I have read a lot about new and innovative forms of marketing. I read Larwee post, he also makes a great point. Is deceptive marketing worth marketing at all? Is there value in tricks? I would say no. One interesting topic related to "Word of Mouth" is Stealth marketing. I think it is an interesting idea, but it may make products and services lose credibility.
I was just reading about 10 blogs on the topic of FTC, disclosure and how it all could affect affiliate marketing. Just trying to pull it all together and blog about it. I'll be back with more thoughts after I get the blog finished.
In short I'm not worried except for one possible part of it.
Didn't have time to write much, buried today. But here is what I blogged.
The blogosphere is buzzing about a story in the <a target="_new" href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/11/AR2006121101389.html">Washington</a> Post that has some people saying that the FTC will kill affiliate marketing as we know it. The story is really about full disclosure in the WOMM space, but the implications could certainly bleed over to the affiliate marketing space.
Jim Kukral over at Revenews put a call out for bloggers to comment about the situation.
<a target="_new" href="http://www.revenews.com/jimkukral/archives/002530.html">Affiliate Marketing & The FTC</a>
Like others, I don't really see this affecting AM that much since ads typically look like ads. The concern will be focused more on product reviews, recommendations, top 10 type lists and blogs with links in the content that appear to be real recommendations where it's not obvious to the consumer that the publisher is being paid. Granted, in the above cases affiliate links could play a part. My feeling at this time however is that they will be going after big corporations that use excessive and deceptive paid word of mouth advertising and possibly big bloggers (if any at all).
They aren't going to police mom and pop affiliates, it's just not practical.
Mike Payne and others made some really good points in their comments in that same Revenews thread. Brian Clark has the one valid concern I can see at this point and that's whether it could eventually get to the point that networks would force full disclosure in their TOS. Brian said:
"Michael, something that is made to look like an ad wouldn't be at issue. It's the reviews and personal recommendations that don't look like ads that might require disclosure.
The real issue is not what affiliates can or cannot get away with. It?s whether the companies and affiliate networks that recruit and pay affiliates will make disclosure part of their terms and conditions due to fear of an FTC or state action."
ThreadWatch has a good discussion starting about the issue too.
<a target="_new" href="http://www.threadwatch.org/node/10591">FTC: WOMM Links & Affiliate Links Need Disclosure</a>.
Just caught wind of this just now (didn't have much time to peruse the blogosphere today) and my first reaction was "wow, why do the underhanded affiliates need to ruin it for the rest of us", but then I realized, the legitimate affiliates who do things properly don't need to worry much.
I have a few review style sites, however, I provide legitimate reviews based on my experiences and believe me, I've post a few bad reviews whenever warranted (and I still used my aff link - I figure, if they go against all my advice to purchase the product, the least I can be is compensated for taking the time to warn them LOL).
Also, on each of my review sites, in the disclaimer, I make sure there's a note specifically stating that while I may not be affiliated with all the products I review (not all have an affiliate link), that some of them are my affiliates and I receive a kick back for purchases made through my links.
What I'm unsure of is whether or not the disclaimer will need to be on every single product review page (or blog entry) or if the blanket disclaimer will work.
I could see this hitting some Pay Per Post and likewise bloggers hard unless they're already using the disclosure policy thingy.
I think that in every industry people are going to try everything and anything. If it worked for one person, soon enough everyone will be doing it. In this case it may be something that is questionable when it comes to ethics. Unfortunatly, this type of buzz marketing saw some success for a few companies. However, once the consumers found out they felt the bitter pain of buyers' remorse.
Getting sales and gaining popularity on a fly by night idea may start off well. But ideas like this fail to create a bond between consumer and seller. People will act when they believe in and trust the product or company. Companies in any industry cannot be deceiving!! In the short time I have been working where I work I have grown to understand that cheap tricks and tactics will get you nowhere. I saw other people try it and fail.
Managers have to become creative and use more particle ways of contacting to people. I think people forget part of the definition of marketing, that I learned in marketing101. A need cannot be met if a need does not exist!!!!!!
Its non of the FTC's business. Why does the government think it's their job to protect people from every little thing. The more we let the government "protect" us, the more power they get. People are smart enough to take care of themselves. If someone I don't know tells me how great a product is I would take it with a grain of salt anyways. If it was someone I know then they would probably tell me they get a commission or whatever which would be fine with me as long as they are telling me the truth.
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