With the new FTC blogger guidelines going into effect on Dec. 1 2009, I had to pause for a second, and figure out how we got here in the first place. Slate.com does a pretty concise overview of what’s being changed in the FTC Act, which is the first update since 1980. WSJ.com even has an update that the IAB is finally getting involved. Every story I read about these guidelines, triggers my BS alarm. The whole thing sounds so silly, rediculous, and proposterous, that I can hardly believe it’s actually going to happen.
Slate.com claims the blog-for-money business was worth $1.35 Billion in 2007. The FTC claims it’s not after bloggers, but agencies, and brands that use this online tactic. At $11,000 per violation of non-disclosure, it can add up pretty quick for something agencies have very little control over. It doesn’t stop at blogs, but could happen on sites like twitter, facebook, and virtually any platform. Obviously enforcing this will be next to impossible, so this begs the question, why are they doing this? This has been the question I’ve been asking myself for the past couple months. The next question is, who gains most from this update to the FTC Act?
Big Media: The past couple years have been rough on traditional media advertising. Many budgets are shifting to online, and it’s not a trend because of reduced spending during the recession. We’ve all seen the projections, and newspapers, television, and radio are all on the decline. If you essentially kill any organized online advocacy, where else are companies going to spend in their advertising and marketing budgets? Bingo! The ole’ standbys.
Traditional Advertising Agencies: Let’s face it, they’re the biggest pusher of big media budgets. Blogger advocacy programs are a drop in the bucket, in terms of dollars, for these guys. They’d prefer to do it, like they’ve been doin’ it for decades, take their media commission and run. They dislike anything digital, and fight change. They just want it back to the way it was before the internet.
The Big G: Government has a pretty bad track record in terms of keeping up with technology legislation. They’re usually years late to the table. So it’s suspect that this is even being handled by them, at this juncture. It’s a small section of spending, and there’s no way to enforce other than by fear. I highly doubt this was their idea. It completely reaks of power play by Big Media, and traditional advertisers have nothing to loose by keeping their mouths shut through this ordeal.
I think this whole thing smells like BS!