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Google settles with FTC over payments to personalities for Pixel 4 promotion


As part of Google’s promotion of the Pixel 4, Google paid thousands of radio ads to air nationwide. The radio personality was paid to say how much he loved using the phone, even though he had never touched one.Photo: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP (Getty Images)

As someone who owns a cracked, dirty, and declining Google Pixel 3 phone, I can’t say the night camera is very good at capturing fast-moving photos like meteor showers. I do not claim. A dark selfie session (don’t judge).

Well, Google allegedly paid some radio personalities to make similar claims about the Pixel 4 without testing the phone at all. On Monday, the US Federal Trade Commission announced that Google and former major players in digital radio iHeartMedia aired thousands of deceptive ads about Pixel 4 phones. In 2019-2020, the pair amassed nearly 29,000 endorsements, but all that time, many of the radio personalities asked to power up their smartphones didn’t even get a Pixel 4. , was told to advertise anyway. they had

Now, Google and iHeartMedia have agreed to pay the FTC and seven other states a $9.4 million settlement for posting false endorsements. The order also signs an agreement barring Google and iHeartRadio from making claims that they used their products when they didn’t. After a 30-day public comment period, FTC Commissioners will vote on whether to make the order final.

The company was once a giant in its field, but iHeartMedia declared bankruptcy in 2018 and has since worked to restore its business and image. But in 2019, Google paid a legacy radio company his $2.6 million to record and promote ads for his Pixel 4 that included first-person endorsements by local radio personalities. According to the initial complaint filed against the companies, iHeartRadio owns more than 850 AM and FM radio stations, and the personalities at these stations make additional cash by recording advertisements for their clients. You can get

According to the complaint, these radio personalities received a basic script containing lines such as:

It’s my favorite phone camera, especially in low light, thanks to its night vision mode.

I take studio-like photos of all my sons’ soccer games, meteor showers, and the rare spotted owl that landed in my backyard.

The Pixel 4 isn’t just about great photos. It also helps you get work done thanks to the new voice-activated Google Assistant, which can handle multiple tasks at once.

Personalities could customize scripts, but never received a call claiming they used the camera to take pictures of these rare meteor showers or filmed an event in which a child was beaten at a soccer game. No. According to the FTC, one iHeartRadio employee even complained to Google that if their personality doesn’t have a phone in their hands, they can’t use the first person tense in their ads.

Yet, in late 2019 and early 2020, dozens of personalities in markets across the country documented ads that were identical or substantially similar to the original script, including the first-person tense, and that the ad appeared thousands of times on air. An iHeartRadio employee complained again after Google asked for more ads, according to the complaint. Google representatives are said to have responded that they could not provide a phone call at this time, instead linking radio employees to an information page.

In the release, Samuel Levine, director of the Consumer Protection Agency, called it a blatant disrespect for the truth of advertising rules.

A Google spokesperson, Jos Castaeda, told Gizmodo that they are happy to have resolved the issue. He added that Google takes ad compliance seriously.[s] We have put in place processes designed to ensure compliance with relevant regulations and industry standards.

Google spearheads several other major settlements with states. Examples include not turning off location data collection in his $392 million contract with attorneys general of 40 states, despite user settings indicating that data is not being collected. .




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