If you are a blogger or a regular reader of blogs and a follower on Instagram, you may be aware of the new set of guidelines regarding Bloggers declaring how they have received products used for content and whether they have been paid or not. So i thought i would ask you …Do you know an AD from an Aff? Are you happier knowing how a blogger/influencer/social media type person has received their products?
Part of the new guidelines states “Consumers must always be aware when they are being advertised to, and both brands and influencers have a responsibility to ensure the content makes that reality clear upfront.” I absolutely agree.
I have always declared when an item is a PR Sample, at the bottom of my post and if it is a paid partnership at the top of my blog post, as I believe in transparency and letting my readers know what was sent to me. Originally, when I began blogging 7 years ago (I had a wedding blog before this one) All products I featured were products I purchased myself because I adored and loved them and wanted to share with you. That still remains the same, the only difference now being, as my audience has grown immeasurably over the years, I now have brands reaching out and asking to work with me on both a paid for and non paid basis. They enjoy my content, my voice, my writing, my information and my photography and they love the interaction I have with you, my amazing readers.
As a review led Beauty Blogger that loves to bring you news on beauty launches before they have launched, obviously I can only do that if I have received product samples from the brand. I then try them and test them and decide whether to feature them on the blog or not. But, as a self confessed beauty addict, I still remain true to myself and feature LOADS of products on here that I purchase myself and share because, I know, if I love them, chances are you, you will too. As my blog has evolved over the years and become a business, as well as me paying for some of the tools of the trade: Camera, Lens, Laptop, Blog Hosting, Blog Design, Social Media Hosting, Scheduling, PO Box, Blog Props, Lighting, Travel to and from events, and many more items I have not mentioned, there are some things I cannot pay for…such as beauty products before they launch, so therefore they are sent to me in PR. Believe you me, I say no to more Collaborations and PR Samples than I say yes too!!
These guidelines, laid out ( if not a little annoying in places) by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) and the CMA (Competitions and Marketers Authority) state quite clearly how Bloggers, Vloggers, You Tubers, Influencers and Social Media Personalities should declare when a product has been sent to them or they are working with a brand on a paid for collaboration, so that you, the reader and consumer, have a choice whether to continue reading.
Now, that all sounds lovely and wonderful in principle and, as i have said, I have always declared, but thanks to the few that haven’t Louise Thompson (made in Chelsea) Millie Mackintosh an allegedly Zoella, the ‘rules’ are quite confusing. We now have to declare things as ADS (Advertorials) even if, in my opinion, they are not. I’m going to give you a basic breakdown of SOME of the guidelines, but if you are interested please do go HERE and read the guidelines for yourself.
So What counts as an AD?
- Affiliate Marketing – Now I agree with this one and have always declared when affiliate links have been used. Affiliate links are links that you click on to buy a product and by doing so I may receive a small commission (very small 1-4% of that product sale) This does not affect your shopping experience or change the price you pay, it just means I can continue to feature interesting content with a little help. To be fair I think last year I received £34 in affiliate link payment, which is not much considering my outgoings as a blogger but of which I am also greatful for. But mainly because I rarely use these links. I always disclose on my post when I am using these links, I don’t use them all the time, and you have the option to google the product yourself. However, personally, I love purchasing from someone else’s affiliate link because I think, they have just written a great post that has made me want to buy this product and so they deserve their 35p hahaha. So, According to the new guidelines when using affiliate links they should be declared as an AD
2. You have been paid in Money/Gifts/Freebies(?) including Press Samples, Trips, Treatments, Hotel Stays AND the brand has some sort of editorial control over the final post. Ok, this is where the waters get murky…..Firstly, I have never had paid work with a brand that has had editorial control. Brands of which I have worked with on a Sponsored basis, trust me to write exactly what I do and don’t like about something. I will only work that way because I am honest with my readers and if I think for one moment that you will be parting with your hard earned cash for something I have shared on my blog, I want to tell you the ins and outs of a ducks arse. However, there have been times where I have posted a picture of a product on my Instagram and used a # the brand may have asked me to, so is this an AD? I will declare that as one in the future instead of #PRSample. Also, if i am working on a Paid Collaboration, and due to embargo, I have been told to post my content on a certain date, but they have had NO EDITORIAL CONTROL that is also classed as an AD.
Secondly I don’t know any bloggers that receive freebies. When product is sent, there will always be the “hope” from a brand that you will enjoy the product enough to feature it either on your Instagram, Instastories, Blog or Facebook and thirdly, I receive very few genuine gifts and when I have done, they have been flowers as a thank you, or a set of Mugs as a moving in present – therefore I don’t think it’s fare to declare these as an AD because, well, lets face it…i’m not telling you to buy them(?!). So number 2. is both, you have to have been paid in Money/Freebies/Gifts and the brand has some form of editorial control.
3. If a blogger has been sent a product in PR unexpectedly (yes PR agencies get our address from past collaborations) with NO EXPECTATIONS to share or post, just to try it and enjoy it, and e I decide, we love it and want to share it with you organically on our Social platforms, then we also have to declare this as an AD instead of a PR Sample (which is what I have previously done). Now this is where it’s kind of not fair because then how do you know if it is an AD because I have been paid, or an AD just because the PR Company wanted me to try it?!? Confusing right?
4. Finally, I think, but I will link to videos and literature you may find helpful below, this one I find really unfair. Ok, if I have worked with a brand in ANYWAY, Paid or Unpaid, PR Samples, Gifts, in anyway what-so-ever, and I then decide to go out and BUY any product from that brand in the future, and you know I do all the bloody time because I am a beauty junkie, I still have to declare it as an AD even though I have bought it with my own money WHAT?! Purely because I have had a previous relationship with that brand, even if it is on a product that I hate – wowzers!!
So, if you are confused, you can only imagine how I am feeling but I always disclose and I will continue to do so, but to be completely transparent and let you know how I am going to declare moving forward, I will be doing this:
AD – If I have been paid to work with a brand on a collaboration
AD – Affiliate Links (self explanatory as above)
AD – PR Sample (self explanatory as above)
AD – Gifted (on the off chance I show a photo of the beautiful flowers I may receive on my gram)
AD – Previously Collaborated With (the brand but bought myself) what a load of tosh!
Many bloggers are choosing not to declare, maybe they are embarrassed about the amount or payment or gifts they receive and many are choosing not to put the AD in front of their posts but to use PR Sample, Gifted etc at the bottom of a post. I am following the rules as laid out and would love, love your feedback on how this works for you as a Blogger, Reader or Follower of my blog and social. If you think I should be doing any more or less declaring than I am, or have any questions let me know. In the meantime, please head to Caroline Hirons You Tube Video on this
5.35 minutes in or Rouge Pout Beauty’s Video below
If you have got this far….WELL DONE & Thank you xx