The FTC has just ruled that stealth marketing – the practice of hiring bloggers or actors to rave about products online or in person – is unethical.
They’re going to begin investigating individual complaints, for starters.
The implications for online marketing are huge.
If you are engaged in word-of-mouth marketing or any form of online buzz marketing including:
- Paying bloggers to write about you;
- Paying MySpace users to recommend you;
- Building web sites that recommend your product, but don’t disclose who built them;
or anything similar, make sure you clearly state who you are.
Compliance isn’t difficult, but it’s crucial – getting busted for unethical marketing will not help you sell, and there’s no long-term upside to flirting with that kind of black eye.
Read the full staff opinion here.
If you want to learn more about word of mouth marketing and the ethical implications, see the Word of Mouth Marketing Assocation: http://womma.org/