You may recall that the FTC had issued guidelines for bloggers and that they must disclose their relationship with a product in their reports. Most of us felt that this would most likely mean that if a company gave a blogger a free product to test, that the blogger would need to disclose this fact. In addition the blogger would need to disclose any other reward, consideration or financial incentive they received to review or write about a specific product or to endorse the product. I found the guidelines fairly easy to understand, while some bloggers felt their rights were being violated in some way or another.
What appears to be the first ‘blog disclosure’ case involved Ann Taylor who was going to provide bloggers with a gift card for their reviewing their new line of clothing. In a recent article it also stated that:
What strikes me as interesting here is that the FTC investigation focuses on the advertiser’s actions, rather than the bloggers’. That is, most of the concerns about the program were about whether the FTC would take action against bloggers. But, here, it was focused on the advertiser and its actions. That does make more sense, but does leave open a questionable loophole: if an advertiser tells a blogger to disclose some information and then the blogger does not do so… is the advertiser still liable? In this case, the FTC even mentions that one of the reasons it’s not taking action is because many (though not all) of the bloggers, who wrote about the event, disclosed the gift cards. But if they had not — even though Ann Taylor had told them to — then is Ann Taylor to blame?
Which seems to leave more unanswered questions than what the FTC actions actually clarified in their first decision concerning blogger’s and product reviews. Who holds the ultimate responsibility? The advertiser or the blogger?