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U.S. Regulators Want Clarity About Ads on Blogs

     

engine

5:46 pm on Aug 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If you run ads on your blog, you ought to be aware of this...

U.S. Regulators Want Clarity About Ads on Blogs [nytimes.com]

Two of the National Advertising Review Councilís investigative units plan to announce Tuesday their first decisions involving blogs. Their recommendations call for clear disclosure when a company is sponsoring a site or paying for product reviews.

Thatís nothing shocking, but itís part of a sharper focus on the relationships between bloggers and advertisers. Attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission, which is about to expand its endorsement guidelines to include blogs, are investigating the area, along with the self-regulatory groups.

Gomvents

6:31 pm on Aug 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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With all the blogs run out of India and other non-US territories and the fact they can be hosted anywhere in the world, and advertisers may be from anywhere in the world... they are overreaching I think... Not sure how they'll enforce it.

JS_Harris

6:48 pm on Aug 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I think they should have gotten a clearer understanding of how sites can be monetized before proceeding with this. Affiliates for example are not paid to blog, they receive income only if someone decides to purchase something (from a 3rd party site) and most of the time the pages with links to those 3rd party sites do not contain false advertising, the links are an extra to the page content.

I still make sure the visitor knows he/she will be leaving my site (and knows where they will be going) when they click on an affiliate link, i'm not about to add onto that the fact that I might get paid if they decide to purchase something on someone elses site. I also make sure not to BS too though, stuff like "I checked out this new product last night and WOOOWOOOWOOOWOOOWW!" doesn't belong online if untrue.

Wish I had the governments crystal ball to tell what was true and what wasn't.

edit: these guys need to hire some of us right out of this forum (if they haven't already) since it's hard to train someone new the art of sniffing out this type of thing. It becomes second nature after a few years of checking out the competition though.

Demaestro

7:03 pm on Aug 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I understand where they are coming from here but as pointed out the logistics of sorting through it all and enforcing it is a daunting task.

Gomvents

7:10 pm on Aug 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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JS_Harris, in addition to everything you said don't forget some bloggers are directly paid to post a la payperpost, sponsoredreviews, reviewme, etc. The honest ones already disclose, others... once again - impossible to enforce...

weeks

7:32 pm on Aug 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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What's the problem? If it's on the Internet, it's the truth. My sister-in-law can explain it to the FTC. I will have her call them.

IanKelley

7:35 pm on Aug 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yet another brilliant attempt by the US gov to push internet money offshore.

brotherhood of LAN

7:51 pm on Aug 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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>pay-per-post

There doesn't seem to be much difference between it and a personal endorsement, compare it to what google may see as a paid link or an endorsement.

There's quite a few blogs in backlinks of 'largeish' sites, from PPP, and it isn't a coincidence.

michael webster

8:13 pm on Aug 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



There is a much bigger issue lurking in the weeds here: affiliate promotion of business opportunities.

Most of these schemes are already regulated by the FTC and the states, and the FTC routinely shuts down biz ops that have no disclosure document. They are running out of vending machine operators to close down, who do you think that the FTC will look at next?

JS_Harris

8:46 pm on Aug 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I took a second look, the National Advertising Review Council may be a threat to the lifespan of the above mentioned paid review sites (pay per post etc) but in re-reading the article it seems the end blogger is the target, not those services.

I don't recognize the authority being implied by the NAAR, it seems to be over reaching, but I do agree with the intent as its written in the article.

If the NAAR decides to target affiliates who don't disclose they MAY earn a commission then I'll consider those fighting words. I think punishing CPA affiliates who don't disclose they MAY earn a commission would even cause Twitter to up the character limit to around 800 per tweet, it's loaded with aff links.

Why can't they just target the MMO sites and paid posting services first? Affiliates pay taxes on their meager cuts already.

frontpage

9:55 pm on Aug 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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More "hope and change" restrictions on capitalism. Notice how this policy change does not affect Hollywood or their dubious product pumps in movies or TV shows.

koan

10:51 pm on Aug 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I hope they make the difference between inserting an affiliate link in an independent post and "advertorials". I do the first one, but I would never accept payment to post bullshiat to advertise a product and pass it as my personal opinion.

fargo1999

11:42 pm on Aug 11, 2009 (gmt 0)



"Paid by the US Army" commercials on TV. Shouldn't they rather be worded "Paid by all US tax payers" (, even if they oppose the war...)?

kaled

7:26 am on Aug 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Unless or until the ownership of sites and their geolocation can be reliably established any talk of regulation is a waste of time.

The only way regulation could be enforced would be if the acceptance of advertising itself required certification. In other words, every site with adverts would need to display some sort of certification logo that could be clicked to display site ownership details. And then prosecutions would have to follow if any company advertised on non-certified websites.

Automated adverts such as those provided by Google would be exempt since the site owner has no editorial control. However, a similar voluntary system could be implemented.

All this might be doable and might be a good idea, but it's not going to happen in the near future.

Kaled.

night707

9:05 am on Aug 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Wasted ideas and efforts.

sullen

12:55 pm on Aug 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Notice how this policy change does not affect Hollywood or their dubious product pumps in movies or TV shows.

There is a *huge* difference between using, say, a car in a movie and posting lots of fake reviews about that car. The former may well affect sales, but there has been no breach of trust.

I think ads on websites should be regulated. They may not be able to police all the blogs out there, but they could make the advertiser liable in cases where payment is proven.There's no need necessarily to prove ownership of the blog.

mfishy

3:38 pm on Aug 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Notice how this policy change does not affect Hollywood or their dubious product pumps in movies or TV shows.

Right. I want to see movies/tv required to have huge disclaimers about what product placements are paid for...and of course it is the same thing as a paid review. Big difference is it is even more powerful.

[edited by: mfishy at 3:42 pm (utc) on Aug. 12, 2009]

kaled

3:41 pm on Aug 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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but they could make the advertiser liable in cases where payment is proven.There's no need necessarily to prove ownership of the blog.

How do you prove payment without knowing the ownership of the site?

Kaled.

JS_Harris

6:40 pm on Aug 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Not knowing ownership won't stop anything, if anything it will introduce new measures to ensure ownership is easy to obtain.

fargo1999

9:32 pm on Aug 12, 2009 (gmt 0)



Oh, so it seems the major reason to introduce it is to make sure the lawyers are busy taking our money because they will have yet another reason to "prove" something...

kaled

10:31 pm on Aug 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Certification for honest webmasters would be easy - all that should be required would be for credit-card details to match whois data. However, it won't happen because someone in power would have to be knowledgeable and smart enough to make it happen - what are the odds?

Kaled.

CainIV

6:17 am on Aug 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Silly.