WASHINGTON - With hundreds of millions of Twitter tweets buzzing across messaging sites, including an increasing number from wine, beer, and liquor companies, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is examining online advertising, the Kansas City Star reports.
The FTC has sent notices to 14 major alcohol beverage producers, asking them to release information about their Internet and digital marketing efforts. Robert Mondavi winery, Anheuser-Busch, and Bacardi are just a few of the brands being targeted for their data.
"The industry is innovating quickly," said Johns Hopkins University public health specialist David Jernigan, while "the pace of regulation and monitoring" has lagged.
The FTC will study the data as it assesses recommendations on how the alcohol industry should regulate itself both on- and offline.
"We as an industry have always been upfront about our practices," said Larry Kass, director of corporate communications for the Kentucky-based Heaven Hill Distilleries.
The FTC last studied alcohol marketing data from 2005, in a report completed in 2008. That year, 42% of the surveyed companies marketing expenditures went for traditional media, while only 1.9% covered Internet efforts.
The figures are likely to be far different, because in 2005, Twitter had not yet launched, Facebook was just a year old and YouTube had just debuted.
The FTC has limited authority of what it can do with the information it collects, largely letting the industry set its own advertising guidelines. Currently, industry standards call for alcohol purveyors€™ websites to include age-screening pages.