Are you an affiliate marketer, blogger, or site owner who is making money online by promoting products of companies based in the USA, the UK, or Canada?
If yes, then here’s another question:
- Are you disclosing your affiliation(s) properly?
This post is all about learning the importance of a legally valid FTC affiliate disclosure, and how to effective display this information on your website.
What Is An Affiliate Disclosure?
Affiliate marketing is a well-known division of digital marketing where merchants (or advertisers) work with affiliates (or publishers), affiliate networks (like Commission Junction), and other third parties to sell their products. In return, these merchants provide a commission to their affiliate publishers.
Learn everything about affiliate marketing with the popular “ShoutMeLoud Affiliate Marketing Handbook“.
To make sure that the digital marketing industry maintains trust between consumers and merchants, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission, USA) came up with an “affiliate disclosure policy”.
The affiliate disclosure policy states that if you are an affiliate marketer, then you must clearly disclose your relationship with the merchant, brands, or products on your website.
This basically means that you have to clearly tell your visitors that you will be getting paid if they use your affiliate link(s) to purchase something from your affiliated merchant(s).
- Why does the FTC want an affiliate disclosure?
Because if you are trying to sell a product to your readers and are not disclosing that you will get compensation, then you are deceiving them.
Affiliate disclosure requirements were released in 2009 by the FTC. You can read the original copy here:
If you have questions concerning affiliate disclosures, then read this:
Who Needs An Affiliate Disclosure Statement?
Anyone who endorses brands or products of other companies and gets compensation in any way needs to have an affiliate disclosure statement. This includes affiliate marketing, endorsements, reviews, sponsored posts, sensational claims, and influencer campaigns.
Note: This only applies as long as your business has to something to do with the USA, the UK, or Canada. This rule doesn’t apply to a blogger who is hosting his site in India, working with Indian brands & promoting stuff only in India.
More precisely, whenever you add affiliate links in a blog post, in marketing videos, on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or elsewhere, you need to disclose any affiliation.
You must clearly disclose if you have ever received any type of compensation like commission, advertising fees, free products, discounts, or any other kind of special privileges from the merchant(s).
NOTE: The FTC guidelines are law; everyone is legally obliged to disclose their affiliations.
- What does “compensation” mean?
When we talk about compensation, it does not only mean direct affiliate commission.
Other things which count as “compensation” are:
- Cash payments.
- Sample or demo products.
- Store credits in your account.
- Gifts from the advertiser.
- Special discounts.
- Free giveaway items.
- Gift cards.
- Any other kind of “favor”.
When To Disclose The Relationship?
Whenever you recommend or endorse a product in a blog post, you must add a disclosure in that post.
Something like, “I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.”
The FTC recommends specifying your affiliation as close as possible to the affiliate link.
Here’s an example:
The FTC requires that your disclosure information is clear, obvious, easily understood, free of distraction, and easy to see.
If you don’t want to fully disclose your affiliations in a certain post or page, then it’s acceptable to provide a link to your full disclosure statement close to the triggering claim (e.g. affiliate link).
Here is an example:
Best Practices To Meet FTC Guidelines On Affiliate Disclosures:
- Clearly and conspicuously communicate the disclosure to prospects before they make any purchase decision. Failing to do so will be considered a “deceptive marketing practice” by the FTC.
- Make sure this information is visible on all devices like mobile phones, tablets, desktops, etc. Due to space constraints on mobile phones, it’s recommended to use phrases like “Advertisement”, “Sponsored Post”, or place a link to your affiliate disclosure page with the anchor text: “This post contains affiliate links. Click here for the full disclosure statement.”
- Instead of adding your affiliate disclosure statement below the fold, add your disclosure at the top of the post.
- When you hyperlink to your disclosure page, it is important for you to use clear and easy to follow anchor text. Words like “disclaimer”, “click here”, “fine print”, “terms & conditions”, etc. do not clearly communicate your affiliate relationships to readers.
- Track the click through rate (CTR) of your FTC disclosure links. Low CTRs will give you an idea of whether or not your disclosure links are clearly visible.
- Add a short affiliate disclosure text widget on the sidebar, and make it fixed. This will make your users constantly aware of it. You can also add it as a pop-up or as an auto-play video on the sidebar to communicate your relationship to consumers as soon as they come to your page.
- Use an affiliate disclosure statement plugin.
How Adding An Affiliate Disclosure Can Help You With Sales
He wrote down a product review article along with a review video, and posted it on his website.
He put these two different call-to-action links at the end of the post:
When he analyzed the results, he was quite surprised to learn the results.
After one week of running the experiment:
- 76% chose the affiliate link.
- 24% chose the non-affiliate link.
That’s over 3/4 of people knowingly choosing to give Jonathan Fields an affiliate commission.
The most important thing that came out of this experiment was the notion that transparency in business is a good thing.
It builds trust and makes people feel comfortable interacting with your content. Here are a couple recommended resources to learn more about FTC Disclosure Guidelines:
Here are a couple recommended resources to learn more about FTC Disclosure Guidelines:
- Affiliates Take Note: New FTC Disclosure Guidelines
- The FTC disclosure guidelines: An in-depth exploration of what affiliates and merchants need to know
Remember that if you are looking to run a business for a long time, then transparency and trust are two important pillars that can lead you to success.
A loyal relationship with your website visitors will surely pay off much sooner (and more fruitfully) than trying to deceive them.
And if you have decided to work as a publisher, then it’s a part of your responsibility to clearly add an affiliate disclosure on your website.
But don’t worry; affiliate disclosures will surely increase trust and transparency between you and your audience.
Just try to provide real value to your readers, and you will automatically see upward growth in sales and traffic.
If you need more information on FTC affiliate disclosures, then read the FTC’s dot com guide here.
How do you go about adding an affiliate disclosure statement on your website? What is your strategy to let readers know that you’re an affiliate marketer? Let me know in the comments below!
Here are a few hand-picked articles that every newbie & experienced affiliate marketer should read:
- How To Receive Amazon U.S. Affiliate Payment Using Payoneer
- CPA Vs. Affiliate Marketing: The Beginners Guide To CPA Marketing
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