The US government’s Federal Trade Commission has changed the guidelines for bloggers (and celebrities) who write paid reviews or offer endorsements, and I think this is a very good thing for people who read blogs. Bloggers now must reveal whether they were compensated for a product or service review found on their website, which is similar to disclosures companies need to make in advertisements. If they fail to do so, they could receive significant fines.
According to the Federal Trade Commission’s revised Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials:
The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers.
I can’t recall a time when I wrote a paid review on behalf of a company, although I have turned down several requests. On occasion, a company will offer services (development services for example) in exchange for a mention on my blog, but I generally refrain from providing any opinion in those posts.
When I do provide an opinion, it is based on my actual experience rather than simply writing a glowing report in exchange for a fee. My blogging goal has always been to be helpful to others, and if there’s ever a time when something is written and I am compensated, I will certainly disclose it to you. I also want to add that when a person or company does exceptional work or goes above and beyond on a project for me, I want to let people know about it.