FTC Surveys Online Beer, Wine, Spirits Marketing Tactics

In a move that is particularly relevant for craft brewers — who tend to rely more on online and social media to market their products rather than traditional advertising — the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is looking into online marketing of beverage alcohol.

According to a story recently released by McLatchy Newspapers, the FTC, which regulates advertising, is requiring that 14 different alcohol companies, including beer makers MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch, release information about the ways they market online.

Following a review of those strategies, the FTC will offer guidance on how the alcohol industry should police itself both online, and off, according to the story.

Of particular interest to the FTC will be new marketing channels like Twitter and Facebook, both of which are able to quickly offer marketing to millions of online users. The last time the FTC looked at advertising practices, only 1.9 percent of marketing budgets were devoted to online sales — a big difference from the current environment.

This is the fourth time the FTC has conducted an advertising practices survey; previously, it did so in 1999, 2003 and 2008.

For the full text of the request for information from the companies, look here.