DTI Permit Required for Bloggers Doing Online Promotion: A Four-Way Test

\"DTIA recent article from Social Media Contest and Promotions Philippines, a blog run by Janette Toral, raised many eyebrows and caused massive uproar from many bloggers and internet marketers alike.

In a nutshell, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is requiring bloggers to get Sales Promotions Permits for online promotions. Therefore, a blogger needs to go through the burden of processing paperwork and paying fees out of his or her own pocket to run online contest even if there is no purchase required.

I am not a lawyer so I can only give my opinion about this matter with my understanding. I will do my best to make this post as objective as possible.

Let us check this issue using the Four-Way Test.

 

Is it the TRUTH?

The basis of the policy is the enforcement of Consumer Act of the Philippines that was last updated in 1992. It is very outdated, honestly, considering that the playing field and the industry (including the internet) have already changed more than a decade ago. There was no online promotions then and the term \”blogger\” has not been coined yet.

According to the Consumer Act of the Philippines, here are the definitions of consumer and sales promotion:

Consumer is a natural person who is a purchaser, lessee, recipient or prospective purchaser, lessor or recipient of consumer products, services or credit\”

Sales Promotion  is defined as techniques intended for broad consumer participation which contain promises of gain such as prizes, in cash or in kind, as reward for the purchase of a product, security, service or winning in contest, game, tournament and other similar competitions which involve determination of winner/s and which utilize mass media or other widespread media of information. It also means techniques purely intended to increase the sales, patronage and/or goodwill of a product.

In this definition it seems that  Sales Promotion is only targeted for Consumers of the entity that created the product or service. If you are a blogger that is holding a contest, you normally don\’t promote the product; you  are promoting your blog  instead. These are two different things. Giving prizes to blog visitors or patrons is like giving door prizes to concerts, stage shows, stage plays, film shows, and similar activities — which are all exempted from getting permits. Don\’t believe me? See the FAQ  for sales promo from DTI.

Are there exemptions from permit requirements?
Permits for the following sales promotion activities need not be applied for:

  1. Competitions, except beauty contest conducted nationwide, which do not require the purchase, lease or payment of any consumer product or service or availment of consumer credit;
  2. Parlor games, whether held live during stage shows, parties, special occasions and/or utilizing any form of mass media. Provided, that the home partner of the winner is not required to purchase or lease any consumer product, service, or avail consumer credit facility, including the sending or presentation of any proof;
  3. Door prizes given to patrons of concerts, stage shows, stage plays, film shows, and similar activities;
  4. Instant sales promotion campaigns;
  5. In store promotions, such as, but not limited to price reduction promotions, discount sales and premium-in pack in which no advertisements are made on such sales promotion campaigns.

If you inspect the FAQ, the terms blog, internet or online are not even mentioned once. I don\’t believe that DTI is seriously targeting online activities. Only after the question was raised that this issue is brought up again.

Art. 116. Permit to Conduct Promotion. – No person shall conduct any sales campaigns, including beauty contest, national in character, sponsored and promoted by manufacturing enterprises without first securing a permit from the concerned department at least thirty (30) calendar days prior to the commencement thereof. Unless an objection or denial is received within fifteen (15) days from filing of the application, the same shall be deemed approved and the promotion campaign or activity may be conducted: Provided, That any sales promotion campaign using medical prescriptions or any part thereof or attachment thereto for raffles or a promise of reward shall not be allowed, nor a permit be issued thereof.

What about this Permit to  Conduct Promotion article taken from Consumer Act of the Philippines? It looks like  only promos sponsored and promoted by manufacturing enterprises are only covered by this article. If you are giving out prizes out of your own pocket, why would you need to get a DTI permit?  Parlor games are exempted from getting permits. Why can\’t petty blog contests cannot be exempted as well?

So can we differentiate what is a promo from a sales promo? At this point, it is ambiguous. I believe this is one of the biggest loophole in this topic because DTI considers all online promotions as sales promotions. What about marketing campaigns, list building activities, Facebook liking contest, and so on. All these are not defined but  DTI consider them all under the umbrella of sales promotion.

Anyone can bend the truth if there is no explicit guidelines governing these terms.

 

Is it FAIR to all concerned?

I like to think that DTI is just protecting the consumers from exploits of fly-by-night enterprises. Verification and drawing of winners can  be witnessed by DTI representatives, and the interest of consumers and contest participants will be protected.

