In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission released new guidelines that directly affect many marketers and advertisers, especially those that engage in affiliate marketing.

The previous time the FTC published guidelines related to endorsements and reviews was in March 2013, when the FTC released its updated .Com Disclosures.

In May 2015, the FTC updated its Endorsement Guides, covering issues such as making disclosures in close proximity to affiliate links, buying Likes, and providing incentives in return for tweets; it also required disclosures in consumer reviews.

Furthermore, the FTC issued a public letter to one prominent brand, demonstrating the importance of robust compliance programs for advertisers that desire to use endorsements in their marketing.

Disclosure of Potential Commissions Near Affiliate Links

Many affiliate marketers create content relating to products that appear on blogs or consumer review sites, with affiliate links to retailers embedded in the content. The new version of the FTC's Endorsement Guides clarifies that affiliate marketers must disclose their relationship with the retailer in a "clear and conspicuous" manner, so that consumers can decide how much weight to give the product review or endorsement.

Reviews can be multiple paragraphs long, containing multiple affiliate links, so the FTC has clarified that in many situations the affiliate marketer need only disclose the relationship once. As an example, the FTC suggests language such as "I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post." However, if the affiliate link is separated from the review on the page, the FTC recommends multiple disclosures.

The disclosure should generally be close to the actual recommendation in the review, so putting disclosures in linked terms of use or in the page footer is not adequate. Also, the disclosure should generally be above/before the affiliate link, in the event that a consumer does not scroll down past the affiliate link.

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Karl Kronenberger of Kronenberger Rosenfeld LLP is an attorney who represents businesses in advertising-law compliance matters, including FTC matters, false advertising actions, and spam lawsuits.

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