Will Bloggers Have To Disclose?

December 13, 2006 – 11:30 am

by Darren

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The debate about whether blogger should disclose their business relationships concerning products they push will probably be affected by a recent FTC decision that makes new rules concerning “Word of mouth” advertising. At one point in time “Word of mouth” advertising was considered to be the byproduct of an excellent reputation. And it’s always been effective.

In a staff opinion issued yesterday, the consumer protection agency weighed in for the first time on the practice. Though no accurate figures exist on how much money advertisers spend on such marketing, it is quickly becoming a preferred method for reaching consumers who are skeptical of other forms of advertising.

Companies have gone further and further towards abusing the original intent behind word of mouth advertising lately, and have pushed into more and more gray areas, which is forcing the FTC to act. As the practice has become more ubiquitous, the chances for regulation loom larger. As the article mentioned, one division of P&G has 250,000 teens doing this type of marketing for them! If you’ve ever wondered if what you’re reading, or overhearing, is hype and BS, it just might be. An army of name dropping scam marketers now exist everywhere.

For bloggers this is probably another strong sign to disclose any “paid posts” you might be doing. I know the new pay per post blogging services are encouraging people to do this already, so undoubtedly it will become the norm.

I still think there’s probably a ton of room for abuse in this area, but it looks the FTC is making a strong step towards figuring out how to curtail it.

“This letter tells marketers like Procter & Gamble that their ’sponsored consumers’ must disclose that they are shilling, or they are probably in violation of the prohibition against deceptive advertising. That’s big,” he said. “It will change practices in the word-of-mouth marketing industry.”

Undoubtedly, these changes should help keep word or mouth marketing as being extremely effective ways to get noticed. But now you’ll have to earn it, just like the old days. What do you think of this decision?

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    1. One Response to “Will Bloggers Have To Disclose?”

    2. I’m concerned about how the world is turning into. The fact that FTC is making new laws about word of mouth advertising and affiliate marketing shows that people are not recommending what they really think is good for their prospect.

      Lets face it - at least 80% of clickbank products are pretty much junk. They are digital products which Internet marketer have paid some freelance worker in elance.com to do for $200. How good can the product get?

      Yet there are a lot of “marketing gurus” who claim that yeah, you can just make commissions from the products on clickbank.. just my recommending it to others.

      The platform has been made too easy, too easy for non net savvy people to come online - and without a sound foundation of what the net is about, these people are littering the net with junky recommendations just to make a quick buck.

      Its worrying.

      By Kian Ann on Dec 13, 2006

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