New FTC Guidelines Takes Effect

I received an email from Azoogle Ads letting me know that the new FTC Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising went into effect on December 1st. Everyone should take note because this will affect your business.

The Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (the “Guides”) focus specifically on online marketing. The Guides address all “endorsements” i.e., advertising messages which may be understood as the opinion of someone other than the sponsoring advertiser, from the perspective of consumers. All messages of this type, regardless of whether they originate from consumers, celebrities, groups or organizations, are all classified as endorsements.

The Guides state that:

  • Endorsements must reflect the honest opinions and true experience of the endorser. If paid actors are used, this fact must be disclosed.
  • Endorsements may not contain any representations which would be deceptive, or could not be substantiated, if made directly by the advertiser.
  • Endorsements must be representative of what consumers can reasonably expect to achieve. Any claim made by the endorser must reflect the opinion or experience of a significant proportion of consumers. Disclaimers like “results not typical” are no longer sufficient.
  • All material connections between the advertiser and the endorser (including research or medical organizations) that consumers would not expect must be disclosed, including free products or monetary compensation.

The Guides will likely lead to increased enforcement by the FTC and the state Attorneys General. The full text of the Guides may be found here.

What Does This Mean To You?

For many bloggers, these new guidelines won’t change the way you do business. Most sponsored post networks required disclosure before the new FTC rules. Also, the FTC only operates in the US. If you don’t have any offices or servers on US soil, it’ll be pretty hard for the FTC to come after you for guidelines violations. The easiest way to comply with the rules is to have a very clear disclosure policy.

46 thoughts on “New FTC Guidelines Takes Effect”

  1. Oh joy, now we’re one step close to Socialism in the US

    1. Dean Saliiba says:

      You’re saying that like socialism is a bad thing?

      1. Of course socialism is a bad thing, where are you from? You want tthe state to control commerce?

        1. control commerce is not socialism in my opinion.

          1. What I mean when I say control, is own. When the state owns industry and the way commerce is conducted, that is socialism.

  2. PV Reymond says:

    Yes, the new FTC guidelines went into effect on December 1st.

    The point is that there is a lot of noise and confusion about how this works, but I watched a video where a director of the FTC clarified everything.

    Hope you find it useful. Here it is…

    ^PV Reymond

    1. Nothing is clarified. The FTC make things purposley vague so they can go after you anytime they want.

      1. Many more amendments are going to take place in this in coming days.

  3. Ron Givens says:

    With the preponderance of misleading information via false testimonials, SPAM and outright lying, this should be a welcome change to all honest marketers and serve as the bane of all snake oil salesmen.

    If you take a look at the guidelines, you will see that they are a very general set of changes that are common sense, and connected to simply disclosure and honesty, plain and simple.

    This will far from clean up all the trash that is floating out there, but will assist those who are interested in offering a legitimate product or service and collecting hard earned payment for such.

    Bravo FTC.

    1. Boo hiss FTC!!! We have way too much government intervention in business already in this country, we don’t need more. Granted, it should be, and already is against the law to rip people off and it should be up to the individual states attorneys to regulate what a rip off is, not the Storm Troopers at the FTC.

  4. These guidelines are going to send the infomercial world in a tail spin. One of the guidelines is that they have to spell out complete conditions related to results of their products.

    For instance, advertisers can no longer just say Jane Doe lost 10 lbs on XY weight loss system in 5 days, they have to say Jane Doe lost 10lbs on XY weight loss system in 5 days while eating only shakes and veggies three times a day, taking our product 4 times a day and running 5 miles a day.

    I think a lot of the paid programs on tv are being revamped as we speak.

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  5. Blogging Ads says:

    Frankly, these guidelines change very little from the standpoint of most bloggers, as you pointed out, John. We already required our bloggers to have a clear disclosure policy in a visible place, such as the footer of their blog.

    Now that these guidelines have been updated (for the first time in 29 years), it’s back to business as usual. The world has changed quite a bit since 1980; it’s hard to believe that the FTC really went this long without issuing new recommendations.

    The economy functions best when the government lays its hands off businesses. Too much regulation can lead to less creativity on the part of advertisers, and this can lead to less conversions. It’s important to protect consumers, but if the economy isn’t stimulated properly, consumers won’t have any money to consume with. I trust the FTC will keep this in mind.

