ORLANDO, FL--(Marketwired - September 26, 2016) - IZEA, Inc. (NASDAQ: IZEA), operator of IZEAx, the premier online marketplace connecting brands and publishers with influential content creators, has filed a petition with The Unicode Consortium to include a new #AD emoji designed to convey that a piece of content is sponsored by an advertiser.
The proposed emoji character seeks to help standardize the disclosure of sponsored content in social media, which is widely used among online influencers and publishers to monetize their online audience.
The full petition and proposed emoji can be found here: http://corp.izea.com/emoji
Influencer marketing is one of the fastest growing segments within the marketing industry. As the practice has grown, so have the challenges relating to best practices and consumer protection. In the past year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken action against several large brands and online influencers for their lack of proper disclosure in paid social media campaigns. More recently, the non-profit group TruthInAdvertising.org has compiled over 100 Instagram posts by celebrities who violate FTC endorsement guidelines because they fail to communicate that the posts are paid ads.
"One of the biggest challenges facing influencer marketing today is the lack of uniform transparency and disclosure," said Ted Murphy, Chairman and CEO of IZEA. "Every social platform is different and there isn't a common method for content creators to disclose that a piece of content is sponsored by a brand. Emoji use is widespread throughout social media and messaging platforms and could easily be implemented as a universal disclosure standard if The Unicode Consortium accepts our petition."
The Unicode Consortium is a non-profit organization devoted to developing, maintaining, and promoting software internationalization standards and data, particularly the Unicode Standard, which specifies the representation of text in all modern software products and standards. These include the standardization of emoji icons found in modern operating systems.
Among the qualifications The Unicode Consortium considers when evaluating proposals is the frequency of use of the term or phrase. The use of the term #ad on Twitter during a 30-day period from August to September increased 35% to over 1.1 million mentions compared to 833,000 mentions in the same year-ago period, (Source: Twitter). This does not include other common terms for disclosure such as #sponsored and #spon (not a FTC approved disclosure method), which when combined with #ad have more than 1.8 million mentions in the last 30 days. Together, these terms are used on Twitter more than other terms which have been granted an emoji such as "burger" (1.3 million mentions), "trophy" (590,000 mentions) and "unicorn" (520,000 mentions).
In 2009, the FTC issued its original guidelines for endorsements in social media (The .Com Disclosures). Murphy was asked to meet with the commission to provide guidance and input. Since that time, the FTC has issued multiple updates and revisions, yet compliance and awareness industry-wide remains very low. IZEA annually commissions a study on awareness and adherence to the guidelines. In fact, IZEA's 2015 State of Sponsored Social found that only 31% of marketers were aware of and understood the guidelines. Many marketers and online influencers find the guides overly complicated, with too many nuances or unanswered questions. In addition to working with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association to promote compliance with the FTC disclosure guidelines in the U.S., IZEA is working with the Advertising Standards Council (ASC) in Canada to help streamline disclosure in that country.
"Standardized disclosure through emoji could help to fundamentally streamline the FTC and ASC guidelines around transparency in the influencer marketing space," said Murphy. "A visual indicator would provide a clear representation of sponsored content on all social platforms and could be a universal means of disclosure not just in the U.S. and Canada, but in all countries around the world. We could simplify ethical disclosure for marketers and influencers -- if you have been compensated, use the #AD emoji."
The petition has been submitted to The Unicode Consortium. If successful, the addition of the #AD emoji would be supported by platforms in approximately two years.
IZEA operates IZEAx, the premier online marketplace that connects brands with influential content creators. IZEA creators range from leading bloggers and social media personalities to A-list celebrities and professional journalists. Creators are compensated for developing and distributing unique content on behalf of brands including long form text, videos, photos and status updates. Brands receive influential consumer content and engaging, shareable stories that drive awareness. For more information about IZEA, visit http://corp.izea.com.
Safe Harbor Statement
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These forward-looking statements are based largely on IZEA's expectations and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, certain of which are beyond IZEA's control. Actual results could differ materially from these forward-looking statements as a result of, among other factors, competitive conditions in the content and social sponsorship segment in which IZEA operates, failure to popularize one or more of the marketplace platforms of IZEA and changing economic conditions that are less favorable than expected. In light of these risks and uncertainties, there can be no assurance that the forward-looking information contained in this press release will in fact occur. Please read the full statement and disclosures here: http://corp.izea.com/safe-harbor-statement.
Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2016/9/23/11G115413/Images/AD_Block_copy-292330c5262991d1a6b1a4fc48fdbed2.jpg
Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2016/9/23/11G115413/Images/AD_Bubble_copy-f070ec8de1e5baf4940c490acc1088fd.jpg
Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2016/9/23/11G115413/Images/AD_Blimp_copy-172f091a99a1946db08a448f21302507.jpg
Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2016/9/23/11G115413/Images/AD_Billboard_copy-9026283ae44abe87b06c05b854b0488d.jpg