With the growing amount of sponsored posts (where a company requests a follow link with specific wording in exchange for payment, in either product or monetarily), is it time for the blogging communities to self regulate?
Perhaps that seems a little extreme – a bit of background information would help. In traditional advertising, there are certain rules that advertisers and publishers must adhere to. You’ve probably seen when there’s an alcohol advert on TV or in a magazine that they usually will remind you to drink responsibly. Gambling ads will show a link to the Gamble Aware sites.
When we spoke to the ASA last year about their new guidelines relating to blogging, we asked if bloggers would be required to follow these guidelines and were told no, links to addiction support sites were not required.
But that’s the thing. Gambling is an addiction, and one that is on the increase. While you might not personally know anyone who is affected, you can never be sure who is going to be reading your blog. While it would be nice if the people requesting these sponsored posts recommended including links to organisations that can help, it’s quite unlikely.
We’re not saying that you should turn down the opportunity of a sponsored post, but don’t be afraid to say no if it’s something you feel uncomfortable advertising. (Check out SJ’s post about how to turn down a PR the polite way!)
What do you think – should bloggers be providing links to helpful organisations when dealing with these sort of links?
Sometimes it does make me feel uneasy that I’m making (quite a substantial amount of) money from promoting gambling website, knowing that some people will be spiraling into an addiction. It has taken a lot of soul searching to decide what to do.
Regardless of whether a post has been sponsored, has an affiliate link or is just my own experience, I now include the Gamble Aware logo and a link to a page on my own site (which then links to Gamble Aware and Step Change – a debt charity) on any bingo website posts.
Whilst I may have no problem with a gambling addiction, that’s not to say a reader doesn’t. I wouldn’t go as far as placing gambling posts behind a “read more” cut, I think it is really important to take responsibility.
I’d like to see the ASA make it a requirement to link to support sites – whether it be gambling, alcohol or anything else that’s addictive.
I was actually really disappointed when the ASA told me that they didn’t enforce (or even recommend!) that bloggers linked to places that could help with addictions. I like your way of linking to a page with the details – at least then they can be kept up to date in one place :)
I really hope you don’t mind me commenting like this – I’ve had to leave my real email but due to some points, I don’t want *everyone* to know my name.
I have a mental illness that makes my impulse control virtually non-existent. I know full well that if I were to start gambling, I would not be able to stop.
I’m fully aware bloggers aren’t responsible for *my* – or anyone else’s but their own – health, but I also don’t think it’s that unfair for me to expect places I consider to be safe (beauty blogs and the like) to be… well, safe.
I cannot and will not support any blogger that actively promotes gambling in any fashion, whether they include ‘useful’ links, or hide them behind a ‘read more’ or not.
Fortunately there’s plenty more blogs that don’t promote gambling for me to read! ;)
Thank you for commenting! I think your comment is important for people to see that it can affect others, and it will affect your readership.
(By the way, no one else will ever see your email when you comment, it just shows up in the admin section, and it will notify you that I’ve replied – let me know if you want me to remove that :) )
Elizabeth @ Rosalilium says
I have personally received these sponsored post opportunities on several occasions and every time I’ve turned them down, even when I was desperate for money. Because ethics aside, I don’t think the link/website is appropriate for my blog or readers. I think that this kind of sponsored post would cause some raised eyebrows and distrust on my blog. And after years of work I wouldn’t trade in my integrity for some quick cash.
That’s not to say I haven’t or won’t do sponsored posts, but I really believe in being picky about the subject matter.
Galaxia @ Hopeful Kiss | A Pink Lipstick Life! says
What an interesting discussion! My personal philosophy with my blog is: I won’t advertise if I don’t feel comfortable with promoting. Simple! I don’t think anyone should be forced to link to a help site, but if they think it’s necessary to link…maybe they don’t actually feel comfortable promoting and should rethink doing the advert at all? Thanks for sharing :)
Emma T says
I’m like Elizabeth, I don’t accept gambling sponsored posts – they don’t fit with my mostly parenting blog and isn’t something I’m particularly interested in, where sponsored posts I do have on my blog have to gain my interest to be included. It also is off-putting to many readers.
I suppose alcohol should be included in this in that it’s also addictive. I have done an alcoholic (cocktail ideas) sponsored post but it didn’t occur to me to include an advisory/guideline point. I rarely drink, so naively or not, it doesn’t really occur to me that people reading my blog could take one post with a couple of ideas on, and go on a binge drink. Maybe this post will make me rethink my disclosure and include more information.