New rules for blogger sponsorship

The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) announced last month that bloggers must disclose when they have been paid to promote or feature a product.

While this is good news for the consumer, what does it mean for bloggers?

In the Irish Blogger Survey 2015, 71 per cent of Irish bloggers reported making “no income” from blogging. With long hours, trying to promote content among thousands of other bloggers and keeping up to date with what’s on the market, blogging can be an expensive hobby.

What makes a successful blog is similar to what makes a successful business. There must be a solid relationship between the business owner (ie. blogger) and the consumer. The reader must trust the site and the blogger must have established a reputable name for themselves.

The ASAI states that it needs to be clear from the start of the piece whether the blogger has been paid to feature the product, and on social media hashtags such as #sponsored and #ad must be used.

The introduction of these new regulations may have positive and negative outcomes for the blogger and their business.

Unlike an advertisement on television or radio, people don’t respond well when they see that a blog post or video has been sponsored. It can give the impression that the person’s view on the product isn’t honest, and that they are giving a positive review solely because they have been paid.

However, 84 per cent of Irish bloggers believe that transparency is important and just 52 per cent have worked with a brand or business. Unlike a business, not all bloggers are in it to make money.

On the plus side, these new regulations provide further transparency and can strengthen the relationship between the blogger and reader. There will no longer be any speculation about whether a post or video is sponsored, and everything will be clear from the get-go.

Once trust has been built, whether or not a post has been paid for should make no difference. If you trust your source, then why doubt their views?

The exception to the rule lies in if the product has been sent for review with no payment involved, it doesn’t have to be disclosed.

As the blogging community grows, writers, readers and businesses are still finding their feet. These new rules will impact bloggers and their work, but will ultimately make the community more clear, and will free bloggers from criticism they may have otherwise received.

Amy Mulvaney

Image credit Liam Ashton

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