Online advertisers must provide certain information about themselves on their website. The adverts themselves must include certain information about the advertiser and their products. These obligations apply to information society service providers and they originate from the E-Commerce Regulations which applied the E-Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC). The Directive states that ‘information society services’ include offering ‘commercial communications.’ Regulation 2 of the E-Commerce Regulations defines ‘commercial communications’ as ‘communication, in any form, designed to promote, directly or indirectly, the goods, services or image of any person pursuing a commercial, industrial or craft activity or exercising a regulated profession’. There are some limited exceptions, but the definition appears to cover all forms of advertising.
So, what information do you need to provide for the recipients of your adverts?
Firstly, the information must be easily, directly, and permanently accessible. Linking from the advert to where the information is available on the website should be sufficient. The information that must be provided by the advertiser is:
- Its name.
- Its established geographical address.
- Details that make it possible to rapidly contact the advertiser in a direct manner. (Email address/contact number)
- If applicable, details of where the advertiser is registered in a trade or similar including the registration number.
- If the service is subject to an authorising scheme, the details should be included. Advertising itself is not subject to such scheme in the UK, but the advertiser’s business might be.
- The advertiser’s VAT number.
- If the advertiser practices a regulated profession, then the details of the regulated body it is registered with must be included. Along with the advertiser’s professional title and the European Economic Area (EEA) state where the title was granted. A reference to the applicable professional rules for the service with a way to access them should also be included.
Additionally, if the person providing an information society service mentions prices, they must be shown clearly, unambiguously, and say whether they include tax and delivery costs.
Online advertisers must ensure any commercial communication provided as part of an information society service (includes all digital advertising) will:
- Clearly identify as a commercial communication.
- Clearly identify the person on whose behalf the commercial communication is made.
- Clearly identify any promotional offer (including any premium, gift, or discount) and ensure any conditions to qualify for the promotion are easily accessible, clear, and unambiguous.
- Clearly identify any promotional game or competition and ensure any conditions to participate are easily accessible, clear, and unambiguous.
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