SXSW Session: Measuring Blogger Credibility: FTC Regulation vs. Crowdsourced Solutions

  • Time: Saturday, March 13 at 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm (Central Time)
  • Location:  SXSW Austin Convention Center Room 19B (map)
  • Topic:  The FTC wants to regulate blogs because many are posting reviews without disclosing conflicts of interest. Is government intervention the answer? This session discusses new ways to measure blogger credibility using crowdsourced, self-policing systems. It'll examine specific metrics, review the new tools available, and propose new industry standards.

Sample questions to be covered:

  1. Is the current FTC regulation working?
  2. How will FTC regulation affect microblogging like Twitter or Facebook?
  3. What are the best ways to measure blogger credibility?
  4. Can bloggers create an effective industry standard?
  5. Can we use crowdsourcing to police the bloggers?

How to Win the iPod

Just stop by our session.  We'll give away an iPod Nano (A1320 8GB Blue) to one random lucky attendee at the end of the session.  Killer Aces Media employees, contractors, and their families are not eligible to enter.

RSVP Today

You can RSVP via Facebook (if you don't have Facebook, use this special Wise Bread page.)  Reservation is not mandatory, but we would love to know who is coming!


Tweet the Event, Win $20

We'll be livetweeting the session and you're welcome to join the discussion!

  • Time: Saturday, March 13 at 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm (Central Time)
  • Make sure you are following @WiseBread so we can contact you if you win. 
  • Prize:  We're giving away one $20 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky participant.

 With special guest Stacey Ferguson (@justiceFergie), attorney for FTC's division of advertising practices.


Unofficial After Party

Paul O'Brien of would like to invite you all to a party where we can continue our discussion.


Special Expert Guests:

We've invited several industry leaders to share their expertise at our session.  Here's a sample of who has RSVPed:


Leave a Comment

Is there a topic you want us to cover?  A relevant statistic, story, or case study you want to share?  Or a question for one of our expert guests? Submit them here!

Will Chen's picture

Lots of interesting stats from this great article from Sarah Montague of Mom Central Consulting:

  • "number of brands or agencies pitching sponsored product reviews has remained about the same."
  • "78% of Mom Bloggers said they rely on general disclosures for product reviews, and 68% disclose the value of giveaways when applicable."
  • "Half of those surveyed believe that the guidelines seem to single out Mom Bloggers while outlining fewer disclosure guidelines for journalists (68%) or celebrities (82%)."
  • "Nearly all believe it is ethical for Mom Bloggers to receive samples, giveaways and compensation."
  • "Mom Bloggers expressed anxiety about vulnerability to IRS audits, with 75% believing that they may be at risk for an audit if they disclose specific dollar amounts of the product value or compensation. Overall, 60% feel anxious about potential tax issues in general."
  • "15% of Mom Bloggers believe the value of the item impacts the ethical nature of the review."
  • "In general, Mom Bloggers strike a balance in their posts with 47% posting neutral reviews without negative language."
  • "72% said that they would send negative critiques to the brand/agency directly before posting a review."


Guest's picture
Concerned Tweeter

I can see the rationale behind regulating bloggers. But in a recent WSJ article the FTC stated that

"FTC wants to focus on people who are being paid to make plugs for products in 'non-traditional contexts' such as tweeting."

How am I going to fit a disclosure into a Tweet? Why do I have to put disclosures into Facebook, where all my "fans" are opted-in readers?

Guest's picture

The credibility of wikipedia is as much at stake as that of a blog or brand voicing an opinion, perhaps more so with their model built on that credibility. What distinguishes the accuracy and credibility of authoritative (even if self-proclaimed) content vs. media sources vs. blog channels? Crowdsourced validation works for wikipedia (for the most part) can the same model apply to more static articles with commentary only supported by comments?

Guest's picture

Not long ago, crowdSPRING launched crowdsourced content creation parallel to their graphic design service. Users can solicit content from thousands of writers; in the same model as the graphic design service, paying only for the winning submission.

If the author or source of the content is one step further removed by way of this crowdsourced development, is the credibility at greater risk? Is it the author or the medium on which the content appears that is liable for the credibility of the content?

Guest's picture

Since it may be too early to accurately predict what kinds of entities, or individuals, the FTC will or will not pursue, anyone who utilizes a blog to advertise products or services should learn the FTC Guidelines (16 CFR Part 255) regarding endorsements and testimonials. An Internet lawyer is in a unique position to advise clients on these types of issues and help interpret the examples provided by the FTC to an advertiser's or endorser's particular situation.

While flogs are clearly ripe for FTC attention, and bloggers do not need an Internet lawyer to tell them that, whether a particular advertisement qualifies as an endorsement or the sufficiency of a disclosure may not be so clear. My law firm offers flat fee projects to review blogs, assess the risk to both the advertiser and endorser, and provide recommendations and advice to bloggers.

I am more than happy to discuss these and related issues with anyone interested at Saturday's session. See you there!

Guest's picture
SXSWi Attendee

What a timely session. WOMMA just released their new guidelines last month. Can't wait to discuss.

Download WOMMA guidelines: