Online marketers should know the Dot Com Disclosures inside and out.
The “Dot Com Disclosures” was developed by the US Federal Trade Commission and lays down guidelines for businesses to consider when developing online advertisements, promotional campaigns, and social media marketing initiatives. Companies that violate its terms can be fiend for millions of dollars.
Unfortunately, the Dot Com Disclosures are somewhat vague, leading to inconsistencies in their application and outcomes.
The Dot Com Disclosures Summarized
The basic principle of the Dot Com Disclosures is that companies shouldn’t design or engineer their websites to deceive their visitors. Doing so is punishable with substantial fines.
Rule #1: Disclosures Should Be Intuitive and Straightforward
The legal standard for any type of disclosure, whether online or off, is “clear and conspicuous.” All terms of service, privacy policies, and marketing disclosures should be easy to spot, read, and understand. The design of the website should also make obvious what each disclosure is referring to.
Attempting to use formatting or page layout to hide disclosures or links to disclosures is especially problematic to the FTC. Fonts and links that are too small or lacking in contrast to read, or that are placed too far away from whatever they are addressing are unacceptable.
Rule #2: Label Native Advertising
Sponsored content must always be labeled as such in a “clear and conspicuous” manner where visitors will see it and associate the label with the content.
Rule #3: Provide Direct Links to the Terms and Conditions
A link that leads to a terms and conditions agreement must take the user directly to the applicable information. Convoluted riddles or redirects will anger the FTC and can result in hefty fines.
Rule #4: Monitor Your Affiliates
If you use affiliates to market your product or service the Dot Com Disclosures will hold you responsible for making sure that they comply with FTC guidelines.
If you are an affiliate marketing network and want a lawyer to review your campaign, get in touch. A small investment of time and money now may save you millions in FTC fines later on.
Did you find this FTC Dot Com Disclosures Guide helpful? If yes, check out the RM Warner Internet Law Blog!