Interpretation of Rules and Guides for Electronic Media
May 14, 1999 Workshop
TheseWeb pages are intended to illustrate issues relating to clear and conspicuous disclosures in online advertisements. The disclosures at issue are those required by the FTC's rules and guides. These pages are not intended to demonstrate a correct way of making disclosures or approved language to be used in disclosures. Instead, they are meant to generate discussion of the factors that should be considered in evaluating whether online disclosures are clear and conspicuous. We hope that the discussion that flows from these examples can be applied to more than just the product, claim or disclosure at issue.
These ads are fake and are intended only for the limited purpose of discussing how disclosures should be evaluated. In the real world, we would evaluate, among other things, whether the entire ad as a whole is deceptive, whether objective claims about the product are substantiated, and whether other disclosures would be necessary to prevent the ad from deceiving consumers.
In reviewing these ads, please focus on how the disclosure is made in each ad and evaluate whether it is clear and conspicuous. Consider, among other things, the placement of the disclosure, its proximity to the claim being modified, its prominence, the existence of distracting factors, and whether you can return to the disclosure.
Background on FTC Fashion Jewelry Ads:
The Web pages that follow contain various versions of Internet advertisements for imitation pearls and diamond jewelry. The ads were created by FTC staff and any resemblance to real products is unintentional.
The disclosures made in these ads are required by the FTC's Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals and Pewter Industries, 16 C.F.R. Part 23. The Jewelry Guides state that imitation pearls be identified as "imitation" or "simulated," so that consumers are not misled about the type of pearl they are purchasing. The Guides also state that when diamond weights are given as fractions (i.e., "3/4 carat"), sellers should disclose that the weight is not exact and the range of weights represented by the fractional claim.
Background on the QuickDDRIP (Quick Download, Decode, Record, Instant Play) Ads:
The Web pages that follow contain various versions of an Internet advertisement for an imaginary computer product that we call QuickDDRIP. This product and the ads describing it were created by FTC staff and are fictional. Any resemblance to real products, existing brand names or actual persons is unintentional.
The disclosures made in these ads are required by the FTC's Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, 16 C.F.R. Part 255. We ask that you assume that QuickDDRIP has the features described but that these features may not perform equally well for all consumers. QuickDDRIP speeds up Internet connections so that websites load faster and information and other files download more quickly. As a result of this increased speed, the quality of audio and video from the Internet improves, as does your ability to play interactive games or experience virtual reality sites. But, because of differences in computer equipment and the quality of phone line conditions, QuickDDRIP may not perform equally well for all consumers. Therefore, please assume that many of the experiences detailed in the testimonials may not be typical and a disclosure concerning the typicality of the experience should be made pursuant to the Guides.
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Background on Banner Ads
This mock ad was originally proposed by DoubleClick, Inc., with input by FTC staff. The disclosures made in these ads are required by the FTC's Guides Concerning Use of the Word "Free" and Similar Representations, 16 C.F.R. Part 251.