Gaming of online contests would be prevented if online contest organizers practice the policy and all information given by contestants could be protected .

However, what about giving away prizes for a random comment on a post? How about promoting a fan page which is not necessarily a business entity? If DTI will watch every single raffles held online, does it have the capacity to monitor all contests  squarely?

DTI  does not check raffles held on parties, clubs and organizations; blog promotions is essentially the same — a promotion for readers or members with the same interest — why would a simple raffle require approvals from DTI?

There are more unanswered questions and DTI is yet to give an explanation to all of these but the mere inconvenience it brings to each blogger outweighs the advantages it presents.

The benefit is clearly in favor of consumers without protecting the interests of bloggers at all. It is even more unfair to bloggers who blog out of passion and not making a living out of it.

 

Will it bring GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?

Between DTI and bloggers, I don\’t think so. Most of the feedback are against the policy.

The smallest fee would be P1000 since most blog promotion coverage are national. If the sponsor will get the DTI permit for the blogger, the blogger will need a Mayor\’s permit at the minimum to prove that he or she is a registered business.

What if you are running a small contest for a prize much less than the minimum fee. Even if you are sponsored, it does not makes sense at all; hence the negative feedback from bloggers so far.

Between DTI and contest participants, if these policy is applied to all online promotions, then contest organizers have to take the minimum information required for a raffle stub or an entry to be valid since DTI requires the following information:

1. Full name of participant
2. Complete address, and telephone number, if any
3. Signature

So, if you are running a contest for the most creative response on your blog post before, you don\’t even need to put any of these personal information. If you win, then that\’s the time the blogger will contact you and get those information so that he or she can send the prize.

If all of us will follow the policy by DTI, it seems that to make your comment entry valid, you have to submit all these required information while joining the contest.

I don\’t know how DTI will bring goodwill to online contest participants if on every contest that you join online, you have to submit all these personal information first. There is more risk in doing this and it makes a simple tasks so complicated. It also kills the fun of joining an online community contest.

DTI, please accept that the policy is originally intended for traditional media and is not applicable online.

 

Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

The short answer is No. Bloggers are very much disadvantaged.

Like most of the comments you can find on the original article and reactions online, it seems that this is an effort of DTI to milk people earning online.

If DTI is serious in protecting consumers, businesses and individuals without taking any side, it should have sought opinions from all parties first before surprising bloggers with all these information.

Kindly share this and let DTI know your disapproval on its current policy so that the Consumer Act of the Philippines will be amended soon.

Updates
Here the following articles that you should read if you\’re concerned about this on-going issue
IMMAP, DTI and the Digital Filipino Club
Email from Janette Toral regarding the DTI, IMMAP and the Digital Filipino Club

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Globe SuperFree Weekend is a Joke

\"GlobeOver the weekend I had a chance to experience Globe\’s SuperFree Weekends promo and all I can say is it\’s very underwhelming.

The idea is when you load at least P199 between Monday to Friday using your Globe Prepaid, you\’ll get 200 free text to all networks and 1 hour cellphone internet consumable only on Saturday and Sunday, but only after you claim the promo.

The promo notification seems to be scheduled or triggered early Saturday morning when almost everyone is still asleep. It seems that Globe needs to accumulate the total load topped up until Friday night and then trigger the system for mass notification on Saturday which only makes it extra difficult for users to claim the promo because I could only imagine everyone will claim their SuperFree Weekend when they wake up on Saturday morning. I claimed mine in the afternoon but I didn\’t receive the notification until midnight. I received it only on early Sunday morning, effectively reducing my time to use the promo on Sunday only. Why can\’t a user just claim the promo in advance when the load requirement is already met and then be eligible for the privilege from Saturday to Sunday?

On Globe\’s FAQ, it is mentioned that there is no registration required for SuperFree Weekend, which is true (it saves you the trouble in entering keywords), but you have to wait for the notification and really have to claim it first in order to use it which makes it a double opt-instill a registration!

I don\’t know the purpose of this promo. It seems to be introducing more frustration than satisfaction, at least on my experience. Who are the target audience of this promo anyway? If a prepaid user loads 40 pesos a day, discounting weekends, then it would be P800. Say this promo is after those people who text a lot and surf an average of 5 hours a week on cellphone, you can pay for SUPERALL TXT 20 in one month (30 days) and pay only P600, and get Powersurf every week (5 hours, P50 valid for 3 days) and pay only P200. The total is also P800 and you don\’t have to bother about this promo. For those people who just don\’t care about text offers anymore and spend more time on mobile browsing, just forget this and use other promo. This is just a waste of time.

