Posted by Peter Feld on December 1, 2009 06:24 PM
Cyber Monday is being pronounced a success, with shopping up 13.7% and Amazon reportedly edging Wal-Mart.
The folks at the US Federal Trade Commission had their heads screwed on straight for once, by deciding to wait until the day after Cyber Monday to launch new rules requiring bloggers and celebrities to disclose when they promote a product online for pay, or in exchange for free stuff. (I know: as if anyone there even made the connection.) Well, we kind of joked about who might get caught up in these rules -- and questioned whether celebrities who tweet for pay will test the trust of their audience -- but, we suddenly notice (just in time!), we are included.
The FTC has been under fire from bloggers for issuing strict rules without sufficient guidelines or consumer education, considering that fines can range up to $11,000. It has promised to target advertisers, not bloggers, or maybe just big fish, or maybe not heavily fine the little fish -- which has raised concerns of selective prosecution. In a "heated but civil" interview between blogger Edward Champion and the FTC's Richard Cleland, it's noted that partner marketing links such as Amazon Associates are included in the disclosure requirements.
Well, as brandchannel readers have likely noticed, we use Amazon Associates. This is a well-known program that pays participants for referring business to Amazon, via links which are easily seen (because the URL string includes "brandchannelcom") and which will bring a fairly small amount of revenue to the site if you follow that link and make a purchase. We've included them for many years when we link to media (books that are reviewed, or films in our brandcameo section), and have been using them on this blog when referring to certain products Amazon sells. (Those references being there because they belong in the story, not so as to send business to Amazon.)Continue reading...