74 Marketing Trends found for Regulation / USA

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Ratings Agency Threatens to Downgrade US in 2013

Bottom Line: The power of global credit-ratings agencies today reached a new zenith (nadir, some might say) when Fitch Ratings threatened to downgrade the United States of America if its squabbling politicians don't get their debt-reduction act together by 2013. The implications are as significant for marketers as they are for markets.

According to today's Reuters report, Fitch Ratings has given the United States government until 2013 to deliver a "credible plan" to tackle its mushrooming budget deficit, threatening a downgrade of the nation's coveted triple-A rating if it fails to do so. Dual-headquartered in New York and London with 51 offices worldwide, Fitch claims to deliver "independent and prospective credit opinions, research and data". The threat to downgrade is timed to coincide with ... 

[Estimated timeframe: Q4 2011 - 2013]

... the 2013 inauguration either of a new president or incumbent Barrack Obama, leading some to some fear that Fitch is playing politics as well as economics.

Fitch's move was triggered by last week's failure of a special congressional committee to agree on at least $1.2 trillion in deficit-reduction measures.

According to Fitch, that failure makes it unlikely any meaningful deficit plan will be adopted next year, increasing the fiscal burden on the next administration that will be elected in late 2012.

In a statement Fitch said: "The negative outlook reflects Fitch's declining confidence that timely fiscal measures necessary to place US public finances on a sustainable path and secure the US AAA sovereign rating will be forthcoming", adding that the chance of a downgrade right now is "slightly greater than 50 percent".

The news had little market impact, as a negative outlook from Fitch was widely expected.

"What it shows is that Fitch is putting the US on warning that this [the party-political bickering over reducing the budget deficit] cannot go on forever," opines Michael Yoshikami, chief investment strategist at California-based YCMNET Advisors.

"The markets already assumed this was going to happen. It would be different if it was a downgrade but a negative outlook is not the end of the world."

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: Reuters.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5721

Obama Steps on the Fuel Economy Gas Pedal - Sets Target for 2025

Bottom Line: In a move with profound inplications for the US economy as a whole, the White House proposes new automobile fuel economy standards for car-makers that aim to double average gas mileage for passenger vehicles by 2025.

Says US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood: "Think about what this means. American families would fill up their cars every two weeks rather than every week." MarketingTomorrow also invites you to consider the effect that achieving such a goal would have on the US economy as a whole ... a substantial reduction in the cost of shipping goods to consumers and consumer outlets ... a concomitant rise in average family disposable incomes ... 

[Estimated timeframe: Q4 2011 - 2025]

... and the beneficial knock-on effect on retailers' and manufacturers' bottom lines.

Proposed November 16, the rules mark the latest step in a lengthy campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption. They would build on the administration's ambitious standards that raise average gas consumption to 35.5 mpg over five years ending with the 2016 model year.

The latest standards would be phased-in starting with the 2017 model year.

When he disclosed his intent in July, President Barack Obama was flanked by executives from thirteen major automakers and the head of the United Auto Workers Union, signaling their broad support for the final proposal.

With exemptions and other provisions, actual mileage may be about 42 mpg for cars, with significantly lower requirements for light trucks, including minivans, SUVs and full-size pickup trucks.

The standards demand a substantial leap from the 2011 model-year average of 27.8 mpg and environmentalists praised the proposed new rules.

"These standards are the biggest single step any nation has taken to fight global warming," said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign at the Center for Auto Safety. "You will see most 2025 cars and light trucks getting the mileage of today's Prius and Ford Escape hybrid. Most of the changes will be under the hood."

Carmakers have backed both the current and the proposed standards, but the National Automobile Dealers Association [NADA] criticized the proposed rules for adding a claimed additional $3,000 to average vehicle prices by 2025.

Wails NADA: "This regulation gambles that millions of consumers will be able to afford thousands more for generally smaller, more expensive vehicles that may not meet their needs.  This policy is contrary to what most consumers are actually buying today, despite the wide availability of more fuel-efficient models."

But the administration asserts that the new fuel economy standards won't push Americans to drive smaller vehicles and pointed out that truck and SUV makers are already working to manufacture far more fuel-efficient versions of their current models.

