Tuesday, October 6, 2009

FTC Publishes New Rules for Word of Mouth Marketers

In case you didn't see this somewhere else, I wanted to fire out a quick post on this new ruling from the FTC regarding "sponsored conversations" and disclosure of those relationships. I haven't had time to go over the information in detail, but here are some initial links for your reference.

Here's the link to the FTC site

And here's a couple of links to some good posts on Techcrunch about the news.
FTC Values Sponsored Conversations at $11,000 Apiece.

This is Not a Sponsored Post: Paid Conversations, Credibility & The FTC

Here's a good quote from the TechCrunch post explaining disclosure practices:
In the meantime, brands and bloggers can only benefit from disclosing the nature of endorsements. In the realm of new media, transparency and ethics speak louder than the value proposition of the product itself.

The FTC could not be reached for comment at this time in reference to the delineation between consumer bloggers and subject matter authorities who blog. We will update this post once we receive a response.

Update: The FTC responds

When asked if the FTC views bloggers equally and whether or not it recognizes levels of authority on par with traditional media, Mary Engle, associate director for advertising practices, clarified its position and perspective, “All bloggers aren’t the same and we are not saying that all bloggers are marketers. Most of them are ordinary folks musing or sounding off. The question as we put it in the notice we published today is whether, viewed objectively, the blogger is being sponsored by the advertiser. (We list a number of factors to consider.) Independent product reviewers, whether offline or online, would not be viewed as sponsored by the company whose products they are reviewing.”

Engle further observed the distinction between expert and consumer bloggers, “But if bloggers regularly receive free products from a company, the blog audience might view their reviews differently than if they went out and bought the products on their own. Under those circumstances, bloggers should disclose they got the products from the company. This is consistent with the WOMMA code of ethics. And, companies who use bloggers to generate buzz about their products by sending free merchandise should have a policy that their bloggers should disclose.”
More soon...

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