April 11, 2017

Disclosure and Compliance FAQs

BzzAgent is proud to have some of the most sophisticated disclosure and legal compliance processes in the industry. Transparency and authenticity are core to the BzzAgent experience, and big reasons why everyday influencer marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing.

Here are some common questions and answers about how we do it.

What is disclosure?

Disclosure is about transparency. Whenever an Agent spreads the word about a campaign, they let people know that we provided them with a way to experience the product for free (or at a discount).  Reviews that clearly inform the reader that a free or discounted product sample was provided are important for building trust and credibility in the opinions shared.

How did BzzAgent create the disclosure rules?

BzzAgent was one of the first word of mouth companies back in 2001. We were built on the principles of authenticity and transparency and we established the industry’s first code of conduct. Our company founder, Dave Balter, helped form the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) in 2004 to provide industry guidance and best practices. Our team helped the FTC in creating their original guidelines in 2009.  CBS News profiled BzzAgent and our strong disclosure practices in this story back in 2007.

What disclosure actions are required by law?

In the US, the FTC provides guidelines on endorsements for marketers. They are based on the basic truth-in-advertising principle that endorsements must be honest and not misleading. When there’s a connection between an endorser and the marketer that consumers would not expect, that connection should be disclosed. A detailed Q&A with examples is available on their website. The FTC does not mandate the specific wording of disclosures, as long as the user clearly indicates that it was provided for free. In the UK, the guidelines are similar. Our practices are consistent with the guidelines from the IAB UK, CAP Code, and the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN).

How do BzzAgents communicate disclosure in their posts?

BzzAgent requires our Agents to disclose they received the product for free, or at a discount, by using the hashtags #GotItFree or #GotACoupon in every post.  For some activities, our website API automatically applies the disclosure to the post.

What about the #ad or #sponsored hashtags?

These don’t apply to BzzAgent as our Agents are never compensated. Companies that pay people for posts, like celebrities and category influencers, are very much like advertisements so they use #ad or #sponsored hashtag, as suggested by the FTC in the US.

Is verbal disclosure needed for in-person word-of-mouth conversations?

Yes. This may be a digital age, but most product conversations still happen in person. Whenever Agents spread bzz about a product to friends and family in person, they mention that either BzzAgent or the brand provided them with a way to try the product. Agents confirm this when they submit a BzzReport about the conversation on the campaign homepage.

How does BzzAgent monitor for compliance with its Agents?

BzzAgent has a team that moderates posts submitted for a campaign through our BzzAgent.com site. Posts without proper disclosure are rejected by our monitoring team and the Agent is instructed on how to properly include the disclosure to get their content accepted. We have processes in place to train and guide people on the disclosure needed.

What are the consequences for Agents who do not comply with disclosure?

If an Agent submits three campaign activities without the proper disclosure they are suspended from further campaigns until they participate in additional disclosure training.

How do Agents learn about the disclosure policy?

Our policies are detailed for all our Agents on the BzzAgent.com disclosure page