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Event Description

The FTC hosted a workshop to analyze the marketing of goods and services through offers with negative option features. The workshop, which brought together consumer representatives, academics, and industry leaders, addressed the pros and cons of such offers, discuss online marketing of such offers, and explore ways to make effective disclosures when such offers are made online. The workshop is free and open to the public. The Commission is also publishing a Federal Register notice soliciting public comment on the issues addressed by the workshop.

  • An FTC Workshop Analyzing Negative Option Marketing
    Thursday, January 25, 2007





    Welcoming Remarks: Lydia Parnes, Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection, FTC


    An Overview of FTC’s Enforcement Actions Concerning Negative Option Marketing and Recent Trends, Gregory A. Ashe, Attorney, Division of Enforcement, FTC


    Industry Self-Regulation, Barbara Tulipane, President and CEO, Electronic Retailing Association




    Panel 1: The Pros and Cons of Offers with Negative Option Features
    Presentations discussing the benefits and costs of offers with negative option features for business and consumers and how consumers interpret or misinterpret such offers.


    • Avery W. Katz, Milton Handler Professor of Law and Vice Dean, Columbia University School of Law
    • Robert Sherman, Counsel, Direct Marketing Association
    • Rita Cohen, Senior Vice President/Government Affairs, Magazine Publishers of America
    • Susan Grant, Vice President for Public Policy, National Consumers League


    • Louis Silversin, Economist, Bureau of Economics, FTC



    Panel 2: Analysis of Consumer Behavior Online
    Presentations regarding how consumers navigate online advertising, how contract terms and disclosures are being made in online advertising and what this research reveals about how to communicate effectively important offer terms to consumers.


    • Susannah Fox, Associate Director, Pew Internet and American Life Project
    • Robert Hillman, Edwin H. Woodruff Professor of Law, Cornell Law School
    • Jens Grossklags, PhD Candidate, School of Information, University of California, Berkeley


    • Melinda Claybaugh, Attorney, Division of Enforcement, FTC



    The “Clear and Conspicuous” Standard, Lesley Fair, Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC


    Panel 3: Application of the Clear and Conspicuous Standard to Online Offers with Negative Option Features
    A panel discussion of the FTC’s clear and conspicuous standard for making disclosures in advertising, the application of this standard to offers containing a negative option feature and the particular challenges facing marketers to make negative option disclosures clear and conspicuous in online advertising.


    • Mariea Grubbs Hoy, Professor, School of Advertising and Public Relations, University of Tennessee
    • Jerry Cerasale, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Direct Marketing Association
    • Mark Huffman, Contributing Editor, Consumer
    • Lesley Fair, Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC


    • Robert Frisby, Assistant Director, Division of Enforcement, FTC



    Panel 4: Making Effective Disclosures in Negative Option Marketing Online
    A panel discussion on the best practices for making negative option disclosures clear and conspicuous but also compatible with the advertiser’s message in online advertising. The session will focus on a mock ad based on a hypothetical product that includes a negative option feature. Panelists will present an ad for the product that incorporates the practices they believe an advertiser should follow when making negative option disclosures online.


    • Linda Goldstein, Counsel, Electronic Retailing Association
    • Beau Brendler, Director, Consumer Reports Web Watch


    • David Mallen, Assistant Director for Legal Affairs, National Advertising Division, Council of Better Business Bureaus
    • Nathaniel Good, PhD Candidate, School of Information, University of California, Berkeley


    • Robin Rosen Spector, Attorney, Division of Enforcement, FTC

    Conclusion of Workshop


FTC Privacy Policy

Under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) or other laws, we may be required to disclose to outside organizations the information you provide when you pre-register. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive public comments, whether filed in paper or electronic form, and as a matter of discretion, we make every effort to remove home contact information for individuals from the public comments before posting them on the FTC website.

The FTC Act and other laws we administer permit the collection of your pre-registration contact information and the comments you file to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. For additional information, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, see the Commission’s comprehensive Privacy Policy.

This event is open to the public and may be photographed, videotaped, webcast, or otherwise recorded. By participating in this event, you are agreeing that your image — and anything you say or submit — may be posted indefinitely at or on one of the Commission's publicly available social media sites.