Deceptive ads may soon be a thing of the past — at least, that's the Better Business Bureau's mission.
While the BBB has always enforced honesty in advertising, recent changes in the way advertisers reach their audiences (e.g., social media, texting, the Web, etc.) prompted the bureau to update its Code of Advertising, a set of advertising standards for businesses to follow.
These changes place added responsibility on advertisers to ensure that their ads are accurate. According to the code, "the primary responsibility for truthful and nondeceptive advertising rests with the advertiser."
Additionally, advertisers need to be able to back up anything they share. The code states that advertisers "should be prepared to substantiate any objective claims or offers made before publication or broadcast." [Want a Successful Marketing Campaign? Create a Plan First ]
The code also features updates related to online testimonials, especially those posted on social media or blogs. Now that anyone can post online about a business — positively or negatively — thanks to outlets like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, having guidelines for what can and cannot be included is important.
The changes include comprehensive guidelines that outline what the BBB considers to be misleading, and how advertisers can adhere to the rules so as to not confuse consumers and to maintain truthfulness in their campaigns.
"BBB's mission is to advance trust in the marketplace, and nothing is more fundamental to that mission than truth in advertising," Mary E. Power, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, said in a statement.
"Businesses must be truthful in what they say, what they infer and what they omit from their advertising," she said. "This core message of the code is unchanged, but this comprehensive update covers the many new channels businesses have to reach potential customers."
Other changes to the code affect the way businesses can advertise sales and address things like closeout and liquidation sales, and rebate promotions. The code also covers how to distinguish between false or exaggerated praise and objective superlative claims, and more.
To keep up with all of the new changes, read the full BBB Code of Advertising here.