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With the rise of Web 2.0 tools, advertisers have a plethora of new opportunities to promote products and, unfortunately, dupe online users. For this reason, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed new regulations regarding misleading online endorsements, which could hinder online advertisers' ability to use social networking sites and blogs to promote products. The last time the FTC updated the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising was 1980. To find out how the regulations would be received, the FTC opened the topic for public comment on its Web site. While some question the necessity of the revisions, others think they are a much-needed modernization of outdated regulations. According to the FTC, the new revisions will continue to be assessed in the coming months.
content news FTC Revamps Endorsement Regulations and Puts Bloggers on Thin Ice ome internet scams are easy to spot—pop-ups boasting While this may put a stop to blatant false advertising, bloggers S miracle weight loss or emails claiming you’ve won the lottery—but other, more subtle scams aren’t as easy to identify. who review products will have to watch their backs as well. “In revising the guides, which are nearly 30 years old, the With the rise of Web 2.0 tools, advertisers have a plethora of commission will address current marketing techniques, such as new opportunities to promote products and, unfortunately, blogging and word-of-mouth advertising. Those who are dupe online users. For this reason, the Federal Trade compensated to promote or review a product using these Commission (FTC) has proposed new regulations regarding techniques are not exempt from the laws governing truthful misleading online endorsements, which could hinder online advertising,” says a statement from Richard Cleland, assistant advertisers’ ability to use social networking sites and blogs to director of the division of advertising practices at the FTC. promote products. David Meerman Scott, marketing strategist and contributing “Testimonials that do not describe typical consumer editor for EContent, wrote about the nuances of these new experiences should be accompanied by clear and conspicuous regulations on his Web Ink Now blog. In a post titled disclosure of the results consumers can generally expect to “Bloggers in Handcuffs,” Scott wrote about these new achieve from the advertised product or program,” says a press regulations: “This is an important potential worry for people release issued by the FTC regarding the proposed revisions. who talk about products that have been provided to them by a The last time the FTC updated the Guides Concerning the Use company. … I’ve been an advocate of full disclosure when of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising was 1980. doing a review on an expensive product that you have “The guidelines with respect to endorsements predate all of received for free. But now that I think about it, I do not this online marketing, social networking sites, and a whole host disclose that I received a book for free if I write about the of litigation that has happened since,” says Roberta Jacobs-Meadway, an intellectual property attorney, and a member of the firm of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott. Almost 30 years later, these guides are being revamped. “What the [new] guidelines are saying is that you have to obey the same basic principles of disclosure when you are in a social networking situation and when you are using newer media to plug the
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