As Long As You Blog with Integrity, What's a Few Freebies Between Moms?

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While Steve's away playing at conferences, I debated running the latest nude Lego print ad from Istanbul--or chumming the waters and pissing off as many blogging groups as I can. What to do, what to do. *flips coin* Paid reviews and Mommy Bloggers it is!

So the FTC and the National Advertising Review Council are set to announce what they intend to do with blogs and the issue of disclosure.

Basically, Big Blog... Brother will be watching.

To be fair, it's not just MBs, but any blogs where ads, promotions and reviews are involved. Then there's the issue of whether compensation affects objectivity or not. You can't discuss the topic of monitoring blogs for questionable things like hidden endorsements without also mentioning the groups most likely to warrant that increased scrutiny, namely, paid reviewers and... Mommy Bloggers.

The FTC is focused on other things too: Fake comments on blogs that promote a given brand (astroturfing), any blogger who won't mention the things they review were also "given" to them by brands, or anyone who doesn't mention other types of compensation in exchange for reviews.

When you scan sites like epinions.com or video review sites, it's not hard to see why they're stepping in. Would you have faith in the person who has to continuously look at the product they're holding as if it's the first time they've seen it?

For their part, Mommy Bloggers have been quick to shore up any perceived credibility gap with the recently created Blog with Integrity pledge.

*raises three fingers*

(WOMMA also dealt with the issue of transparency a few years back, so this pledge idea, while a nice gesture, is hardly a new concept).

The problem with disclosure in this case is that somewhere along the line, journalism and ethics got thrown into the mix. You could argue that reporters who blog for media outlets are technically being compensated for their work, so how can they be objective, right?

But talking about runny noses and expecting freebies for it is not the same as journalism. Still, I tend not to hold someone to that standard who wasn't a journalist to begin with.

Not that I'm singling them out, but many MBs who blog also view it as a profession that entitles them to compensation, whatever form that takes, be it money from endorsements, ad sales, or items from sponsors. This isn't to say that as a group that they don't represent a lot of market share for brands, because they do.

But it's obvious when you scan many of these blogs (as well as paid review blogs), what the motivation is:

How do I best integrate a brand into my family's life?

Blogging about family and friends? Fine, but many MBs expect it to lead to a big payday. Thing is, there's only so many ways to tell a story about changing diapers, and not everyone is A-List material.

In addition to the pledge, there's also a PR Blackout with the purpose of "Talking about your kids, your marriage, your college, your hopes, your dreams, your house and whatever you can come up with for one week."

But don't they already do that now? Only difference is now they'll miss a week of schwag. What to do, what to do: Family, or free stuff.

*flips coin*

(Image via.)

by Bill Green    Aug-11-09   Click to Comment   
Topic: Opinion, Product Placement   

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