FTC updates digital ad guidelines


As digital advertising matures, the FTC is revising the guidelines that help govern its use. In particular, the agency reminds that disclosure is required across all media when necessary – despite the migration of digital to ever-smaller screens.

The FTC offering on the topic, Dot Com Disclosures, was last updated in 2000. Until now. It’s being replaced with a new effort called: Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising.

FTC stated, “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.”

Continuing, FTC noted, “If a disclosure is needed to prevent an online ad claim from being deceptive or unfair, it must be clear and conspicuous.  Under the new guidance, this means advertisers should ensure that the disclosure is clear and conspicuous on all devices and platforms that consumers may use to view the ad.  The new guidance also explains that if an advertisement without a disclosure would be deceptive or unfair, or would otherwise violate a Commission rule, and the disclosure cannot be made clearly and conspicuously on a device or platform, then that device or platform should not be used.”

FTC says any disclosures should be as close as possible to the claim to which they pertain. It also warns against using hyperlinks for disclosures that involve product cost or health and safety issues, and when used calls for them to be specifically labeled.

Finally, the FTC cautions that disclosures are required regardless of space constraints, something that must be kept in mind when using certain styles of digital advertising.

RBR-TVBR observation: This cuts both ways for broadcasters. Anything that hampers the use of a competing medium helps keep money flowing into broadcast coffers. On the other hand, many broadcasters are expanding as best they can into the digital realm.

The good news is that broadcasters are used to fitting disclosures into very cramped time frames, so maybe they will hit on good solutions for fitting them into cramped spaces as well.