Disclosure: I cuss in this post. It's rant but has valid things you need to know about the FTC Endorsement guidelines
It's been a month since the new FTC Dot Com Disclosures revised their disclosure policies. Each blogger had asked questions, so have the consulting companies that work with us. Everyone has their opinions about the new changes but I think one thing is clear. We all think it's bullshit but we do it anyways.
Bloggers are going above and beyond to make sure their posts and social network shares say SPONSORED all of them when they don't need to. I think Love Maegan puts it great when she mentions celebrity endorsements. Seriously, it's pretty funny. “Do you really think Shaq is driving a Buick Lacrosse?”
Here's a perfect example of one. You don't see Mike Trouts tweeting SPONSORED: before his tweets for Subway!
Excited to see our fans at our home opener! first stop on my way to the ballpark is @subway need me a little sweet onion chicken teriyaki!!
— Mike Trout (@Trouty20) April 9, 2013
I think another reason I'm set off was seeing a clip of a show that mentions Travel bloggers and their weight with influence. That if they are getting their travel comped their reviews are biased. You don't see Engadget with the word Sponsored in the title or tweets about the tech they review. In fact they don't even have a disclosure policy on their entire site! When I started blogging I didn't sign up to get free shit and write a raving reviews about something because I was paid or got it for free. I've received many products that I have commented with negative feedback. There are also some that I didn't like and was asked by the PR firm not to post because it would hurt the brand. But if you ask me in person about it I'll be telling you how I feel for sure. If bloggers are shelling out positive reviews (regardless of not liking it) for products that they were sent or paid to endorse then they are shitty bloggers anyways. Yeah I said it. If you were just butt hurt a little you must fall into that category and I hope you go rethink your blogging world. Shame on you for being what the FTC is trying to prevent, a deceptive blogger.
The FTC answered lots of questions that bloggers had in regards to the revision and I think everyone is up in arms about something very silly. Here are all of the questions they have publicly answered. Here are some highlights that you bloggers really need to read.
Are you monitoring bloggers?
We’re not monitoring bloggers and we have no plans to. If concerns about possible violations of the FTC Act come to our attention, we’ll evaluate them case by case. If law enforcement becomes necessary, our focus will be advertisers, not endorsers – just as it’s always been.
Do the Guides hold online reviewers to a higher standard than reviewers for paper-and-ink publications?
No. The Guides apply across the board. The issue is – and always has been – whether the audience understands the reviewer’s relationship to the company whose products are being reviewed. If the audience gets the relationship, a disclosure isn’t needed. For a review in a newspaper, on TV, or on a website with similar content, it’s usually clear to the audience that the reviewer didn’t buy the product being reviewed. It’s the reviewer’s job to write his or her opinion and no one thinks they bought the product – for example, a book or movie ticket – themselves. But on a personal blog, a social networking page, or in similar media, the reader may not expect the reviewer to have a relationship with the company whose products are mentioned. Disclosure of that relationship helps readers decide how much weight to give the review.
I’ve read that bloggers who don’t comply with the Guides can be fined $11,000? Is that true?
No. The press reports that said that were wrong. There is no fine for not complying with an FTC guide.
What about a platform like Twitter? How can I make a disclosure when my message is limited to 140 characters?
The FTC isn’t mandating the specific wording of disclosures. However, the same general principle – that people have the information they need to evaluate sponsored statements – applies across the board, regardless of the advertising medium. A hashtag like “#paid ad” uses only 8 characters. Shorter hashtags – like “#paid” and “#ad” – also might be effective.
Seriously read the rest of them so you aren't driving your readers away with your obnoxious disclosures in your tweets or blog post titles. You're only hurting yourself.
The quotes above were taken strait from the FTC website so before you go off in the comments about how I'm reading it wrong it's a noted fact. I have moved my disclosures to the top of the posts or weave them into the conversation so they are not deceptive. But I won't be tweeting “SPONSORED: A cool product review I did about baby products”. Because people aren't going to click on it. If I saw something like that I would think you were sending me to the brands website and not your blog review.
What do you think about the FTC Dot Com Disclosures? Would you click on a social media share like that?