It’s extremely important that all affiliate marketers understand the single most important area of FTC compliance about regulating affiliate marketing. It’s crucial to understand the important website disclosures you must have to comply with the ‘Federal Trade Commission for Affiliate Disclosures’.
FTC Compliance: Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising
On the December 1, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission enacted an important document. This document outlines FTC guidelines on endorsements & testimonials in advertising. This very much impacts the website disclosures you must make as an affiliate marketer. Find the full document at Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
The FTC views the Merchant/Affiliate relationship in the same way they’d view a Sponsor/Endorser situation. Therefore, the affiliate MUST disclose their relationship with the Merchant.
Affiliates can decide to make website disclosures outside of the text but near the blog. Or they can incorporate into the blog discussion itself. That is the blogger’s call. Affiliates are not expected to publish this website disclosure on every page of their website, but need to have a very obvious links to it. A dedicated website disclosures policy page, visible from every page on the website should be sufficient. But you must have one.
If you go to //www.business.ftc.gov, the Q&A section outlines the responsibilities quite clearly.
Disclose your relationship with a merchant/affiliate network clearly and conspicuously on your website. Readers will be able to fairly decide how much weight to give your endorsement. In some instances, you can embed the disclosure link in a product review. In other instances, it is sufficient to have an additional page. As for where to place that page, the guiding principal is it has to be clear and conspicuous. Putting disclosures in obscure places , e.g., buried on an ‘About’ page, or behind a poorly labeled hyperlink won’t do it. Nor will putting it in a ‘Terms Of Service’ agreement. Make it clear, so that the average person visiting your website can easily find it, read it and understand it.
If you do not want to create a disclosure document yourself you can always go to the following website: //www.disclosurepolicy.org. You can fill in a five step questionnaire to generate a disclosure policy and copy/paste into your own website.
The Federal Trade Commission makes it clear that they are serious about policing and enforcing compliance for affiliates in disclosure. For comfort, be aware that many affiliate marketers point out that adding a disclosure page to their website had no negative impact on their earnings. The end users/consumers appreciate the transparency. So bottom line: Stay compliant with the regulations.