Blog Posts Tagged with Online Advertising and Marketing

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Review, rethink, reform

TVs, textiles, appliances, and spam. That may sound like an eclectic shopping list at a big box retailer, but they’re clues to an FTC development you and your clients should know about.

They’re all categories affected by four rules the FTC is putting under the regulatory microscope: the Picture Tube Rule, the Textile Rules, the Energy Labeling Rule, and the CAN-SPAM Rule.

FTC settlement with Amazon yields $70 million for consumers, advice for business

The FTC’s law enforcement action against Amazon for unauthorized billing recently settled, leaving two key takeaways: 1) Consumers are eligible for more than $70 million in refunds; and 2) Businesses need to get customers’ express consent before placing charges on their credit or debit cards.

BOTS Act: That’s the ticket!

It used to be a rite of passage: spending the night in a line outside the box office to score tickets to the Stones, Springsteen, or [insert your favorite group here]. The convenience of internet ticket sales ended the sleeping-on-the-sidewalk ritual. But online ticket sales raised another concern: Were prospective buyers losing out to computer programs that scooped up the best seats only to resell them at inflated prices?

FTC alleges deceptive “free” offers teed off golfers and left home chefs feeling burned

When websites prominently advertised “FREE!” golf balls and other gear, duffers and low-handicappers alike swung for the deal. But according to the FTC, 10 related defendants drove consumers into the rough with poorly disclosed terms and conditions, deceptive negative options, and misleading upsells, in violation of the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act.

It’s illegal to ban honest reviews

Congress unanimously passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act to protect people’s ability to share in any forum their honest opinions about a business’ products, services, or conduct. Some companies had been using contract provisions – including their online terms and conditions – to threaten to sue consumers or penalize them financially for posting negative reviews or complaints. The new law makes that illegal.

Military Consumer: Sound Off!

The military community makes many of the same consumer decisions as their civilian counterparts. We all need to manage our money – and avoid rip-offs. But servicemembers and their families also face unique challenges, like frequent relocations and deployment. When a permanent change of station is on the horizon, a military family needs to rent or buy a new place to live, manage money while on the move, and be vigilant about dealing with businesses in an unfamiliar locale. A servicemember’s regular paycheck from Uncle Sam can make them a target for scammers.

Abating bait-and-switch buyback tactic for devices

It’s a digital spin on an old-school business: an online service that offers to pay “top dollar” for consumers’ used smartphones, laptops, or tablets. The technology may be trending, but according to the FTC and the State of Georgia, Nevada-based Laptop & Desktop Repair engaged in a classic 20th century bait-and-switch – and bilked consumers out of millions in the process.

FTC challenges influencer campaign for Warner Bros.’ Shadow of Mordor game

In the popular video game Shadow of Mordor, players don’t just randomly slash, hack, and pillage. They battle specific opponents through a feature known as the Nemesis System. In the FTC’s lawsuit against Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, truth in advertising had a nemesis: paid pitches for Shadow of Mordor that Warner Bros. deceptively claimed were independent reviews.

Crossing borders with online reviews and endorsements? There’s a roadmap for that!

Online reviews and endorsements can be key to consumers’ decision-making. In fact, surveys show that over 70% of American consumers turn to online sources before making a purchase. Advertisers already should know about FTC principles for making sure that online reviews and endorsements are honest and not misleading.

7 quotes of note from the Amazon decision

In Amazon’s Appstore, many apps geared toward kids prompted them to use fictitious currency, like a “boatload of doughnuts” or a “can of stars,” as part of game play. But a federal district court recently agreed with the FTC that Amazon’s practice of charging cold, hard cash for those imaginary items and billing parents and account holders without their express informed consent violates Section 5 of the FTC Act.

Don’t quit your day job: FTC sues education lead generator for bogus job application process

Everyone has a job hunting horror story. Ours is the rejection letter we got on a Friday for a job interview scheduled for the following Monday. But a job interview that’s really just a sales pitch, often conducted by software designed to mimic a real person? A lawsuit against Gigats is the latest FTC action targeting deceptive practices in the lead generation industry.

Keeping Up with the Online Advertising Industry

Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down for some Q&A with members of the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI), one of the leading self-regulatory organizations for the online, interest-based advertising industry. One of the questions they posed was what additional actions industry should be taking to address online tracking as it develops ever more complex technologies. My answer? Tell people how they’re being tracked and offer them easy-to-use tools to block all of the techniques used to track them.

5 reasons why the price should always be right

We’ve all seen seething consumers – or been seething consumers – who learned that a prominently advertised offer didn’t reflect what they would actually have to pay. Playing fast and loose with price is a sure-fire way to put shoppers’ wallets in lock-down mode. That’s why savvy retailers are transparent in their practices.

Decades of FTC law enforcement offer practical guidance to help ensure your customers are clear about what something will cost:

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