Moreover, the new, combined sets of fuel economy standards will save Americans more than $1.7 trillion at the pump, according to administration estimates - equating to about $8,000 per vehicle. The standards also would reduce the nation's oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels a day — "enough to offset almost a quarter of the current level" of oil imports.

Another claimed benefit is that heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 6 billion metric tons over the life of the programs, according to Federal estimates.

The new standards will be open for public comment for 60 days after being published in the Federal Register. The administration said the Environmental Agency and the Transportation Department will also hold public hearings nationwide.

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: LATimes.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5713

US Congress Duo Ask FTC to Investigate 'Supercookies'

Bottom Line: New 'supercookie' technology that evades web surfers' efforts to avoid being tracked could be banned by the Federal Trade Commission following representations by two senior US lawmakers.

A letter jointly signed by US congressmen Joe Barton (Republican, Texas) and Ed Markey (Democrat, Massachusetts) urges the Federal Trade Commission to probe the growing use of so-called 'supercookies' that override privacy measures taken by web users to protect their online identity. The bipartisan duo have urged the FTC to investigate whether the use of 'supercookies' amounts to ...  

[Estimated timeframe: Q3 2011 onward]

.... an unfair or deceptive practice. According to respresentative Barton, 'supercookies' should be "outlawed." 

In a joint statement Barton and Markey declare: "We believe the usage of supercookies takes away consumer control over their own personal information, presents a greater opportunity for the misuse of personal information, and provides another way for consumers to be tracked online."

Some consumers have long tried to avoid online tracking by deleting their HTTP cookies. But the new "supercookie" techniques rely on storing information in files that aren't erased when users delete their HTTP cookies.

For instance, analytics company KISSmetrics stored data about users in ETags, which reside in the browser cache and can be used to respawn deleted HTTP cookies. Until KISSmetrics revised its practices in August, the only way of avoiding ETag tracking was by deleting the browser cache or installing a program called AdBlock.

Flash cookies, which are stored in a different place in the browser than HTTP cookies, are an older form of supercookies.

Quantcast, Clearspring and Say Media's Video Egg recently paid a total of $3.4 million to settle privacy lawsuits stemming from their alleged use of Flash cookies.

Since when Adobe has made it easier for surfers to delete Flash cookies.

FTC officials have previously criticized the use of Flash cookies, but the commission has never brought an enforcement action regarding supercookies.

It's not clear whether courts or regulators would rule that using a hard-to-delete tracking technology is illegal.

But according to Justin Brookman, director of the Center for Democracy & Technology's Consumer Privacy Project, there is a good argument that tracking people by methods other than traditional cookies is a deceptive and unfair practice. "Using another means to track just seems like a means to evade user choice," he stold Online Media Daily.

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: MediaPost.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5675

White House Promises 'Regulation-Free' Web Privacy Law

Bottom Line: In what at first sight seems an archetypal political non sequitur, the White House promises introduction of a new "privacy law without regulation".

Addressing a Technology Policy Institute conference yesterday in Aspen, Colorado, White House aide Danny Weitzner hyped the Obama admininstration's upcoming plan to ensure internet consumer protection with a so-called 'Bill of Rights' for US citizens online. According to Weitzner -- who is on secondment from the NTIA to the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy ...

[Estimated timeframe: Q1 2012 onward]

... "Businesses that are engaged in responsible privacy practices today ought not to face any additional burdens."

Weitzner added: "You can have stronger privacy law, clearer rules, clearer principles established in law, without the costs and downsides of a traditional regulatory structure."

An administration-wide white paper is expected this fall.

Lawrence Strickling, the NTIA's administrator (the agency is part of the Commerce Department) suggested to Congress in March it should enact a "consumer privacy bill of rights" that would mandate broad privacy protections.

Some possibilities include requiring companies to describe the purpose for which they're collecting data, and keeping it secure once collected.

Weitzner outlined something very similar at the Aspen conference: "I think the government has a key role in articulating what consumer rights ought to be," he argued.

"The strength of our system is that we iterate quite a bit in trying to answer those questions [rather than] a fixed set of regulations, and then scratch our heads for ten years and worry whether they're the right ones."

