How Not to Break the Law While Affiliate Marketing

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When people read what you have written about a particular product and then click on those links and buy something from the retailer, and as an Affiliate, you earn a commission from the retailer. It is the same as if you are endorsing the product and therefore you must disclose that information according to the FTC.

Disclosure:

Affiliate link disclosures are a requirement of the FTC whenever a link is used on your website that results in a commission, you must disclose this information to site visitors. You are required to disclose your relationship to the retailer clearly and conspicuously on your site, the readers can decide how much weight to give your endorsement.

In some instances – like when the affiliate link is embedded in your product review – a single disclosure may be adequate. When the review has a clear and conspicuous disclosure of your relationship and the reader can see both the review containing that disclosure and the link at the same time, readers have the information they need.

Affiliate Marketing Disclosure

You could say something like, “I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.” But if the product review containing the disclosure and the link are separated, readers may not make the connection.

Where Do I Have Place the Disclosure?

As for where to place a disclosure, the guiding principle is that it has to be clear and conspicuous. The closer it is to your recommendation, the better. Putting disclosures in obscure places – for example, buried on an ABOUT US or GENERAL INFO page, behind a poorly labeled hyperlink or in a “terms of service” agreement – isn’t good enough. Neither is placing it below your review or below the link to the online retailer so readers would have to keep scrolling after they finish reading. Consumers should be able to notice the disclosure easily. They shouldn’t have to hunt for it.

Is “affiliate link” by itself an adequate disclosure? What about a “buy now” button?

Consumers might not understand that the “affiliate link” means that the person placing the link is getting paid for purchases through the link. Similarly, a “buy now” button would not be adequate.

What if I’m including links to product marketers or to retailers as a convenience to my readers, but I’m not getting paid for them?

Then there isn’t anything to disclose.

Does this guidance about affiliate links apply to links in my product reviews on someone else’s website, to my user comments, and to my tweets?

Yes, the same guidance applies anytime you endorse a product and get paid through affiliate links.

It’s clear that what’s on my website is a paid advertisement, not my own endorsement or review of the product. Do I still have to disclose that I get a commission if people click through my website to buy the product?

If it’s clear that what’s on your site is a paid advertisement, you don’t have to make additional disclosures. Just remember that what’s clear to you may not be clear to everyone visiting your site, and the FTC evaluates ads from the perspective of reasonable consumers. For information check out the .dot.com disclosures.