Mobile Apps and Deceptive Marketing Laws

The mobile space has exploded in recent years, opening up a brand new medium for companies to promote various products and services via mobile apps. Despite the relative infancy of the medium, mobile app operators need to be aware that they must adhere to most of the same marketing laws that apply to other media – including those governing deceptive marketing and truth in advertising.

Mobile app operators are often tempted to seek to differentiate their offerings and attract users in a crowded marketplace awash in competitive products, but it is essential that marketing material and associated product claims are accurate in order to avoid unwanted regulatory scrutiny.

Do Mobile App Operators Need to be Mindful of Deceptive Marketing Laws?

Mobile Apps and Truth in Advertising

On a federal level, guidelines established by the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”), including by and through the FTC Act, require mobile app advertisers to refrain from making false or unsubstantiated representations. In addition, there are state law analogues that prohibit deceptive marketing and unfair business practices in the mobile space. Truth in advertising laws create an obvious tension, however, between a mobile app advertiser’s desire to maximize the consumer appeal of its marketing material and the need to avoid any claims that could be deemed deceptive.

As a general rule, mobile app operators should make sure that all claims made in advertising material are accurate and easily verifiable, and that all material terms, conditions and limitations are adequately disclosed in a prominent fashion. While exposing some of the potential downsides of a product, or toning down the grandiosity of the claims for what that product is capable of producing, might dampen consumer interest to some extent, it is the prudent course given the potential downside of state and federal regulatory action.

Ensure that Your Mobile App Marketing Practices and Advertisements Comply with the Law

As previously discussed in this blog, state attorneys general and federal authorities have been increasingly vigilant in bringing actions against companies for deceptive marketing practices – including a recent high-profile FTC settlement involving Lumosity.  As such, it is highly recommended that you retain qualified legal counsel to ensure that your mobile app and/or website marketing materials, and associated terms, conditions, disclosures and disclaimers, comply with laws applicable to deceptive marketing and truth in advertising.