HostYourSite Affiliate Disclosure Requirements, and FTC Frequently Asked Questions.
In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (the "FTC Guidelines"). These FTC Guidelines require companies and individuals who receive compensation for endorsing a product or service to clearly disclose this connection to the consumer. As a result, any affiliate who receives compensation for endorsing or promoting products or services using reviews, rankings, blogs, videos, articles, or other testimonials must clearly and conspicuously disclose this financial incentive.
HostYourSite requires all of its affiliates to comply with the FTC Guidelines. Failure to do so may result in removal from our affiliate program and the cancellation of all outstanding commissions owed to the affiliate.
We realize that, on the surface, some of these guidelines may seem onerous, but not only are they required by U.S. law, but we believe such transparency ultimately creates happier, long-term customers, which works towards everyone’s best interests. We certainly value long-term customers over short-term customers, and our most profitable long-term affiliates are those who deliver long-term customers.
To comply with the FTC Guidelines,you must disclose that you are receiving commissions, and these disclosures must meet four basic requirements: disclosures must be frequent, clear, conspicuous, and require no scrolling or other type of user action to locate.
Special Guidance for Consumer Reviews and Endorsements:
If you include consumer reviews, feedback, or endorsements about products or services listed on your site, you must comply with the FTC Guidelines prohibiting the biased manipulation of consumer reviews, including the following:
Select excerpts from FTC Endorsement Guides FAQs:
The FTC has published answers to Frequently Asked Questions applying directly to the FTC Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. For your convenience, we have reproduced some of the most applicable ones below. Still, we encourage you to read the FAQs from the FTC in their entirety.
I’m an affiliate marketer with links to an online retailer on my website. When people read what I've written about a particular product and then click on those links and buy something from the retailer, I earn a commission from the retailer. What do I have to disclose? Where should the disclosure be?
If you disclose your relationship to the retailer clearly and conspicuously on your site, 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. 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 lose the connection.
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 recommendations, 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 "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.
I guess I need to make a disclosure that I’ve gotten paid for a video review that I’m uploading to YouTube. When in the review should I make the disclosure? Is it ok if it’s at the end?
It’s more likely that a disclosure at the end of the video will be missed, especially if someone doesn’t watch the whole thing. Having it at the beginning of the review would be better. Having multiple disclosures during the video would be even better. Of course, no one should promote a link to your review that bypasses the beginning of the video and skips over the disclosure. If YouTube has been enabled to run ads during your video, a disclosure that is obscured by ads is not clear and conspicuous.
Do the Endorsement Guides apply to social media?
Yes. Truth in advertising is important in all media, whether they have been around for decades (like, television and magazines) or are relatively new (like, blogs and social media).
I’m a blogger and a company wants me to attend the launch of its new product. They will fly me to the launch and put me up in a hotel for a couple of nights. They aren’t paying me or giving me anything else. If I write a blog sharing my thoughts about the product, should I disclose anything?
Yes. Knowing that you received free travel and accommodations could affect how much weight your readers give to your thoughts about the product, so you should disclose that you have a financial relationship with the company.
More information about the FTC Disclosure requirements can be found here:
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