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March 21, 2013

FTC Updates Guidelines for Online Advertising

For the first time since 2000, the FTC has updated its “.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising” guide. The guide exists to bar deceptive advertising and now further clarifies rules and regulations regarding online advertising to extend to new forms including mobile and social media that were not in existence a decade ago.

The updated “.com Disclosures” emphasize that its guidelines apply to all ads across all mediums. This means that disclosures need to be clear and conspicuous regardless of how the ad is viewed by the consumer – including on small screen mobile devices or as a Tweets® on Twitter®. The guide further clarifies that if a disclosure cannot be made clear and conspicuous on a specific device or platform that it should not be used.

The FTC is advising advertisers to avoid using pop-ups (which are often blocked) or hyperlinks for important disclosure information. They further state that advertisers need to consider how disclosures will appear on all devices with varying screen sizes including computers, tablets and smartphones. It is also advised that considerations be made if a consumer has to scroll to reach disclosure information as important information may be overlooked if one does not scroll far enough or in the right direction. If scrolling is necessary to reach disclosures, text or other visual cues should be used to prompt consumers to do so.

Check out the complete updated guide to ensure your online ads are in compliance and to view mock ads that illustrate best practices.