Disclosing Free stuff..

There is new reports of the Federal Trade Commission in the United States, that as of December the 1st, bloggers have to disclose anything free/ or money they get from blogging about a product. With fines introduced as well.

“the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.”

I guess this will apply to me – to us the Wow community of bloggers even though I am Aussie based because while I am not under US law,  I am sure WordPress hosting is. 

Anything I have linked, or recommended have been because I believe in it,  think its cool, wanted to share,  ect.  I have never been paid for anything I have written wow related. I’ve also tried to keep it so that it what is not Wow specific is at least relatable to Wow, or my own personal Wow experience.  I linked an artist because I thought their lyrics and music was appropriate to a bullying situation I was having in a guild, I link sites as references  Eg where I purchased my Wow figurine from.   I linked a piece of Jewellery I found on a site that seemed the ideal design for a particular professions neck ( I’m not linking any of them again now, because I referenced it where it was appropriate) I am sure that there is a few more I have forgotten.

I think about what I have bought/paid for on recommendations from people on Wow blogs, and it includes an Artists album, perfume, and Wow themed hand made jewellery ( which I wore for a week) I based my buying of a new game recently on the positive experiences from my own guildys and bloggers who have dabbled in it.  I have also found new bloggers, and armory crawlers ( that I have also linked) because I found them relevant, and interesting.  

Word of mouth works.   My Trust in you believing what you write and recommend is important to me though.

When I purchased my Wow themed designed piece of Jewellery  ( and a piece for a friends birthday present)  there was a flyer that mentioned if I reviewed or blogged about their product in a blog, on proving that I had done they would send me a piece of my choice.  I did not blog about it.  I did not post a pic of the products even though I was pleased with them ( for the week ), while not critical of the makers marketing attempts, the blogger who had recommended the jewellery that I had clicked, and then purchased because of,  had not disclosed that they did/did not request that free piece.   They could have gotten the same flyer I did, and chose not to take up that offer.  However I had this doubt,  that this product recommendation was motivated by a free necklace,  and I will wonder if them blogging about it was motivated by this offer, or because they really wanted to share something great.

I still made a rational choice, I looked at the site,  assessed my finances, and desire for the product, and thought of one as  a perfect present for a friend.  It started by recommendation, but I take responsibility for buying the product. I think that we all should really use common sence when hearing about recommendations of products and services.  “You have to buy that CD!”  if you don’t read why or ask- what about it do you like so I can see if I may like it too? – then its your fault.  However there seems to be so little common sence, now

Some places offer customers referal bonuses for introducing their friends and family,  is that any different, shouldn’t they also be required to disclose anything of benefit they get because of it.  What makes blogging so powerful all of a sudden,  when Word of mouth, and fake ads written by newspaper journalists are in the paper/on news sites every day.

I’m not quite sure how it will be enforced,  or how the impact of a paid review can have on a product will be measured, as under consumer law. At least in Australia  for the every day consumer we have laws already that cover shoddy products eg  fit for purpose,  ect, and cooling off periods for some products and services including door to door sales and cars, so there already is some level of protection where it matters,

 While products are expected to get better reviews if people are being paid to write on them. The power of word of mouth can have negative economical effects, and it’s also possible that some people are paid to write badly about a rival product or service.

We also have the power of Social media ( apparently Twitter was blamed for bad reviews on Bruno  – Link to the Time article here  – )  I AM NOT BEING PAID BY TIME or TWITTER  ( disclosure) Nor Blizzard I should add for this blog.

Financial losses from product reviews  may need to be reimbursed by the Blogger or the Advertiser according to the new law. While I think the principle of the new law is important I think that it’s just another way for people to absolve themself of responsibility for a poor decision.

4 Responses to “Disclosing Free stuff..”

  1. 1 Professor Beej October 6, 2009 at 4:48 am

    To me, it’s a matter of ethics. I understand that Ebert gets free movies, whether he gives a good or bad review. I understand that Alex Trebeck is paid to spokesman for that life insurance company. If I thought differently, or if they said “No, no! I just do this for the love of Liberty Mutual/Transformers 2,” then we’d know something is wrong. But they don’t, and we understand that, as professionals, they’re compensated for their time.

    To me, this is just doing the same thing for bloggers. It’s pulling bloggers out of the minor leagues and “trash” journalism niche and moving us into a more mainstream, accepted category.

    It’s just being a good blogger to tell the audience if we get something free. Whether I enjoy the opera tomorrow night I was given free tickets for isn’t the question; I still got the tickets. If my review isn’t shining, then I’m sorry, the viral marketing failed. I’m an honest guy, and a couple of tickets to Tosca isn’t going to change that, nor is a lifetime subscription to WAR like Tobold was given. I expect my review to be glowing simply because I love stage performances, but it’s not guaranteed. I was raised a good, Southern raisin’, and I have a little integrity when it comes to professional endeavors, but there are those who don’t, and that’s what the FTC is trying to remedy.

  2. 2 Natarumah October 6, 2009 at 7:42 am

    My personal reason for blogging is to inform and entertain, not to make a profit out of it. I have turned down a couple of offers to put advertisments on my blog, especially those toon-selling sites that have the audacity to contact me.

    Would I endorse good things when I see them? Definitely. Would I want to get paid or compensated for it? No.

    A good product I endorse because I approve of it, and it would sell itself regardless of my interference.

    As far as “marketing blogs” concerned, which serve only to redirect you to sites and products they are endorsing for their own gain, I have not enough salliva in my mouth to properly display my opinion (and it would be frowned upon in public).


  3. 3 Triv October 6, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Honestly I read on a portion of your blog before replying. The law covers a specific instance where you are compensated for and endorsement or review of a product. In other words, if Blizzard sent you dozens of packets of their trading cards for a new expansion release and asked you to review them and when you were through you could keep the cards as long as you posted your review on your blog, then it would be covered.

    It’s an endorsement/compensation clause. The fact that it was linked with blogging is merely to cover legally the open market a lot of companies tried to exploit by claiming blogs and an ungoverned space. Feel free to share your opinion openly.. it’s what a blog is for.

  4. 4 candy October 8, 2009 at 12:55 am

    In a magazine, a paid piece of editorial has to be marked with copy that denotes it is an advertorial or piece of paid advertising. I think that the FTC just finally caught on to the fact that a lot of the mommy bloggers and tech bloggers got freebies or paid to endorse products. It’s easier for buyer beware to apply when you know as you are reading if the blogger is writing out of a true passion for something versus a passion for the bucks they earned for writing the post.

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