Due to the latest announcement of changes in regulations for advertisers in the USA, a lot of people talk, write, and speculate about that subject.
Situation In The USA
- Disclose the use of affiliate links on your sites and in your social media profiles.
- Disclose any form of relationship when writing about commercial products and services. Even if you only got a free sample worth $0.99
- Monitor your affiliates and publishers for compliance with the new regulations.
- Always tell the truth.
- Think twice before showing specific results in testimonials.
- Last but not least don't use fake blogs with made up reviews and those kind of things.
Situation In The European Union
Let's not forget, the Internet is more or less a medium without national borders.
I mean to say, it is likely that any website targeted to US consumers will effect some of the 500 million consumers in the European union as well.
- Press release: Consumers - New EU rules crackdown on misleading advertising and aggressive sales practices (Dec. 2007)
- The Unfair Commercial Practices Directive
[PDF Document, 32 pages, 708 KiBytes]
At the core of the EU regulation efforts are 4 key elements for eliminating unfair business practices.
- A far reaching general clause defining practices which are unfair and therefore prohibited.
- Misleading Practices (Actions and Omissions) and Aggressive Practices.
- Safeguards for vulnerable consumers.
- An extensive black list of practices which are banned in all circumstances.
A Short Teaser - The "Dirty Dozen Black List"
- Bait advertising
- Fake "Free" offers
- Direct exhortations to children to buy advertised products
- False claims about curative capacity
- Pyramid schemes
- Prize Winning
- Misleading impression of consumers’ rights
- Limited offers (!)
- Language of after-sales service
- Inertia Selling
- Europe-wide guarantees
I kept this introduction very short on purpose to motivate you look up the detailed documents published by the European Commission. (links above)
The Bottom Line
- Always tell the truth.
- Don't hide anything about your relationship with the seller/advertiser.
- Be upfront with your motives
- Keep in mind you are writing for a typical consumer. Their expectations are the measure for all things.
- Monitor your agents/affiliates and make sure they comply with all regulations.
- No false pressure.
- Some extra rules for special interest groups like children, low income consumers, and a lot of extra regulations for some markets like health, fitness, financial, real estate, etc. …
Most people in business will be up-to-date with most regulations. Major shift right now is concerning product endorsements and the use of testimonials.
No reason to freak out.
John W. Furst
P.S.: Frank Kern's post about those matters is very educational and entertaining to some extent as well. Go check it out.
- “FTC Declares Shenanigans On All Kinds Of Stuff!”
My comment on Frank's blog: “Absolutely d’accord. Makes sense. I mean, when it starts to rain, what do you do? You take an umbrella, still go out and keep your smile on your face, don’t you. Like in the great movie ‘Singing In The Rain’ … ”
(This entire blog post reflects my personal opinion and is certainly not any form of legal advice.)
Andy Beard – Internet Business Systems on : FTC Fake Bait & Disclosure
E-Biz Booster Blog on : Websites And Law Across Borders (FTC versus EU)
E-Biz Booster Blog on : New FTC Rules: The Clock Is Ticking
E-Biz Booster Blog on : FTC Changes For Internet Marketers Coming Up Fast Dec. 01, 2009
E-Biz Booster Blog on : Better Let Your Prospects Know About You
Comments are closed.
However, if you want to tell me something, drop me a line. Contact Us link in the footer.