Affiliate Marketing Disclosure Now Required By Law?

I’ve been involved in affiliate marketing off and on for about 8 years, and the trend towards disclosure of affiliate links in the blogosphere has been a strange situation for me. It’s not that I want to hide the fact that I’m being compensated, it’s just that if you are an ethical marketer that focuses on providing value, most people don’t really care outside of the Internet marketing world.

I haven’t done much affiliate marketing on Copyblogger, but I hate the use of (aff) following the link. It’s just bad, distracting copy, so I try to find some other way to reveal the affiliation in a way that makes sense. Other times I just give my readers enough credit to know what’s up (such as with links to books).

Now it looks like anyone who markets to US citizens will be required by law to make these disclosures or face potential action for deceptive advertising. I haven’t read the opinion itself yet, but this is what the Washington Post is saying:

The Federal Trade Commission yesterday said that companies engaging in word-of-mouth marketing, in which people are compensated to promote products to their peers, must disclose those relationships. …

Word-of-mouth marketing can take any form of peer-to-peer communication, such as a post on a Web blog, a MySpace.com page for a movie character, or the comments of a stranger on a bus.

Emphasis mine.

This is huge. I can certainly live with it, although I feel a bit offended that I’m subject to potential legal action thanks to the actions of unethical marketers who have prompted blanket sanctions against everyone involved in a legitimate industry.

But as Tony Hung also points out, this is going to potentially hurt some highly profitable, if less than transparent, affiliate business models.

Take a look at this “independent review site” that just happens to rank web hosts according to whomever offers the highest payout.

http://www.top10hostinglist.com

There are tons of these types of sites. Some “review” sites are gigantic, with separate subdomains for every profitable affiliate category they can build pages for. Plus what about all the “gift shop” and affiliate ecommerce models that present product catalogs before sending surfers to the merchant site?

If you’re planning to begin affiliate marketing on your blog, don’t despair. I think disclosure can be a very good thing that need not hurt your sales, as long as you create a benefit that coincides with the transparency.

I’ll be starting an affiliate marketing video series on Tubetorial next week that will show you what I mean. Make sure to sign up for the feed or email updates if you’re not already on board.

UPDATE: I’ve now read the FTC opinion (PDF), and my interpretation stands. The factual scenarios are heavily tilted towards what we call WOMM, because that’s what the petition focused on. But the conclusions reached certainly apply to the forms of affiliate marketing I’ve mentioned above. The FTC has not crafted new law, they’ve said that certain practices can be construed as deceptive under existing law.

The combined practices are:

  • Recommendation
  • Compensation
  • Lack of disclosure

We in the Internet marketing industry may view WOMM and affiliate marketing as discrete areas, but they have a lot in common. In fact, affiliate marketers are *more* motivated to actively push the recommendation, because they don’t get paid otherwise. Speaking in terms of WOMM doesn’t change what has been said and what it could mean for affiliate marketers whose business models rely on the site visitor believing they are getting an impartial recommendation.

UPDATE 2: The real issue is not what affiliates can or cannot get away with. It’s whether the companies and affiliate networks that recruit and pay affiliates will make disclosure part of their terms and conditions due to fear of an FTC or state action.

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  1. It sounds as though the low would apply only to “word of mouth marketing” when you are being “compensated to promote products.”

    My interpretation would be that affiliate links don’t necessitate this disclosure. It seems as though there is a big difference between being paid to write about a particular topic, and simply including links with your amazon associates ID in a post.

    Is it just me who sees the distinction?

  2. David, as someone who has gone up against the FTC as an attorney, I think affiliate marketing will clearly be subject to this, at least when the link comes as a recommendation (which is the most effective form of affiliate marketing). The real question is whether there will be any real enforcement.

    Essentially, what the FTC is saying here is that failing to disclose compensation (whether contingent on a sale or not) with respect to a recommended product or service falls within the existing prohibitions against deceptive advertising.

    We may well see individual states adopt this stance with their own deceptive trade practices legislation that attorneys just love to nail people with.

    Remember, affiliate marketing was conceived by Amazon and CD Now as word of mouth marketing. It just so happened to turn into a gigantic industry that in large part creates business models based on “trusted” recommedations.

  3. Who’s responsble for this crap ?

    Lawyers ? Congress ? The President ?

    Uh, … us ?

  4. Thanks for the tip Brian. I think us in the affiliate marketing industry have been so busy this time of year we just let this slip by.

    However, I don’t agree with your headline and assessment. I do not feel that this crosses the line into affiliate marketing. Maybe I’m wrong, but right now I don’t feel that way.

    We’re going to cover this over at ReveNews as best as we know how.

  5. G’day Brian,

    Very interesting news. I’ve been doing quite a bit of research into affiliate marketing of late (the good, the bad, and the downright fugly).