If Globe is offering this promo to add value to their services, removing double opt-in or letting prepaid users claim the promo in advance will maximize the weekend offer and probably make more Globe users happy. At the moment, I find this promo just a joke.

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Nokia and Microsoft: The Tale of Two Turkeys

Since the burning platform memo was leaked 2 weeks ago, and when Google\’s Vic Gundotra tweeted \”Two turkeys do not make an Eagle\” many have already speculated what was going to be announced last Friday. And when Nokia and Microsoft  jointly announced the strategic partnership on 11th of February 2010, Nokia workers walked out, in protest to the announcement. There were so much commotion about it as all hell broke loose in the Finnish company.

Nokia used to be independent with their software strategy but their declining market share and increasing competition with Apple and Google had allegedly left the company no option but to adopt the Windows Phone 7 strategy. This will increase their dependence with licensed OS and abandon the clunky Symbian platform while focusing on their strength in manufacturing and distribution.While it\’s true that Windows strengths compliments Nokia\’s strengths, and their products and services does not conflict much, they also share the same weaknesses. Both of these companies failed at making a sustainable ecosystem which is the primary driver of  the mobile market now. I dare say it, but at this rate, Nokia will become just another device vendor much like what happened to Motorola in 2003.

It\’s also quite amusing how a reversal of role happened last week when HP announced that WebOS will come to PC and not just in Palm mobile phones. Nokia buried Symbian and  put MeeGo aside while HP pushed forward and put WebOS up the next level. Suddenly, the future of Symbian and MeeGo became bleak while the potential of WebOS looked quite promising.

\"Symbian

What disturbs me about this deal is how Microsoft is benefiting in all areas while Nokia is taking all the bullet. One could say Microsoft have orchestrated the deal, making Nokia a Microsoft puppet. After all, top positions in Nokia are already being filled by ex-MS employees like the head of Nokia USA, Chris Webber. CEO Stephen Elop denied all rumors that he is a trojan horse planted by Microsoft to silently take over Nokia, quoting that the board of Nokia made the final decision for last week\’s announcement. Interestingly,  Bloomberg reported that out of the 3 scenarios possible, only the Microsoft option was recommended by Nokia executives to the board. We don\’t know whether the executives were influenced and how they came up with the unanimous vote but the board agreed to execute the most viable strategy.

Then came up Nokia Plan B that was believed to be created by a group of nine young investors that is plotting to fire Elop, take over company leadership and commit Nokia\’s resources back to MeeGo. It was, in fact, a hoax created by one very bored engineer who really likes his iPhone. Many believed it was true which disappointed a handful of hopeful Nokia fans.

There are tons of reactions in the web about Nokia and Microsoft partnership, mostly negative, but it is most upsetting to those who have devoted time in Symbian development. I recently wrote  a blog post about my frustration with Ovi and Nokia software and I can attest that in order to make Windows Phone 7 attractive to developers and end-users alike, Microsoft and Nokia have to get rid of the bugs that plague most devices using Windows. Many believed that Nokia is Microsoft\’s last bet on Windows Phone 7 and if the partnership becomes successful, Steve Ballmer has done a terrific good job in choosing the right ally.

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I still feel terrible to all hardcore Nokia fans. I pity Nokia and the Symbian community. I\’d say, it\’s just about time to try other mobile phones, try to forget Nokia and move on. Change is good.

Until now, cloud of skepticism surrounds the infamous deal between Nokia and Microsoft. Elop has to win the investors back following the big stock drop and he must regain the trust of Nokia employees despite the planned downsizing. A lot of work must be done.

There will be more debates going on until Nokia release their very first Windows Phone 7 device. It seems we won\’t see any until October 2011. So, all I can do now is wonder, just like what Om Malik wrote on his blog: what happens when Windows Phone 7 on Nokia gets a big thumbs down? Probably End-Of-Line.

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Globe Duo and Super Duo Expansion, Really?

