Earlier this year, I received an offer from a sleazy marketing company to place adverts on this blog – on the express understanding that they were not identified as sponsored posts.
I reported the company – Media Discovery – to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) who, after a perfunctory investigation, decided not to prosecute. They bought the unlikely story that Media Discovery had a rogue employee trying to entice bloggers into breaking the law.
Well, the constant stream of visitors finding my blog by searching for “Media Discovery Blog Spam” would indicate that the ASA’s investigation had no real impact on Media Discovery’s behaviour.
In November, the ASA had the cheek to warn bloggers about accepting sponsored posts without revealing their origin.
We’re reminding bloggers who are paid to write positive reviews or comments about a product or service that they must be up-front with their followers by making clear that it’s advertising. Not only will this help bloggers avoid misleading people and breaking the ad rules, it will also stop them from potentially breaking the law.
Why are we doing this? We’ve received a steady stream of enquiries from bloggers wanting clarity on this issue and how the rules apply to their blogs. Some have also raised concerns with us, as well as via their own blogs, about social media and PR agencies who’ve apparently offered them money to advertise on their behalf while encouraging them not to declare that they’re doing so.
It’s quite right that the ASA reminds bloggers of the law – but I think it’s a bit hypocritical that they aren’t going after the firms who are promoting this fraudulent method of advertising.
If you search through the ASA’s recent rulings, you won’t find any investigations into “sponsored posts” on blogs.
If you’re a blogger and you’ve been contacted by someone who wants to run one of these dodgy adverts on your site – please make a complaint to the ASA.