concerns justified? It’s too early to tell. Right now, the freight forwarding registration is just another indicator that the private label selling and online marketing industries are on the rise.
Get An FBA Lawyer On Your Side
The FBA business can be lucrative; many FBA marketers make an excellent living; but beware: pitfalls abound. To avoid costly setbacks, consult with an Amazon private label lawyer. Attorney Aaron Kelly has been in the space for nearly a decade and understands the legal opportunities that may help your business flourish.
Rey, J. D. (2016, January 14). Amazon Can Now Ship Packages From China to the U.S. by Sea. Retrieved February 28, 2016, from http://recode.net/2016/01/14/amazon-receives-ocean-freight-license-to-ship-packages-from-china-by-sea/
The FTC issued a pair of new advertising guidelines — the Enforcement Policy Statement on Deceptively Formatted Advertisements and the Native Advertising: A Guide for Businesses. What are the chief takeaways? Will the “new rules” have a massive effect on current marketing trends?
First Things First: The Current State of Native Advertising
Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, aptly described native promotions as “product placement on digital steroids.”
“Product placement on digital steroids.”
Over the years, the practice has become exceptionally popular – and effective – partly because it can be tailored to search behavior. According to the Association of National Advertisers, two-thirds of its surveyed members plan to increase embedded marketing spends this year.
Marketers love it for two key reasons:
- It’s more likely to be shared.
- It’s less intrusive than traditional advertising.
So, what, exactly, is “native advertising”? It’s promotional material that mimics the look and feel of a website. “Around the Web” links at the bottom of blog posts – (you know, the ones with the guilty pleasure headlines) – are examples.
FTC Investigation: Is Native Advertising Deceptive?
Marketers may love native advertising, but the Federal Trade Commission– which is responsible for exterminating deceptive marketing – has always scrutinized the practice with a more skeptical eye.
For years, pundits have debated the ethics of “embedded promotions” crafted to look like normal content. Is it misleading? Does it trick users into clicking when they otherwise wouldn’t? The debate has raged, and now, the FTC is adding its 10 cents.
To be clear: the FTC can’t throw people in jail for shirking its guidelines. The Commission is a quasi-governmental agency. Yes, a federal law created the FTC, and yes, a federal law grants it the authority to financially sanction businesses and individuals who engage in “unfair and deceptive” marketing; but no, the FTC’s guidelines aren’t actually laws, per say.
New Native Advertising Guidelines
What are the important points of the native advertising guidelines:
- The “net impression” counts.
- Make it crystal clear that native ads are promotional, not editorial, content.
- Don’t use the phrase “promoted stories” to demarcate native advertising from *normal* content. “Promoted,” in the eyes of the FTC, is too vague a word and can cause consumer confusion.
- Native advertisement disclosures should appear in the same frame as the ads themselves; they shouldn’t appear below the ads – especially if a user has to scroll to see them.
Word on the street is that the new native advertising guidelines are clear, helpful and include clarifying images.
How Will Native Advertising Guidelines Affect The Marketing Industry?
Industry people are talking about the FTC’s native advertising guide. And it’s no wonder: some of the biggest content players feast on the stuff. Supposedly, a third of Gawker’s revenue comes from native advertising; Vox Media allegedly has an in-house ad agency to churn it out.
And, of course, opinions about the FTC’s latest native advertising treatise run from A to Z. Some people rolled their eyes and typed dirges about the commission’s investigative inconsistencies; or, in more colloquial terms, “The FTC is so mercurial that its guides are little help.” Middle-of-the-roaders seem to be taking the release in stride, making note of the FTC’s insistence on transparency.
A blog post on Marketing Land offered three predictions regarding the new guides:
- Some of the bigger native advertising players will either tap-out or incur fines.
- Native advertising will become less effective.
- Now that the FTC has weighed in, bigger brands may start using it more.
Work With An Online Marketing Attorney
FBA sellers and online marketers love to work with Kelly Warner. Our team assists with a host of FTC compliance and online marketing issues.
