Perhaps the single biggest headache for many Internet marketers and advertisers has been figuring out how to comply with the FTC disclosure requirements regarding average results in their customer testimonials. Most Internet businesses use some type of customer review or feedback to promote their products, including direct customer testimonials. The prior guidelines allowed advertisers to use a “results not typical” or “results may vary” generic type of disclosure. This is no longer allowed under the 2009 revised FTC Guidelines.
Advertisers are now required to disclose what results consumers should generally expect from your product in the circumstances depicted in the endorsement if the results claimed are not typical. The applies to specific performance type claims. These types of claims cause concern as they suggest or imply the results in the endorsement are typical results and make specific claims which are not in fact typical. For example, the claim “I made $55,444 in just 4 weeks from my e-book sales by just following 5 simple steps.” This is a specific performance type claim that suggests that by following the steps, the average consumer can typically expect these results too. These ‘typicality claims’ must be qualified with the generally expected results or simply not used. (Keep in mind, results and performance of a product can be reasonably implied from a customer’s testimonial as well as directly stated).
Endorsements that don’t make a ‘typical results’ claim don’t have to be disclosed. For example, a casino customer providing an endorsement that “I just walked in and hit the big jackpot… walked out a winner!” The reasonable consumer would understand that they cannot expect to hit the jackpot just by walking into a casino. Here are some more examples of claims that would need to be qualified by average results disclosures:
EXAMPLE: As a reseller of window and siding products, you place a customer testimonial on your website whereby the customer boast that he or she saved $100 per month on his/her utility bills. If most customers only save 1/3rd of that amount, then the ad must contain a clear disclosure that the average homeowner under the circumstances depicted in the ad can generally expect to save at or near $33 per month.
EXAMPLE: You illustrate e-book cover art and you publish customer testimonials on your website where one customer proclaims that his sales “exploded” after using one of your designs on to revise an existing e-book cover. The average customer will probably not experience an “explosion” in sales, so you need to disclose what the generally expected results would be. If most customers do not achieve any increase in sales, you need to disclose this.
EXAMPLE: Your business sarkari result has developed and sells software allowing carpet and flooring retailers to implement a virtual dealer type website where customers can view your product samples in a virtual room. One of your customer’s endorses your product by stating “my sales jumped over 50% in the first month I began using this application. It was so easy!” If sales do not jump over 50% generally speaking for all users of the software, you must disclose the generally expected results your customers can expect.