SEMA eNews Vol. 13, No. 28, July 15, 2010

FTC Answers Questions About the Use of Endorsements in Virtual Advertising

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published answers to “frequently asked questions” (FAQs) to help businesses better understand the FTC’s “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” The guides were revised in October 2009 to clarify that they apply to all types of advertising, including via social media websites and blogs. Disclosure to consumers of the relationship between ads and advertisers has always been the focus of the guides, and the October 2009 revisions detail which messages qualify as advertisements in the digital age.

The FTC clarified that messages must either be easily discernable to consumers as advertisements, and when they are not conspicuous ads, include disclaimers. The FAQ document breaks-down what is and is not permissible in online advertising endorsements/testimonials. It explains that advertisers utilizing online forums to post testimonials must include a disclaimer to inform consumers that the testimonials have been influenced by the company producing, selling or marketing the product that is being recommended.

The FAQ document may be downloaded here.

For more information, contact Ashley Ailsworth at ashleya@sema.org.

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