How to Comply with the NEW FTC Disclosure rules on Blogging Products Provided for Review | Sandling All Day

Sunday, April 14, 2013

How to Comply with the NEW FTC Disclosure rules on Blogging Products Provided for Review

So I've noticed that MANY of my blogging friends have not updated to the NEW FTC blogging rules... (they were released March 13, 2013)  I'm guessing, it's because you don't know about them... I understand that, because I JUST heard about them today. If it weren't for an email from one of the companies I work with, I would not have known myself.

So after reading trying to read through the FTC Guidelines, I did a TON of google searching, and finally found someone who can explain it to me like a 5yr old, where I can understand it... (If you didn't know, I am disabled... I do NOT follow things the way most do)

Here's what you need to know, for blogging product reviews, posting social media ads, and even when you do a vlog

Basically, the FTC is now requiring bloggers to:

  • Put a disclosure BEFORE any hyperlinks.  In a nut-shell, your disclosure should come prior to your post, but as close to your 'review' as possible.
In the example (#21) of their pdf, they provided an example for bloggers that receive products for review.  (finally, giving us pictures to work by!)

The picture showed a blog post about a product review, with the disclosure at the end of the post (as we ALL do...)
The FTC said that the disclosure was "insufficient' because there were several links prior to the disclosure.  Because the reader could click on ANY of those links prior to reaching the end of the post, thus missing the disclosure entirely, the distraction of the links before the disclosure makes it insufficient.
To fix this, the blogger should move the disclosure to a "more prominent" position, BEFORE THE LINKS.

Put a BETTER disclosure on your social media posts.  

If your social media post has ANY 'endorsements' (I like X  product, or this is a great product) then you MUST have a disclosure.

*****  #SPON will NOT NOT NOT work anymore!!!  You need to know this, because we ALL use it... they're saying that many people will NOT know what this means.
To comply, you have to use AD, Paid tweet, or sponsored.
Do NOT rely on bit.ly or comp.ly links to disclose!!*****

There is a way to 'avoid' a disclosure on a social media post:
That is to NOT put any endorsements in the post itself (this does NOT work for sponsored tweets and such... only for your review post that get's posted on facebook or twitter)
For example, simply post "check out my review on x product" or a similar statement.  As long as there is no ACTUAL review or 'endorsement' in the tweet or fb post, there is no requirement for a disclosure.

For VLoggers:

I have only done one video 'review' and it was tied to a regular review... so I'm not sure how this differs from the past...

In an "audio" claim, you have to use an audio disclosure.  Basically, if you make a video, you have to SAY the disclosure....and it has to be in the same "volume and cadence" as the review...
So you can be all "hey, this item is great..." and then for the disclosure, be like, "I'm required to disclose that."
In audio terms, of course..
The reasoning behind this, is that people that don't have speakers, appropriate software or whatever, will not be able to hear your 'claim' NOR your disclosure...  
What they don't want, is you to have your claim in audio, and your disclosure in writing...  Why?
Here's an example..
I have a tendancy to open videos in a seperate tab, and then listen to it, while doing work.  If I listened to your VIDEO review, but at the end, there was some visual disclosure wording, I wouldn't know.  They want me to be able to hear the disclosure too.
The same goes for a written review...you have to use a written disclosure.

The PROBLEM with picture disclosures...

The FTC also requires that you:
Take account of the various devices and platforms consumers may use to view 
advertising and any corresponding disclosure. If an ad is viewable on a particular 
device or platform, any necessary disclosures should be sufficient to prevent the 
ad from being misleading when viewed on that device or platform.

The issue?  That MANY devices and platforms have issues with showing pictures... For example, my mom can't view any pictures posted on my site from her phone.  That creates a problem, if you post a disclosure that comes up as an outline with an x.  (you know what the picture looks like, right)

The workaround?
I've seen these on several blogs now...  A button that links to your disclosure... with the button stating what you're doing.

For example:   
  I'll be changing this to review item soon... 

And another button for sponsored post, etc...

If you have any questions, PLEASE post them, and I'll try to answer them or link to the info you need!!


  1. Replies
    1. What is it that doesn't make sense? The FTC (federal trade commission) REQUIRES that bloggers represent that they are basically advertising an item. That's what a review is...it's like a commercial, on a blog. The problem is, if you read one of my reviews, and like the product so much that you click on it BEFORE getting to the bottom of the page, where the disclosure is, you may not know that I got the item for free. So they want us bloggers to put a disclosure that we got it free ABOVE ANY links.

  2. That's so interesting. I really had no idea, and, clearly, neither do other bloggers, because I haven't seen any of these rules being followed. I don't do reviews, so it doesn't apply to me. Still, I think this post is important, and it's great that you are getting the information out there.

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  5. OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I have so many updates scheduled for a month in advance on Hootsuite and FORGOT THE #AD !!!! Darn it. THank you SO MUCH for reminding me . . . gotta go change this. DO YOU think that as bloggers we should put the #AD in our blog Titles so if someone "shares" it the #AD is in there ?? Thanks again.

    1. I don't think #AD is necessary in the title. What they said about social media, is if it's an ENDORSEMENT. So if your title itself endorses it, then yes, I would... or just don't endorse in the title!
      Happy to remind you- I love your blog & would hate for anything to happen to it!

  6. Thanks for the info!! I personally use CSS buttons for all of my disclosures and only use #ad in a tweet if I'm making a claim or endorsing it like you said. Good for you for getting the info out there!!

    Ange at Hairspray and High Heels


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