The Federal Trade Commission today released new guidance for mobile and other online advertisers (Direct Link To The Updated Guidelines) that explains how to make disclosures clear and conspicuous to avoid deception. I have not gone through these yet, but I will be this weekend. (Ugh)
I can tell you that one of the biggest revisions to these guidelines is that the FTC has now taken into account the expanding use of smartphones with small screens and the rise of social media marketing. It also contains mock ads that illustrate the updated principles. Like the original, the updated guidance emphasizes that consumer protection laws apply equally to marketers across all mediums, whether delivered on a desktop computer, a mobile device, or more traditional media such as television, radio, or print.
As a matter of fact, this comes straight from the updated guidelines:
The same consumer protection laws that apply to commercial activities in other media apply online, including activities in the mobile marketplace. The FTC Act’s prohibition on “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” encompasses online advertising, marketing, and sales. In addition, many Commission rules and guides are not limited to any particular medium used to disseminate claims or advertising, and therefore, apply to the wide spectrum of online activities
The new guidance points out that advertisers using space-constrained ads, such as on some social media platforms, must still provide disclosures necessary to prevent an ad from being deceptive, and it advises marketers to avoid conveying such disclosures through pop-ups, because they are often blocked.
It’s a pretty lengthy new guide. If you’re a marketer or advertiser, you should be aware of this information. Take it from me, studying these guidelines can save your business. I know. Personally. First-Hand. When it comes to online ads, the basic principles of advertising law apply:
- Advertising must be truthful and not misleading
- Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims (substantiation)
- Advertisements cannot be unfair.
That’s the vague gist of it. You can read the new updated disclosure guidelines here.