FTC Crackdown on Affiliate Marketers

It comes as no surprise to many in the content development business that it would eventually happen. The Internet has become a virtual jungle of content infomercials to a point that an innocent bystander who happens across a Website that practices such a thing cannot tell the difference between legitimate content and an endorsement for a product or service being eluded to in the article. Before you go getting all down on websites that practice such things, almost every major media outlet in America (including the alphabet networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN) practice the same thing in one form or another. It’s just how the free enterprise system works, and the FTC wants to do what they can to protect unwary Internet consumers from potential fraud or misunderstandings that would lead them to act in a way that might not be in their best interest.

Hear is some news you can use, and we encourage you to pay close attention to it if you are an affiliate marketing professional (or even an novice). Starting this past December 1, 2009, the FTC put some guidelines in place to help protect consumers from unscrupulous Website owners who subtly promote products and services within the context of the content they post. It is now required that if you promote directly or indirectly any product or service that is not your own and available on your Website either by advertisement or hyperlink, or where such a product or service is promoted, endorsed or recommended by content of any kind on your Website, that you must clearly provide a notice to this affect, that you are doing this, and the notice must be clearly posted and/or accessible from every page

Additionally, you must provide notice to any email recipients within the email you are sending if you send email with links included in those email of websites other than your own and where providing those links may result in a profit as a result of your referral. Here is an example of a written notice for the Website owner who promotes products and services through content and editorial, as well as personal email:

“The advertisements and/or links on the pages of this Website and/or blog pages of this Website that may be found in or around any article or within any email that originates from our Website, or other domain related to this Website constitutes an affiliate marketing relationship between our Website owners and yourself, or with the destination Website of any link on our Website. What this means is that in most cases, if you click an link that we have an affiliate relationship with, that we may in most cases make a referral fee or commission on if you click on them. As such, we are required by law to share this information with you so that you are aware that our endorsement(s) of a product or service, or website that is accessible from our website, or an email which may allow me to earn a commission or referral fee if you click on the links therein.”.

If you are an online marketer, and do not have a notice like this on every page of your Website, or a link on every page that directly accesses this Disclosure, you may be operating your Website illegally and subject to sanctions, fines or both by regulatory agencies that monitor and/or police the Internet. Our advice? Play it safe. Have a notice at the bottom of every page you have on your Website that lets people know these things about your Website, or have a link in your top menu bar that is explicitly for the legal aspects of your Website.

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