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.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising

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Federal Trade Commission, .com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising (Mar. 12, 2013) (full-text).

Overview Edit


This FTC staff guidance document describes the information businesses should consider as they develop ads for online media to ensure that they comply with the law:

  1. The same consumer protection laws that apply to commercial activities in other media apply online, including activities in the mobile marketplace. The FTC Act's prohibition on "unfair or deceptive acts or practices" encompasses online advertising, marketing, and sales. In addition, many Commission rules and guides are not limited to any particular medium used to disseminate claims or advertising, and therefore, apply to the wide spectrum of online activities.
  2. When practical, advertisers should incorporate relevant limitations and qualifying information into the underlying claim, rather than having a separate disclosure qualifying the claim.
  3. Required disclosures must be clear and conspicuous. In evaluating whether a disclosure is likely to be clear and conspicuous, advertisers should consider its placement in the ad and its proximity to the relevant claim. The closer the disclosure is to the claim to which it relates, the better. Additional considerations include: the prominence of the disclosure; whether it is unavoidable; whether other parts of the ad distract attention from the disclosure; whether the disclosure needs to be repeated at different places on a website; whether disclosures in audio messages are presented in an adequate volume and cadence; whether visual disclosures appear for a sufficient duration; and whether the language of the disclosure is understandable to the intended audience.
  4. To make a disclosure clear and conspicuous, advertisers should:
5. If a disclosure is necessary to prevent an advertisement from being deceptive, unfair, or otherwise violative of a Commission rule, and it is not possible to make the disclosure clearly and conspicuously, then that ad should not be disseminated. This means that if a particular platform does not provide an opportunity to make clear and conspicuous disclosures, then that platform should not be used to disseminate advertisements that require disclosures.

This document is a revision of a 2000 report titled "Dot Com Disclosures: Information About Online Advertising."

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