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FTC Guidelines Affect Mom Bloggers

In 2009, the FTC released updated advertising guidelines that hadn’t been revised in nearly 30 years and that now impact bloggers. Most of the media and public attention was focused on the new rules about how blogs must disclose reviews and recommendations. But blogs weren’t the only target of the new rules. Guidelines about celebrity endorsements and advertisements that convey a consumer’s experience with a product were also changed.

In the past, only advertisers were on the hook for any misrepresentations, but the new rules state that both advertisers and celebrity endorsers may be liable for false or unsubstantiated claims made in an endorsement. Advertisers also used to be able to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical.”

But the new guidelines have taken that safe harbor away; now “advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect.”

With these new guidelines, the FTC had to include bloggers and word-of-mouth marketers in the update. When a blogger is compensated for a blog post, it then constitutes an advertisement. And there is an increasingly fine line between real celebrities and blogging celebrities.

A very well-known blogger can’t really say that he or she isn’t “enough of a celebrity” to be held to the new FTC standards, especially when a brand is willing to engage in an endorsement relationship with the blogger as it would other celebrity endorsers.

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