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US Federal Trade Commission acts to legislate ?word of mouth? marketing

Bloggers must disclose commercial links

Updated rules surrounding endorsements will mean that online bloggers will now be obliged to disclose any connections to commercial interests, above and beyond traditional advertisers.

In its updated ‘Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising’, the US Federal Trade Commission has laid down a set of guidelines regarding what it calls ‘material connections.’

These guidelines state that an online blogger must inform readers if he or she received any remuneration for a review or recommendation, including cash or products. Similarly, if a company cites a particular piece of research in a marketing campaign, the company must tell people if it paid for that research to be conducted.

“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,” read a statement from the FTA.

“A paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.”

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