There was a story recently on the Consumerist website (US based) where it was referring to suggestions that the comments of bloggers in the US would fall under the remit of the Federal Trade Commission – full original story is available here.
The FTC is updating its “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” which were last refreshed in 1980.
What this has to do with bloggers is a new form of advertising, called word-of-mouth marketing, in which advertisers pay your favorite bloggers to “review” their products. The bloggers get paid, for example, with free product samples; gift certificates for JCPenney shopping sprees; cash payments; or the loan of a $30,000 Ford Flex for a year.
The bloggers are supposed to write whatever they want about the product—pro or con—but the payments put into question whether they would be inclined to seriously bite the hand of a “friend” lending a car or giving other valuable goodies or cash.
Obviously this is something that would be enormously difficult to bring in but most bloggers I’m familiar with will always declare their interests when writing about anything.
However, I’ve written here before about my concerns regarding the number of new supposed “consumer websites” that have been set up recently targeting Irish consumers that are really just money making advertising websites that hide under the guise of providing advice to consumers.
As detailed in this post, affiliate advertising controls what some consumer bloggers will write about – if there’s no money in something, they won’t write about it – thereby reducing the amount of useful information being provided to consumers.
Read this post to see how to identify links that are earning money for the blogger, versus straightforward links without benefit.