FTC OKs Blogger Rules for Online Marketing

Ariana Rodriguez
WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission has approved new rules that are expected to change how bloggers endorse products and services.

Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer conveying his experience with a product as typical when it is not must disclose results that consumers can actually expect.

Endorsers — mainly bloggers and other “word-of-mouth” marketers — also must make clear any material connections with the advertiser, whether it be payments or free products.

“The revised guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement,” the FTC said in a press release. “Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.”

Celebrity endorsers also are addressed in the revised guides. Celebrities must now disclose their relationships with advertisers when making endorsements outside the context of traditional ads, such as on talk shows or in social media.

The guides are administrative interpretations of the law; they are not binding law themselves, according to the FTC. In any law enforcement action, the FTC would have the burden of proving that the challenged conduct violates the FTC Act.