  6. James says:

    Can you please clarify what FTC guidelines mean for an online affiliate. For example, if I promote a product through a blog without using the product myself, what am I supposed to do so that I don’t go against FTC guidelines. Thanks.

    1. Of course you can do that, but you just can’t say you’ve used the product and it’s given you great results when it hasn’t. And somewhere you on yuor blog you must state that you make money for the complete dunces at the FTC.

      1. In nutshell you have to tell the truth and as John says you should have clear disclosure policy to take care of every thing.

        1. Lee Ka Hoong says:

          Is that enough to just state everything in the disclosure policy like John and not to state the statement in the post if the post if a sponsored review?

  7. Oh no! Now I can no longer write my fake reviews

    1. You probably shouldn’t have been doing fake reviews in the first place.

      1. Yes if you want to do long term business than just keep your self away from such things.

  8. Kevin Pasco says:

    I’m in Canada so I don’t have to follow these rules 😛

    1. Rob says:

      Cool, so I know not to trust you!

      1. Kevin Pasco says:

        I was solely referring to the fact that I don’t have to announce myself as an affiliate. In my opinion, it’s an advantage when your prospects and customers don’t know you’re making money off the stuff they buy.

  9. Diabetis says:

    I’m glad to know that they won’t be able to after me.

  10. I am working on my disclosure right now. I need it because my web hosting server in USA.

  11. Looks like things will be getting strict on the internet now. I have to start working my disclosures for my sites

  12. Tinh says:

    I think I need to make up my disclaimer page too as I am using HostGator now

    1. Just make it up, it isn’t that big of a deal.

      1. Did not understand … if you are using Hostgator than why do you need to make disclaimer page ??

        1. Because HostGator is based in the USA.

  13. I am not living in the US, but just to be sure I adapted my site policies already some weeks ago. SY

  14. fas says:

    95% servers are in the US.

  15. Benjamin Cip says:

    As my server is in the USA, I’ll have to write a disclosure…

  16. Morgan says:

    At the end of the day this will help get rid of many of the junk pages sitting online taking-up space.

    1. No, the junk pages will still be there.

      1. Yep, they will still be there. There are WAY to many people for them to track down every B.S. site on the net.

        But I agree with a lot of the posts above. The FTC makes stuff so vague it’s not even funny. Even that interview that the link was posted to a few comments up had a ton of vague stuff in it.

        If your honest, and don’t just make [email protected] up as a review, you’ll be fine.

        1. Honesty is the best policy when selling anything, then you don’t have to worry about the FTC.

      2. If Internet is here than junk pages will also be here as well.

        Both deeply related to each other.

      3. They’ll just move servers to Russia or some other country where they can operate wiuth impunity…..while the regular guys will have to work with a lot of restrictions imposed on their doings.

  17. chester says:

    Bummer, I heard they’re going to crack down on this.

  18. oes tsetnoc says:

    As my server is in the USA, I’ll have to write original content

    1. Hiya dude! I see a couple of guys busy with this weird anchor text, and then I follwed your link to find out about the SEO CONTEST that is being run. I suppose for a potential $1000 first prioze it is worth all the effort. Good luck with your link building endeavours!

  19. Lee Ka Hoong says:

    I host with my blog with Hostgator, so I’ll need to write a disclosure policy too right?

  20. John’s disclosure policy works for me…..heheheheheh. Too many people fall for the [email protected] they get fed by unscrupulous advertisers, and on this level I totally agree with better controls. On the flipside I really don’t want to see the free internet space degrade into a barbed wire world policed by the jackbooted internet gestapo….

  21. Sam says:

    Fact is, such “guidelines” will only hurt the honest marketers. They’re going to fail again just like they failed to eliminate spam and regular online business with the CAN-SPAM Act.

    Here’s what I’m going to do: Incorporate in a different country and move my servers there. Simple (well, simpler than trying to comply with these vague guidelines) and effective. The FTC can kiss my behind.

  22. Don’t you just love the FTC? They get their jollies reulating commerce Intertubes.

  23. Gerlaine says:

    If lawn mower companies have to disclose not to put your fingers near the moving blades, because you may cut of your fingers… then I am okay with disclosing that I am selling something, even though it is obvious.

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