July 12, 2017
Following FTC Rules on Online Marketing
For most of the 20th-century television advertising was a regulated industry. Initiatives like Kidvid and the Fairness Doctrine helped keep television a balanced but still profitable business platform for a number of successful companies.
When the web first became popular in the early 90s it was not immediately accepted as a commercial platform. Since online advertising has now become a multibillion-dollar business it is necessary for regulators to take a closer look at how products are promoted on the web. The Federal Trade Commission is the organization tasked with making sure customers have a clear idea what they’re buying and from whom.
If you are promoting a product on the Internet your obligations under FTC regulations are fairly simple. You need to make certain that your customer knows who is selling the product, who is promoting the product and who is reviewing the product. From a regulatory standpoint, this is known as “transparency.”
Following these guidelines makes it possible for the customer to make an informed decision about their purchase while not having to worry about whether or not reviews, promotions, and sales techniques are genuine.
As a reviewer, your main obligation under FTC regulations is to disclose any relationship you may have with the manufacturer of a product or any relationship you may have with other reviewers. This is so customers who read your review will be reassured your opinion has not been unnecessarily influenced by the manufacturer or by other reviewers. This principle also to ensures you haven’t been secretly compensated for your efforts in reviewing a product.
Disclosure principles become especially important in the world of influencer marketing. Many bloggers have made a career of reviewing products on their sites. The trust between bloggers and their readers is the foundation upon which their business operates.
If they endorse a product at the behest of a manufacturer they are required to disclose to their readers the manufacturer compensated them for their article or opinion or paid marketing. This rule creates a distinction between an independent reviewer and a paid marketing campaign.
By and large Federal Trade Commission regulations are very easy to follow. At the same time they are a necessary part of online marketing because they help enforce the difference between paid marketing and the genuine opinion of another customer. Only this level of trust makes it possible for online marketing to join other media in being a part of a successful economy.