The Laws of Blogging: Disclosure

The Laws of Blogging: Disclosure

Non-disclosure of paid commercial content is considered illegal under Consumer Protection law. In both the UK and US, efforts are being made to step-up enforcement.

In the UK, this enforcement is upheld by the Competition and Markets Authority (CAM), whilst in the US it’s upheld by the Federal Trade Commission.

The UK’s Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) ‘Code of Conduct’ aims to help both practitioners and influencers navigate the murky world of promoted posts.

The Facts

The issue addressed by all of these bodies is that of disclosure; ensuring that audiences can easily distinguish paid content from owned content.

Paid Content – Typically paid content will take the form of advertising, sponsorship or ‘in kind’…

Advertising = A brand / business assumes complete editorial control in return for payment

Sponsorship = A brand / business assumes partial editorial control in return for payment

In Kind = A brand / business provides goods / services in return for editorial, for which you maintain full editorial control

Owned Content – Content whereby the influencer maintains sole responsibility for the editorial control.

Cases

In 2012, Nike fell foul of the guidelines with a series of promotional tweets from England footballers including Wayne Rooney, one of which read: “My resolution – to start the year as a champion, and finish it as a champion … #makeitcount” followed by a website. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that this and other tweets did not make it clear enough that it was an ad, and had to be deleted.

In 2014, five advertorial YouTube videos from vloggers, each featuring Oreo biscuits (Mondelez UK Ltd), were ruled to breach CAP’s Code of Conduct because they were not obviously identifiable as marketing communications and their commercial intent was not clear prior to consumer engagement.

Top Tips

  • Ensure there is a clear campaign brief for any promotional content; what’s expected, on which platforms, and when

  • Clearly identify content that endorses or promotes a product which you’ve received in kind as a ‘Product Placement’ or ‘Sponsored Post’. A simple disclosure like ‘Company X gave me this product to try…’ will also suffice

  • Clearly label content that has been paid for with ‘Advertorial’ or ‘Ad Feature’, ideally in the title. If promoting through social channels you can adopt hashtags such as #ad

  • Ensure paid posts clearly identify who paid for the content

IMPORTANT: All labelling relating to paid content should be marked ahead of the content i.e. at the top of a page, the beginning of an article, etc.

This short video provides a brief overview of the regulations and how to ensure your blog is compliant:

9 thoughts on “The Laws of Blogging: Disclosure

  1. On Blazing Minds we have a disclosure policy page that clearly states that “This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.”, does this suffice for the purposes of sponsored articles etc?

    Like

    1. Hi Karen, strictly speaking, you should label paid content every time it appears on your site. If it’s ‘in kind’ or ‘sponsored’ content, something like ‘company x gave me x’. If someone has paid directly for certain content then it should be labelled as ‘advertorial’ or ‘ad feature’ ahead of the content.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a really helpful article. As a blogger, I am so fed up of brands asking me to publish articles for them without disclosure. I always knew it was frowned upon so have turned them down, but I was beginning to question my stance as I am asked so often. This has really cleared it up and confirmed that I’m doing the right thing, and I’m bookmarking it for future reference. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lucy, so glad you found it useful! It’s interesting you should mention this. A recent survey showed nearly half PR pros / brands don’t abide by regulations. We certainly hope this post (and others re. The Laws of Blogging) help provide some clarity on the matters all-round 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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