What Every Affiliate Marketer Must Know About the New FTC Disclosure Guideline

While you may be aware that The Federal Trade Commission has regulations around disclosing promoted content, you might not realize how imperative it is to your affiliate marketing business that you comply with those laws.

And if that’s the case, you’re not alone. Tales of retailers, influencers, and affiliates getting into hot water for not complying with rules surrounding ad disclosures, endorsements, and testimonials in online promotions are becoming more frequent. The FTC is now cracking down on online publishers of all sizes, and as an affiliate marketer, you must be aware of the nuances of its regulations.

Here are the key points:

●     The bottom line is that you must clearly and conspicuously disclose that you may be paid or be given something of value for the products you endorse or recommend on your blog or website, in social media posts (i.e., Twitter, Facebook), and anywhere else in the digital space where you are endorsing or promoting items.

●     The key is to avoid giving consumers a deceptive or misleading impression.

●     The FTC defines an endorsement as an advertising message, which includes “verbal statements, demonstrations, or depictions of the name, signature, likeness, or other identifying personal characteristics of an individual or the name or seal of an organization that consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertisers, even if the views expressed by that party are identical to those of the sponsoring advertisers.”

●     It’s not enough to make the disclosure at the end of post, as consumers might not get that far before clicking on a link that takes them away from your site or social post. You have to clearly mark an ad or paid promotion as such, right where it appears so it’s obvious to the consumer.

●     Words like, “sponsored,” “promotion,” “paid ad” or even just “ad” are clear ways to disclose that you’re being paid to share information and links.

●     For a social media post, #ad or #sponsored is required. Notice the #ad in this post:

●     This applies to all media, including mobile devices.

●     The FTC holds both advertisers and affiliate networks alike responsible for reasonably monitoring and enforcing disclosure.

●     For U.S. eBay affiliates, please be sure to review the FTC document, “.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising.”

●     This is specific to US publishers, so if you’re an international eBay affiliate, please check your country’s disclosure laws to be sure you’re in compliance.

When it comes to promoting eBay affiliate links, please keep in mind that we require an Affiliate Disclosure statement and that links are clearly labeled as leading to eBay.

Non-compliance may have severe consequences, including FTC penalty (varies depending on the situation) and negative press. If you have questions about the FTC disclosure regulations, please contact the FTC. Here are a couple of additional links you can refer to for more information:

FTC Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

Affiliates Take Note: New FTC Disclosure Guidelines by Tricia Meyer (updated 5/13/17)  

This information is provided to give general guidance.  eBay cannot provide legal advice.  Please make sure to conduct your own research and, as noted in our Network Agreement, stay up to date and comply with the latest laws, best practices, and guidelines.  

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