On February 29, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission, the primary government regulator of advertising in the United States, announced that it will hold a workshop on May 30, 2012 to discuss its guidelines for appropriate disclosures in on-line advertising. Click here for the FTC’s announcement. Items suggested by the FTC for the workshop include:

  • How can effective disclosures be made on social media platforms and mobile devices
  • When can disclosures provided separately from an initial advertisement be considered adequate?
  • What are the options when using devices that do not allow downloading or printing the terms of an agreement?
  • How can disclosures that are made in the original advertisement be retained when the advertisement is aggregated (for example, on dashboards) or re-transmitted (through, for example, re-tweeting)?
  • What are the disclosure opportunities and limitations of hyperlinks, jump links, hashtags, click-throughs, layered disclosures, icons, and other similar options?
  • How can short, effective, and accessible privacy disclosures be made on mobile devices?
  • What does the research show about how consumers’ use of mobile and other devices can affect the effectiveness of disclosures on particular devices or platforms, the relationship between how consumers use mobile devices and their understanding of disclosures and advertising displayed on mobile devices, how consumers make decisions based on that information?

With the meteoric rise of digital advertising, actions by the FTC must be closely watched by the entire marketing community.

The Commission’s plans for a Workshop follows its May 26, 2011 announcement that it was reconsidering the guidelines and whether they needed to be updated. Reed Smith partner Douglas Wood, also Corporate Counsel‘s Columnist on Digital Media, commented on the initial FTC announcement on June 8, 2011. To view that column, click here.