There is a lot of confusion about when an affiliate needs to disclose their merchant relationship. My rule of thumb is if you are questioning if you need a disclosure, you probably need one.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) placed guidelines for affiliate disclosures to reduce consumer deception. While affiliate links seem obvious to an affiliate marketer’s eyes, the typical consumer is unaware.
With that in mind, the FTC set up guidelines for consumers to identify if the blogger or site owner receives compensation for promoting a product. Just as Advertorials in print magazines must identify itself as an Advertisement or Sponsored Content, affiliates must provide the same transparency to their audience.
What are affiliate disclosures?
Affiliate disclosures identify existing partnership and business relationships to consumers. In other words, it is where you let your audience know that you received the product or service you are writing about for free by the manufacturer and/or receive commissions by a company.
Rules of Affiliate Disclosures
Presented in an obvious manner. Do not hide your disclosure in a footer or bury it under the Terms and Conditions link
Content is clear. Don’t hide behind jargon. Keep your disclosure concise and clean.
What do I need to disclose?
If you received the product for free by the company/manufacturer
If you have affiliate links in your post.
When do I need to include an affiliate disclosure?
Every time you talk about the free product or include affiliate links. This includes social media!
Three Tips To Creating An Affiliate Disclosure
- Use your voice. It does not need to be formal or sound legal
- Reassure the reader that you are still being true to your values
- Keep it short, your audience wants to get to the good stuff
Examples of Affiliate Disclosures
Generic Affiliate Disclosures
I received product X by company X. However, my opinions in the post are my own
Please note, I include affiliate links within this post to support the maintenance and development of this site.
Real Life Examples
“I recently learned about Viewbix at the Affiliate Summit West and quickly became an affiliate. I know that was back in January but what can I say except that the first part of 2014 was not kind to me. The fact I am determined to post about this product is a tribute to the passion for its quality and effectiveness for affiliate marketing. Please note there are affiliate links in this post.” From the Robbins Interactive Blog
“Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Silk Canada. They provided me with coupons to purchase the product and compensated me for writing this post. Faithful readers of this blog will know that I don’t write sponsored posts very often. And that when I do, the reviews are always balanced and the opinions entirely my own.” by FitKnitChick”
By SAHMReviews, who cleverly uses an image for the disclosure so as to not take up valuable SEO space.
Social Media Examples
YouTube introduce the product as “I just got this great product from company X” If you are referring to the affiliate link state “If you could click on the affiliate link below it will help me keep up with the costs of creating videos for you guys”
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram If you are linking to the blog where it has your disclosures, you are ok. However if you are including an affiliate link or providing an opinion, you can include the hashtag #sponsored #ad or including the words affiliate link prior to the link.
If you are interested in learning about disclosures within social media, BloggyLaw gives some great examples.
Still confused about Affiliate Disclosures?
The FTC did a great job creating a user friendly and easy to read site. Check it out here.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to your affiliate manager, which is hopefully me. We are here to help!