FTC Keeping Eye On Possible Blog Payola Cases: Ann Taylor Not Punished

A reminder to any bloggers who like free stuff, and companies working on exciting new Internet marketing strategies: the Federal Trade Commission is watching you, so keep to their guidelines that dictate bloggers must disclose any compensation that they receive for posting about or reviewing a product. While they didn’t take any action against clothing retailer Ann Taylor for offering gift cards to bloggers who posted about a new collection, the scrutiny was an important message in itself.

The retailer had invited bloggers to preview the Loft division’s summer 2010 collection, offering a “special gift,” and promising that those posting coverage from the event would be entered into a “mystery gift-card drawing,” where they could win between $50 and $500.

The invite explained that bloggers must submit posts to the company within 24 hours in order to find out the value of their gift card.

The event and the unusual request for posts to be submitted for a prize received media scrutiny and caught the eye of the FTC. “We were concerned that bloggers who attended a preview on January 26, 2010 failed to disclose that they received gifts for posting blog content about that event,” Mary Engle, the FTC’s associate director-advertising practices, wrote in a letter dated April 20 to Ann Taylor’s legal representation.

Remember to practice safe swag blogging and disclose any free stuff or other rewards companies offer you to write about their stuff.

Ann Taylor Investigation Shows FTC Keeping Close Eye on Blogging [Advertising Age]