We founded our practice to help entrepreneurs — and over the years have earned top marks. Let’s talk; get in touch today to begin the conversation.
Ember, Sydney. “F.T.C. Guidelines on Native Ads Aim to Prevent Deception.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 Dec. 2015. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/23/business/media/ftc-issues-guidelines-for-native-ads.html?_r=0>.
Kulwin, Noah. “FTC Issues New Rules for Native Advertising on the Internet.” Recode. 22 Dec. 2015. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <http://recode.net/2015/12/22/ftc-issues-new-rules-to-native-advertising-on-the-internet/>.
Rodnitzky, David. “Now That The FTC Has Spoken On Native Advertising, What’s Next?” Marketing Land. 12 Jan. 2016. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <http://marketingland.com/now-ftc-spoken-native-advertising-whats-next-158262>.
Is counterfeit activity on Alibaba.com about to diminish? Alibaba hopes so.
Headquartered in China, Alibaba.com is an online souq of product sourcing, selling, and negotiating – and it’s an essential cog in many e-commerce operations.
Recently, Alibaba announced plans to fatten its fraud department. Perhaps to keep U.S. officials at bay? Probably.
Alibaba announced plans to fatten its fraud department.
Alibaba’s Piracy Past
In 1999, Jack Ma had an idea: connect Chinese manufacturers with overseas buyers – online. And abracadabra, Alibaba.com was born. By 2012, financial analysts were valuing the company at about $150 billion.
But everything wasn’t red dragons and lucky koi. Though profitable, Alibaba was also morphing into a piracy bazaar.
The counterfeit crisis reached critical mass in the late noughties when U.S. trade officials granted Alibaba and its eBay-esque component, Taobao Marketplace, a spot on the “Notorious Markets” list.
About ten years ago, Alibaba kicked some pirates off the ship, so officials scrubbed the company from a blacklist.
Now a seasoned, publicly traded Wall Street player, today’s Alibaba is a far cry from its earliest iterations.
Sure, Alibaba’s stock fluctuated in 2015, but pundits aren’t surprised, predicting that Alibaba – like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and eBay – is still a formidable online business force.
Why Are U.S. Officials Once Again On Alibaba’s Case? And, What Is Alibaba Doing About It?
Perhaps at the behest of the MPAA and RIAA, some U.S. lawmakers are apoplectic about piracy. For years, they’ve tried to lard federal law books with draconian, outdated intellectual property statutes. It’s yet to work; but not for lack of effort – nor lobbying dollars.
The Government’s Online Piracy Blacklist
To buoy anti-piracy efforts, in 2006, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) created an official “naughty pirate” list. Called the Notorious Markets Blacklist, the report adumbrates communities – both online and off – where *pirates* congregate and flourish — and being listed can lead to financial hardship.
The USTR is throwing a skeptical side-eye towards Alibaba and threatening to pin a scarlet “P” on the company.
In fact, Alibaba once held a sport on the Notorious Markets Blacklist, but redeemed itself in time for a 2014 IPO. However, the USTR is once again throwing a skeptical side-eye towards Alibaba and threatening to pin a scarlet “P” on the company. Presumably in response, Alibaba executives hired 200 new employees – including a department head honcho – to slash and burn Alibaba counterfeit problem accounts.
Got Alibaba Counterfeit Problems? Speak To An e-Commerce Lawyer
Do you need to speak with an e-commerce attorney? The top-rated lawyers at Kelly / Warner have helped hundreds of entrepreneurs overcome legal challenges. We craft fresh solutions to common problems and help keep our clients on top.
Our private label lawyers can answer Alibaba counterfeit questions and help solve issues related to:
- Trademark, patent or copyright;
- Piggybacking or hijacking;
- Account suspensions and reinstatements;
- Forming and e-Commerce or Internet business;
- FTC marketing compliance;
- Telemarketing and SPAM restrictions;
- Importing and exporting legalities; or
- Anything that has to do with marketing, selling or promoting products or services.
