Promotions and disclosure
A string of recent events has led to me deciding to write this article, both to reassure my readers and to clearly set out some ground rules for potential advertisers. So let’s talk about promotions and disclosure.
I’ve been asked several times recently to accept money to make endorsements for various companies without disclosure, and I’ve said no to all of them. Good advertisers are upfront. If cash has changed hands or there has been a gift in kind, there is a legal obligation to mention this, even on the smallest, newest blog – it all counts as publishing.
The ‘Promotions’ section on this site was created for a reason, to make sure it’s clear that the posts are being supported in some way by advertisers. This section of the site is very popular, so I think being open and transparent has had a positive effect. The word Promotions is displayed in bold text directly under the title of the article, along with the date, so you can tell before you start reading.
For example, competitions all go in the Promotions section. I provide some competition prizes myself, but mostly the prizes are provided by advertisers. If it’s from an advertiser, it will say so in the disclosure text at the bottom of the post, along with my thanks.
These are posts where money has changed hands, they function as advertorial and will always go in the Promotions section, and I hope to limit these to around twelve per year so I can cover running costs but not swamp the site. As we won’t be taking copy that’s been written by anyone outside the site, these will be in my own words and my aim is that they will contain useful content for the reader.
The payment will be mentioned in the disclosure text at the bottom of the post. In addition, as I know busy people often skim read quickly through posts, there will be a brightly coloured logo that says ‘sponsored’ in big letters as well so hopefully it won’t be missed. There are also some companies that I won’t knowingly work with. This includes payday loans companies in particular.
Some of the things I review are things that I’ve paid for out of my own pocket, and they may appear anywhere around the site. However, I occasionally review big ticket items that promoters allow me to keep – these end up in the Promotions section and there is disclosure about it at the bottom of the post.
There are also occasional reviews of theatre shows, beauty products etc in different categories where I’ve been sent free samples or put on guest lists. This will be mentioned at the bottom of the review, along with my thanks to the promoter. Oh, and if it’s a duff product, this will be mentioned – no editorial interference is allowed.
I hope that the use of a specific Promotions category, disclosure text in bold, and an additional logo are going to be helpful to everyone, and that they are nice and clear. I’m not perfect and have been known to forget the occasional thing here and there, but the intention is to make sure that people are not being misled.
If you have any feedback then that would be great. I’d love to hear from other bloggers about their take on disclosure as well. If it’s not something you want to say publicly then please send me an email.
I think transparency is fundamental to building trust online. The vast majority of the people online (in my humble opinion) do not realise how the internet is funded eg Google ads, affiliate marketing, paid for product reviews etc. I think as the average internet user gets more savvy as to how the websites make money the people who are not transparent will fall by the way side. The transparent people will rise to the top!
Good luck in your transparent mission!
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