NEW YORK ( — The Federal Trade Commission has made public its first investigation into a company’s relationship with bloggers, and while the federal agency took no action, the decision provides some insight into how it is viewing marketers’ relationships with online communities.

The FTC informed Ann Taylor that, following an investigation, it has decided not to take action against the women’s retailer over an event held earlier this year. The retailer had invited bloggers to preview the Loft division’s summer 2010 collection, offering a “special gift,” and promising that those posting coverage from the event would be entered into a “mystery gift-card drawing,” where they could win between $50 and $500.

The invite explained that bloggers must submit posts to the company within 24 hours in order to find out the value of their gift card.

The event and the unusual request for posts to be submitted for a prize received media scrutiny and caught the eye of the FTC. “We were concerned that bloggers who attended a preview on January 26, 2010 failed to disclose that they received gifts for posting blog content about that event,” Mary Engle, the FTC’s associate director-advertising practices, wrote in a letter dated April 20 to Ann Taylor’s legal representation.

Although the agency decided not to take action against Ann Taylor, the case serves to let marketers know that the FTC is keeping a close eye on their interactions with bloggers.

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