The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is one of the primary policing agencies for online marketing compliance. If you are marketing online it is smart to get familiar with their guidelines for compliance.
Getting educated on these guidelines is as simple as researching FTC’s “Advertising and Marketing on the Internet: Rules of the Road.” However, getting the general concept is even easier–it boils down to two primary principles:
- Advertising must tell the truth and not mislead consumers
- Claims made must be substantiated
The FTC’s mission is simple and outlined in the Federal Trade Commission Act, which allows the FTC to act in the interest of consumers to prevent deceptive and unfair practices. So, what is a deceptive or unfair practice?
A deceptive practice is one that:
- Misleads consumers
- Affects consumers’ behavior or decisions
An unfair practice is one that:
- Causes substantial injury
- Injury is not outweighed by other benefits
- Injury is not reasonably avoidable
If you are responsible for marketing products and services to consumers it is important to conduct some due diligence:
- Review material that substantiates claims, products, and services
- Disclaimers and disclosures must be clear and conspicuous
- Demonstrations must show products and services under normal conditions
- Refunds, if promised, must be made on request
- Advertising directed at children has special rules
Marketing compliance is really a simple exercise in using good, honest judgment and talking to consumers is a clear way. Take a close look at FTC guidance to stay on the straight and narrow.
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