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10 Yellow Signals to Communication On-line

March 20, 2012

10 Yellow Signals to Communication On-line.
Advertising and Marketing on the Internet

This week Apple launched the IPAD 3. In three days they sold nearly 3 million units. That is a great success for any product, especially one that connects us all to the Internet. Today, marketing of any format must include how to best reach your target audience through communication using the Internet. On-line communication can be seen sometimes as informal but the truth is a marketer must carefully craft a message to target to their audience. Communication on-line of any sort is a vital part of any 360 degree marketing plan but remember that some of this communication is advertising (if not all of it). Advertising on the Internet does have rules of engagement which are some of the same rules that apply to other forms of advertising. The FTC manages these guidelines and will monitor improper, unfair or illegal forms of advertising on-line. You can read more about this in detail at WWW.FTC.GOV but here are 10 Yellow Signals most marketers need to be mindful of.

1. The Federal Trade Commission Act allows the FTC to act in the interest of all consumers to prevent deceptive and unfair acts or practices. Section 5 of the Act, considers any representation, omission or practice as deceptive if it is likely to mislead consumers and affect consumers’ behavior or decisions about the product or service. This is important to remember when you say “this is the best thing sense sliced bread” when in fact it has nothing to do with bread.
2. Advertising must tell the truth and not mislead consumers. If relevant information is left out or if the claim implies something that it is not true, you could be misleading. Most claims must be substantiated. Expert support should be included and you need to pay careful attention to detail when it comes to health, safety and performance claims.
3. Just because you are not the principal does not mean you are not guilty of misleading. Most Advertising agencies or website designers are responsible for reviewing information and substantiating any ad claims. If the agency knows about the misleading information it could be as harmful to them as the principal.
4. Even catalog marketers should look to back up claims. Trust but verify. Extravagant performance claims always send up red flares. If it sounds too good to be true – is it?
5. If you present a disclaimers and disclosure make sure that it is clear and can be noticed and read. Keep in mind that a disclaimer does not relieve the advertiser from keeping the message true.
6. In today’s viral word, videos are necessary to help with product demonstrations and are usually a great tool to spur sales. Make sure you can demonstrate your product under normal use conditions and do not exaggerate (unless you have a talking dog).
7. When advertising to children there are additional levels of awareness your marketing team must be mindful of. Remember that children have little means to distinguish what advertising is all about. You should get the specific guidelines from The Children’s Advertising Review Unit to better understand these responsibilities. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) covers any commercial websites directed to children under 13 years old or general audience sites that collect information from a child. You should always obtain parental permission before collecting such information. Check the specialized FTC site at http://www.ftc.gov/kidzprivacy to review site operator’s guidelines and provisions of COPPA.
8. If your ad uses phrases like “satisfaction guaranteed” or “money-back guarantee” you must be willing to give full refunds for any reason. You also must tell the consumer the terms of the offer within the ad.
9. When you claim “Made in the U.S.A.” make sure that your product is made in the United States. Over 52% mad in the U.S.A. may not cut it so be careful how you say this.
10. The Internet provides unprecedented opportunities and risks with the collection of information from consumers. Consumers are generally concerned about this so this could be a great opportunity for marketers to build trust with a strong privacy policy. While a recent FTC online privacy study reported that only 41 percent random selected samples provided privacy disclosures it does not mean that your website should not. Build trust with your target audience.

Visit http://www.ftc.gov to get more information about all of this but remember being legal never means that you are ethical. Sometimes doing the right thing goes a long way and staying legal will keep you out of jail.

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