FTC’s First Blogger-Advertiser Investigation

technoMODE
This news item will be one that shakes up the blogging community. "The Federal Trade Commission has told women’s retailer Ann Taylor that it will not take action for incidents related to blogger coverage of an event hosted by its LOFT brand in January."- makemash.com

"This is the first investigation since an update to the FTC’s Guide Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising last December that stipulates that bloggers must disclose “any material connections they share with the seller of the product or service” when writing about it. Bloggers and brands can be fined up to $11,000 for failing to reveal sponsorships, although the FTC has since emphasized that it’s more concerned about the behavior of brands and advertisers than with individual bloggers.

On January 26th Ann Taylor invited bloggers to preview its Summer 2010 LOFT collection, promising attendees a “special gift” and entry into a “mystery gift-card drawing” for those who submitted posts to the company within 24 hours of the event. Ann Taylor avowed to reveal the value of the gift cards, which ranged from $50 to $500, to bloggers after receiving their posts.

Although no action was taken, the FTC has made it clear that it’s keeping a close watch on bloggers — and the companies who are wooing them. Ann Taylor has since developed a blogger interaction policy for the LOFT division in accordance with the FTC’s guidelines.

This poses an interesting question: Are bloggers journalists? The nature of Ann Taylor’s offer to bloggers is alarming. It’s hard to imagine that the company would offer the journalists of a major news organization gift cards in exchange for write-ups, which suggests that.

a) the company knew that its offer was ethically questionable
and/or
b) that bloggers and their publications do not merit the same treatment as their old media counterparts, even though their readerships and influence may be as great."- makemash.com

- EDITORS NOTE: this article is reprinted in parts from original in makemash.com (read complete article on makemash.com)

(Image credits: www.mashable.com)

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