CFBAI_ProgramBackgrounds_4-28-2020

National Advertising Division

The National Advertising Division (NAD) monitors national advertising in all media, enforces high standards of truth and accuracy, and efficiently resolves disputes to build consumer trust& and support fair competition. NAD reviews advertising based on challenges from businesses, complaints from consumers, or on its own initiative covering a wide variety of both industries and issues. NAD’s decisions represent the single largest body of advertising decisions in the United States.

Program Impact

NAD was established in 1971 to monitor and evaluate the truth and transparency of national advertising through a combination of independent monitoring and competitor disputes and has become a leading voice in providing guidance on truthful and transparent advertising and standards for substantiating advertising claims. Around 150 cases are handled each year through one of three tracks: Fast-Track SWIFT, Standard Track, and Complex Track. Reports of all case findings can be found in the BBB National Programs Online Archive

Truth & Transparency

Voluntary self-regulation helps create an honest and fair marketplace. Companies benefit from a level playing field and consumers benefit from a more trustworthy marketplace. A 90% participation rate demonstrates the depth of industry’s commitment to self-regulation and truth and transparency.

Issues We Examine

NAD’s legal team specializes in examining advertising claims for a diverse set of goods and services like telecommunications, infant nutrition, over-the-counter medication, and dietary supplements for a wide variety of issues from product efficacy to influencer marketing and the use of consumer reviews.

Time & Cost

The NAD process resolves advertising disputes efficiently and almost always faster than a court proceeding. There is no document discovery or depositions, no counterclaims, and the process requires less investment in time and cost than litigating a case.

Navigating Uncertainty

NAD has a published body of case precedent and is staffed by decision makers dedicated to resolving advertising disputes, using a process that provides advertisers the right to appeal adverse decisions to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB).

NAD Challenges

 

NAD offers three options for submitting challenges for review: Standard Track, Complex Track, and Fast-Track SWIFT. Click on the options below for more information on each track's process, challenge eligibility requirements, timeline, and fees to determine which track is best suited to handle your needs. BBB National Programs National Partners receive a discount on filing fees. 

 

 

Fast-Track SWIFT

Single-issue digital advertising cases with decisions in 20 business days. Learn More

Standard Track

Open to a variety of case types with decisions in four to six months. Learn More

Complex Track

Cases requiring complex substantiation. Time to decision is determined by the parties. Learn More

 

 

 

Why Use NAD for Advertising Challenges

When a competitor’s advertising harms consumer trust or threatens a company’s reputation and market share, decision makers need to answer three key questions:

  • Which forum will resolve my challenge most efficiently—federal court, Federal Trade Commission complaint, or NAD challenge?

The NAD process promotes truthful advertising resolving advertising disputes efficiently. Unless advertising is so misleading and causing sufficient harm that a temporary restraining order application will likely succeed, the NAD process is typically faster than a court proceeding.

 

 

  • How much will it cost?

 

Filing a challenge with NAD is almost always more cost effective than other options. There is no document discovery. There is no deposition. The matter cannot be delayed by filing counterclaims. Our streamlined process saves time and money.

 

 

  • What are the risks?

Because NAD has a published body of case precedent and is staffed by decision makers dedicated to resolving advertising disputes, the outcome is more predictable than a court proceeding where individual judges have crowded dockets of a wide array of cases and different decision-making styles. Our procedures provide advertisers with an automatic right to appeal adverse decisions to the self-regulatory system’s peer review body, the National Advertising Review Board.

 

 

 

 

 

Policies & Procedures


Any company, consumer, or non-governmental organization can file a challenge with NAD. We handle about 150 cases each year and our decisions represent the single largest body of advertising decisions in the United States. The NAD | NARB Policies and Procedures describe the details and parameters of NAD's challenge review process.

News & Blog

NAD Recommends Verizon Modify or Discontinue Some Superiority Claims for Fios, Finds Qualified “Fastest Speed” Claim Substantiated; Both Parties to Appeal

For Immediate Release 

Contact: Abby Hills, Director of Communications, BBB National Programs 

703.247.9330 / press@bbbnp.org 

 

New York, NY – August 25, 2020 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that Verizon Communications, Inc.: 

  • Discontinue or modify claims that its Fios service offers the “fastest available” speeds and that it has the “fastest internet”;  

  • Discontinue claims that Fios and fiber provide superior streaming or buffering, as well as claims that they provide superior reliability;  

  • Modify claims that Fios supports more devices; and  

  • Discontinue its comparative claim regarding fiber’s resilience in bad weather, that fiber technology delivers faster overall speeds, as well as unqualified claims that Fios and fiber technology provide superior performance.  

 

The claims at issue were challenged by Charter Communications, Inc., provider of competing internet services. Verizon is appealing, and Charter is cross-appealing, certain NAD recommendations to the National Advertising Review Board. 

The following are representative of the challenged claims:  

  • Fios is the “The fastest, most reliable internet available.”  
  • “Fiber makes you faster. . . .”  

  • “See the difference for yourself on the 100% fiber-optic network, Fios. Don’t settle for anything less than a 100% fiber-optic network. It’s the most reliable for all your devices, no matter how many you have in your home.”  

  • “Fiber is better. . . .  Business fiber internet is resilient, even during bad weather. You can rely on 99.9% network reliability and fast speeds to help your business get work done quickly.”  

  • “What sets Fios apart? Fiber-optic technology for a better home connection. Seamless streaming . . . . Less buffering . . . .”  

  • “With fiber you can connect more devices at once.”  

  • “What sets Fios apart?  Fiber-optic technology for a better home connection. Seamless streaming . . . . Less buffering . . . . More sharing . . . . Convenient bundles . . . .”  

