Affiliate marketing is a type of marketing in which affiliates get rewarded when a prospect purchases any product they promote on their website or social media platform.
Many people worldwide earn a significant portion of their monthly income by promoting products on their websites, blogs, or social media platforms. These products could be from any country like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, or others.
While affiliate marketing is straightforward and profitable, some essential guidelines need to be followed. Are you aware of the FTC disclosure for affiliates? If not, read this post to find out everything about FTC and its disclosure guidelines.
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What is FTC?
The Federal Trade Commission, often referred to as FTC, is an agency of the United States Federal Commission. It serves to protect consumers by creating and enforcing rules regarding the guidelines on how corporations or individuals should conduct their business.
It has brought into the forefront many anti-trust regulations, truth in advertising, and several consumer protection mechanisms.
To protect consumers from any deceptive marketing practices, FTC enforces specific guidelines for the affiliate marketers too. It requires all affiliate marketers to disclose their financial relationship with the products and brands that they endorse.
What is an Affiliate Disclosure?
Affiliate marketing depends highly on website links. They play an essential part in affiliate marketing. Affiliate link disclosure is an FTC mandated practice. Whenever a link is used by you that results in you gaining some commission, you must disclose this information to your visitors. The same must be followed for all endorsements, sponsorships, and others alike.
However, if you are not gaining anything by promoting a particular product and having no relation with the brand, you don’t need to disclose anything.
Let us now dive deep into the details of the FTC Disclosure for Affiliates.
Highlights of the FTC guidelines
Some significant highlights of the FTC guidelines for the affiliate marketers are as follows.
- The affiliates should clearly and conspicuously disclose their relationships with other retailers, brands, or products on their websites.
- Disclosures must be mentioned near the product mention and should be prominent.
- The disclosure has to be written in a language that is clear and concise.
Who has to disclose?
You must be wondering whether you are required to disclose it or not? Let me answer this for you. The simple rule is that if you are being compensated by the brand owners or makers of the product you promote, you are liable to follow the FTC disclosure guidelines.
There might be a case where you are not getting compensated in cash but kind. So, do the FTC disclosure guidelines still apply to you? The answer is yes.
Many things can qualify as compensation besides cash. Such as
- Free products
- Store Credit
- Special Discounts
- Free Services
- Special Accesses
- Any other kinds of favors
What does any other kind of favor include? It could be something as simple as the CEO of the company, taking you out for dinner or giving you free access to an exclusive party. Any free benefit you get from the company due to your product promotion requires you to disclose.
Whether it is a small compensation or a considerable sum, you must disclose your association with the brand you promote. Now that you have sufficient knowledge about who is supposed to disclose, let’s look at the other aspect of this.
What do you have to disclose?
You must disclose the nature of your relationship with the company whose products or services you are promoting. This means you have to clearly state if you are an employee of the company or receive any compensation for the sales you make or have stock in the company.
When should you disclose?
The disclosure should be at the time of the promotion and each time. You need to disclose each time you promote, even if it is for the same product.
For example, if you are promoting a product via youtube video, your disclosure should be mentioned during the same video. Similarly, if you mention the affiliate links in the video description, you have to put a disclosure in the description.
After a few days, if you mention the same links again. It would be best if you again mention your disclosure here.
Why are you required to disclose?
FTC conducts evaluations for non-compliance regularly. If you are found not sticking to the required mandate, you can face a fine or get reported.
It is essential to understand that FTC always ensures that there is enough transparency between all parties involved. They believe that the consumer needs to have all the possible knowledge before making their buying decision.
Disclosing your relationship with the brand helps the user gauge your recommendation accordingly. There are no exceptions to the FTC disclosure policy. Whether you are too small or too big – you have to follow the FTC disclosure guidelines. Additionally, your disclosures must be clear and straightforward.
If you have any doubt regarding affiliate disclosures guidelines, you can also read the actual guide by FTC here:
You can also download the original copy of Affiliate disclosure requirements released by FTC in 2009.
What can you do to meet the FTC guidelines on Affiliate Disclosures?
- The disclosure should be prominently displayed. Place the disclosure statement at the top of the promotion post for better visibility.
- The reader or visitor should not have to read the fine print description or scroll down to view your disclosure. It should be easily noticeable. Placement of your disclosure plays a vital role.
- Use unambiguous terminology to mention your relationship with the brand. Use simple and straightforward language that is easy to understand.
- Disclose your affiliate everywhere, including social media posts, video articles, podcasts, webinars, infographics, and blog posts.
- Components of your disclosure in advertisements should be averted. Instead, repeat your disclosure as much as you can. This raises their noticeability and draws customers’ focus.
- Make your disclosure clear and conspicuous for your audience before they make any purchasing decision. If you don’t adhere to this, you will be considered conducting a ‘deceptive marketing practice’ by the FTC.
- The information should be visible on all devices, be it mobile phones, laptops, tablets, or desktops. It is recommended that you use phrases like ‘Sponsored Post’ or ‘Advertisement’ if you have space constraints on the website. You can also place a link to your affiliate disclosure page with an anchor text such as “This post consists of affiliate links. Click here to read the full disclosure statement.”
- When you are hyperlinking the text to your disclosure page, use clear anchor text. Words like ‘click here,’ ‘fine print,’ ‘terms & conditions,’ ‘disclaimer’ etc. can be considered misleading. These words do not communicate your relationship to the product.
- You can also ensure that your disclosure is visible by tracking the Click Through Rate or CTR of your FTC disclosure link. If the CTR is low, it means your FTC disclosure link has low visibility and needs a change of placement.
- A disclosure automatically becomes most effective when placed in proximity to the triggering claim or relevant posting on your website.
- One way to make your disclosure more prominent is by adding a short affiliate disclosure text widget on your site’s sidebar. If you permanently fix it, the users will be constantly aware of it. It can also be added as a pop-up or an auto-play video in your website’s sidebar. This way, the visitors will get to know about your affiliate relationship as soon as they land on your page.
- You can also use an affiliate disclosure statement plugin on your website to make it more visible and synced at the same time.
- The disclosure should be available on the media where the triggering claim is made. If the triggering claim is an audio recording, the disclosure should be in audio. Similarly, if it is in a video, include it within the video.
- The disclosure font should have an apparent size and color that does not get camouflaged in the website’s background.
- It is better to avoid any graphics, video, buttons, or links which can grab more attention than your disclosure on the same page. Even though your disclosure might be clear and conspicuous, it can get obscured due to these factors.
How can Affiliate Disclosure help your sales?
Lastly, I know what you must be thinking. You might have a question in your head about how does disclosure helps you?
While there is no immediate return, affiliate disclosures can have a long-term effect on your business. It helps build trust, and people start vouching for you. It can also result in positive word of mouth.
There is a simple reason why customers trust people who are ready to disclose their affiliation. Trust. They feel more comfortable, trusting, and leaning towards people who are transparent about their business. The more trust and credibility you garner, the better your sales become.
If you participate in any affiliate marketing, you automatically become accountable to the FTC. You have to follow the FTC disclosure guidelines. A loyal and transparent relationship with your visitors will profit both parties. Provide real value and witness your traffic and sales increase within no time
An ultimate guide to FTC disclosure for affiliates is something every affiliate marketer must-read. It will give you a lot of insight about FTC and its practices, guidelines, and a lot of tips as well.
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