\"ODear Globe, before you expand Globe Duo and any service related to it, can you at least fix all the bugs in your system particular to account registration and service management? I have been dealing with the recurring problems with Globe Super Duo since September 2010 – and some of them happened not twice, not thrice, but four times! Your customer support representatives have been covering your ass since last year and I could only wonder if your technical team is actually doing any real work.

By now I have already memorized the procedures when I report my problem in Globe customer service as I always get the same routinary treatment. It seems that my reports are not getting enough attention. If only I could get a decent alternative, I would have switched by now. The service is good but recurring technical problems ruin it for me. I know that there are other people experiencing this problem because your customer support told me so. I just hope they are still your customers.

Here are several problems that I have experienced with the service so far:

First from my list, Super Duo expires but there is a grace period of 30 days before Super Duo (landline) number is deleted from a registered account. While re-registering within my grace period, registration prompt delay (> 1 hr.) led me to think the system did not response. So I registered again. However, the earlier registration was actually recorded in the system and as a result there were 2 registrations pending under my cellphone number. When I confirmed the registration, my old registered Super Duo number was discarded off my account and the system issued a new Super Duo number. It was so frustrating because I lost a good landline number, twice!

Second, there are times that it takes extra effort to register. I really hope you have addressed this problem already. Boasting about your expansion in more provinces won’t do any good when you can’t improve on ease of registration.

Third, and probably the most annoying of all: since September, whenever my Super Duo account expires my sim will totally lose the capability to make any outgoing calls even with customer service hotline 211! I can receive incoming calls, send and receive text messages, but I can’t make any outgoing calls at all. It’s just nuts! I will have to wait at least 3 days up to 1 week in order to make outgoing calls again. I am totally puzzled why Globe could not get into the root cause of this problem. I get the impression that Globe doesn’t do any problem management at all and if they do, they do it poorly just like the other big telco company. My Super Duo subscription will expire in 3 days and I don\’t know if I will encounter this for the fifth time. I hope not because I am sick and tired of it.

Last and definitely not the least problem — the expiry reminder is too short. Most of the times I get the reminder in less than 12 hours before the expiry of Super Duo service. Yes, I know when should I renew my registration but why can\’t they make the notification arrive at least 24 hours before expiry? Why would Globe want me to forget spending another P599 or P499 for them? It doesn\’t make sense. If they want me to renew and register again, they should bombard me with reminders. But they are not doing that. It is hilarious because Globe tried (or tested) sending reminders 3 days prior to expiry. I received their notice last month saying that my Super Duo registration is expiring within 3 days but I received the notice only 6 hours before expiry. FAIL!

You might ask why I am still sticking with Globe Duo service despite the list of problems I just mentioned. Actually, the service is satisfactory. It is easier for me to maintain 2 numbers in one phone and it is cheaper. Not to mention I don’t have to deal with regular billing because I’m using prepaid. This is perfect for me because I don’t text a lot. I make calls whenever possible.

I hope Mr. Nikko Acosta is reading this. Duo and Super Duo have been around since 2009 and they are generally a good cost-effective service. Please don’t let mediocre service management and technical problems kill it.

If you are reading this and you use Globe Duo or Super Duo please don\’t hesitate to comment, tweet, like or share this post.

Update:
On March 2011, the expiry reminder is still buggy. It is still telling that my subscription will expire in 3 days but only after 5 hours the subscription is over.

The annoying problem with outgoing call seems to be fixed already (at least from my end). Recently when my subscription expired I could still make outgoing calls. Finally fixed after 6 months!

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Top 10 Business Models in 2010

I always read news about business and technology and I\’m fascinated by the pace of innovation in this age of information technology. How a business grow into multimillion dollar projects from a simple idea is simply inspiring.

I found this slide from SlideShare and it\’s been around for a while now but I want to share my thoughts about these business models. If you haven\’t seen it, I embedded it here in my post.

PatientsLikeMe.com: community platform for patients
The idea is brilliant because it is free and they actually ask permission from users that they are gathering data. Pharmaceuticals pay large amount for this data that can be used for research and medicine development. I think you can easily recreate this model for popular and basic consumable products.

Flattr.com: a service to structure donations for content
I idea that simple clicks allow you to share or receive money sounds like a scam but Flattr actually works like a micropayment system. It\’s a notch above Facebook \”like\” button because as Flattr describes it \”with a flat-rate fee, you can flatter people.\”

Groupon.com: a broker platform with exclusive discounts
The no cure, no pay strategy is something new to me and when I first found out about Groupon I didn\’t think it was for real until the news pick up that bigger companies are actually bidding for Groupon! From the slide I also learned they are getting 50% of the revenue from the promotion. My jaw just dropped.

