Advertisers, read our firm's latest client alert on the FTC's Operation Full Disclosure to learn about what your company can do to meet the FTC's "clear and conspicuous" requirements. Take advantage of this opportunity to closely review and remedy any inadequacies in your advertising disclosures before more aggressive steps are taken by the FTC and the plaintiffs' class action bar.… Continue Reading
In letters sent to more than 60 companies, including 20 of the top 100 TV and print advertisers in the country, the FTC warned companies to review specific ads to ensure their disclosures are "clear and conspicuous," and that they comply with federal advertising regulations.
In a press release on Tuesday, the FTC explained the initiative - Operation Full Disclosure - as the agency's latest effort to guide companies to follow proper disclosure standards and avoid misleading consumers. Specifically, the agency targeted disclosures made in fine print or that were easy to miss by the average consumer. The FTC explained that disclosures should be in proximity to the claims to which they relate and in easy-to-read font color, size, and style, so consumers have access to all relevant information. For TV ads, disclosures "should be on the screen long enough to be noticed, read, and understood, and other elements in the ads should not obscure or distract from the disclosures."
The FTC is keeping the names of those companies targeted secret in an effort to allow them a chance to adhere to disclosure laws. However, without getting too specific, the agency hinted toward recurring problems. For example, the FTC explained in some ads, "the advertiser claimed that a product was unique or superior in a product category, but did not adequately disclose how narrowly the advertiser defined the category, while other comparative ads did not adequately disclose the basis of their comparisons."… Continue Reading
After recent concerns over misleading native advertising efforts in online editorial content, the FTC puts a spotlight on search engines.
On Tuesday, June 25, the FTC sent out more than two dozen letters to various search engine companies, pushing them to clearly distinguish between paid advertising content and natural Internet search results. After noticing a decline in compliance with its search engine advertising disclosure letter issued back in 2002, the FTC sent out these letters as part of its overall effort to improve digital advertising disclosures.
In the letters, the agency advised search engine companies to improve the clarity and prominence of advertising disclosures by increasing visual cues (such as more prominent shading and borders) and text labels (such as using more prominent fonts and placements of advertising disclosures) for paid search content. The FTC also noted that its guidance applies to other platforms as well, such as social media platforms that include paid advertising in user feeds. The FTC based its growing concern off various studies - most notably, a 2005 Pew Research Center survey that found 62 percent of searchers were not even aware of the distinction between paid and non-paid results.
With the evolution of social media and rapidly changing platforms for communication, differentiating natural content from paid-for advertising can be difficult for a consumer. However, the letter indicated that regardless of the form a search takes (or the platform used), paid results should be clearly distinguishable. The FTC letters were sent to both general all-purpose search engines and to smaller, more specialized search engines that are heavily trafficked.
Without clear advertising disclosures to Internet audiences, search engines could potentially be liable for unfair or deceptive practices in violation of the FTC Act. Therefore, it is integral to strike a balance between innovative advertising methods and FTC compliance.… Continue Reading