It is expected that the much anticipated Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (CPA) will have a significant effect on business for consumers and corporations alike. There are a number of practical steps that should be taken to protect both consumers and businesses, specifically regarding social media platforms.
There are three important laws and codes that marketers should familiarise themselves with when dealing with consumers on the Internet:
- The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Code of Advertising Practice
- The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002 (ECTA)
- The CPA
All online advertising will now be subject to the ASA code, as well as the two acts. Both acts also apply to any website, whether hosted overseas or owned by a non-South African resident, which performs a transaction with South African consumers. A transaction includes the supply, or potential supply of goods and services as well as the giving of information or advice for some form of consideration. Even if the transaction is free the CPA may still apply, depending on the nature of the services, advertisements or advice dispensed. The Act therefore applies to a wide range of products and providers, whether they operate from South Africa or not.
For example, if an advertisement or Facebook page recommended a specific product to a consumer, the CPA applies. While this is a debatable topic, every piece of advice given on the web needs to be treated as though the CPA applies to it. Marketers using social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter must err on the side of caution and take all steps to ensure they are compliant with the CPA.
Understanding the risks
The Act presents real risks to any business marketing their products through the Internet, with lawsuits, class actions and even criminal prosecution a potential and costly reality for a company.
Section 61 of the CPA imposes product liability on suppliers. In other words, if a consumer uses a product or service which would include advice dispensed, and by using the product or service correctly dies, becomes ill or has property damaged, then the supplier of those goods is liable for all the damages suffered by the consumer.
This means that if a customer follows the advice posted on a website or social networking site, and consequently suffers damages, whether by economic loss or illness etc, they can sue the website or social network or the member of the social networking site to compensate them. This also includes, among others, any medical costs.
This form of liability cannot be limited by the supplier in terms of section 61 and the website. Social networks and members of the social networking site must be extremely careful about what information they make available online and how the consumer must follow it. The same applies to online advertisements.
Confidentiality has become critical and is taken seriously by the CPA. If you give away confidential information about your communities you could be at risk of up to ten years in jail. If you find yourself in contravention of any other section of the Act you may be fined up to 10% of your annual turnover for the preceding year, or R1 million.
The CPA does not prohibit advertisements and dispensing of advice over the Internet; however, all website owners and social networking forums must be aware of the rights the consumers will have when dealing with them, as well as the obligations they will have to fulfill under the CPA regarding the quality and source of the information they provide.
If these standards are not met it will not make the activity illegal, but it will open the website to lawsuits, including class actions.
The following are selected fundamental rights available to consumers in terms of Chapter 2 of the CPA and broadly speaking are most likely to affect websites and social networks:
- The right to fair and responsible marketing
- The right to fair and honest dealing
- The right to fair value, good quality and safety
Again, it is important for website owners, social networks and members of social networks to familiarise themselves with the requirements for marketing and advertising as contained in the CPA.
Defining Direct Marketing
Direct marketing, according to the CPA, entails approaching someone, in person or electronically (for example, email marketing or approaching a LinkedIn business connection), for the direct or indirect purpose of promoting or selling goods or services, or even requesting a donation.
The use of the verbal approach in the definition is crucial. A related form of marketing is catalogue marketing (governed by section 33 of the CPA). Unlike direct marketing, this is a form of interaction between business and the consumer where a product or service is sold, but not in person, for example online shopping or retailing.
It includes an agreement concluded telephonically (if the customer initiates the contact), by postal order or fax, in fact, any instance where the consumer is not able to inspect the goods before making payment.
The supplier of the goods or services is required to disclose specific information such as license or registration number (if any), physical address and contact details, sales record information required by section 26 of ECTA, currency in which the goods are payable, delivery arrangement and their cancellation, return, exchange and refund policies.
A consumer may, within five business days after any goods were delivered as a result of direct marketing, send the product back to the supplier without reason or penalty, as long as the supplier is notified in writing or some other recorded manner. The supplier has to return any payment received from the consumer within 15 days of receiving the notification. Moreover, the consumer must be informed of this cooling-off period.
