Guidance for Online Advertising Under Review by FTC Staff

This posting was written by Jeffrey May, Editor of CCH Trade Regulation Reporter.

The FTC is seeking public comment through July 11, 2011, on its guidance document published in 2000 that advises businesses how federal advertising law applies to advertising and sales on the Internet. The agency is looking for input on how its “Dot Com Disclosures: Information About Online Advertising” should be modified to reflect the dramatic changes to the online world since 2000. The May 3, 2000, FTC staff paper appears at CCH Trade Regulation Reporter ¶50,175.

The FTC staff has identified the following questions on which it has a particular interest in obtaining the public’s views:

(1) What issues have been raised by online technologies or Internet activities or features that have emerged since the business guide was issued (e.g., mobile marketing, including screen size) that should be addressed in a revised guidance document?

(2) What issues raised by new technologies or Internet activities or features on the horizon should be addressed in a revised business guide?

(3) What issues raised by new laws or regulations should be addressed in a revised guidance document?

(4) What research or other information regarding the online marketplace, online advertising techniques, or consumer online behavior should the staff consider in revising “Dot Com Disclosures”?

(5) What research or other information regarding the effectiveness of disclosures –and, in particular, online disclosures –should the staff consider in revising “Dot Com Disclosures”?

(6) What specific types of online disclosures, if any, raise unique issues that should be considered separately from general disclosure requirements?

(7) What guidance in the original “Dot Com Disclosures” document is outdated or unnecessary?

(8) What guidance in “Dot Com Disclosures” should be clarified, expanded, strengthened, or limited?

(9) What issues relating to disclosures have arisen from such multi-party selling arrangements in Internet commerce as (1) established online sellers providing a platform for other firms to market and sell their products online, (2) website operators being compensated for referring consumers to other Internet sites that offer products and services, and (3) other affiliate marketing arrangements?

(10) What additional issues or principles relating to online advertising should be addressed in the business guidance document?

(11) What other changes, if any, should be made to “Dot Com Disclosures”?

Comments can be filed until July 11, 2011, at: https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/dotcomdisclosures . Alternatively, comments, noted as “Dot Com Disclosures, P114506,” can be submitted in paper form to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex I), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.