Should bloggers disclose their sponsored posts?

Louis Vuitton

A Louis Vuitton ‘editorial’ post by blogger Nicole Warne has sparked controversy.

Online advertisements are ‘popping up’ in different ways than before.

ABC journalist Kellie Riordan told a lecture room of QUT students that pop ups and banner advertisements are on the way out and sponsored posts are on the way in.

“The future of native ads will depend on the audience,” she says.

But not everybody is disclosing whether their advertorials are sponsored, with bloggers at the centre of criticism.

The tide is turning

Fashion journalist Patty Huntington says the tide is starting to turn in Australia with the ACCC announcing its guidelines for disclosure.

This means bloggers are advised to tell their readers whether their blog or Instagram posts are sponsored.

But Huntington says there’s a lack of understanding with some bloggers as to the difference between advertorials and editorials.

“They (bloggers) are adamant that they are playing by the rules but I mean really… it’s very hard to tell what’s paid and what’s not,” she says.

Huntington says big-time blogger Nicole Warne’s ‘editorial’ photo shoot, of her playing the role of a secret agent who explores Paris with Louis Vuitton as her accomplice, sends the wrong message.

“It was quite clearly a paid advertorial by Louis Vuitton with the tag at the top ‘editorial’,” she says.

“Why on earth is the tag editorial when it was not editorial?”

Is it up to the individual? 

With a reach of more than 50 thousand ‘likes’, fans and followers, Phoebe Montague from blog ‘Lady Melbourne’ knows all too well the power advertising in blogs.

But Montague says it’s really up to the individual blogger whether they want to follow the guidelines.

“They’re not actually enforceable in a legal sense,” she says.

Montague says it’s more a question of the audience than the bloggers.

“If people don’t care about reading sponsored content, well what does it matter?”

Readers feel ripped off

But Brisbane fashion blogger Nikki Parkinson says bloggers should care.

Her blog, ‘Styling You’, is aimed at women over 30 and she has a statement on her blog that outlines her disclosure policy.

She says she has always let her readers know if a post is sponsored.

“Even though it was not compulsory, it’s something we have already always done,” she says.

“I would not be able to get away with doing what I’m doing if I wasn’t honest with my readers about what I’ve paid for, who’s paying for me to write a particular post.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 6.55.25 PM

Blogger Nikki Parkinson discloses sponsorship at the top of her posts.

It’s just basic ethics

Social media expert Professor Axel Bruns says disclosure is just basic ethics.

“It’s simple professional practice,” he says.

“Just like any journalist should disclose whether they are paid to write a story, bloggers must do exactly the same.”

However, Bruns says disclosure is difficult to enforce in a legal sense, especially because there are no entry requirements for becoming a blogger.

He says readers are key to keeping bloggers in check.

“It’s really ultimately about the community itself being vigilant and sharing information about people who abuse the trust of their readers.”



Source list: 

Kellie Riordan – QUT lecture

Patty Huntington – phone interview,

Phoebe Montague – phone interview,

Nikki Parkinson – phone interview, 0417703290

Associate Professor Axel Bruns –  phone interview, (07) 3138 5548


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