Restrictions on Direct Marketing
According to section 11(1) of the CPA, every person as part of their right to privacy has the right to:
- Refuse to accept
- Require another person to discontinue
- Or (in the case of an approach other than in person) pre-emptively block any approach or communication from those who are engaging in direct marketing.
Using direct marketing
In light of the above, there are several conclusions that can be drawn in response to websites and social networks.
- If a business actively approaches a consumer, even using an email address provided to it by the consumer, this is likely to constitute direct marketing and selling. This is something to keep in mind for any email or SMS marketing.
- However, this will nonetheless always remain a question of fact. If the consumer approached the business and left his email address with the business, actively requesting it to contact him, it is unlikely to qualify as direct marketing and selling.
- Therefore, any marketing which includes approaching a consumer should in all probability fall within the ambit of direct marketing or selling.
- Websites, online advertisers, social networks and members of social networks should therefore be cautious about their marketing strategies involving emails and SMSes sent to consumers.
- All websites (including blogs), online advertisers, social networks and members of social networks would be well-advised to set in place a procedure to facilitate any consumer requests to opt out of receiving any company communication, whether via email, a blog subscription, a Facebook page wall or Tweet stream.
Registration as a Direct Marketer
While this provision is not yet enforced, in the near future every direct marketer must register with the administrator of the registry, supplying all business contact details and the name and contact details of a person responsible for any applications lodged under this regulation. These details will need to be confirmed or updated in writing annually. Consumers who do not wish to receive any form of direct marketing will also be able to register with the body.
Three Steps to Limit Liability
Given the fact that under the CPA you must provide information of a certain standard, it is strongly advised that all websites and social networking sites and members comply with the CPA. There are three general steps that can be applied to each online platform to help limit company liability:
- It is important that all websites and social network members providing information clearly state and display who is dispensing the information and their qualifications, or authority to provide the content. This makes it a lot harder to hide behind a company brand or logo, particularly on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Any email newsletters or marketing should also include such detail.
- Include terms and conditions on your website or social networking page.
- Develop internal policy and processes within your company to help employees involved with company websites or social networks to advise consumers on how to opt out of communications, with simple step-by-step instructions that they can easily follow.
Today marks an interesting turnaround for online marketing agencies, companies and even individuals marketing products and services.
Online marketers have often thought of social media marketing as ‘permission-based’ marketing. According to the CPA, nothing is permission-based unless explicitly received in writing. Ensure that your online marketing efforts comply with the CPA by applying the above tips in conjunction with the details specified by the Act and regulations, as there are many other parts of the Act that may be relevant to your business. Download a copy of the CPA at www.polity.org.za and scroll down to legislation downloads. Use the report as a starting point to protect your customers and business.
Applying the CPA on Social Networks
- State clearly on the page ‘who’ is speaking. Facebook has now made this possible as an option to page administrators. Make use of this new functionality to show whom the administrators are behind the brand or page name. Click on ‘Edit Page’ in top right hand corner, click on the ‘Featured’ tab on the left hand side and finally click on the button ‘Add Featured Page Owners’. The Page Owners will be featured on the left hand side of the page under the number of people who ‘Like’ the page.
- In the page information (Info) make clear the qualifications or authority of those people posting on the page.
- Private messages in Facebook may constitute direct marketing, depending on the content of the message, if they were not prompted first by the member. Do not send private messages for marketing or direct marketing, unless prompted, or unless you follow steps 4 and 5.
- Set up Terms & Conditions in accordance with the Act on your page. A good place to put this would be a link under ‘Info’ or all the information under ‘Notes’. It is specified in the Act that these need to be in simple and very clear language, for the ordinary consumer to understand. In the Terms ensure that it is explained that joining the page amounts to explicit permission to receive posts on their personal wall and other forms of communication, for example an event invitation.
- Set up internal systems and processes to allow consumers to ‘opt out’ of your communications if and when they want to. Describe these in your Terms & Conditions.
- Make sure that your page advertising follows the requirements of the Advertising Standards Authority Code of Advertising Practice, the CPA and the ECTA.
- State clearly on the page ‘who’ is speaking. Ensure the person tweeting is listed underneath your company name or ‘handle’ to show who the administrator is behind the brand or ‘handle’.
