December 1 and the FTC

11.30.09


The sky is not falling unless you lost 63 pounds in 27 days and you have a wonderful pill that will save us all from our fat selves.

The FTC has new guidelines, and they ask bloggers to behave differently than members of the old media. My husband can put products all over a TV screen without so much as a nod. Ryan Seacrest can’t get through three minutes of radio without mentioning a sponsor, but bloggers, bloggers are different. The FTC will hold bloggers to a higher standard.

Great.

Blogging is a cesspool, it’s no secret. There are “review bloggers” who are in the news every other minute. A group of women created a badge that had to do with integrity, and then they mixed advertising and PR on their site and were embarrassed. Many bloggers should not be trusted. I apologize on their behalf.

Here’s the thing. If I’m talking about a product, I’m disclosing. Why? Well, Matt Cutts is scarier to me than any FTC drone. I don’t want my good status with google to go away. Really, that’s the reason. I’m not an altruist, I’m not here to sing kumbaya, I’m not posting this information to help my fellow mommy bloggers. With today being the first day of FTC oversight of blogs, I’m going to be the first Mom Blogger to tell you that I disclose because it’s what google makes me do.

Since we’re busy being pragmatic here, I’ll let you know a few more things about blogging and brands and some of my rationale. I’m not talking about brands here. Mr. Gottlieb turned 45 in November and I bought him an incredible camera. If you see him around town with it, I’m sure he’ll tell you all about it. I own my blog, it’s not a partnership between me and any other brand. If they’d have supplied the camera, or even a discount, I’d probably mention it. I’m perfectly happy to talk about cameras in a global manner.

Disclosure isn’t difficult. If there’s a giveaway on the blog assume that there’s a benefit to me. Tony Hawk hung out with my kids so I did a giveaway. That’s a no brainer. Serena bought me a glass of wine and told me I was pretty, so I did a giveaway for one of her brands. Listen kids, therapy costs, there’s value in a girlfriend whispering sweet nothings.

I’ve always disclosed when I’ve received anything material from a publicist. I’ve tried to do it within the context of storytelling, and I’m a little bit sad that the FTC doesn’t trust bloggers. The reality is that many bloggers are not to be trusted, but the communities don’t pop up around them. Darwin works in cyberspace too.

I disclose because my readers are smart. I disclose because this is just a mommy blog, and I don’t have an agenda involved where I trick you. I disclose because the search engines require it.I disclose because if I don’t, you won’t trust me and that would suck.

Now if everyone would just look around and realize that not all bloggers are in the United States, they’ll see the added ridiculousness of it all.

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7 responses to “December 1 and the FTC”

  1. Amen! I don’t understand why people make it so difficult. Just.do.it. I rewrote my disclosure a while back, including the new addition–a small badge. Sorta lame really but I want it to be seen so that there are no questions from blog police, readers, and the brands.

  2. Danny Brown says:

    And it’s up to the other countries to bring in similar regulations for their bloggers.

    The “problem” with the main point you make about Ryan Seacrest and TV advertisements is that we pretty much all know (or gather) that they’re promoting a product, simply because of the medium. They’re usually shown between shows (during ad breaks), or the sponsor is mentioned in the credits.

    Blogs are different. Traffic is incredibly fluid. No-one knows you from Adam unless they’ve been reading you a while. So yes, disclosure is needed all the time, whether that’s in-post (preferred), or via a Disclosure Page.

    Otherwise it’s just the equivalent of lies, and no-one likes a liar.

  3. April says:

    I’m not worried about the new rules, but I’m resenting the idea of them. There is plenty of old media crap out there, and yet, I have to be held to a higher standard? Yep, that’s protecting the little guy!

  4. Jack says:

    Frankly I am not bothered by any of this. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but I doubt it. The best blogs are successful because of authenticity. Some of the review blogs exist solely because they are able to give stuff away.

    Take the free gifts away and they will dry up and wither.

  5. Caroline says:

    I’m new to blogging and just recently wrote my first review blog on WTE. I disclosed, and I don’t get why people don’t automatically disclose if they received the product with the intended result of a review, or if they received compensation to write about the product.

    It’s not hard.

    Why wouldn’t people automatically disclose, just as a matter of course?

    I think it just makes people look more credible.

  6. “Now if everyone would just look around and realize that not all bloggers are in the United States, they’ll see the added ridiculousness of it all.” This is the part that made me laugh.

    I review books. I disclose. I didn’t even think of google, I was just so happy to get the book that I wanted to tell you where I got it. Now I have a more formal format, that’s my only change.

  7. […] confuddled about what the internet actually is. The internet is not a US only tool. Much like the FTC “blogger guidelines” it feels like a bunch of very old men sat in a windowless room and had the steno pool type up their […]

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