Honesty is What's Needed to Meet FTC Guidelines, Not More URL Shortners
CNNMoney.com has a story about the URL shortener Cmp.ly, which is supposed to help people reading blog posts understand the payment, gift or cash that a blogger received for writing a particular post.
This service, of course, is an attempt to help bloggers and brands work within the FTC guidelines that were put in place in 2009 to bring honesty to content such as product reviews, conference trips, etc.
At the time of the FTC announcement, there was a lot of chatter online about how the guidelines will shake things up in the blogger/brand relationship world.
Well, since then, the FTC has had a couple of dust ups, but nothing really to write home about.
Now enter Cmp.ly, which is being used by some heavy hitting social media types as well as big-name brands. In my opinion, the service is just an attempt to harness a market opportunity (despite company messaging about being "full disclosure).
For $500 per month, brands can create their own trackable codes. If brands want analysis and automated reporting (which they are going to want, of course), the cost goes up another $500.
Now, I do see how this service is useful and takes away the headaches of writing your own disclosure statements on blog posts; using the word "ad" on a tweet; or simply stating that you've received payment for a particular blog post. I get it. I understand the reasoning behind it and why brands and bloggers alike would want to use it.
What I don't get is why brands and bloggers have become sheep. Are we so lazy that taking a couple seconds out of your day to fully disclose the reasoning behind a post or tweet is so daunting that you're going to fork over $1,000 bucks per month?
I'm not sure about you, but I smell snake oil.
How about bloggers and brands just stick to being honest in their relationships and dealings with one another? If you look at the lack of cases the FTC has brought against bloggers and brands, you'll have to admit that the honest approach seems to be working. So why shell out the cash?
One reason, some say, will be to unify the process and create standards for full disclosure.
Well, I thought that's what the FTC Guidelines were — standards.
We don't need yet another URL shortener. We, as in bloggers and brands, just need to continue to be honest. Period.
How's that for standards?