The next time you talk to a blogger, ask if they write their own content. You might be surprised at their reply.

Being a marketer, I, of course, tend to brag talk about DuetsBlog, and it’s funny how many people are impressed, almost shocked, that every author on DuetsBlog writes their own content. And by

Having few characters to convey an idea or thought isn’t just for Twitter. I was reminded of this last week during the Legal Marketing Association’s annual conference.

Feeling energized after talking shop with colleagues for three days, I struggled with what to include in my upcoming blog post. My fellow marketers have already posted many

—Paul W. Mussell, Senior Counsel in Intellectual Property Group, Wells Fargo

The FTC recently completed its first investigation under the “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” See guidelines here. The guidelines, which officially went into effect on December 1, 2009, call for online publishers to disclose "material connections" they have with

We all would agree that “As Seen on TV” is one of the great brands of all time. The brilliant marketeers behind it recognized the extraordinary power of television – people believe as true what they see on TV.

Why that is I’m sure has been the subject of enumerable studies; after all it defines who we are as consumers and sets the stage for a marketplace where the phrase “targeted consumer” takes on real meaning. Between infomercials laden with celebrity endorsement, a tried and (sometimes) true tactic for moving people closer to their wallets coupled with compelling “just like my neighbor” testimonials, and home shopping networks with live celebrities and testimonials whose “it has to be true” quality rings true for millions of people, consumers are drawn to purchase like moths to a light.

The online world has taken this phenomenon and cranked it up a notch. The more modern version of “As Seen on TV”, its sister brand “As Seen on the Internet” – is an even more powerful lure. It is extraordinary how so many people believe that the “default” for the Internet is Truth, as if there were a mysterious group of censors and law enforcement officials who were reading everything found on the Internet to ensure that anything false or fraudulent automatically was removed. If only that were so.

Social networking has taken this propensity to believe anything electronically delivered to an even higher level. People tend to believe as true what others in their electronic neighborhoods say. This tends to be the case whatever the form of visual channel, from “expert” blogs in About.com, to the thousands of pseudo-news blogs, closed social environments like Facebook or MySpace, or in some form of IM (Include Twitter here). The stories of fraudulent promotion on Twitter already are legion. Add to this the hundreds, perhaps thousands of for-hire bloggers who will supply testimonials for a fee, and the potential for online, “As Seen on the Internet” consumer deception increases dramatically.

It was inevitable that at some point the FTC would have to step in. The Federal Trade Commission historically has taken consumer fraud seriously, but the massive amounts of online fraud, ranging from paid for false testimonials to the most severe forms of identity theft , have created a new vigor in that agency.

On December 1, 2009, new Federal Trade Commission’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (the “Guides”), with heightened requirements for bloggers to disclose affiliations with sponsors of those endorsements, go into effect.  See FTC Press Release dated October 5, 2009, here.  The text of the Guides, 16 CFR Part 235, is available, here.  Although these Guides are advisory in nature and do not expand the scope of liability under Section 5, they are intended to provide guidance as to how the FTC would apply governing law to various fact patterns.


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— Karen Brennan, Attorney

Mommy Bloggers are an ever-growing group of women, estimated to number well into the millions, connecting over the Internet and sharing stories, tips and information relating to all aspects of motherhood.  There is no doubt Mommy Bloggers are impacting the on-line advertising and marketing world.  BusinessWeek recently ran an article dedicated to pitching products and services to Mommy Bloggers and many major companies are attempting to wield the Mommy Blogging economic power.  For example, Wal-Mart’s web site now includes a blogging hub for moms (Elevenmoms) and General Mills has a new blog, written by hundreds of moms recruited to blog about free products they are asked to review, in the hopes the bloggers will spark interest in the products they like.


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