When it comes to online advertising, it’s a good idea to keep your ear to the ground at all times, especially if you’re blogging or using any type of social media to advertise your business. Sure you need to keep up with trends or evolving technologies, but sometimes there are regulatory guidelines you need to be aware of, such as the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) recently revised guidelines (“Guides”) concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising.
The Guides went into effect on December 1, 2009, and cover the advertising of products and services. Of note, they stipulate that:
- The material connection between advertiser and endorser should be disclosed in the advertisement.
- Advertisers using blog advertising can be held liable for bloggers’ statements.
- Endorsers must remain a user of the product or service during the advertisement’s run.
Violation of the guidelines can lead to liability for both the advertiser and endorser. While the Guides are not binding, legally they provide a foundation that advertisers can use in order to build protection from liability. If you rely on third-party advertising, such as testimonial blogs, make it a point to review the ways in which your products and services are endorsed to make sure they comply with the revised FTC’s Guides.
A complete copy of the Guides is available on the FTC website.