Part 2: Tips for Businesses Advertising Online in the U.S.
Part 1 of this blog series on digital advertising, we canvassed
the disclosure rules in light of the recent the U.S. Federal Trade
Commission's recent publication, ".com Disclosures, How to Make Effective Disclosures
in Digital Advertising". In Part 2 of this blog series, we
will set out some tips and guidelines to assist
businesses in complying with the disclosure rules and avoid falling
afoul the FTC.
Entities conducting business online in the U.S. ought to
consider whether its advertising meets these guidelines:
Prominent and Unavoidable: Disclosure should
be at least as large as the related claim and should be in a colour
that contrasts with the background. In some cases, graphics may
help make the disclosure more prominent. Keep in mind that viewers
will see the advertisement on a variety of devices, so websites
should either be designed so that the disclosure is clear and
conspicuous regardless of the type of device, or a mobile-specific
website could be created.
Free from distraction: Avoid flashing or
animated graphics, colours, distracting sounds or texts, links that
lead to other sites and "add to cart" buttons that
prevent the viewer from noticing, reading or listening to the
Repeat important information: Long websites,
or those that can be accessed through multiple points of entry may
require the disclosure to be repeated to ensure that a viewer will
see the disclosure, although disclosure should not be repeated so
often that a viewer would see it as clutter and ignore it.
Suitable volume or duration: Audio claims
should be accompanied by audio disclosures, and a reasonable
consumer should be able to hear and understand the message. Where a
claim is made in writing, disclosure should not be placed solely in
an audio or video clip because viewers may not have speakers, or
have their sound turned off.
In the appropriate language for the intended
audience: Use plain language and syntax.
Track the viewer: Use technology to track how
consumers are viewing the disclosure.For example, when hyperlinks
are used, the advertiser should monitor viewers' click-through
rate as a measure of the effectiveness of the disclosure. Also,
keep abreast of research about where consumers do and do not look
on the screen.
Protect offline shoppers: When a product is
also available for purchase at a "bricks and mortar"
store, ensure that any required disclosure is included with the
online ad – before the consumer heads to the shopping
Free products: Bloggers who receive products
for free for the purposes of review must disclose that fact, and
the disclosure should be made prior to any hyperlinks on the page
that may lead the viewer away from the page without having first
viewed the disclosure.
Software license agreements generally require the customer to pay fees for the software license and related services, which fees are usually based upon the duration of the license and the manner in which the customer is allowed to use the software, together with applicable taxes and withholdings.
In less than nine months, on July 1, 2017, persons affected by a contravention of Canada's anti-spam legislation will be able to invoke a private right of action to sue for compensation and potentially substantial statutory damages.
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