A warning to bloggers: A little transparency will go a long way to keeping you out of trouble.
The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority has published an article reminding bloggers that if they’re getting paid to positively review products or services, they have to clearly state that it’s advertising.
From the ASA
Put simply, a blogger who is given money to promote a product or service has to ensure readers are aware they’re being advertised to.
It’s especially important for PR pros to understand that they can’t pay bloggers to tout their products while posing as your average consumer. The ASA says they’ve been seeing reports of PR pros and advertisers encouraging bloggers to not identify their content as an advertisement.
Rich Leigh, co-founder of Bloggabase, agreed with the ASA’s admonishment in a Marketing magazine article
Time and again you hear about marketers thinking they can get away with putting pressure on bloggers to promote clients without declaring when money has changed hands.
I know personally of situations where bloggers have agreed to accept more money than was initially offered in order to refrain from declaring paid posts and this is clearly wrong on both sides. The ASA has done all it can now.‘I didn’t know’ just isn’t an excuse marketers and bloggers can use now.
The ASA notes in its article that it’s not being “bombarded” with these types of issues, but they are seeing enough crop up to issue the reminder.
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The legal ramifications of failing to divulge a monetary blogger/brand relationship may not be as severe outside the United Kingdom, but it’s probably a good rule of thumb to be transparent about it. There are other consequences beyond legal ones, and being perceived as deceptive is never good for a company’s rep.