The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is stepping into the practice of paid posts on the blogosphere and it’s about time. I have personally been solicited by mommy bloggers willing to write for cash. Pay to play schemes among mommy bloggers have been commonplace, it is akin to payola in the record industry, and it does a disservice to other bloggers.
Decades ago there was a crackdown on payola in the music industry as record promoters paid off radio DJs to spin their records and popularize artists. The practice has largely been curtailed, although payments are still made under the table to DJs in major markets. Brands have been willing to shower freebees on bloggers in exchange for editorial coverage that fails to attribute the gifts and their influence. It stinks and it’s corrupting the blogosphere.
According to Consumer Reports:
“The FTC is updating its “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” which were last refreshed in 1980. What this has to do with bloggers is a new form of advertising, called word-of-mouth marketing, in which advertisers pay your favorite bloggers to “review” their products. The bloggers get paid, for example, with free product samples; gift certificates for JCPenney shopping sprees; cash payments; or the loan of a $30,000 Ford Flex for a year.
The bloggers are supposed to write whatever they want about the product—pro or con—but the payments put into question whether they would be inclined to seriously bite the hand of a “friend” lending a car or giving other valuable goodies or cash.