Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP)
Established in 2004 and sponsored by the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA), the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) is responsible for evaluating the truth and accuracy of core claims made in direct response advertising. Policy and procedural oversight for ERSP is provided by the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC) and the program is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. (CBBB).
ERSP inquires about the evidentiary support that a marketer possesses for claims made in direct-response advertising, and determines whether the marketer has provided a reasonable basis for the representations. The goals of ERSP are to:
- Improve consumer confidence in electronic retailing.
- Demonstrate to the regulatory agencies the direct response industry’s commitment to meaningful self-regulation and compliance with legal requirements
- Provide a quick and efficient mechanism for reviewing direct response advertising claims
Advertising comes to the attention of ERSP through its monitoring program, consumers, and challenges from competitors. As of April 2017, the filing fees for competitor challenges at ERSP are:
- ERA Member Companies: $2,000
- Non-ERA Member Companies: $5,000
Challengers can elect to actively participate in an ERSP inquiry or decide to file the inquiry anonymously. Anonymous challengers will not receive any substantiating information provided by the marketer during the review.
During an ERSP inquiry, the marketer is given the opportunity to provide a final statement regarding its anticipated adherence to ERSP’s recommendations. If a marketer elects not to participate in the self-regulatory process or does not agree to adhere to the recommendations of ERSP, ERSP may refer the advertising to an appropriate regulatory agency. ERSP also conducts compliance reviews to ensure marketers follow the recommendations given in the original decision.
The ERSP Review Program
In January 2012, ERSP expanded its purview to monitor and review advertising, telemarketing, and seminars in the coaching and mentoring industry. The program is called the “ERSP Review Program” and it has two fundamental components: review of telemarketing calls and live seminar events, and monitoring of lead generation advertising.
Companies participating in the program must be ERA members and will be asked to sign a participation agreement with ERSP.
Participating companies provide advertising materials and access to telesales and/or seminar recordings. ERSP monitors these recordings and reviews the companies’ advertising, focusing on issues such as:
- Earnings Claims
- Testimonials & Disclosures
- Sales Pressure/Enrollment Urgency
- Qualification/Selective Enrollment
- Caller Identification & Record Notice
ERSP Copy Review
The ERSP Copy Review service offers marketers the opportunity to have ERSP, a third-party self-regulatory organization, review print, broadcast, radio, and online advertising.
In a Copy Review, ERSP will:
- Review primary and core advertising claims, highlighting potential self-regulatory issues, and adhering to self–regulatory best practices and guidance provided by the appropriate regulatory authority.
- Provide general, non-binding recommendations limited only to the specific advertising that is reviewed by ERSP. For example, ERSP’s analysis of a long form (e.g., 30 minute) broadcast advertisement may not be similarly applied to a short form (e.g., 120 second) advertisement for the same product because of the different context in which the claims may be presented.
- Suggest what level of substantiation may be needed based upon the claims presented by the marketer and the context in which the core claims are disseminated.
- Include follow-up dialogue with ERSP staff regarding the advertising.
The Copy Review Service is confidential, voluntary, non-evidentiary, non-binding and does not constitute legal advice.
- An ERSP Copy Review that does not result in a recommendation that claims be discontinued or modified will not assure the marketer that some other action, filing or adverse finding will not occur in another regulatory or self-regulatory forum (i.e., such as the FTC or the National Advertising Division). Participation shall not be construed or represented as an endorsement or approval by ERSP, ERA, ASRC, or CBBB of a company, product or service.
- Participation in the ERSP Program does not include an evaluation of the evidence that a marketer is or may be relying on to support any claims made in its advertising. Participants will not be required to submit evidence to substantiate core advertising claims as part of this review process.