Not surprisingly, the Federal Trade Commission is currently working on a blogger review and endorsement policy focused on false advertising. Basically if a blogger is paid to write a review on his or her blog, the FTC will require the blogger to disclose this information. Where there is currently some gray area is when bloggers are provided free product to conduct a review. You can read the full story here: http://is.gd/sAAQ
This is nothing new when it comes to magazines and newspapers. You see this all the time in what we call in the marketing, public relations and advertising business “advertorials”. It is actually an ad that is made to look like an article. However, you will find at the top of the ad “Paid Advertisement”. At the end of the day, consumers are still misled.
When it comes to blogger relations campaigns, the agency has conducted numerous blogger campaigns that have proved to be very successful from mommy bloggers testing cleaning products to diabetic bloggers testing blood glucose meters. One hundred percent of the time the products have achieved rave reviews and drove significant traffic to the clients’ web sites. Here are just a few examples:
I have diabetes, and am always looking for a glucometer that is more accurate, less painful and more informative. I got that with the WaveSense Jazz™, a great blood glucose monitoring system. I am especially pleased because it provides mealtime averages, which helps me track my readings throughout the day and provides averages and graphs that help me track my numbers. – Redsoxmommy.blogspot.com
I recently came across a ton of items that I can definitely use in my kitchen, and I know you can too! These are all made my Weiman Products and should be every kitchen! – Lisareviews.com
From a public relations and marketing perspective, regulating blogs will likely change the way we work with bloggers and cut down substantially on the number of review opportunities for manufacturers and service based companies. To that end, it will actually make our job harder.
However, since it is likely that the average Joe doesn’t realize the difference between a blog and a traditional media review (objective reporting), regulating blogs is the best approach to protecting the consumer. You cannot pay media to write a review; therefore, you shouldn’t be able to pay bloggers either, send them on lavish trips or entice them with loads of free product. Where the gray line is for me is that we send media free product to test all the time. In very rare cases, we will get media who cannot accept the free sample product and have to run to a store to purchase it (Consumer Reports, etc.).
Certainly if this policy passes, it will change blog product reviews. However, it is beyond me how the FTC will actually regulate this. There are millions of blogs and everyday more and more blogs are added to the mix. I assume it will be something like online music sharing sites. A few people are caught, fined and made an example for others. But that hasn’t stopped music sharing sites from operating or others from downloading illegal music.