Guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on how publishers should disclose paid relationships are up and running, leading the Performance Marketing Association (PMA) to release its own advice on the changes.

In a new document titled Blogging & New Media Disclosure Information, the PMA offers its take on these new FTC requirements which may have wide-reaching ramifications for the US affiliate marketing industry.

The FTC  now requires a blogger or new media professional to clearly label a disclosure for promotional material that might be disguised as impartial editorial copy.

False claims

Writers that post reviews claiming they are independent when they are not,along with those who receive an item to review are both covered by the FTC’s clampdown on potentially biased articles.

While the FTC did not provide much in the way of disclosure best practice, the PMA recommends bloggers place a small disclaimer at the top or beginning of articles so consumers are aware that a relationship exists.

It is recommended that bloggers do not simply include disclosure information on their website’s homepage. They should instead be placing it on every published article that demands it.

Twitter’s limited character count

One area that might cause a headache is social communications, especially Twitter. The FTC insists that a disclosure should be made in every Tweet where it is necessary and does not allow for a single disclosure that might cover a whole conversation.

Should a blogger be found culpable for failing to disclose a relationship with an advertiser, then the advertiser could be liable for the violation of the Act in addition to the blogger.

At present there is no precedence for how the guidelines will be enforced, according to the PMA. Although it did say the FTC is focusing on pursuing advertisers that attempt to buy positive reviews rather than bloggers.