Government agencies including the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission have existing authority to police privacy violations. As do state attorneys general -- who have used state laws to extract concessions both from Facebook and Amazon.com.

Class action lawsuits, such as one filed against Apple, also tend to have a strong deterrent effect.

Victor Nichols, ceo of data broker Experian North America, who spoke earlier in the day, warned of over-zealous Federal regulation of companies' data collection and use practices.

This, he alleged, can interfere with economic growth. "We all understand that laws and regulations cannot move as fast as businesses can in response to consumer need," he said.

"Industry self-regulation therefore provides the flexible approach ... providing consumers with the transparency and choice that they need."

Dispassionate industry practitioners would not necessarily agree with Mr Nichols' relaxed philosophy vis-à-vis self-regulation.

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: Cnet.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5653

US Food Giants Agree Future Rules for Marketing to Children

Bottom Line: After years of foot-dragging, US food and beverage manufacturers have bowed to the inevitable and agreed a code of practice for marketing to kids.

Thanks to Sysyphus-style persistence by America's Council of Better Business Bureaus, food titans such as McDonald's, Cadbury Adams, Campbell Soups, Coca-Cola, Kellogg's, Kraft, Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever have all put their names to a self-regulatory Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) -- a new, uniform, category-specific set of nutritional criteria for foods advertised to children. The CFBAI specifies ...

[Estimated timeframe: Q3 2011 - Q4 2013]

... separate nutritional standards for each of ten product categories, taking effect no later than December 31, 2013.

Which in real terms means that after that date member companies will not advertise to children any foods that do not meet the CFBAI criteria

The ten product categories are: juices; dairy products; grains, fruits and vegetable products; soups and meal sauces; seeds, nuts, nut butters and spreads; meat, fish and poultry products; mixed dishes; main dishes and entrees; small meals; and meals. Each category has its own set of criteria, such as:

  • Juices. For juices, no added sugars are permitted, and the serving must contain no more than 160 calories.
  • Dairy. This category includes products such as milk and yogurt. For ready to drink flavored milk, an 8 fluid ounce portion is limited to 24 grams (g) of total sugars. For yogurt products, a 6 ounce portion is limited to 170 calories and 23 grams of total sugars. These sugars criteria include both naturally-occurring and sugars added for flavoring.
  • Grains, fruits and vegetable products (and items not in other categories). This category includes products such as cereals, crackers and cereal bars. Foods with ≤ 150 calories, such as most children’s breakfast cereals, must contain no more than 1.5 g of saturated fat, 290 milligrams (mg) of sodium and 10 g of sugar (products with > 150−200 calories get proportionately higher limits). Foods in this category also must provide ≥ ½ serving of foods to encourage (fruits, vegetables, non- or low-fat dairy, and whole grains) or ≥ 10% of the Daily Value of an essential nutrient.
  • Seeds, nuts, nut butters and spreads. Foods in this category, which includes peanut butters, must have no more than 220 calories, 3.5 g of saturated fat, 240 mg of sodium and 4 g of sugar per 2 tablespoons. Foods in this category also must provide at least one ounce of protein equivalent.
  • Main dishes and entrees. Foods in this category, such as canned pastas, must have no more than 350 calories, 10 percent calories from saturated fat, 600 mg of sodium and 15 g of sugar per serving. Foods in this category also must provide either ≥ 1 serving of foods to encourage or ≥ ½ serving of foods to encourage and ≥ 10% of the Daily Value of two essential nutrients.

The new rules are based on "food science" and US dietary guidelines, and "fill in gaps" in its current system by establishing category-specific limits for calories, saturated fat, transfat, sodium and total sugars. Plus requirements for "nutrition components to encourage."

The new rules also eliminate companies' ability to define products as acceptable for advertising based solely on a product's meeting a "reduced" claim ("25% less sodium") or being marketed in portion-controlled packages (eg: "100-calorie").

According to CFBAI vp/director Elaine Kolish, the new criteria "represent a huge step forward, further strengthening" major food/beverage companies' voluntary efforts to improve the nutrition of the foods they advertise to kids.

The standards are designed to include "challenging yet feasible" goals, and to take into account "the real-world difficulties of changing recipes of well-known foods," as well as to encourage development of new products with less sodium, saturated fat, sugar and calories, CFBAI says.