We’re a phone call or message away. Hope to talk soon.
Davis, K. (2015, December 29). Alibaba Hires Hundreds To Combat Counterfeit Products In The Face Of Blacklist Threat. Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://www.fastcompany.com/3055011/fast-feed/in-face-of-blacklist-threat-alibaba-hires-hundreds-to-combat-counterfeit-products
R. (2015, December 21). Alibaba names new head of anti-counterfeiting, IP unit. Retrieved February 08, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/r-alibaba-names-new-head-of-anti-counterfeiting-ip-unit-2015-12
The California Supreme Court ruled that individuals can sue over organic labeling. Was it a smart decision, or a foolhardy decree destined to birth concern troll cases?
In the Past, Only Government Entities Could Sue Over Organic Labeling
Back in the 1990s, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) established nationwide organic labeling standards. At the time, lawmakers limited claimant rights to government entities. In other words, health nuts (the annoying kind, not the good kind) couldn’t flood courts with frivolous food-related lawsuits. The reasoning? Officials felt that an open-ended claimant pool could jeopardize USDA organic standards and clog California courts.
California’s Rule Change: SCOC Says Citizens May Be Able To Sue Over Organic Labeling
At the end of 2015, the California Supreme Court handed down a unanimous – and somewhat surprising – ruling in Quesada vs. Herb Thyme Farms, a potential class action. The justices declared that private California residents can bring lawsuits against companies for slapping organic labels on non-organic products.
From the decision:
“Intentionally marketing products as organic that have been grown conventionally undermines the assurances the USDA Organic label is intended to provide. [Private lawsuits go a long way in] reassuring consumers and enabling fair competition.”
Some are skeptical about the decision, but plaintiff advocates insist a shortage of state and federal resources resulted in insufficient oversight. Allowing citizens to pursue organic labeling lawsuits, they argue, is an efficient way to make up for the prosecutorial dearth.
To SCOTUS They Go!
Some food manufacturers aren’t stoked about a possible run on the courts – especially one headed by organic crusaders. So, this case may be headed to the Supreme Court of the United States. And you can bet your tofu burger that K-street will soon be abubble with farm and food lobbyists.
Why Dietary Supplement FBA Sellers Should Pay Attention To This Case
If you sell or market organic dietary supplements, this ruling may have an impact on your business – whether or not you reside in California.
Well, for starters, if you sell to Californians, you can be sued in California.
Brush Up On Marketing and Advertising Law
So, how do you ensure you’re still operating on the right side of the legal fence? First and foremost, familiarize yourself with the Dot Com Disclosures and other marketing legal standards. Anyone who markets anything online should know them – intimately. The DCD adumbrates what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to online promotions. Do you need to disclose if a social media post was sponsored? The DCD will let you know. Are there any language restrictions regarding academic studies? The DCD has the answer to this question – and a bunch more.
To read a summary of the Dot Com Disclosures, head here. If you’d rather hire an attorney to make sure you’re following all the necessary online marketing regulations and guidelines, get in touch with Kelly Warner’s Aaron Kelly. A top-rated lawyer, Aaron has been practicing in the online business niche for years.
People always marvel at how little online marketing audits cost. Play it safe and get one done today. You’ll regret not doing so if the FTC comes a-knocking on your door in a few months.
Attorneys For Supplement FBA Sellers
Kelly Warner is a boutique law firm that works with supplement marketers and sellers. Our team assists with Fulfillment by Amazon legal issues and FTC compliance. We’ve helped countless people, with no previous business or marketing experience, set up and maintain profitable e-commerce operations. Reach out to our marketing and FBA lawyers today to start down a profitable path.
Egelko, B. (2015, December 03). State court says consumers can sue over ‘organic’ labeling. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from http://www.sfgate.com/food/article/State-court-says-consumers-can-sue-over-6673666.php