Is Internet Advertising Different?
Pry, Carl G., ABA Bank Marketing
Virtually all banks have Web sites now, whether just of the "informational" variety or more in-depth, including product offerings and account accessibility. But what are the compliance requirements when you advertise your products or services online? Are there different rules for cyberspace ads?
Let's address an initial question: Are product promotions that appear on a Web site considered "advertisements" for compliance purposes? The answer is "yes;" under the regulations, an advertisement is defined as "a commercial message, in any medium, that is designed to attract public attention or patronage to a product or business." [12 CFR 328.3(a)] That "in any medium" language includes the Internet.
So ads on your Web site must comply with some rules. But what are those rules and how should you treat these types of ads? To answer this, we have to consider how the regulations classify Internet advertising. Some regulations have different standards for written ads versus those that appear in broadcast media. For example, Regulation DD (which governs consumer deposit account advertising) has looser standards for broadcast media ads than for written ads. Other regulations treat all ads the same way regardless of the media in which they appear. Regulation Z (for consumer loans) is an example; all ads follow the same set of requirements. There are no exceptions for ads that are broadcast over the airwaves.
What type of media is the Internet? Web site ads are considered written ads for compliance purposes. In other words, treat an ad placed on your Web site the same as if you printed it in the newspaper. So ads on your Web site should look like any other written ad. This means including "Member FDIC," with the logo (if possible) on all FDIC-insured deposit account ad pages, and "Equal Housing Lender," with the logo (if possible) on all housing-related loan ads. …