Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Blogola: The FTC Takes On Paid Posts

Business Week reports:
Readers of Adventures in Babywearing, a blog for parents, got an up-close look at the Ergo, a $135 embroidered baby carrier in a shade called "organic blue" in a May 14 post on the site. Blog operator Stephanie Precourt was impressed. "The Ergo truly is now my first choice for long-term wear as well as nursing and doing chores around the house," she wrote.

Money can't buy that kind of advertising for Maui (Hawaii)-based ERGObaby. Or can it? As Precourt went on to write in her blog, the company sent the carrier free, along with a matching pouch and backpack. Precourt says it's legitimate to blog about a product she's been given by its manufacturer. "I try to keep my blog filled with personal stories and real-life content so that when I do happen to write about something that I've been given, it's credible," she says in an e-mail.

But such back-scratching endorsements could become tougher under a coming set of Federal Trade Commission guidelines designed to clarify how companies can court bloggers to write about their products. This summer, the government agency is expected to issue new advertising guidelines that will require bloggers to disclose when they're writing about a sponsor's product and voicing opinions that aren't their own. The new FTC guidelines say that blog authors should disclose when they're being compensated by an advertiser to discuss a product.
Great moments in regulation of speech.