FTC regulates blogging! Insights into the new world of paid influence
The US Federal Trade Commission has released its long-awaited update to its “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” to now cover blogging and social media.
The headline news is that:
The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.
Those contravening the FTC Act can be fined up to $16,000 per post (it has been increased in the last year from the $11,000 that has been widely reported).
In other words, the world of paid influence that we explored at Future of Influence Summit will be regulated and laid open.
This whole thing is a minefield, and I wish had more time to run through all of the issues, but here are a few top-of-mind points that need to be made about this: