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FTC Rule Change Could Impact PR
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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A recent ruling by the Federal Trade Commission now requires “the same basic requirement as any old-fashioned ad” for short form advertising on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter,  as reported by Danny Yadron and Shira Ovide by The Wall Street Journal in its digital media.

The article, titled FTC Says Tweet Ads Need Some Fine Print, noted that sites such as Twitter and Facebook now need to be sure their advertising does not mislead consumers. The new FTC ruling “expands the FTC's more than decade-old rules on Web ads to the world of social media and smartphones.”

According to the FTC report, ads on sites such as Twitter and Facebook now must include some form of disclosure, noting that “marketers need to be conscious of the location of disclosures and ensure that users can still see them easily on a smartphone. If a company can't find a way to make its disclosure fit the constraints of social or mobile ad, it needs to change the ad copy so that it doesn't require a disclosure, the agency said, making that point explicit for the first time.”

The article also commented that “The update comes as marketing firms continue to search for new ways to penetrate through the noise of modern life. Consumers on social networks are often shown ads based on their tastes and interests. On Twitter, with its more than 200 million active users, companies sometimes pay celebrities to send endorsements to their followers or buy prominent placement for 140-character advertisements.”

While the ruling impacts marketers and advertisers, it also is something PR flacks need to be aware of and pay attention to, in this blogger’s opinion. Marketing communications teams and advertising teams often times work together to craft publicity campaigns. In this writer’s view, this is just one more example of how social media and the use of smartphones continues to shape and evolve current marketing and public relations practices.

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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