Consumer Ombudsman: Hidden advertising forbidden in blogs as well

Companies advertising through blogs need to make sure that readers can distinguish advertisements from other content.

Many companies use blogs as marketing channels by making cooperation agreements with bloggers or by sending them their products as gifts. The aim is that the blogger would promote the sales of the product or service by recommending it in the blog. On the other hand, bloggers can also actively acquire advertisements for their blogs and earn money with them.

As blog marketing becomes increasingly common, the Consumer Ombudsman has found it necessary to draw up rules for marketing. The policy is aimed at companies engage in cooperation with bloggers and at professional bloggers who are paid to write, or who have their own company whose activities the blog is connected to.

Companies that market through blogs and professional bloggers must take into consideration the requirements of the Consumer Protection Act on the recognisability of advertising.

“The reader of a blog must not be left unsure about when the blogger’s own opinion is involved, and when it is a company’s paid advertisement. A company cannot ask a blogger to write about its product or service without mentioning any paid fees or product gifts received from the company”, says Consumer Ombudsman Päivi Hentunen.

The policy line emphasises that an enterprise should instruct all bloggers to openly disclose cooperation and benefits that they received. It is important for a blogger to mention the company’s name in connection with the product, and that he or she has received the product from the company as a gift or for evaluation.

The view taken by the Consumer Ombudsman and the stipulations in the Consumer Protection Act do not apply to private individuals, for whom blogging is a hobby. However, they end up engaging in marketing on behalf of a company whenever they receive gifts from them. It is therefore good for hobbyist bloggers to also pay attention to the recognisability of advertising, and in thus, would reduce hidden advertising on their own part.

Read more:
Recognisability of advertising in blogs