In short, Internet Marketing is the way that businesses develop relationships with customers over the Internet. Internet Marketing strategies, use advertising and marketing efforts that use the Web and email to drive traffic to your website in addition to sales leads from Web sites or emails! The Internet offers a lot of opportunities for a person with only a small advertising budget to do the majority of Internet marketing themselves, working with little or no money!
If you’re thinking about advertising on the Internet, keep in mind that many of the same rules that apply to other forms of advertising apply to electronic marketing. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), their rules and guidelines protect businesses and consumers and help maintain the credibility of the Internet as an advertising medium. The following will give you an overview of some of the laws the FTC enforces.
The FTC Act prohibits unfair or deceptive advertising in any medium. When it comes to online ads, the basic principles of advertising law apply:
- ADVERTISING MUST TELL THE TRUTH AND NOT MISLEAD CONSUMERS.
- IN ADDITION, CLAIMS MUST BE SUBSTANTIATED.
- ADVERTISEMENTS CANNOT BE UNFAIR
In interpreting Section 5 of the Act, the Commission has determined that a representation, omission or practice is deceptive if it is likely to:
- mislead consumers and affect consumer’s behavior or decisions about the product or service.
- In addition, an act or practice is unfair if the injury it causes or is likely to cause is: substantial not outweighed by other benefits and not reasonably avoidable.
- A claim can be misleading if relevant information is left out or if the claim implies something that is not true.
For example, a lease advertisement for an automobile that promotes $0 Down may be misleading if significant and undisclosed charges are due at lease signing.
- In addition, claims must be substantiated, especially when they concern health, safety, or performance.
- The type of evidence may depend on the product, the claims, and what experts believe necessary.
- If your ad specifies a certain level of support for a claim test show X you must have at least that level of support.
Sellers, Advertising Agencies or Website Designers and Catalog Marketers
- Sellers are responsible for the claims they make about their products and services.
- Third parties such as advertising agencies or website designers and catalog marketers also may be liable for making or disseminating deceptive representations, if they participate in the preparation or distribution of the advertising, or know about the deceptive claims.
● Advertising agencies or website designers are responsible for reviewing the information used to substantiate ad claims. They may not simply rely on an advertiser’s assurance that the claims are substantiated.
In determining whether an ad agency should be held liable, the FTC looks at the extent of the agency’s participation in the preparation of the challenged ad, and whether the agency knew or should have known that the ad included false or deceptive claims
Catalog marketing is a sales technique used by businesses to group many items together in a printed piece or an online store.
● Most important, catalog marketers should trust their instincts when a product sounds too good to be true. To protect themselves, catalog marketers should ask for material to back up claims rather than repeat what the manufacturer says about the product. If the manufacturer doesn’t come forward with proof or turns over proof that looks questionable, the catalog marketer should see a yellow caution light and proceed appropriately, especially when it comes to extravagant performance claims, health or weight-loss promises, or earnings guarantees. When writing an ad copy, catalogers / online sellers or promoters should stick to claims that can be supported.
Online Disclaimers and Disclosures :
Although online commerce (including mobile and social media marketing) is booming, deception can dampen consumer confidence in the online marketplace. To ensure that products and services are described truthfully online and that consumers get what they pay for, the FTC continues to enforce its consumer protection laws. Most of the general principles of advertising law apply to online ads, but new issues arise almost as fast as technology develops.
A disclaimer is a statement in which a person says that they did not know about something or that they are not responsible for something. The company asserts in a disclaimer that it won’t be held responsible for the accuracy of information
● Disclaimers and disclosures must be clear and conspicuous. That is, consumers must be able to notice, read or hear, and understand the information. Still, a disclaimer or disclosure alone usually is not enough to remedy a false or deceptive claim.
The purpose of disclosure is to make available evidence which either supports or does not support claims about a particular product, service, or information.
- A disclosure is more effective if it is placed near the claim it qualifies for or other relevant information. Proximity increases the likelihood that consumers will see the disclosure and relate it to the relevant claim or product.
- For print ads, an advertiser might measure proximity in terms of whether the disclosure is placed adjacent to the claim, or whether it is separated from the claim by text or graphics. The same approach can be used for online ads.
- When advertisers are putting disclosures in a place where consumers might have to scroll in order to view them, they should use text or visual cues to encourage consumers to scroll and avoid formats that discourage scrolling. Text prompts can indicate that more information is available.
- An explicit instruction like “see below for important information on restocking fees” will alert consumers to scroll and look for the information. Dot Com Disclosures: Information About Online Advertising, provides additional information for online advertisers.
● Demonstrations must show how the product will perform under normal use.
● Refunds must be made to dissatisfied consumers if you promised to make them.
Advertising directed to children
● Advertising directed to children raises special issues. That’s because children may have greater difficulty evaluating advertising claims and understanding the nature of the information you provide. Sellers should take special care not to misrepresent a product or its performance when advertising to children.
The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has published specific guidelines for children’s advertising that you may find helpful.
Read the complete guide to Advertising and Marketing for small businesses.