- Make the qualifications or authority of the administrator clear on the page, either within the profile information visible on your Twitter page or embedded within the design elements of the page.
- Do not send direct messages for marketing purposes, unless prompted, or unless you follow steps 4 and 5.
- Set up Terms & Conditions in accordance with the Act on your Twitter page. Shorten the URL link to the Terms and include in your profile blurb.
- Set up internal systems and processes to allow consumers to ‘opt out’ of your communications if and when they want to. Describe these in your Terms & Conditions.
LinkedIn, YouTube & Forums
- Do not use the messaging feature within LinkedIn to send direct marketing messages promoting your goods or services.
- When offering business, product or service advice remember that if a contact follows the advice and consequently suffers damages, whether by economic loss or illness etc, they can sue LinkedIn, YouTube or the community forum and you as a member. This is applicable across all networks.
Gareth Cremen is an attorney at Goldman Judin Inc. Attorneys. He has extensive knowledge in litigation in the High Court and Magistrates Court, contracts, debtor recoveries, liquidations, sequestrations, advertising law, competition law and consumer protection law. Candice De Carvalho and Sarann Buckby are co-directors of Phatic Communications, a Johannesburg-based digital PR and social media agency that combines a strategic, creative and opportunistic approach with the setting of measurable objectives that assess, refine and improve on communication results that directly support business outcomes.
By Gareth Cremen, Candice de Carvalho & Sarann Buckby
The Launch Of Instagram TV
Giving a run to other institutions for their money, Instagram today has launched IGTV, a new application that will allow users to upload videos on its Instagram facility.
Commencing with one minute long videos, speaking at the launch today, Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom, announced that users can now upload up-to an hour long video. This application will allow famous videos from celebrities. However, with IGTV, one does not necessarily need to be a big-name or famous, since creative individuals and groups can upload videos.
For now, everyone who enjoys the clutter free, easy to navigate Instagram, will be able to upload an hour-long video, except the smaller and new accounts that will enjoy this application after the expansion of the facility. This application will be globally available on Android and IOS and will allow viewers to browse through many longer videos, as well as visit the browse tabloids or suggest followed videos.
Furthermore, viewers will have the choice to watch ‘old’ videos and also get notifications on recent uploads. IGTV will also allow creators and inventors to develop Instagram Channels with various videos that other viewers can subscribe to, drive traffic of viewers to particular videos, granting the inventors the capability of uploading clear links of the video.
Systrom confirmed that there will be no advertisements on IGTV for the meanwhile. He added that this is still a great platform to put up advertisements at a later stage, as creators or inventors put in more time into videos for IGTV. This translates into an opportunity to make money. Instagram will not pay creators for the IGTV videos at this stage. IGTV has so much potential since creators will be from the over 1 billion current Instagram subscribers. At the same time, this could be big business, since the number of subscribers may rise.
Expectations are there to add to the monetisation option, and these include the potential of Instagram getting profits close to $5.5 billion in 2018, as compared to Facebook, which is just above $202 billion.
Moving up from just filtering and sharing photos, today Instagram has advanced from mobile networks, screens, and cameras, of which neither the longer videos could be supported. This has opened a new mobile TV for teens and families.
Additionally, Instagram can become the dependable place to view something on that small screen via creators’ and publisher video content curation, as opposed to YouTube, which always has a wider breadth of content.
5 Steps In Adwords Competitor Analysis: A Practical Case Study
In the second part of this article, we’ll be getting practical. What steps to take and what to do in each step.
In PART ONE of this article on the importance of competitor analysis in an Adwords campaign, we demonstrated to you the value that can be uncovered by performing a proper analysis of what your foe is up to on Adwords and how they can actually help you do better.
In the second part of this article, we’ll be getting practical. What steps to take and what to do in each step.
Pens sharpened? Batteries charged? Lets go!
As a case study of a local Adwords campaign, we’ll be taking a look at one of the main spenders on PPC in South Africa, booking.com, and see what information can be gathered about their competition in paid search results.
