Internet Advertising: Clear and Conspicuous
The Clear and Conspicuous Requirement
The FTC offers free information on how to comply with advertising laws. One requirement for on-line advertising is that disclosures are clear and conspicuous:
Disclosures that are required to prevent deception — or to provide consumers material information about a transaction — must be presented “clearly and conspicuously.”
Whether a disclosure meets this standard is measured by its performance—that is, how consumers actually perceive and understand the disclosure within the context of the entire ad. The key is the overall net impression of the ad—that is, whether the claims consumers take from the ad are truthful and substantiated.
In reviewing their online ads, advertisers should adopt the perspective of a reasonable consumer.
They also should assume that consumers don’t read an entire Web site, just as they don’t read every word on a printed page.
In addition, it is important for advertisers to draw attention to the disclosure. Making the disclosure available somewhere in the ad so that consumers who are looking for the information might find it doesn’t meet the clear and conspicuous standard.
Even though consumers have control over what and how much information they view on Web sites, they may not be looking for—or expecting to find—disclosures. Advertisers are responsible for ensuring that their messages are truthful and not deceptive. Accordingly, disclosures must be communicated effectively so that consumers are likely to notice and understand them.