The Commission does not believe that all uses of new consumer-generated media to discuss product attributes or consumer experiences should be deemed "endorsements" within the meaning of the Guides. Rather, in analyzing statements made via these new media, the fundamental question is whether, viewed objectively, the relationship between the advertiser and the speaker is such that the speaker’s statement can be considered "sponsored" by the advertiser and therefore an "advertising message."I like the phrase "consumer-generated media". It sounds remarkably like the term "people-powered media", which I believe was coined by CT Blogger.
In other words, in disseminating positive statements about a product or service, is the speaker: (1) acting solely independently, in which case there is no endorsement, or (2) acting on behalf of the advertiser or its agent, such that the speaker’s statement is an "endorsement" that is part of an overall marketing campaign? The facts and circumstances that will determine the answer to this question are extremely varied and cannot be fully enumerated here, but would include: whether the speaker is compensated by the advertiser or its agent; whether the product or service in question was provided for free by the advertiser; the terms of any agreement; the length of the relationship; the previous receipt of products or services from the same or similar advertisers, or the likelihood of future receipt of such products or services; and the value of the items or services received.
Again, the issue is whether the consumer-generated statement can be considered "sponsored."
Personally, I'd be frickin' thrilled to have to disclose that we receive compensation and/or products and services in exchange for all the artful literary bounty we provide on a regular basis here. Sadly, apart from the occasional generous donations I receive from my valued readers (and which I promptly spend to purchase video supplies that I use in support of this blog), we receive basically nothing for our efforts.
Hell, I don't even allow advertising on this stupid blog. Apparently I'm the world's worst capitalist! WTF is wrong with me? I'm not some kind of half-assed hippie or deluded commie freak. I absolutely LOVE getting money and free stuff! What am I doing wrong here?
So I'm starting a campaign to help the FTC in their efforts to enforce their new disclosure rules by encouraging everyone who reads this blog to give us lots and lots of compensation, free products, and valuable services. Preferably in small, easily spendable denominations.
That way, I can finally disclose that all this frickin' work really pays off!