Step 1. Find out who your client’s true competitors in paid search are
First of all, let’s get on the same page, by stating that your organic and paid search competition is not the same thing. If you know who you share the SERPs with, it doesn’t mean that you’ll share the paid ads section with the same set of companies.
Booking.com knows what we’re talking about.
Here’s the organic part of the SERP for ‘book a hotel’. Booking.com shares it with Trivago, hotels.com and Agoda.
They could have thought: Okay, so these are my competitors, I know what they’re up to, I’ll look into their strategies and I’ll be fine in both organic and paid search. But wait, what is happening there at the top of the SERPs? Who is this dark horse?
It’s Expedia! In organic search it stands further down from booking.com than the rest of the domains from the first page, yet in paid results Booking and Expedia are the closest rivals.
But that is just one keyword. There are many other keywords for which the companies want to advertise in Google, so to know whether you’re actually competing with them, you need to evaluate your competition level.
It’s a simple process of comparing the number of keywords you have in common versus the number that are unique with that competitor.
By estimating this value, you can distinguish your true competitors from big generic brands, niche competition and temporary distractions in the paid search.
Jokes aside, Booking and Expedia share a relatively similar online presence and are, of course, familiar with each other’s PPC strategy. That said, if you’re not a huge domain and know your usual competitors, it is even more frustrating to miss an audacious market newcomer or an organic outsider trying to cut the line and get to the top of the SERPs with an aggressive PPC campaign. So, the analysis of your true competition should be performed regularly. For the agencies that we support, we usually revise the competitors list once every quarter.
Step 2. Estimate your competition PPC budgets
Now that you know who you are rubbing elbows with in paid search, try figuring out how much they spend on PPC. There’s no way to know exactly what their budgets are (except for corporate espionage, but we don’t recommend that), but you can still make use of an estimation.
For that, you need to know how many keywords they target in paid search, what their cost-per-click values are, as well as their estimated search volumes. That is practically impossible to reveal manually, but the competitor analysis tool in SEMrush for example provides you with an estimation of the company’s PPC budget based on the data from their keyword database. Similar tools should be found in whatever quality software you’ve opted for.
Here’s the info we could gather about Booking.com by solely analysing the keywords for which it was showing up in paid search and the CPC values of those keywords.
Though it is a rough estimation, this info is helpful in planning your PPC campaigns in a way that meets with market trends.
Step 3. Find out your competitor’s unique keywords
What’s even better about competitor analysis is that it will help you save time by not needing to do the tough jobs yourself by letting you (legally) steal the best ideas from your competition and dwell on them. Remember, if you’re doing it to them, they’re probably doing it to you as well! All’s fair in love, war and paid advertising!
What’s the practical value of this? Well, your competitor’s unique keywords can be your missed opportunity.
By comparing the keywords that Booking and Expedia are bidding on, we see that there are a lot of keywords related to means of travelling and travelling companies in Expedia’s portfolio, but they are missing in the Booking.com set. It is obviously just another tactic for such a big brand, but for a smaller company, this comparison list could be a golden goose of new ideas.
Step 4. Research your competitor’s ads and banners
If you have ever been online, you know that the SERPs are crowded. The served results in both organic and paid search have to constantly overcome the viewer’s lack of attention, so the message in your ads should be short, clear, and actionable.
Your competitor’s copy can be a great source of information.
Comparing your ads to your competitor’s allows you to see the context and the standards of messaging in your niche and adjust your voice to or diversify from the usual tone.
Also, sometimes you need to develop multiple ad copies with similar content. Whenever creativity abandons you, you can look into your competitor’s copy and borrow a few ideas from them.
Step 5. Check your competitor’s target URLs
Imagine running an online retail business. Summer sales are coming, and you want to promote your goods with an AdWords campaign. Apart from the keywords that you want to bid on and creating appealing ad copy, you also need to think about the page which your ads are going to take your leads to.
Is it common in your client’s niche to have a specific landing page for a promo like this? Or is it enough to have banners on the home page? Take a look at your client’s competitor’s target pages and find out.
The Value Of Competitor Analysis On A South African Adwords Campaign
If you have doubts about the efficiency of an AdWords campaign being run in South Africa, here are some stats about the South African market to convince you.
