Sponsored Content And Blogger Disclosure Rights: Join The Debate

Everyone generally agrees that if any part of a blog is sponsored it should be disclosed. The problem is that this is extremely vague. What does “disclosed” actually mean? After all Google Adsense is disclosed by the “Ads by Google” in the corner of each Ad unit, but when almost all web users click on AdSense they do not know it is an ad, even though it says it is. The best way get clicks is to try to integrate the ads into content, which is basically a way of making the disclosure less obvious.

It’s a bit like the old Japanese phrase – If a tree falls in a forest but no one hears it, did it make a sound?

– If an ad is disclosed but no one reads the part where it is disclosed is it really disclosed? (aah so many “discloseds”!)

Sponsored Content And Blogger Disclosure Rights: Join The Debate

Contradictory Web Policies

IZEA’s disclosurepolicy.org defines disclosure as:

“The act of making something obvious. Disclosing (divulging or explaining), the purpose and interests of a blogger in his/her published posts: written, audio or video.”

Sponsored Content And Blogger Disclosure Rights: Join The Debate“Making something obvious”; i.e. so everyone who sees the content knows it is sponsored.

This is not the same as Google AdSense!

So is disclosure ensuring that your readers know which parts of your blog are sponsored (IZEA-Style) or is it about discreetly whispering that you have other motives than providing the best resource (Google AdSense-Style)?

The (my) Philosophy Behind Ads

The way I see it bloggers have to right to run their blogs as they please and because of this readers need to put more weight on individual bloggers disclosure policies as a judgement of quality. I also believe readers have the right to the truth about the ad if they want to find out, but they do not have the right to be constantly reminded, which is the policy I am putting into practice on Blogging Fingers. This is less important on Blogging Fingers because you are such a web-savvy lot its nearly impossible for an ad to be slipped by you even if I wanted it to be!

All bloggers have a reason for writing something and so the fact is everybody should treat all information as if it is sponsored or biased in some way and judge it on the facts and using their other knowledge.

Absorbing, judging and utilizing knowledge is a part of life. As long as people are not being lied to (i.e. “This is not an advert”) then it is fine. All these “ethical” people who don’t want to be influenced by ads are living in a dreamland. The simple act of watching an Ad on TV physically influences us by forming new neuron connections.

You cannot completely control what you absorb, which means you cannot completely control who you are. I can’t believe how philosophical this has become but you wont believe how many paragraphs of “waffley philosophical theories” I deleted before publishing this.

Conclusion

When PayPerPost was launched there was a round of debate about how unethical sponsored content was, but those old arguments about how blogs are extensions of people and how we are selling our opinions are very out dated.

All I predict will happen is more stress will be put on individual blog disclosure policies as blogs continue to be cash generators. Having a disclosure policy means you can be a ‘good guy’ at the same time as not having to constantly remind readers that some of your content is sponsored – at least it does for the private ad sales. (Speaking of which it’s about time Blogging Fingers got a proper full length policy!)

Who are these companies to enforce rules about how bloggers disclose on their blog?

What do you think about Disclosure? If you want to write a post about it, go ahead and drop a link to it in the comments for us to check out.

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