  • “Fiber makes you faster. . . . Fiber is better.”  

 

With regard to the claim that Verizon offers the “fastest internet available,” NAD concluded that Verizon’s download speeds are unsurpassed but not superior to the competition, while Verizon’s upload speeds are superior to the competition. NAD considered whether Verizon’s fastest tier, offering download speeds of up to 940 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 880 Mbps is the fastest internet available given that competitors such as Charter also offer download speeds of up to 940 Mbps, but pair them with upload speeds of, for example, 35 Mbps. NAD noted that evidence in the record regarding marketplace usage supports the conclusion that “fastest internet available” claims should make clear if the claim is based exclusively on upload speeds or on a combination of download and upload speeds. NAD determined that having faster upload speeds does not make a network “per se” faster because the claim that Fios is “the fastest internet available” may be reasonably understood by consumers as a claim that Verizon offers the fastest download speeds. Therefore, NAD recommended that Verizon discontinue the claim that it offers the “Fastest Available” speeds, or clearly convey that it offers the fastest combined speeds (upload plus download). In doing so, it should take care to avoid conveying the message that it offers the fastest download speeds.  

Further, NAD determined the challenged “fastest available” claims also convey the message that Verizon delivers superior speeds (in addition to conveying a message about the top available speeds). As support for its claim that Fios is the fastest nationwide ISP, Verizon relied on PC Mag speed ratings of ISPs, which used a sample size of 256,016 tests and showed that Verizon customers had both higher average download speeds and higher average upload speeds than customers of all major national competitors. NAD concluded that the PC Mag test was reliable. However, NAD determined that Verizon’s consumer preference evidence was not a good fit for the challenged superior performance claim. Therefore, NAD recommended that Verizon discontinue express and implied claims that it has the “fastest internet” for its Fios service, or modify them, to disclose, clearly and conspicuously, the source of the substantiation and, if it bases the claims on the PC Mag testing, disclose that it is a speed comparison aggregating service tiers.  

NAD also found that the claims that Fios provides superior streaming or buffering were not substantiated and recommended those claims be discontinued.   

NAD evaluated Verizon’s claim about the reliability of its Fios service, noting that with regard to internet service, reliability has at least two meanings: One meaning is the uptime of the service (the percentage of the time that it can be used), however Verizon submitted no evidence regarding the uptime of Fios or any other internet service. Whereas, the FCC’s Measuring Broadband America (MBA) reports measure reliability by the percentage of the time that a wired broadband provider delivers the advertised speed. NAD noted that the most recent MBA report says that most ISPs provide good consistency of speed, and therefore it did not support the claim at issue. Therefore, NAD recommended that Verizon discontinue the unqualified claim that Fios provides superior reliability. 

NAD determined that Verizon’s claims that Fios supports more devices reasonably convey the message that consumers will experience a consumer relevant benefit. Because the evidence in the record did not show that Verizon’s superior upload speeds deliver a consumer meaningful benefit to the typical consumer, NAD recommended that Verizon modify those claims to explain which consumers would see a consumer relevant benefit.   

NAD determined that Verizon’s comparative claim “Fiber is better. . . .  Business fiber internet is resilient, even during bad weather. You can rely on 99.9% network reliability and fast speeds to help your business get work done quickly” conveys the message that Fios’ reliability in weather is superior to a degree that is consumer relevant. Although the advertiser submitted articles explaining that fiber is not susceptible to electromagnetic interference, NAD determined that neither discussed whether this difference translates into consumer relevant differences in weather-related disruptions. Therefore, NAD recommended that the claim be discontinued.  

With regard to overall superiority claims for fiber and for Fios, such as “What sets Fios apart? Fiber-optic technology for a better home connection” and “Fiber is better,” NAD found unsubstantiated Verizon’s unqualified speed superiority claim, and found that Verizon had not submitted information in the record sufficient to substantiate several of its other comparative performance claims. Therefore, NAD recommended that Verizon discontinue the unqualified claims that Fios and fiber technology provide superior performance.  

Finally, Verizon voluntarily discontinued the claims that “90% of Fios® Business customers surveyed say internet speeds are better compared to their prior service provider,” and that Verizon Fios “is not vulnerable to slowdowns” and streams video “without buffering.” Therefore, NAD did not review these claims on the merits.   

In its advertiser’s statement, Verizon stated that it will appeal NAD’s decision and noted its disappointment with NAD’s conclusion “that Verizon must qualify any ‘fastest’ speed claims.” Verizon’s statement noted that it was pleased that NAD accepted the results of a PC Mag test, which is the portion of NAD’s decision that Charter is cross-appealing. 

 

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About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org. 

About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD), a division of BBB National Programs, provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.  

Blog

All About SWIFT: Resolving Straightforward Ad Disputes in a Matter of Weeks

On May 13, Laura Brett, VP of our National Advertising Division (NAD) joined Loeb & Loeb’s David Mallen to discuss the new Fast-Track SWIFT process. The SWIFT process has been officially launched and the NAD team has begun processing claims.
Read more
 

 

 

Upcoming Events

CARU Conference: Virtual Series

Why Diversity and Inclusion is Good for Business: This presentation will cover why a workplace culture that supports diversity is the key to garnering unique ideas that just may be the next big thing. ...
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Nov 17, 2020 Virtual

Kidvertising 101

Kidvertising 101 is a two-day seminar that provides advertisers, marketers, and legal counsel with an interactive masterclass on ‘kidvertising’ that includes actionable guidance to help you or your cl ...
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Nov 18, 2020 Virtual
 

 

 

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