First Impression Interactive’s Education Fairness Audit Boots Four Partners

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In response to aggressive marketing practices by some schools, First Impression Interactive is leading the way for students in their fight against for-profit educators. FII recently performed an audit of its education partners to see which ones were holding up their end of the deal with students. Some partners just didn’t cut it.

We definitely must continue and strengthen this commitment across all platforms, and I hope our actions inspire other companies to look at their education advertisers.

President Obama recently made headlines when he focused on a part of the education industry that was taking advantage of military students. For-profit institutions have received criticism in the past for their aggressive marketing techniques, which often targeted G.I. Bill recipients. Statements made by President Obama and congressional leaders prompted the Internet media company First Impression Interactive to look at their own partners, questioning the marketing practices of educational institutions advertising through their sites. That’s when FII began an “education fairness” audit to see which partners truly used unscrupulous practices to draw in students. Following up, FII found four of its educational partners lacking in several categories of the audit, and as such, they were dropped from FII’s listed partnerships.

“Students really don’t need to be targeted in such a way that would not only deprive them of a good education but also place them in a position of massive debt,” said Jeff Giles, CEO of FII and one of the leaders in the audit. “Our members and visitors rely on us to give them accurate information and we can’t direct them to educators who don’t have their best interests at heart.”
The audit looked at several different aspects of education fairness. Each partner was assessed in several categories, which included student satisfaction, accreditation, unfair marketing practices, military friendliness, selectivity, student services, faculty excellence and tuition costs. Each partner was scored in these categories and then compared. There were four partners who stood out as exhibiting some of the most unscrupulous business and education practices.

“We simply just made the decision that any partner who wasn’t as committed to education as we were didn’t need to be a part of our organization,” said Giles, who stopped advertising immediately with those who failed the audit. “It’s unacceptable to treat students that way. This is their livelihood, their future.”

Giles also stated that once these partners were let go, they received praise for FII’s commitment to fair education and business. Members from and posted comments on the company blog that encouraged the audit and even pointed out how certain institutions had abused their trust. As the CEO, FII saw that as another encouragement to enact new codes of conduct that would limit who could become a partner with their organization.

“We definitely must continue and strengthen this commitment across all platforms, and I hope our actions inspire other companies to look at their education advertisers. It’s not a hard decision to make if you want to offer the best to your members,” Giles said.

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Jeff Giles
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