Questions about Victory Media’s Consent Agreement
Founded in 2001 by three Navy veterans, Victory Media is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business. To our employees, about one third of whom are either veterans or military spouses, our work is far more than a job. It is a passion; a love. You can find a profile of our company here. Our mission has always been to provide our nation’s veterans with the resources needed to successfully transition to civilian life after military service. In addition to resources directed to veterans, we have created widespread demand for veterans as employees, suppliers and students from civilian organizations who previously didn’t recruit veterans. In 2003, fewer than 20 civilian organizations completed for Military Friendly(R) designation. Today, about 2,000 do every year.
We are proud of our more than 15 years of advocacy, which has produced countless civilian career opportunities for our nation’s veterans. That advocacy is summarized here.
The veterans and non-veterans who work for our company, along with our many partners, have spent the last 16 plus years building a sterling reputation as the trusted voice of ‘better for veterans’ initiatives and have advocated on behalf of veteran issues through our publications and sphere of influence including the idea creation of a Better for Veterans public-private partnership to address veterans education issues.
The Commission conducted a thorough exam of our company’s business practices, looking at years of information; including tens of thousands of articles, emails, ads and invoices.
As the Commission itself explains, they say that some sponsored messages needed to more clearly and conspicuously state that colleges had sponsored them. They also say that several schools not designated as ‘military friendly’ were included in an online tool that, in some instances, we described as a place to find Military Friendly schools.
The Federal Trade Commission matter did not question the value or quality of the magazines that Victory Media distributes. Nor did it concern the propriety of the Military Friendly designations. It had no issues outside of higher education advertising.
They told us to be more clear and conspicuous with disclosures. Their proposed remedy of an administrative consent agreement with no fines was in line with our current business practices. As a leader in our industry, we were pleased to reach the agreement to ensure maximum transparency between editorial and advertisements for readers in all forms of new and old media.
Formalized and implemented an editorial and advertising compliance policy to ensure the maximum level of clarity and transparency. Implemented additional checks and balances into operations in an effort to eliminate chance of accidental non-compliance.
In 2016, we increased the level of clarity and transparency between the G.I. Jobs media brand and the independence and objectivity of the Military Friendly Schools ratings program with additional language added to both web sites. An example can be found in the extensive FAQs on our Military Friendly Schools ratings program.
Made the differences between G.I. Jobs and Military Friendly Schools more clear. If you go to www.gijobs.com, you will find our advertisers. If you go to www.militaryfriendly.com, you will find a list of all Military Friendly designated schools.
We voluntarily established a policy in 2016 that we do not accept advertising from any educational institution whose accreditation has been suspended; the status of one or more of specified federal education programs has been suspended; and/or an active federal caution flag has been applied against the school and 5 percent or more of enrolled GI Bill participants at the school have filed complaints with the VA.
The scale and relevance of the Military Friendly(R) Schools ratings has grown materially over the past 15 years and Victory Media has likewise expanded the universe of those who have a voice in definition and process.
The company has also introduced additional elements of governance which includes the expansion of a committee to include representatives from Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs). This committee will assist to define future methodology and weighting.
We will continue to lead and engage all people and all organizations; from the government, non-profit and private sector, who want to join us in the rewarding work of providing civilian opportunity to our nation’s veterans.
In this age of sponsored and native content, search engine disclosures, personal endorsements, social media endorsements and more, federal regulators are rapidly evolving guidelines to ensure transparency between editorial and advertisements for readers in all forms of new and old media. Our agreement with the Commission illustrates that Victory Media, as a leader in the industry, strives to continuously raise the standard for transparency, ensuring that the information and disclosures on our site are clear and conspicuous to our readers.
Our advertisers offer the civilian professional opportunities our readers seek. Advertising is a huge benefit to our readers and will absolutely remain a component of our business model, because it offers the civilian opportunity our military and veteran readers seek. Click here to view our compliance and disclosure policy.