If times weren’t hard enough American FTC have decided that in some cases it’s wrong to review products and to implement a fine of upto $11,000.
Until now online promotions via blogs were not covered by any guidelines and this worried some consumer groups. The issue being that the links between the products being reviewed or talked about, the publishers (companies & individuals) and the companies selling the products was not transparent. i.e. if I reviewed ‘product A’, I didn’t need to tell anyone that I was an affiliate for that product and I would get a commission if my reader bought that product through my link.
I understand that it was a 30 year old law that has been updated, in order to get in touch with the times and I can appreciate a need to protect web users but all so often laws are implemented by people who have read reports but have not a clue how the web works or how to implement the said changes.
These changes come into effect on December 1, 2009 and you can read for yourself the FTC Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials:
What struck me was that everyone in the Internet Marketing business is going to be affected when I read this.
“Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical” – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.”
The new policy will also apply to Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and other forms of new media advertising.