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FTC Clarifies Its Rules For Mobile, Social Ads

Must Provide Clear Disclosure, Despite Small Screens

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Advertising delivered through social media or on mobile phones needs to provide clear disclosures and abide by the same requirements that apply to newspaper and television messages, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said.

"Advertisers are responsible for ensuring that their messages are truthful and not deceptive," the agency said in updated guidelines issued today. It said it would take enforcement action against companies that violate consumer protection laws.

The guidelines aim to provide practical tools for advertising on smartphones or through social media like Facebook or Twitter services. The suggestions update the "Dot Com Disclosures" guidance the FTC issued in 2000 to cover the rise of online shopping.

The announcement was made by Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen in New Orelans at the 4As conference. She explained that new media was spurring the FTC's decision to issue the guidelines.

"Our new guidelines focus on two trends -- one, the movement toward advertising seen on small screens and how you make disclosures useful, clear and conspicuous to consumers," she said, "and two, the use of social media for marketing."

Advertisers need to take into account that most consumers won't scroll through a long ad for information, the full cost of a product should be presented before a purchase is made, and presenting hyperlinks that just say "disclaimer" or "more information" isn't adequate, according to the guidelines.

~ Bloomberg News ~
Ad Age contributed to this report

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