Running a successful AdWords campaign can sometimes be like trying to understand the maths that Elon Musk is using to put a human being on Mars: you’re pretty sure it will work, but trying to figure how and why burns too many brain cells.
Well, help is at hand! In this TWO PART article, we’re going to demonstrate to you the value of performing a competitor analysis on an Adwords campaign, and show you just how and what you should be looking for.
As a digital marketer of any kind, you’ve probably had a crack at running and managing an AdWords campaign. Let me guess:
- Predicting the results and outcomes was impossible;
- You outsourced to an agency this one time. It cost you a fortune and they kept asking questions you couldn’t possibly have answers to;
- Setting the budget was more complicated than understanding the nature and purpose of Snapchat;
- And speaking of budget…it’s NEVER enough and always runs out too quickly.
Nobody is arguing with the fact that AdWords is one of the most complicated digital marketing efforts that you can undertake on behalf of a client or yourself. However, if done right, it could also be one of the most rewarding, effective and business-altering activities you could do.
If you have doubts about the efficiency of an AdWords campaign being run in South Africa, here are some stats about the South African market to convince you:
South African PPC market in numbers
In 2017 the total spending on Google ads in South Africa across all industries reached $30 million. The market’s thriving!
And these websites were the most generous spenders on Google ads. If only your budgets could compete, right?
However, these were the industry’s spendaholics.
Generally, businesses are way more careful with their PPC budgets: only 3.8% of all the companies spend more than R50 000 monthly, and the majority of 34.1% is just indulging their curiosity with somewhere around 1000 bucks a month.
And if you worry about your ad copy, take a look at the most popular phrases and CTAs used in South African ads:
So, how do you enter that market AND, at the same time, save your money?
Well, that’s like eating an elephant — get help and do it in pieces.
If you thought that running and managing an AdWords campaign was complicated, try getting advice from the pros on best practices to net best results. Just like deciphering that Musk math again.
- Split test your copy
- Use different ad extensions… or all of them
- Try out different calls to action
- Manage and track your budget daily
- Get your targeting on point
But also don’t forget about the foundation of any marketing campaign, digital or not: research your competition.
As wholesalers of digital marketing services to South African digital agencies, by far one of the most important and most advised best practices we suggest to the agencies that we support when running an AdWords digital marketing campaign is to ensure that they practice comprehensive and thorough competitor analysis.
What is competitor analysis for your Adwords campaign and how do you streamline it?
Running a competitor analysis during an AdWords campaign is like having a video camera in your competitions training session. It’ll help you pull back the curtain, see what they’re up to and adjust your efforts accordingly to ensure optimum results from your AdWords campaigns.
In our experience, many companies do not perform PPC competitive research, or don’t do it as often as they should. However, not having the full picture about your PPC competition is risky and can result in running ineffective campaigns. That means wasting your or your client’s budget without netting tangible results or missing the opportunities available to your client by underinvesting.
But recognising the difference that competitor analysis can make in your AdWords campaigns is only the first step. The next step is to find the right tool to help you perform your competitor analysis on a regular basis. The stats and data provided in this article were pulled by our team using SEMrush. It’s a software that we have found invaluable in helping us to provide white label, wholesale digital marketing services to the South African and international digital agencies that we support.
That being said, there are a wealth of similarly effective and powerful digital marketing tracking tools on the market worth investigating. We encourage you to get out there and see what works best for you.
The data that you should drill out of your competitor analysis
On all the levels of digital marketing, there’s a constant rivalry between best practice and revolutionary ideas. The question of whether to follow a well-trodden path or to do things differently in an effort to distinguish the brand you’re working on is always on the table. Or desktop in the case of digital marketing.
However, to make an informed decision you need to know the niche you are playing in as well as its main players. These questions will help you gather that information:
- Who is your true competitor in paid search?
- How much do they spend on PPC?
- What are their most profitable keywords?
- What do their ads and banners look like?
- What URLs should your ads target?
Now you know WHAT to ask. But what do you do with the answers and how do you use them to improve your own Adwords performance.
In PART TWO of this blog, we’ll be diving into just that. CLICK HERE TO READ ON!
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