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FTC updates disclosure guides for online, mobile advertising

March 15, 2013
The Federal Trade Commission has released new guidance for mobile and other online advertisers which explains how to make disclosures clear and conspicuous to avoid deception. The FTC first commented on the matter in 2000.
The updated FTC staff guidance, “.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising,” takes into account the expanding use of smartphones with small screens and the rise of social media marketing. It also contains mock ads that illustrate the updated principles. 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.
There is no litmus test for determining whether a disclosure is clear and conspicuous, and in some instances, there may be more than one method that seems reasonable. In such cases, the best practice would be to select the method more likely to effectively communicate the information in question.
When a space-constrained ad requires a disclosure, incorporate the disclosure into the ad whenever possible. When it is not possible to make a disclosure in a space-constrained ad, it may, under some circumstances, be acceptable to make the disclosure clearly and conspicuously on the page to which the ad links.
The 53-page publication includes examples of ads with adequate and inadequate disclosure.