We’ve known that an update was coming to the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines for advertisers, and yesterday a summary of the revisions was published on the FTC website. Here’s an excerpt including a paragraph that pertains to bloggers who receive products in exchange for posting reviews:
The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it has approved final revisions to the guidance it gives to advertisers on how to keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in line with the FTC Act.
The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.
Up until now, having a page with a disclosure statement has been adequate to let readers know that content may be sponsored. Under these new guidelines, unless the blogger only has a connection with one advertiser, disclosure will have to be in every review post.
Although it doesn’t say it specifically, I’m interpreting these guidelines as also applying to sponsored posts, meaning receiving a cash payment in exchange for blogging about a website, product or service, but not receiving an actual product to review as compensation. I work with Linkworth and occasionally get hired to write a sponsored post, and up until now, the post requirements have said not to disclose within the body of the post that it’s sponsored – having a disclosure page was good enough. It will be interesting to see how that changes.
I’ve never had a problem with disclosure. If I get sent a product and I write a review of it, I say right in the post that so-and-so sent me the product to review, and I also have a disclosure page just to be safe. In fact, unless I tell you otherwise, you can assume that all products I review on this blog were sent to me by the company. It hasn’t hurt my blog as far as page rank from Google or anything like that is concerned, so I’m not worried about the changes affecting MomReviews in that way.
I also will never agree to post only a positive review of any products I receive. If there’s something I don’t like, I’m going to say so. It disappoints but does not surprise me to read on other sites covering this topic that there are bloggers who try to pressure companies to send them free products to review because they will give them a positive review no matter what. That will never happen here.
If you have any thoughts on these new guidelines from the FTC, please share them in a comment!
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