Spotify.com: ad-based freemium model
How I wish I live in Europe so that I could enjoy this service. Soon US will get a taste of Spotify, too. Get ready iTunes.

PayWithaTweet.com: paying with the value of your social network
I like the idea. How many times do people blog about products and services without getting any incentives? At least with this service, you simply tweet about a product and get the product in exchange of exposure. I\’m actually willing to try this service.

HumbleBundle.com: pay-what-you-want formula
I\’m not into this kind of pay-what-you-want thing because I don\’t like spending too much on trivial things (well that\’s the point isn\’t it?) so if given a chance, I\’ll put minimum value on every items that I\’ll buy. However, what makes this interesting is that it let buyers control on how the money is divided or used on charity or other organizations.

Free with in-app sales: cross selling strategy
This is a recycling of freemium model in free-to-play MMORPGs. You get the app free (game, software, etc) and when people get hooked they buy credits to purchase virtual good that would enhance the already addictive experience. It\’s a trap!

Quirky.com: co-creation + e-shop
This is the first time I heard of Quirky.com and the idea that anyone could be an inventor is what I like about this model. For people oozing with ideas (even the crazy ones), I strongly recommend this one. You have to pay to pitch your ideas but I read that the fee had been reduced to a measly $10. Seriously, if I would sit down and focus on a problem that I want to solve and will help many people, there should be a viable market for it.

Airbnb.com: one-sided matchmaking platform
I like how it is integrated with Google maps. After a few trials on how it works, I wish I\’ll see more services like this.

Kickstarter.com: market for fund seekers
For hardcore business people, this is a breakthrough because now you\’ll get more access to people willing to fund project ideas. I\’m not sure what is the success rate of businesses funded through this method though.

I thank boardofinnovation.com for putting this online for free. I hope they\’ll publish more of these.

How about you? Do you know more business models that were successful last year?

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The Future of Publishing 2.0

\"iPad\"With the rise of Apple iPad’s popularity, the interest in tablets and e-readers were reestablished and it opened the flood gates for publishers to capitalize in this promising market.

Last year we saw Google opened its own ebookstore, joining Apple and Amazon. We also saw different magazines releasing different digital formats to cater for this market segment.

There is still a burning question on when will e-books replace or slowly dominate the good old paper books. The debate has been on-going for many years but until now, printed books are still ahead of e-books in terms of sales.

I support both formats whether printed or digital and many readers do because 85% of users who buys e-books still buys print books. I see the pros and cons for both and I cannot ditch one in favor of the other, yet.

One would argue that iPad publishing failed in converting print readers to e-book readers. I could also argue that Google has not contributed much in this arena. It’s too early. The time is not yet ripe.

That being said, Mashable published 5 E-Book Trends That Will Change the Future of Publishing last December which is consistent with my prediction. The list mentioned enhanced e-books and I totally agree about the expectations of consumers for greater experience. This will drive more consumption of digital media, including e-books.

But will it kill print? We\’ll know when we get there.

Below is an infographic taken from Newsweek. See for yourself how print books stack up against e-books.

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Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office

It is a win-win situation for Microsoft Office and Google Doc users as Google released a free plug-in for Microsoft Office that ties Google Docs to Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. It is the result of Google acquisition of DocVerse.

Google Cloud Connect syncs Office documents, slides and spreadsheets to Google Doc and stores it in the cloud which enable online collaboration with other Google Doc users. In a way, Google Cloud Connect is a free alternative to Microsoft Sharepoint.
\"Google

Just like Sharepoint, it acts like backend for storing the changes in the document. The changes are not real-time, unlike in Google Docs, but if there are any changes in the document, you will be prompted to resolve the conflicts before saving. And just in case, there is a full revision history in the document where you can revert to earlier versions of the document in one click. You can find more details of the caveats in syncing documents here.

I was looking forward to take part in the testing this week but the demand was so high that I didn\’t get a chance to get into the early invitation.

My concern at the moment about syncing MS Office and Google Docs is about security. I wouldn\’t use this plug-in a highly confidential or sensitive document. Certain companies have policies on what you can upload on the web and what should stay within the intranet, so be careful on what document to sync.

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