SOURCE: Word of Mouth Marketing Association

Word of Mouth Marketing Association

August 10, 2011 09:00 ET

WOMMA Submits Comments to FTC Regarding Dot Com Disclosures

WOMMA Suggests Clear Disclosure, Nondeceptive Online Advertising

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - Aug 10, 2011) - The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) this week submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in response to the request for public comments on the potential modification to Dot Com Disclosures: Information About Online Advertising, the guidance document that advises businesses how federal advertising law applies to advertising and sales on the Internet.

The world of advertising today is fundamentally different than in May of 2000, when the Dot Com Disclosures document was first issued. Today, advertisers, marketers, consumers, and governmental regulators are witnessing the explosion of social media platforms, consumer-generated content, utilization of search, and an overall more active role of consumers in commercial messages.

Overview of WOMMA's Comments to the FTC

  • Advertising must be truthful and nondeceptive (advertising is deceptive if it contains a statement or omits information that is likely to mislead consumers; and is "material," or important to consumers' decisions to buy or use the product).
  • When the disclosure of qualifying information is necessary to prevent an ad from being deceptive, the information must be presented "clearly and conspicuously" so that consumers can actually notice and understand it (key factors include prominence, presentation, placement, and proximity of disclosure).
  • These key factors must be re-evaluated to consider the unique challenges that arise with new media such as location-based tools, Twitter, generic endorsements, question and answer sites, and recommendation/listing sites.
  • The FTC should hold a public workshop on these issues to obtain the full input from all stakeholders.

"Emerging technologies provide significant consumer benefits, and new media marketing and promotions have been embraced by brands and consumers alike. Yet, many social media platforms provide practical challenges for businesses when attempting to apply the 'clear and conspicuous' standard to advertising disclosures," said Anthony DiResta, WOMMA General Counsel and Partner at Winston &Strawn LLP. "We look forward to working closely with the FTC as they seek to provide reasonable and appropriate guidance to the industry at this key juncture."

WOMMA hopes that these comments are beneficial, and looks forward to assisting the FTC in evaluating the emerging technologies and trends in social media as well as the impact of any guidance on the marketing practices by advertisers and brands.

WOMMA,, is the leading trade association in the marketing and advertising industries that focuses on word of mouth, consumer-generated and social media platforms -- or marketing techniques that include buzz, viral, community, and influencer marketing, as well as brand blogging. The organization is committed to developing and maintaining appropriate ethical standards for marketers and advertisers engaging in such marketing practices, identifying meaningful measurement standards for such marketing practices, and defining "best practices" for the industry.

Founded in 2004, WOMMA members include marketers and brands that use word-of-mouth marketing to reinforce their core customers and to reach out to new consumers, agencies that deliver word-of-mouth services and technologies, researchers that track the word-of-mouth experience and offline and online practitioners.

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