The online consumer guidelines by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) were introduced to regulate how website owners run ads on their sites. The guidelines require any business promoting anything on its site for profit to follow certain principles of the disclosure to prevent prosecution.
The guidelines have been put in place not to limit you from making money but to protect online consumers. You risk being sued if you don’t comply with these guidelines. If you partner with any Ad Networks or Affiliate vendors such as Amazon you’re required by law to have a disclaimer indicating that you’re an affiliate marketer or if your content is sponsored.
Amazon Associates is one of the most popular online affiliate marketing programs that allow people to earn money through referrals by adding product links for sale on Amazon.com on their own websites.
When you have a loyal following they put their trust on you and anything that you promote on your site. They believe that you will recommend products and services that are authentic and of high quality. If you are promoting 3rd party content on your website and making money from it, it’s important that you let your followers know so, they’d definitely want to know.
If you don’t disclose this kind of information you will not only lose your followers’ trust but also set yourself up for a lawsuit. By disclosing that you are not the owner of the content you’re promoting, you allow your web users to seek more information before making the purchase based on your recommendation.
If you do not comply with the disclaimer requirements you can get penalized. Penalties range from a written warning to the maximum of an $11,000 civil fine for every incident. If you plan or are doing any type of online selling, it’s therefore, best not to take any chances. Even if you don’t operate your business in the U.S. stay safe and protect your business by ensuring you comply with all FTC guidelines.
If you’re not sure how to go about it, you can find numerous resources online with guidelines and disclaimer/disclosure templates to help you comply with FTC requirements.
Guidelines by the FTC
The FTC provides a guide providing marketing and social media advertising best practices and requirements. One of these requirements is that you must have a disclaimer such as an amazon affiliate disclaimer whenever you use affiliate links on your website.
FTC requires that this disclaimer:
- Disclose your relationship to Amazon
FTC requires that you make it known to every reader on your site, through your amazon affiliate disclaimer, that you are using affiliate links and getting paid whenever a user clicks on your links.
- Be clear
You are not allowed to assume that everyone knows what an “affiliate link” is so you must make it clear to your readers. Simply saying “This link is an affiliate link” is not enough. You are required to give more details about what the link is all about, and what happens when a user clicks on such a link.
- Be placed conspicuously on your site
You need to place your affiliate disclaimer in a place where every web visitor sees it clearly and immediately. Placing it on your About Us page or at the bottom of your homepage where users are unlikely to scroll down to is not adequate. It needs to be somewhere that a user can easily notice and read the disclaimer. We recommend placing it right before, next or below the affiliate link.
- About Us Page
- Contact Page
- Privacy Statement
- Terms & Conditions
These pages will ensure that you stay out of trouble with most external providers and regulatory agencies.
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If you are involved in any type of business online, whether as an influencer, affiliate marketer or advertiser it’s important that you ensure that your website stays compliant with all the necessary regulations and the guidelines. Chances are that you were not aware of some of these regulations so we hope this article helped you. Now over to you. Don’t risk your money and reputation, make use of the above plugins a stay compliant!