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An Open Letter to Online Ad Networks

This article raises consumer awareness of how easily we as John Q. Public can be manipulated into thinking blogged articles are gospel and bloggers do not have hidden agendas. Bloggers do get paid and this could taint their opinions. So disclosure of financial incentives is good to be reported, but the industry should be self regulated. The government should not be involved. Ad networks can regulate itself as some industries already do. One example is a comparison shopping engine that let consumers post comments or rate a service or product like Ebay. In the end of the day, pay by credit card so you have recourse for a refund and always remember, “caveat emptor” — buyer beware! – WST

An Open Letter to Online Ad Networks

by Jonah Stein and Jonathan Hochman

The FTC recently announced guidelines for bloggers that requires that they disclose financial interests, freebies and paid reviews.  This decision is seen as a shot across the bow of pay per post networks and bloggers who are monetizing through affiliate programs.  The FTC has decided that compensation is the reason bloggers choose to write about a particular topic and that readers deserve to be informed about the financial relationship.    The FTC logic is simple, “As much as those bloggers who receive these gifts would like to claim this isn’t the case, freebies like free laptops, trips, or gift cards are likely to influence a writer’s opinion of a product.”

On its face, the policy is defensible. As crusaders against Virtual Blight, we applaud the intent of this decision.  Anything that raises the barrier to online scams, fraud and abuse even a little bit is a good thing. The FTC provides guidelines for responsible bloggers and theoretically eliminates a couple of the perks for bloggers, but it does virtually nothing to protect against fraud.

Going after bloggers’ compensation to fight online fraud is reminiscent of the RIAA attacks on individual file sharers and is just as likely to succeed. The absurdity of the power and inertia of a government bureaucracy combating individual bloggers is only matched by the ludicrous assumption the government could ever move fast enough to keep up with professional scammers who jump from domain to domain, host to host and country to country with a few mouse clicks.  Prosecution could only be effective against mainstream bloggers with an established brand that are stationary targets, but these bloggers are not the right target. Read more.

Source: http://www.seobook.com

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