Native Advertising: NAD Reviews Joyus’ Product Videos at Magazine’s Online Edition, Recommends Modifications

New York, NY – May 25, 2016 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Joyus, Inc. – which sells certain products in partnership with an online magazine – modify content to better assure that consumers who click through to a Joyus video know they will be clicking on an ad.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

As part of its routine monitoring program, NAD reviewed video advertising for “Dr. Brandt’s Needles No More Wrinkle Relaxing Cream,” a product sold by Joyus through its partnership with the online edition of People Magazine and promoted through express advertising claims that included:

  •  “Instant Wrinkle Relaxing Cream”
  • “Botox in a bottle”
  • “Younger looking skin in just 60 seconds”
  • “Skin will feel and look smoother in 60 seconds.”
  • “84% of people see visible smoother skin in just one minute.”
  • “96% of people see visible smoother skin after 60 minutes.”
  • “100% of people report diminished lines and wrinkles after 4 weeks.”

Joyus, in its response to NAD’s inquiry, said that it had permanently discontinued the claims. NAD, relying on that representation, did not review the claims on their merits. However, the claims will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD had recommended their discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply.

Turning its attention to Joyus’ video content, NAD noted that the advertiser’s products are available for sale through the “Stuff We Love” feature of the magazine’s “Style Watch” section and promoted via videos.

The “Style” page link to “Stuff We Love” does not disclose that the “Stuff We Love” feature is a partnership between People and Joyus, aimed at promoting products for purchase.  The “Stuff We Love” page describes products featured in the videos without indicating that the products are for sale at the site and consumers do not learn that “Stuff We Love” promotes products for sale before they click on a video. NAD was concerned that consumers may review the products on “Stuff We Love” with the expectation that it represents independent editorial selections by People Magazine editors rather than advertising for Joyus.

Joyus argued that it identifies the video content as advertising through multiple visual cues, including logos, discount offers, price information, contrasting typography and an “add to bag” icon. Further, each video includes a call to action that encourages prospective purchasers to add the product featured in the video to their cart.

NAD agreed that the videos themselves contain visual and audio cues that make it clear that consumers are viewing a shopping video. NAD determined, however, that the pages and links consumers see before they click on a Joyus video reasonably convey the message that the advertising content is editorial.

NAD noted in its decision that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued an Enforcement Policy Statement on Deceptively Formatted Advertisements. The statement reaffirms the FTC’s longstanding guidance that advertising content should be identifiable as such. Further, NAD has often expressed concern about advertising in deceptive formats, particularly when the content in question recommends a product or service.

Following its review, NAD recommended that the advertiser disclose that the “Stuff We Love” page is a shopping page and that the linked videos are shopping videos before consumers reach the “Stuff We Love” page and before the video begins running.  The link itself or text surrounding the link should advise consumers that the content to which consumers are linking is an advertisement or make clear that the links are “shopping” links.

Joyus, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company is “working with the publisher to implement changes on web pages that link to the Stuff We Love section that will help clarify to consumers that the Stuff We Love section in which Joyus’ videos appear is a shopping feature.”

“Joyus also understands and agrees that any future claims it makes about Dr. Brandt’s Needles No More wrinkle relaxing cream must be adequately substantiated,” the company said.

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.