FTC Reassures Kidlit Bloggers at DC Meeting

Galleycat:  An “associate director for advertising practices at the Federal Trade Commission met with attendees of the 2009 Kidlitosphere Conference to discuss the FTC’s new guidelines for commercial endorsement and how they’ll affect book bloggers when they go into effect on December 1. . . . Mary Engle made . . . what the blog Galleysmith described as ‘a distinction between independent reviewers (that would be us book bloggers y’all) and participants of marketing programs.’ The report goes on to say that “

[Engle] admitted that the FTC probably could have done a better job of drawing this distinction in the guidelines but hoped further clarification would help alleviate concern.”

The upshot of this is simple: “If you are working with a marketing program you must disclose that connection.  If you are an independent reviewer you do not.”

Notes from Digital Hollywood: Industry Solutions to Privacy Issues in Online Behavioral Advertising May Not Satisfy FTC Chiefs

The Digital Media Lawyer Blog:  “A dominant theme at this week’s Digital Hollywood conference is the tension between the need to for truly targeted advertising to online audiences and an individual’s right to privacy. The Internet creates the ability for businesses to gather a marketer’s dream world of data about their customers. This can include identification data (name, address, phone number, email address), demographic data (age, gender, marital status, sexual orientation), financial data (bank and credit card account data), and behavioral data (browsing history, downloading history) and much, much more. If this type of data falls into the wrong hands, it can subject the customer or identify fraud. But even many purely commercial uses can cause embarrassment or harm to the consumer.”

Bloggers Mugged by Regulators – FTC to Police Book Reviews on Twitter

Wall St. Journal:  “There’s a saying that a neoconservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality. We’ve now learned that bloggers mugged by regulators become economic libertarians.  Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission issued its “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” last updated in 1980. These rules historically regulated what celebrity endorsers can say and how advertisers can use research claims.”

New Rules: Endorsements & Testimonials in Marketing

Attorney Kevin Hutchinson wrote a scholarly article about the FTC’s new ad rule and posted it on Joel Comm’s website.

Those were the days-the days when a marketer could use an actual quote from a real person that has used your product as a marketing endorsement or testimonial to capture the aspirations of your potential customers. As of December 1, 2009, those days are gone.

Maybe that’s a good thing for many consumers, because some marketers have been slimy with their marketing efforts. However, it’s safe to say that most marketers are honest and sincerely offer products and services designed to help their clients feel better or make money. Both will definitely be affected by the new Guidelines released by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which take effect December 1st.

Give Your Testimonials a Reality Check

Copywriting guru Michael Fortin:  “After read­ing and re-​​reading the lat­est FTC guide­lines, I’ve come to some impor­tant con­clu­sions that I want to share with you. Par­tic­u­larly as they relate to testimonials. . . . It’s a huge ben­e­fit to those who under­stand copy­writ­ing, because they can actu­ally turn around and use the FTC rul­ings to their advan­tage. Even make more sales as a result.”

New F.T.C. Rules Have Bloggers and Twitterers Mulling

New York Times:  “Beginning Dec. 1, bloggers, Twitterers and many others who write online product reviews must disclose the receipt of free merchandise or payment for the items they write about.  The guidelines, an update of the F.T.C.’s 1980 guide concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising . . . .”

Where Did You Get That Keychain?

City-Journal:  Overlawyered’s Walter Olson wrote an excellent article on the FTC’s new ad/testimonial rules.  “New guidelines on freebies target bloggers but go easy on traditional outlets.  If there was any doubt that sweeping regulation—big, shoot-for-the-moon regulation—was back in favor in Washington, it was laid to rest on October 5, when the Federal Trade Commission published 81 pages of new guidelines asserting authority over product endorsements and testimonials, particularly those published in blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. From the early coverage, you might have thought the guidelines were mostly of concern to the calculating Madison Avenue types who send baby-product and cosmetics swag to mommy-bloggers as part of nefarious “buzz marketing” campaigns. But the new guidelines are much broader than that. They lay out potential theories of liability for many bloggers and online commentators with more traditional literary, political, or journalistic profiles.”

See the FTC’s new guidelines.

See also Walter Olson’s October 16, 2009, post on this topic.

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