What Does the FTC Say About Disclosures? Top 10 Takeaways

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FTC and disclosures

Last week the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) hosted a Twitter Chat to help influencers learn about some of the many new rules regarding disclosure. But that’s not all that has been going on with the FTC. There have been letters to influencers, guidelines for Instagram, an updated endorsement guide, information on revealing affiliate information and a whole lot more. While New Creative Media participated in the #Influencers101 chat, instead of reading into the instructions and advice provided I’m just going to share with you straight from the FTC’s Twitter feed highlights from the conversation. We also have sources for your to refer to, email address to send your questions and our Top 10 Twitter Chat and New Disclosure Rules Takeaways.

FTC Twitter Chat Regarding Disclosure

ftc disclosures

ftc disclosure ftc disclosures ftc disclosures ftc disclosures ftc disclosures ftc disclosures

The official document is available here – https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking

 

Updated FTC Guidelines for Instagram

After petitions from Public Citizen complaining that “Instagram is being used for for disguised advertising directed towards young consumers,” the FTC reviewed Instagram posts from celebrities, athletes, and other influencers. For the first time, the FTC reached out directly to educate influencers about endorsements. They sent 90 letters to influencers and marketers with updated guidelines for sponsored Instagram posts with detailed instructions for making sure your disclosures are clear and conspicuous. This marks the first time for the FTC to reach out directly to influencers.

Top 10 Takeaways

  1. If you have a relationship with the brand, service, or event you must reveal that relationship. Your audience needs to be put on “notice” that a relationship exists.
  2. A relationship aka “material connection” is defined as “a connection that might affect the weight or credibility that consumers give the endorsement.” In other words your relationship with a brand could be seen as affecting the endorsement, no matter what the relationship is including financial, sponsorship, or products provided.
  3. Your disclosure of the relationship must be clear and conspicuous.
  4. There are very few “words” permitted to be used to inform of disclosure, but one thing is consistent. That the use of the word AD or #AD is acceptable.
  5. “Particular disclosures that are not sufficiently clear, pointing out that many consumers will not understand a disclosure like ‘#sp,’ ‘Thanks [Brand],’ or ‘partner’ in an Instagram post to mean that the post is sponsored.”
  6. Let’s talk “conspicuous” particularly as it pertains to Instagram and the use of mobile devices. Blogs may use the “read more” tool, your disclosure should come before that. Your disclosure needs to be before the advertising link – either an affiliate link or your blog post link. Here’s a popular example from Instagram:Content.

    .

    .

    .

    hashtag and disclosure hashtag.

    I admit I’ve been guilty of this. Your audience shouldn’t have to read more or open more in order to see the disclosure.

  7. More on conspicuous, avoid putting your disclosure “ad” in a long string or like this on Instagram. Your disclosure specifically MUST be above the “MORE” button. For example many have used this system.
  8. When disclosing on a image or video it must be super imposed over the first image – for example on Snapchat or Instastories as well as YouTube. In the case of YouTube it is best to also provide a written disclosure in your description.
  9. Disclosures on pages, linked to pages, or on profile page are not enough.
  10. Tools available on social media, for example the Facebook or Instagram Branded content tool are not enough. You must still disclose using the AD or #ad information.

 

Official statement:  The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter , read the FTC blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

If you have additional questions, specific questions, or require more information, please email: ENDORSEMENTS@ftc.gov

Sources: 

Twitter Chat

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2017/04/ftc-staff-reminds-influencers-brands-clearly-disclose

https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking

https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/attachments/press-releases/ftc-staff-reminds-influencers-brands-clearly-disclose-relationship/influencer_template.pdf

https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/press-releases/ftc-staff-revises-online-advertising-disclosure-guidelines/130312dotcomdisclosures.pdf

 

 

 

 

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