PACEDM published an article that was highly critical of some of the advertising practices of Jumbleberry a Canadian company that has a lot of nutraceutical products. While we stand by our discoveries, we wanted to give Jumbleberry’s CEO fair time to talk about the issues, recognize the problems and address them. Jumbleberry did the right thing in this case—they reached out and agreed to make changes and sit down to talk about the issues.
I hope after the holidays to have more time to talk to them about this — and what they can do including hiring a third party company to monitor their affiliates.
As one of the largest companies in this segment of the industry, it’s important that they set an example of being pro-compliance. Since they reached out, didn’t threaten legal attacks but instead decided to actual work to make change — I felt that I needed to stand by my own personal promise to be fair and complete with these stories, and give them the time to address the issues. Appreciate their openness to do the same.
Mr. Pace Lattin and his website www.pacedmn.wpengine.com provide a valuable service to the online advertising community. We here at Jumbleberry have been a fan for years, appreciating and sharing Mr. Lattin’s commitment to truthful advertising and consumer protection. We always believed Mr. Lattin took pride in being accurate and truthful in his writing, and we know his readers have come to trust and rely upon him for this.
With a December 17, 2016 article, however, Mr. Lattin carelessly rushed to judgment. He falsely and unfairly disparaged Jumbleberry. He did not investigate or understand the facts about what we do, how we do it, and how we stand firmly against deceptive advertising and for consumer protection.
The article focuses on a deceptive advertisement that Mr. Lattin states Jumbleberry published in an effort to defraud American consumers. We agree with several of the article’s statements – the advertisement was “not only unethical but downright fraudulent,” “[t]hese type of ads have been condemned by both the FTC and consumer advocates,” and “[t]hese ads not only hurt consumers, but hurt our industry.” We also agree that “a pill can’t double your IQ or your penis.” Mr. Lattin’s statements about Jumbleberry, however, were false.
Had Mr. Lattin investigated the facts, his article would have been very different. Contrary to the article’s statements, here are the facts:
• Jumbleberry does NOT sells pills or consumer products. We are not, to use the online advertising lingo, an advertiser.
• Jumbleberry does NOT create or publish advertisements about pills or consumer products. We are not, to use the online advertising lingo, an affiliate or a publisher.
• Jumbleberry does NOT spend millions a year with any DSP’s because we are not an affiliate.
• Most importantly, Jumbleberry did NOT publish, authorize, or even know about the deceptive advertisement until the December 17, 2016 article.
Jumbleberry is an affiliate network or advertising intermediary that connects those who sell products with those who advertise products. In this capacity, Jumbleberry takes rigorous measures to avoid and protect consumers from unscrupulous advertisers and rogue affiliates. Mr. Lattin could and should have learned these additional facts:
• Jumbleberry has a compliance team led by its General Counsel supported by external U.S. counsel recognized as a leader in advertising and marketing law.
• Jumbleberry has a thorough onboarding procedure for affiliates and advertisers alike. Among other things, this procedure includes reviewing potential affiliates and advertisers against our internal blacklist, requiring that potential affiliates and advertisers provide detailed background information, and requiring that they review and sign legal agreements which strictly prohibit deceptive advertising practices.
• Once approved as part of the Jumbleberry network, our compliance team then receives and scrutinizes affiliate and advertiser materials to ensure compliance with responsible marketing. Our compliance team informs affiliates when changes must be made to proposed advertisements. Our compliance team reviews and interacts with advertisers about their websites, consumer disclosures, and billing terms. We maintain regular and ongoing communication with advertisers, and solicit feedback about affiliate activity, to ensure that advertiser brands and goodwill are protected.
• Finally, our compliance team conducts regular, though unannounced, compliance audits to monitor activity by affiliates and advertisers, including by examining referring URL’s and landing pages. When a violation is identified, we do our best to cure it through dialogue and corrective action. When this is either not warranted or not successful, we terminate and blacklist affiliates and advertisers so they are no longer part of the Jumbleberry network.
To be sure, there have been instances where a rogue affiliate has deceived Jumbleberry and disseminated a deceptive advertisement. In those instances, we readily terminate and blacklist the affiliate, pursue the affiliate to obtain return of past payments, and provide monetary relief to the advertisers. The deceptive advertisement identified in the December 17, 2016 article is one of these instances. When this occurs, our policy is our practice.
• The affiliate has been terminated and blacklisted.
• Jumbleberry has requested that the advertiser refund all consumers who may have seen the deceptive advertisement and thereafter purchased the advertiser’s product.
• Jumbleberry has further represented to the advertiser that it is ready to assist in any way to mitigate any harm to the advertiser’s brand and goodwill.
In sum, Jumbleberry is committed to responsible marketing and does its best to work only with those who share our values. However, the online advertising industry has been difficult to regulate since inception. There are unscrupulous advertisers and rogue affiliates who – to use Mr. Lattin’s words – “hurt our industry in ways you can’t imagine.” Their activities hurt our industry because all too often good actors are unfairly lumped together with bad actors. Mr. Lattin knows this happens. He said it himself. Yet, this is unfortunately and ironically the very mistake that Mr. Lattin made here.
Again, we respect Mr. Lattin’s work and we share his values. We asked to speak with him soon after reading the December 17, 2016 article. He declined. We wish he had spoken to us before he published the article. We wish he would speak with us now. We hope that he now has the good judgment to retract or substantially revise the article. In any event, if you are reading this on www.pacedmn.wpengine.com, we at least thank Mr. Lattin for this opportunity to respond.