Lauren Kaye

The internet continues to grow and develop at an unbelievable rate. When you combine all of the Tweets, Facebook Posts, blog content, news articles and website updates added to the ‘net, web users generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data on a daily basis, according to IBM. As the internet expands and evolves, marketers must adjust their content marketing strategies to keep up with Google’s algorithm updates, which perpetually aim to provide users with the best search experiences.

Marketers are now rewarded with higher search rankings when they create online content with their users in mind and follow SEO best practices, but they might soon see better results from transparent strategies.

There are changes in the pipeline that give publishers who are open about their intentions and backgrounds major advantages online. The content marketing industry is abuzz with suspicions that Google might soon use Authorship – linking authors with their digital signatures and clout – to rank online content in SERPs. However, Brafton reported that this may not be an imminent update just because Google has the technology. The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) recently released guidance on Dot-Com Disclosures that reinforce the importance of transparency.

Dot-Com Disclosures demand advertisers be upfront

The FTC released its update to the 2000 Dot-Com Disclosures, which expanded rules for digital media advertisers to follow. The guide was released in March 2013, with additional rules that reflected drastic advances in internet marketing.

“In the online marketplace, consumers can transact business without the constraints of time or distance,” the FTC states. “But cyberspace is not without boundaries, and deception is unlawful no matter what the medium.”

To guarantee businesses stay within their bounds and consumers are guaranteed their rights, the FTC developed the following three provisions:

1. Online (and mobile media) are subject to the same consumer protection laws as traditional formats and, therefore, cannot employ any “unfair or deceptive acts or practices.”online content must contain clear and conspicuous disclosure.

2. Marketers should include disclosures in close proximity to qualifying information when possible. They cannot distance disclosures in an attempt to prevent consumers from making the correlations.Online content must provide clear and conspicuous information for full disclosure.

3. Online advertisements must contain clear and conspicuous disclosures. That is, disclosures should be displayed in an obvious way that will help readers connect qualifying information with specific products, regardless of the devices on which they’re viewed. Mobile ads should be optimized to include clear disclaimers. 

These provisions push online publishers to disclose important information that may not be obvious to readers. If renowned food bloggers are writing about their experiences cooking with balsamic vinegar or interior designers are writing about redecorating rooms with new textiles, readers deserve to know whether the advice is organic or the result of corporate sponsorship.