How to Disclaim Paid Advertising on Your Blog
As a blogger, you’re likely to regularly receive emails from PR or marketing companies, offering you money or freebies to promote their products. Whether this is in the form of product reviews that require the brand’s approval of your text, sponsored content or guest posts, it all falls under the definition of advertising.
So, should you accept these offers? Blogging can be a great way to earn money, whilst doing something you love, and it’s perfectly legitimate for you to accept money in return for promotion – particularly if you genuinely love the product and think it will benefit your readers.
However, if you are going to engage in these kinds of commercial relationships, it’s essential that you are completely transparent about it. Advertising rules state that any advertisement must be disclaimed as such.
When Do You Need a Disclaimer?
The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) say that bloggers should, ‘state explicitly if they have been paid to write content on behalf of an advertiser.’
Therefore, where there is any doubt about the commercial nature of the message, you should err on the side of caution and make a clear statement that the content is an advertisement.
This applies to any type of promotions, including guest posts, reviews and even social media updates – it’s recommended that including “#ad” “#sp” or “#spon” might be appropriate for some tweets.
How to Write a Disclaimer
Blogs approach disclaimers in different ways, but there is a general formula that you should stick to. Whilst disclaimers are often used to make statements about copyright and opinions expressed, the part we are interested in here is the disclosure of whether any of your content is paid for.
Many bloggers will simply include a couple of sentences in their disclaimer stating that their blog accepts paid advertising and that this may influence the content. For example, Optimistic Divorcees states that:
“This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. The compensation received may influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. All advertising is in the form of advertisements generated by a third party ad network. Those advertisements will be identified as paid advertisements.”
Some blogs such as Mammy, Mommy, Mom, will highlight that whilst they do receive compensation for reviews, they always, ‘…give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics, events, or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger’s own’.
If you need a little help writing your policy, disclosurepolicy.org will generate a disclaimer for you, based on the answers you submit to its simple multiple choice form.
As long as you are transparent about your relationships with commercial companies, you’ll be abiding by advertising guidelines.
How to Highlight Content That’s Paid Advertising
In addition to a disclaimer, The Advertising Standards Agency recommends that you clearly signpost content as “ad” “advertorial” or “sponsored content”. This is an easy way to make the nature of the content immediately clear to readers. For example A Beautiful Mess clearly marks all promotional post with a ‘sponsored’ tag.
There are a number of other ways in which bloggers choose to signpost their sponsored content. Whilst it is probably best to stick to the ASL guidelines, these methods do represent some other ways of doing it:
- Blogs such as Petite Sal use an asterisks after brand names to highlight a sponsored post
- Blogs such as Mummy Barrow include a disclaimer at the bottom of the post
- Blogs such as Fabulatina mark items that have been gifted to them with ‘c/o’ (courtesy of)
Accepting payment for reviews is perfectly acceptable, and it’s a great way to inform your audience about useful products. However, it’s essential to adhere to advertising regulations and clearly state when your content has been sponsored.
Have you got any more tips for bloggers on disclaiming their sponsored content? Let us know in the comments?
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