why don’t we react against the (illegal) covert advertising in blogs?
- Swedish and Norwegian press have been fascinated by a Swedish teenager who reportedly “makes millions” off her blog.
- Kenza.se is the second most popular blog in Sweden. It’s written by another seventeen year old girl. This one’s a model, and told Dagens Media that she makes 30,000-40,000 SEK a month on income from her blog.
- Isabella Lˆwengrip says her advertisers buy “package deals”, where she’s paid a fixed sum for writing about the product or company a certain number of times on her blog and making sure she mentions it if she’s interviewed on television or by a newspaper. (N‰r ett fˆretag hˆr av sig till mig sÂ brukar vi skriva ett avtal, om att den h‰r mÂnaden ska jag skriva sÂ h‰r mÂnga gÂnger om det fˆretaget, jag n‰mner deras fˆretag om jag ‰r med i tv, eller blir intervjuad av tidningar.) The newspaper article mentions a company that she says paid her such a lump sum.
- Anna Bodin from the media bureau PHD says they like to use blogs to influence a target group without them knowing they’re being influenced (-Vi vill pÂverka mÂlgruppen utan att den ska k‰nna att de blir pÂverkade. DÂ kan en blogg vara bra, s‰ger Anna Bodin pÂ PHD.).
- WOMMA – the Word of Mouth Marketing Association – explicitly requires complete honesty in word of mouth marketing campaigns: “We stand against shill and undercover marketing, whereby people are paid to make recommendations without disclosing their relationship with the marketer.”
- Even PayPerPost now requires full disclosure that the blogger is being paid to write.
- It’s illegal by Swedish law to pay for editorial content without such content being marked as an advertisment. I think the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) guidelines in the US also ban this, though I don’t know what the legal status of this is. I presume it’s also illegal in Norway?
- There are lots of examples of dishonest blog marketing practices gone wrong – I link to a few in the summary of a talk I gave a while back (in Norwegian), and I discuss the issue pretty thoroughly in the “Blogging Brands” chapter of my book on Blogging.
- Apart from this one article, I haven’t found anything in the many enthusiastic articles about Swedish teens making money off blogging that even questions the deception involved – or its legality.
- So are Swedes – and Swedish and Norwegian journalists – simply accepting of covert advertising in blogs? Or are they all fooled by the sweet and authentic girls?
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