The new guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) relating to product endorsements went into effect on December 1st. These guidelines now cover people, like myself, who blog about products or services and receive compensation in return.
There are some who are upset about the new guidelines, but I welcome the transparency they bring. It is an overdue update to the prior regulations that were drafted before blogs even existed.
The new guidelines relate to bloggers, in that, it requires us to disclose any financial incentives that may pose a conflict of interest when posting a blog about a product or service. The FTC has but together some video answers to FAQs.
Why Did the FTC Update the Guidelines?
This sounds pretty reasonable to me. I am impressed that the FTC has made these short videos explaining these changes. It’s nice to see the government embrace technology in a good way.
What Do the FTC Guidelines Mean for Bloggers?
One example that the FTC gives for bloggers is someone who has a blog about gaming, and receives products from the company to review.
A college student who has earned a reputation as a video game expert maintains a personal weblog or “blog” where he posts entries about his gaming experiences. Readers of his blog frequently seek his opinions about video game hardware and software. As it has done in the past, the manufacturer of a newly released video game system sends the student a free copy of the system and asks him to write about it on his blog. He tests the new gaming system and writes a favorable review.
Because his review is disseminated via a form of consumer-generated media in which his relationship to the advertiser is not inherently obvious, readers are unlikely to know that he has received the video game system free of charge in exchange for his review of the product, and given the value of the video game system, this fact likely would materially affect the credibility they attach to his endorsement. Accordingly, the blogger should clearly and conspicuously disclose that he received the gaming system free of charge.
Okay, I must confess that this one seems a little far reaching. I don’t think that requiring the disclosure is onerous, but I wonder how many kids have blogs like this who might receive something free from manufacturers. I can see why some are upset.
How Do Bloggers Follow the Guidelines?
This sounds pretty straight forward. It sounds like the way I would open up a review about a product or service anyway. I think most reputable bloggers already do this.
My Advertising and Endorsement Disclosure Policy
The Christian Entrepreneur is a for-profit venture. While I do not intend to ever charge my readers for the content on this blog, it is my intention to make a profit through selling advertising space, earning commissions from affiliate programs, and through pay-per-click programs like Google AdSense.
I have not written any paid endorsements or received products/services free in exchange for a review. I am not opposed to either of these, and am willing to consider any proposal that I think may benefit my readers. I refrain from writing negative reviews due to legal concerns, so I will simply refuse to write a review for a product/service I cannot endorse.