Do you advertise and market your business? Do you use the Internet or social media? Do you use gift cards and other forms of trade promotions to attract customers? If you answered “YES” to any of the above, you need to understand the law of advertising. It applies to you!
The Federal Trade Commission.
Advertising Law governs every form or advertising to consumers, whether through television, radio, print, Internet, trade promotions, or social media. And the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the governing body. The FTC is the federal consumer watchdog agency, and is constantly on the lookout for companies and individuals who use false, misleading, and deceptive trade practices in advertising to consumers. And, THEY MEAN BUSINESS!
If you use testimonials and/or endorsements in blog posts, on your website, or on your social media profiles, and even mobile devices, the FTC Rules also apply to you.
3 Key Concerns When It Comes to FTC Regulations
The FTC has been adopting new guidelines for eCommerce businesses as more companies establish an Internet presence. Therefore, if you sell products or services on the Internet, market your products or services on the Internet, blog online, or in any way can be perceived as advertising online, then these FTC Rules apply to you.
- Advertising and Marketing on the Internet
Under the Online Advertising and Marketing guide by the FTC, the laws governing advertising and marketing on the Internet are described in detail. The FTC has prepared this guide in an effort to protect businesses and consumers, and to maintain the integrity of Internet advertising. The FTC emphasizes that rules which apply to online advertising also apply to marketing online.
The guide is quite extensive and outlines everything from advertising protocol, consumer privacy protection, promotion of products and services in specific industries, business opportunities, multi-level marketing, free products, negative option offers, 900 numbers, telemarketing, warranties and guarantees, and much more. Knowing these rules can keep you out of harm’s way and off the FTC’s radar. For more information on FTC rules on advertising and marketing on the Internet, see http://tinyurl.com/7kzoozh
More and more entrepreneurs are using email blasts and contests and sweepstakes to advertise their products and services. Contests and Sweepstakes are governed, not only by federal law, but individual state law. So with that in mind, before you think about putting together a contest or sweepstakes, KNOW THE LAW! For more information click Can Spam Act.
Dot Com Disclosures by the FTC provides enforcement of consumer protection laws to ensure that products and services are accurately represented in online advertising and that the consumer is getting the most value for the money. Although the FTC emphasizes that the same advertising laws apply to electronic commerce, the FTC has been required to add to these laws as new technology develops.
Some of the revisions include additions to “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” that apply to Internet advertising, disclosure placement in advertising, and rules that govern the words “writing,” “printed,” and “direct mail” applied to electronic technology. For more information click Dot Com Disclosures. For more information click Dot Com Disclosures.
- Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising
This law was adopted by the FTC in the latter part of 2009 and outlines how eCommerce business owners can use testimonials and endorsement for advertising. There are numerous laws that surround these new regulations and include laws such as advertisements that feature a consumer testimonial with regard to product results. Under the new regulations, Internet marketers are required to clearly explain the results that consumers can expect in general. Online advertisers must also be ready to prove that the testimonial originated from the source disclosed in the advertisement claims.
There are a host of other rules and regulations under this new law and if you are unfamiliar with them, it would be to your advantage to learn about them. The FTC has a wealth of resources as the place to start your learning. One resource is the Common Myths about endorsements.
It’s amazing how readily inaccurate information gets passed on a truth. That is the real fake news. Folks thinking they understand the law, because they read it on the Internet. But in fact, they don’t. Get information from the source. Consult the FTC website or engage a competent attorney knowledgeable in the area of online advertising.
In addition to some of the issues above, you should know that the FTC will likely continue to create new rules as technological advances take us in new unexplored territory. An IP attorney who understands eCommerce issues can be your best advocate, helping you stay on top of the newest developments in advertising law, which allows you to grow a healthy online business and be legally compliant.