Paid Posting: Do you disclose or don’t you?

By | August 27, 2007

Over the past few days, I’ve been involved in a discussion about disclosure of paid posts as the number of opportunities on Payperpost requiring that bloggers NOT disclose in individual posts has increased.

Increasingly this turn of events is causing friction between advertisers and bloggers. Yet both groups need to come to some kind of agreement about this, because many bloggers do prefer to disclose, while many advertisers are divided.

In fact, recently in the middle of the discussion I found myself caught in the middle. I had an advertiser who had assumed (rightly or wrongly) that I didn’t disclose. When I finished the advertiser’s request (which I put a lot of work into, by the way, with two pictures, numerous links, and well beyond the number of words requested), I found that the advertiser was dismayed because I disclosed. We had to work out some sort of compromise, but he was upset (I didn’t tell him) and I was upset (I prefer to disclose clearly).

In fact, in the thread, one blogger who hadn’t been in favor found herself on the other end when looking for shopping cart software. Azdana writes:

But then again, some of my recent experiences have made me start to reconsider my disclosure policy. Lately, I’ve been looking for some shopping cart software for my site. I went to E-pinions and started reading reviews. For one of the products, it was very obvious to me that the ‘reviews’ were submitted by friends/cohorts of the software company. That shopping cart program may have been the best on the market, but I passed over it because the reviewers were trying to influence my decision without disclosing their relationship to the shopping cart creator.

(ed. updated to include this story) There is an interesting article on the Wall Street Journal from August 26th that skirts over these issues, too. But one of Payperpost’s best clients, Brian Combs, of Apogee is quoted as saying he would like all bloggers to be upfront in their disclosure, but “you have to be realistic. With newer vehicles, there are going to be question marks.” Mr. Combs says he wouldn’t be surprised by a shift to greater disclosure soon.

I’m still evolving my own position, but it would help to know: What is your position on disclosing? Do you think all posts should be disclosed or not? As a reader, what do you favor? Why?

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