New FTC Rules on Testimonials and Endorsements

Pay attention if you use testimonials in your salescopy, or if you endorse other people’s products on your blog or website in return for any type of compensation. The FTC has introduced new rules that require more disclosure. The rules go into effect on December 1, 2009.

The rules aim to protect consumers from:

  • unrealistic expectations
  • unverified results claims
  • paid endorsements disguised as editorial content
  • endorsements that don’t tell the truth

Here are the basics:

Testimonials

Testimonials turbocharge your marketing. If you can quote happy customers who have achieved great results, it’s almost as powerful as somebody recommending your product to a friend.

And of course you always want to quote the happiest customers who have achieved the greatest results.

Until now, all you had to do was add a disclaimer saying “Results not typical” and you were within the law. Now you need to:

  • Verify that the person giving the testimonial has actually achieved the stated results
  • Verify the typical results a consumer can expect to achieve, and state them (e.g., “Most consumers will save $20 – $35 per month using this product.”)
  • Verify that the testimonial still stands if you make a change to the product being endorsed

That means it’s still okay to use testimonials that boast about spectacular results as long as you also make it clear what the average results are. Check the FTC’s official guide for examples demonstrating what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Endorsements

This one is a much bigger can of worms.

Endorsements are a highly effective way to get word out about your product or service. People in a buying frame of mind seek out good reviews and recommendations on other sites before they make their decision.

So smart online marketers offer free products for bloggers to try… or put their products in pay-per-post programs where bloggers get paid for reviewing them… or get their products mentioned on their affiliates’ websites.

That way, they get word of mouth PLUS links back to their site (which are invaluable for search engine optimization).

Now the FTC wants anyone endorsing a product on their own website to “disclose clearly and conspicuously” when they are being compensated for their services.

The spirit of these rules is to ensure that anything that appears as a spontaneous endorsement actually reflects the true opinions, experience, and beliefs of the person doing the endorsing.

If there’s a chance that that person’s opinions, etc. might have been swayed by money, free product, or other considerations, then they must disclose.

However, there are so many gray areas in here it’s almost impossible to figure out what “compensation” is. If a blogger gets a freebie and writes about it, is that compensation? Depends on the value of the item, how often this blogger is given free samples, and how the blogger got it for free in the first place.

How about affiliates? Looks like they’re covered by this:

“When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience), such connection must be fully disclosed.”

AdSense advertisers? Social media posters? We can think of lots of other cases that might lie in that gray area, and don’t appear to be covered in detail in the full-on 81-page document. Still, if you think you might be affected, better read it.

Who’ll be affected most? “Review” bloggers and affiliates, seeing they’re the ones who have the clearest and most consistent relationships with producers.

How will this change affect you? Let us know what you think about it.

Comments

  1. says

    Somebody necessarily assist to make severely posts I might state. This is the first time I frequented your web page and so far? I surprised with the analysis you made to make this particular publish amazing. Magnificent job!

  2. says

    I really appreciate this post. I’ve been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thank you again! “Every time we remember to say thank you, we experience nothing less than heaven on earth.” by Sarah Ban Breathnach.

  3. says

    It goes without the need of saying that you are one wonderful writer. With that mentioned, I assumed I’d abandon you that has a quotation from an additional good writer… “Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love.”

  4. says

    This is extremely good. I was pleasantly surprised to see this information so well put together, definitely planning to post this on facebook so the husband can see it. Cheers!

  5. says

    Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  6. says

    Thanks for your publication on the traveling industry. We would also like to include that if you are a senior considering traveling, it is absolutely imperative that you buy travel insurance for senior citizens. When traveling, retirees are at biggest risk of experiencing a healthcare emergency. Obtaining right insurance policy package for your age group can protect your health and provide you with peace of mind.

  7. says

    Thanks for your helpful post. In recent times, I have come to understand that the particular symptoms of mesothelioma cancer are caused by your build up connected fluid between the lining on the lung and the breasts cavity. The illness may start from the chest spot and get distributed to other parts of the body. Other symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include losing weight, severe respiration trouble, a fever, difficulty eating, and bloating of the neck and face areas. It really should be noted that some people existing with the disease tend not to experience almost any serious signs and symptoms at all.

  8. says

    Awesome blog you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any forums that cover the same topics discussed in this article? I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get comments from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Many thanks!

  9. says

    Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your website, how can i subscribe for a weblog site? The account helped me a acceptable deal. I have been a little bit familiar of this your broadcast provided vivid clear concept

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>