Consumerist briefly discussed the trend of bloggers posting postive reviews of products and services in return for free stuff from the companies. The FTC is looking at forcing these bloggers to disclose their sponsorships.
Personally, I have no problem with this.
First off, anytime I recommend a product here, it is because I have tried it and I liked it. I am getting no kickbacks from anyone. I want to present honest information to my readers. And yes, that has meant that I have had to turn down some offers from companies who want me to try their product for free in exchange for a review. I have done one review where I received the item from the company – but per BlogHer Advertising requirements, I then gave that book away to a reader. (Of course, that was the Wise Bread book, and if you read this site, you know that I would have recommended that book anyway.)
I know some bloggers don’t like that the FTC wants to regulate what they write, and I understand that. But at the same time, if I’m reading a blog review of something, I want to be able to believe that blogger’s review. Sometimes you can tell the paid reviews from the real reviews, but sometimes it’s not so clear. I would like to think that the bloggers I “know” and trust are being honest, but you can’t always tell.
I guess one problem is that a blogger might rave about a product, then get a sponsorship offer from that company, and that definitely wouldn’t negate their review, but disclosing the sponsorship might make people question whether or not they truly would rave about the product. It’s something we may have to deal with.
Either way, you can be sure that if I write about something, it’s because I tried it and I loved it (or hated it) and no one’s paying me to say so. This blog is not a money making machine, and I’m okay with that. As I’ve posted before, half the advertising revenue goes to charity (Kiva loans as of late) and the other half goes to pay for the blog. Right now, the blog is in the red. But that’s okay with me.