The standards also "recognize the inherent differences in food categories and their roles in the diet."

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: MediaPost.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5622

California's Privacy Threat Spooks Global Internet Giants

An epidemic of nervous tics is rampaging through the US internet industry - and not just in sun-soaked California where a new threat to social networks' abuse of personal data has surfaced like the feared Norse monster Kraken. If recently drafted legislation is enacted at the state Capitol, TwitterFacebook et al could be compelled to change their privacy protection policies. Although any new law would pertain only to California (the most populous of all US states), the internet industry fears that tightening of privacy controls could metastasize beyond state - and even national - boundaries. Moreover, the threat is not confined to social networks but could also extend to ...

[Estimated timeframe: Q2 2011 onward ]

... dating and similar websites.

Under a first-of-its-kind proposal [SB242], social-networking sites would have to allow users to establish their privacy settings when registering on the site - rather than after they sign-up. New members could view their profile and decide in advance what information would be public. Sites would also have to set user defaults to 'Private'.

Needless to say, the draft bill - authored by Senator Ellen Corbett [Democrat-San Leandro] is vehemently opposed by most in the internet industry.

Although Facebook has not yet formally objected to the bill, Corbett alleges that the social-networking giant has worked in "stealth mode" to oppose it.

The bill would require social sites to explain their privacy controls in "plain language" with willful violations of the law resulting in a $10,000 fine for each violation.

Says Corbett:"You shouldn't have to sign in and give up your personal information before you get to the part where you say, 'Please don't share my personal information'."

The bill also would require social-networking sites to remove personally identifying information if requested by a user and/or the parent of a user under 18.

Unsurprisingly, the bill is facing fierce opposition from online companies who argue it to be both unconstitutional and unworkable. They also claim that such a measure actually would decrease privacy for those who use social networking sites.

The bill passed through a legislative committee last week and is now headed to the Senate floor, where it will face an even more intense assault from the industry.

Tammy Cota, executive director of the Internet Alliance trade association, claims the law would have myriad unintended consequences.

In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which approved the measure, Cota argues that it "would force users to make decisions about privacy and visibility of all information well before they even used the service for the first time, and in such a manner that they are less likely to pay attention and process the information."

Concerns about the bill's impact and the possibility it might drive internet businesses out of the state, is resulting in opposition among some lawmakers.

Toeing a predictable party line, Senator Sam Blakeslee [Republican-San Luis Obispo] said a single mid-level manager who willfully violates the provisions for one million users would expose his/her employer to $10 billion in fines.

Blakeslee also argues that the state Capitol is the wrong place to address online privacy.

"I think it is certainly something that should be addressed at the national level. That's the appropriate place to deal with internet laws," he said.

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: SFgate.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5573

Senior Senators Propose New US Online Privacy Bill

Growing concerns about unregulated online collection and storage of consumer data for marketing purposes has united two senior US senators from opposing sides of the political fence. On April 12 Senators John Kerry (Democrat, Massachusetts) and John McCain (Republican, Arizona) jointly introduced a new bill -- the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights -- to the US Senate. If passed the bill will override the ad industry's half-hearted voluntary effort to allay consumers' privacy fears, instead imposing ... 

[Estimated timeframe: Q2 2011 - onward]

... robust restraints on the current personal data-collection free-for-all. The draft bill aims tocentralize various privacy efforts already under way from industry trade groups, government regulators and the Obama administration.

In recent weeks, President Obama has called on Congress to establish a digital privacy law. The online ad industry, meanwhile, had mounted its own self-regulatory program in the past year. 

According to the bill's co-sponsor, Senator Kerry,  the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act will:

  • "Keep our private data safe by laying down fair information practices;
  • "Ensure that businesses collecting personal information will secure that information and will allow those people to say whether or not they want that information used."

Concedes Kerry, however: "All of this information sharing can be good to customers -- we acknowledge that [but] the data deluge is worrying at the same time."

The bill is one of the few currently on Congress's plate with bipartisan support, and given the Obama administration's recent push for a privacy law, insiders say it has a good chance of passing.

The Washington grapevine, however, remain cynical about the bill's prospects.

