The beauty of online advertising is that consumers have the opportunity to shop at any time of day. This is made especially more convenient with the advent of mobile technology allowing consumers to continue their purchasing anywhere they are as well. However, just because there are no time or location constraints to online shopping doesn’t mean that advertisers can get away with anything.
In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) strictly enforces deceptive advertising practices online to protect consumers. These laws are also in place to protect the sellers of any items, as they will not have to fear that their competitors are deceptively advertising to the same customer base.
At Imperial Advance, we understand the power of online advertising when promoting working capital solutions for small business owners, but we also understand the importance of compliance with FTC rules and regulations.
Here is an overview of FTC rules and regulations regarding online advertising that every business owner should know.
Advertising Laws Apply Online and Offline. No matter where you advertise, you must not engage in what the FTC states as “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” when advertising your product or service.
Include Any Limitations. If an offer is only available for a limited time, that information must be clearly stated in the ad. Qualifying information must also be included, for example, “Limit 2” items under the sale price.
Be Obvious When Disclosing Information. You can’t hide a disclosure in 2 pt type. Be sure the disclosure is placed within the ad in a way that is clear to the reader, and even make sure that the disclosure is as close to the claim you’re making as possible. Here’s a rundown of how to make a disclosure clear:
- Consider all ways the consumer is receiving this ad online. Therefore, be sure that the disclosures are easily found on mobile, web, or other devices or platforms.
- If you’re creating a space-constrained ad, it may be appropriate to include the disclosure information on the landing page you’re asking consumers to click on.
- Be sure the link is obvious and labeled appropriately so consumers know where to find disclosure information
- Use the same link in every ad to encourage consistency
- Place the link close to the qualifying information
- Monitor click-through rates to determine the effectiveness of the link to disclosure
- Avoid making consumers scroll through an ad to find disclosure messages
- Include disclosures before a consumer is told to purchase. For example, before they can add it to their cart, have the disclosure be visible in some way
- Include disclosures as often as needed, which is particularly useful for lengthy copy
- Assess the ad consistently to ensure the disclosure information is not hidden within the ad design
- When the ad is audio-based, the disclosure must also be heard in a strong volume and paced speaking
- Always write disclosures using simple language that the average person can easily understand
If Compliance is Impossible, Rework the Ad. For example, the disclosure language may be easily visible and adhere to the FTC guidelines when a consumer is on a computer, but it may be impossible to see on a mobile device. Therefore, make the decision to not run the ad on a specific platform that will not support the disclosure in the way it’s designed.