Anyone concerned with the anticompetitive state of digital advertising, and how to fix it, should focus like a laser on the circumstances surrounding the 2014 FTC’s pass on formally investigating if the Facebook-WhatsApp acquisition would “substantially lessen competition” under the Clayton Antitrust Act.
That obvious FTC mistake in hindsight, triggered a winner-take-all domino effect that not only tipped Facebook to a social advertising monopoly, but also tipped the overall digital advertising market to the anticompetitive digital advertising cartel that evidently predominates today.
Yep, the FTC is all over those Texas Car Dealers, but still no action on duped advertisers on YouTube. We just can’t imagine why that is.
Here’s what the always vigilant Obama FTC caught the car dealers doing down in Texas:
According to the FTC, New World Auto Imports Inc., New World Auto Imports of Rockwall Inc. and Hampton Two Auto Corporation concealed sale and lease terms that added significant costs or limited who could qualify for vehicles at advertised prices, in violation of a 2014 order.
In a TV ad, for example, the dealers offered two cars for “under $200 per month,” but in fine print that appeared for two seconds, disclosed that the offer applied only to leases, not sales, and required a $1,999 payment at lease signing. One dealer mailed ads claiming a new car could be purchased for $179 per month, but in print too small to read without magnification, disclosed that $1,999 would be due up front, along with tax, title and license fees, and that $8,271 would be due at the end of a 38-month financing term.
The FTC’s complaint also cited a TV ad targeted at people with major credit problems, such as repossessions or foreclosures. The ad touted vehicles for $250 per month, but in fine print disclosed that the offer was based on a 4.25 annual percentage rate that few, if any, consumers with such major credit issues could obtain. In addition, the FTC alleged that the dealers advertised credit and lease terms without clearly and conspicuously disclosing information required by federal law, and failed to keep records required by the 2014 order.
Just shocking, right? But it appears that duping advertisers on YouTube…like, oh, the President of the United States…is OK.
And then there’s Mazda’s ads that monetized videos of Anwar Al Awaki preaching whatever it is he preached.
Pales by comparison to the important work that the FTC is doing ferreting out those Texas car dealers.
We guess the FTC’s lawyers–the Google Justice Department–were too busy screwing songwriters on behalf of the MIC Coalition.
Like their colleagues at the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission has spectacularly ignored Google’s violations of law demonstrating Google’s whole-of-government capture.
Of the three EU antitrust cases against Google (search bias in shopping, Android tying, and soon search-advertising-tying), the expected new search-advertising case — which focuses on how Google has long contractually required websites to use Google’s search advertising if they use Google search — could be the hardest EU-Google antitrust case for the FTC to ignore, for the reasons below.
Summary of Why It’s Hard for FTC to Ignore the EU Search-Advertising Antitrust Case:
1. The FTC has been following the EU’s antitrust lead.
2. The FTC’s Google 2012 staff report agrees with the EU’s conclusion on search advertising.
3. The DOJ threatened a 2008 monopolization case over Google’s search advertising syndication.
4. The FTC approved two Google advertising acquisitions that substantially lessened competition.
5. The FTC fined Google a record amount in 2012 for a serious deceptive advertising offense.
6. This EU advertising case is based on strong contractual evidence.