Monday, October 5, 2009
So, you want to be a buzz agent?
You might want to think twice if you are considering blogging on behalf of a brand and receive some kind of payment or freebie. As new media become mainstream, it is incumbent upon the regulators, like the FTC, to revise their guidelines governing such changes in arenas where media and marketing converge. In fact, this is the first time since 1980 that the Federal Trade Commission has revised those guidelines on endorsements and testimonials; they guidelines will now cover bloggers who get paid to promote products and services. I think it’s good to see government regulators moving on this issue as consumers become more complicit in the marketing of products and services. Not only are word of mouth marketers like Buzz Agent involved in this newer form of communicating, but so are sponsors who are taking advantage of Twitter, compensating some consumers for plugging their products for a fee. The October 15 issue of Time magazine, includes an article on paid tweeting, which is controversial, as consumers don’t know if the endorsement is authentic or paid. When the advantage goes this far against the consumer, it’s incumbent upon the government to step in and do something to level the playing field. In this case, the FTC has updating its guidelines. I think it’s odd, however, that consumers themselves are participating in this new practice. Maybe this is just the ugly side of participatory advertising.