Competition and Markets Authority publishes new guidance on online reviews and endorsements
This follows the CMA's investigation into how online reviews and endorsements are being used, and whether this use complies with consumer protection laws. The CMA's letter offers guidance on two areas of concern:
- Clearly labelling or identifying paid promotions. Businesses should ensure that it is obvious to readers when articles or blogs feature paid promotions, by clearly identifying or labelling paid promotions, providing clear instructions to marketing agencies, and ensuring that all policies on paid promotions reflect the requirements of consumer protection law. Marketing agencies should follow the same rules. Requests for paid promotions that do not meet these requirements should be turned down.
- Writing, commissioning and publishing fake reviews. Businesses should not offer inducements to customers in return for positive reviews, and not pretend to be a customer and write fake reviews. If customers are invited to provide feedback this must be done honestly, as misleading readers may breach consumer protection laws.
The CMA has already produced a brief guide for businesses and marketing agencies on how to comply with consumer protection laws in relation to online endorsements and online review:
This guidance highlights that whilst it is perfectly legal to market products through blogs, videos and other online resources, it is important that this is done in accordance with consumer protection law.