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Guidance for Advertising Online

FTC issues new guidance

March 13, 2013

By Mortgage Daily staff

Newly issued guidance tackles issues confronting online advertisers. Many of the requirements for online advertising are the same as for offline ads.

While mortgage advertisers are subject to a host of requirements, rules and regulations that specifically address required disclosures for mortgage products -- they are additionally subject to Federal Trade Commission advertising requirements.

So the agency has issued updates to previously released guidance that will help all types of online advertisers ensure that their ads meet FTC requirements.

The updates were discussed in new guidance from the FTC entitled, .com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising.

The guidance takes into account the expanding use of smartphones and the rise of social media marketing.

"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," the FTC said in an announcement.

But while many of the general principles of advertising law apply to Internet ads, new issues have emerged with new technology.

Disclosures for online ads need to be clear and conspicuous and should be placed near the triggering claim and not be drowned out by competing images, text or audio.

In any event, the disclosures need to be provided before a financial obligation is incurred.

Text or visual cues need to encourage consumers to scroll down when necessary to read a disclosure.

When utilizing hyperlinks that lead to a disclosure, the links need to be obvious, appropriately labeled and consistently styled as a link. Links need to be noticeably near the relative information, and they need to take users directly to the click-through page. Companies should asses click-through rates to determine link effectiveness.

On lengthy web pages, the disclosure might need to be repeated.

The FTC acknowledged that same banner ads might be too small to include a disclosure. In such a situation, the disclosure must by clearly and conspicuously on the linked web site. But on interactive banners -- those where information can be entered without going to the web site -- the disclosure needs to be on the banner.

Online ads with audio need to include audio disclosures.

The new FTC guidance includes details and examples for the online advertising requirements.

read FTC's full guidance for online advertising

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