After our conversation Aaron remembered why he had the one slide he spaced on in our recording and sent me this follow on point. It’s important so check it out:

The FTC crackdown is good for the industry.

Full Stop.

That’s Aaron Dehoog’s view and when Aaron talks publishing I listen.

He’s one of the best in the business. I say it all the time.

He scaled Newsmax from a few thousand subs to over 400k paid subscribers in just a couple of years time.

Then he took over an Agora business that was in the red, turned it around, and scaled that north of 100 m USD in what seemed like no-time flat.

Plus, he’s an amazing copywriter himself.

And he thinks this is 1. Good for the industry 2. That a lot of the FTC copy issues are caused by lazy copywriting and marketing.

As you can imagine, lately I’ve been having a ton of conversations with people about the FTC, promotion, and copy. So, I sent Aaron and a bunch of other top publishers this email:

Would you be up for doing a recorded interview to talk about copy & promotion in light of the recent FTC stuff? 

I’m thinking of doing a little series around the idea of ‘Copy Crisis’?”

I had a conversation with a publisher last week who shrunk from 20m to something like 10m yoy largely because they pulled all their promo and redid it to be more compliant and it didn’t convert. 

“He’s looking to get out of the industry because he thinks the FTC is killing his ability to promote. I think he’s overreacting but it is worth talking about. 

“I’d love to get your perspective on copy & promotion in this new environment if you’re willing to share. I’d send the interview out to the FMS list.”


John, I’ll do an interview about ANYTHING ELSE EXCEPTFTC & copy issues.” was pretty much the response I got from everyone.

People are scared.

Scared anything they say on record could end up being found as part of the discovery process if they ever have an FTC case

Only Aaron and Bret Holmes said “Yes“. (I’ll post my conversation with Bret on this topic soon).

Aaron sent me a huge outline of topics he’d like to touch on.

Are you sure you want to do this,” I asked because now I was nervous about doing this since so many people were scared to talk on record about it.

The last thing I ever want to do is add business risk to someone in our community.

Maybe check with your legal team first?

He did.

They gave him the go ahead.

He put an entire presentation together. We talked. We recorded it.

Here it is for you to watch.

On thing I love about Aaron is he actually cares deeply about his customer (crazy, right?).

I believe it’s too easy for direct response marketers to lose sight of what’s best for their customers, especially when they get myopic on short term conversion statistics.

Every time I talk to Aaron about publishing his entire world view on the business is framed in terms of what’s good for his readers and customers.

He cares about quality editors, quality products, quality ideas.

In this conversation Aaron explains why he believes the recent FTC crackdown on over-aggressive promotion, specifically earnings claim issues, lifestyle marketing, and being clear about the typicality of results used in your copy are all GOOD for the industry.

Plus, he shares how he’s focusing his promotional efforts. What he sees needs to change in copy – and gives specific examples of how you need to think through copy elements.

If you’re scared of the regulatory environment then I think this is a must-watch conversation.

You should also make sure to check out my conversation with Damon Wright from Gordon Rees about the FTC’s stance and what it means for publishers and trader educators.


P.S. You’re reading this so you obviously care about what’s happening in the industry. Make sure to register for FMS coming up June 14-15th.  We’re going to be talking quite a bit about both new promotional models and new revenue models as the industry continues to mainstream. Like Ian Rosen said in my conversation with him about his $100 million acquisition spree in finpub, the audience digital financial publishers and media have are the engine… , no, the lifeblood all these fintech startups raising hundreds of millions of dollars. The time to capture new value as an industry is here. FMS is where those conversations and opportunities happen.