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Plug away: Disclosure of material connections in style blogs
As eyeballs have moved online, advertisers have struggled to find the best way to communicate their messages. Some have found it effective to influence bloggers or celebrities through paid posts or free products, trips or other considerations. In the USA, the Federal Trade Commission regulates these messages as commercial speech and has required that such material connections be disclosed to readers. But few do, and those that do may not disclose in ways that communicate these relationships effectively. This study explores the issue of disclosure in the context of digital advertising, using unobtrusive analysis to examine disclosure in top style blogs. The study finds that these platforms are often used for commercial speech, but material connections are seldom disclosed.
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David Kamerer is an Associate Professor in the School of Communication at Loyola University Chicago, where he teaches courses in digital media, measurement and public relations, and directs the graduate programme in global strategic communication. He is a former corporate director of communication, and has consulted for nonprofit organisations, startups, agencies and small businesses. He earned a PhD in telecommunications from Indiana University and has accreditations from the Public Relations Society of America (APR) and Google (Google Analytics Individual Qualification).