"It's going to get watered down," warns one person familiar with the process. "If we don't start with the highest possible standard, it's going to turn into a digital Dorian Gray."

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: AdAge.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5546

Major US Marketers, Agency Groups Seize 'Do Not Track' Initiative

Fearing FCC intervention -- and fazed by the snail-like pace among browser giants and the digital ad industry in imposing a 'do not track' consumer privacy mechanism -- major advertisers, trade associations and agency groups are leaning heavily on all concerned to extract their digits. Among those with their foot on the gas pedal are ...

[Estimated timeframe: Q2 2011 onward]

... the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies. And, according to Stu Ingis, counsel for the Digital Advertising Alliance, all are frantically parlaying with browser-makers including Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Google's Chrome and Mozilla's FireFox.

This sudden hyperactivity marks a major shift from the industry's former 'don't call us; we'll call you' stance - a seachange attributable to fears that the FCC will intervenein the absence of voluntary action by the industry.

A do-not-track tool available across all browser platforms would enable surfers to indicate their objection to the monitoring of their online activity.

Microsoft and Mozilla have already built such features into their recently updated browsers, but the tools are reliant on ad networks and others to honor people's do-not-track requests.

Says Jules Polonetsky, director of the Future of Privacy Forum, an industry-funded privacy think tank in Washington, DC: "It's a dramatic turnaround from where the industry was just weeks ago."

But whether or not the moves are sufficient to appease the internet privacy lobby remains to be seen.

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: WSJ.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5540

Austerity Ahoy! US Congress Predicts Debt to GDP Ratio Will Hit 90% by 2020

Tough times lie ahead for US marketers and the nation's economy as a whole, according to the Congressional Budget Office which projects that the debt-to-GDP ratio will hit 90% by 2020. Even greater pessimism is expressed by the International Monetary Fund, which forecasts an imbalance of 115% - levels more commonly associated with the Mariana Trench and nations such as  ...

[Estimated timeframe:Q1 2011 - 2020]

... Italy, Portugal and Greece. The result, according to the Financial Times, "would be an age of American austerity".

Continues the FT: "No category of federal spending, from defence to Medicare, would be spared. Taxes on most or all individuals and businesses would rise. Economic growth would slow. The consequences for America’s international role, and for world stability, would be profoundly negative.

"America’s debt is piling up at a rate not seen, outside of the second world war, since record-keeping began in 1792. Federal debt has nearly tripled in the past 10 years, from $3,500bn to more than $9,000bn.

"The ratio of debt to gross domestic product has doubled. Federal debt, of course, is the dollar-for-dollar product of deficits. Each of the past three years has seen trillion-dollar deficits, each larger in both absolute and proportionate terms than ever recorded before 2008."

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: FT.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5478

US Congress Members Demand Revival of Media 'Fairness Doctrine'

Motivated by the tragic massacre in Tucson Arizona, influential Congressmen are demanding the resuscitation of the so-called 'Fairness Doctrine' - a policy enforced by the Federal Communications Commission that required US broadcasters to allocate equal time to opposing political and ethical views. The doctrine was ruled "unconstitutional" in 1987 by the US Supreme Court but influential Democrats are now demanding its revival. Representative Jim Clyburn (Democrat-South Carolina), the third most senior Democrat in the House, believes that  ...

[Estimated timeframe: Q1 2011 onward]

... standards should be put in place to guarantee balanced media coverage - the lack of which, he argues, has stirred-up hatred, political extremism and violence.

Says Clyburn: "Free speech is as free speech does. You cannot yell 'fire' in a crowded theater and call it free speech; and some of what I hear, and is being called free speech, is worse than that."

Fellow Democrat, Representative Bob Brady (Pennsylvania) is of like mind, appearing on cable news programs to demand legislation that would make it a federal crime to use images or language that threaten public officials - for example Sarah Palin's use of targets on a map.

The legislation would give federal lawmakers and officials the same level of protection as the President.

Meantime, The National Hispanic Media Coalition is urging the Federal Communications Commission to examine and report upon the extent and effects of hate speech in media. The organization has also requested that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration update its 1993 report, The Role of Telecommunications in Hate Crimes.

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: AdWeek.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5475

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