Digital Marketing Update – FAQ using Direct Messages, Outstream Videos and Chatbots

The modern consumer makes purchasing decisions using a multitude of media platforms, and often considering more than one platform at a time.  As businesses embrace new technologies to create a seamless experience across these platforms, they should be aware of the risks involved and how the Australia Consumer Law (ACL) applies in novel contexts.

FAQ using Direct Messages – direct messaging has traditionally been used to isolate dialogue with consumers and minimise public relations issues. Businesses and social media influencers are increasingly using Instagram stories to publish responses to frequently asked questions that are sent via direct messaging.  Whilst this is a far more efficient way to engage with consumers, these responses and the representations contained therein are open to more scrutiny than private messages.  Accordingly, businesses should exercise greater care in their responses and selection of which questions to publish, as well as obtaining the questioner’s consent to reproduce the question.

Outstream Videos – until recently, video advertisement campaigns could only be run before or during a video within a compatible video platform or player. It is now possible to embed videos in a webpage’s text line breaks and/or the corners of a webpage.  In offering for sale and displaying these advertisements, businesses should consider any inferences that could be drawn, and/or the overall impression that may be conveyed by the inclusion of an embedded video in the text of their webpages; and

Chatbots – these are programs with artificial intelligence capabilities that draw from information databases and react to consumer input to generate “customised” responses and perform tasks i.e. making bookings. In the past year, ‘chatbots’ have become commonly adopted by businesses for marketing purposes and once better developed, it is thought they will overtake traditional search engines.  Whilst these give automated responses generated by pre-programmed coding, there is a high likelihood that information conveyed by the responses would be considered representations that are captured by the ACL.  Businesses should ensure that the information contained in the underlying databases and programmed responses are factually accurate and would not create an overall impression that is misleading or deceptive.

This blog was co-authored by Valiant Warzecha, Jessie Buchan and Melinda Upton.