Mail and wine shipping address:
1083 Vine Street #247
Healdsburg, CA 95448
I rely on product samples and invitations to visit wineries in order to do my job. To be in compliance of Federal Trade Commission regulations, or if it is merely a hobby.
If you are a blogger, you must disclose every time you write about a product or service and you receive compensation or something of value from the provider of that product or service. This includes free product samples, meals, or any other item of value that is not generally available to all consumers.
In its most recent update, the FTC has reiterated earlier guidance that disclosures cannot just be a separate page on your website or buried at the bottom of the page. “It does not convey the importance, nature, and relevance of the information to which it leads,” says the federal agency. But simply putting “AD” in a tweet may be enough.
“You have to disclose that you were paid or got a free sample before you mention the product,” says Jana Seitzer aka Merlot Mommy. The disclosure has to be “clear and conspicuous,” according to the FTC guidance on native advertising, which applies to many kinds of blog posts, including reviews.
Here are five things wine bloggers should do:
- Disclose that a review is based on a free sample from a winery at or near the top of your review. Some bloggers put a short note above each post. Others include this detail within the text. Either is ok, provided that a reader sees it before the product mention.
- If you link to a web page where consumers can buy a product you wrote about based on a free sample, the disclosure must appear before the link. This applies even if you do not get a share of the sale. However, no disclosure is needed if you are mentioning a product or service just as a convenience to your readers and you have no relationship with the seller of that product or service.
- On Twitter, Instagram, or other platforms that limit characters, tags like “Paid Ad” or “Ad” are sufficient disclosures. “Affiliate” or “affiliate link” is not, because not every consumer will understand what that means. Sending a separate tweet with a disclosure does not satisfy the requirements.
- The disclosure rules apply to all platforms, including audio and video.
- Any links related to paid or otherwise compensated content must use the “nofollow” tag. This should be used anytime a link is included because you received a sample or compensation. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/96569?hl=enthe “nofollow” tag.