There has been a good deal of discussion lately about the FTC and whether they would actually put a policy into place requiring bloggers to disclose when they receive free products in exchange for reviews. Well, it has happened. Last week, they did just that. Bloggers must now disclose all products that they receive and whether or not they were free. If not, fines can reach $11,000. The FTC's official press release can be found here.
Obviously, this is big news! Not only for all of our great mom-blogger friends, but also for us as mom business owners and entrepreneurs. It is a common discussion between mom entrepreneurs who have a limited marketing budget. Do I send free products to bloggers in return for a great review? Is it effective marketing? Is it effective budgeting?
Some bloggers are flattered by the ruling. Having the FTC acknowledge bloggers as legitimate journalists is a compliment, they say. Others are outraged that the requirements are different for them versus print journalists. The NY Times did an interesting article here.
Ultimately, I think it is a good thing for mom business owners like us, trying to effectively marketing our small companies on a very limited budget. Oftentimes there is a lot of pressure to send free gifts and it is very hard for us to compete with the large companies that send out hundreds of samples at a time.
This essentially takes a bit of that pressure off. As some have pointed out, the new policy may be hard to enforce. But, I think most bloggers will be forthcoming and disclose the information. It will be interesting to see how this affects the blogging and review world. The new policy takes effect on December 1.
What do you think?