    Several years ago I used to look after affiliate programs and alliances for a couple of major e-commerce companies in Australia, and it seems the principles of success were basically the same as any affiliate marketing concept that’s popular today.

    Back then I wrote e-newsletters to some fairly large subscriber numbers and over time built a high degree of loyalty and trust.

    When we occasionally promoted an affiliate partner (always a company or product associated with travel or lifestyle as we were), I didn’t spell out that we were making money from any sales or subscriptions.

    While most of these “promotions” were very successful I don’t believe it was because we didn’t tell them straight out we were making something out of it, but that we offered them relevant, useful information, plus included an exclusive offer. This in itself spelt out there must be something in it for my company – besides being really nice people who loved to help the less informed :)

    If this law comes into effect, it will definitely hurt a lot of people and be a mess for a lot of companies, but more than ever the key to getting people to click will be a blend of trust, perceived value of information, and bonuses/discounts.

    Really looking forward to your affiliate series :)

  6. Luckily they don’t spell out how notification must be given. Just toss a disclaimer in your website TOS that states all links are potentially paid for and should be considered such unless otherwise stated.

    Problem solved.

  7. Hi Brian,

    It seems to me that this proposed law puts American bloggers/companies/websites at a disadvantage. And since I don’t believe the American congress will do something to harm the competitive advantage of Americans, this bill will probably not make it past the legislators.

  8. Everyone should read this piece, a different/better perspective.

    http://adage.com/article?article_id=113749

    “The FTC decision means that companies such as Procter & Gamble, Hershey Co. and countless other corporations, agencies and buzz-specialty shops will avoid the specter of a thorough probe of their marketing practices. However, the FTC did leave the door open for the commission to examine issues on a case-by-case basis. In short, marketers could be playing with fire if they pay people to post opinions about products such as movies, cellphones or electronics to websites without making their sponsorship clearly visible.”

    I don’t get affiliate marketing out of that, do you?

  9. When I first read about this, I thought about the free speech issues surrounding it, but then Brian underscoring the fact that it does fall within the limitations of deceptive advertising gives me pause. Interesting thoughts posted by all. Great conversation.

  10. “independent review site”

    yup, there’s tons of these, both on organic and adsense. All seem to list the same webhostings, there seems to be a strong consensus in the industry…

    Honestly, I am very frustated that you can’t find on top serps a single review site that is committed to offer good and reliable advice first and cash out on affiliate marketing whenever that is the case. Shame on site owners and shame on users who don’t seem to have the need to drill down and demand better results from SEs

  11. >>I don’t get affiliate marketing out of that, do you?

    Well, the AdAge piece certainly takes a more realistic approach to the topic from an enforcement standpoint, but it doesn’t shed any light on whether affiliate marketing is covered.

    Just because they speak in terms of WOM instead of AM means very little from a legal perspective. What the FTC said is that recommending products or services for compensation without disclosure can be construed to fall within the very strict laws already in place against deceptive advertising.

    There is no exception mentioned for contingent payments based on a sale actually being made. And why would there be? It’s either compensation without disclosure or it’s not, and it’s either deceptive or it’s not.

    This may end up being something that amounts to very little from an enforcement standpoint, but if I had one or more profitable “independent review” sites, I would be nervous.

  12. Thanks for the expert opinion, Brian.

    I have a question: do you think this would affect corporate blogs? I’m not too concerned about my own blog, since I plaster the company’s name all over it, but with the language, could it get sticky?

  13. No, this wouldn’t apply to promoting your own company, product or service. You still can’t be deceptive in your marketing, of course, but that’s always been the case.

    When you get others to promote your products or services for money though, it’s possible that the failure of that person to disclose the relationship to the consumer can be considered deceptive, as it creates an impression in the consumer’s mind that you are giving a recommendation based on something other than financial gain.

  14. That makes it clear. Thanks again, Brian!

  15. There are two legal issues here that are being confused.

    Let me try to help.

    The FTC regulates advertising as it relates to Deceptive Marketing Practices and also regulates the disclosure required by the sellers of Franchises/Business Opportunities.

    It is given the authority to do this by making new regulations.

    WOMA is so relatively new that the FTC has not formulated any specific response to whether it may violate some of its current guidelines on deceptive marketing, specifically endorsements and testimonials.

    On other hand, the FTC has proposed a new Business Opportunity Rule, which would also cover affiliate or network marketing.

    A bit of background here is important. The FTC’s Rule on Franchising and Business Opportunities, known as the Franchise Rule, has historically been used by the FTC, and now in partnership with the DOJ and US Postal Authorities, to shut down business opportunities frauds -vending, dvd kiosks, internet kiosks, payphone, atm, and other similar distribution schemes.

    The Franchise Rule worked because the sellers of this type of distributorship had to provide a disclosure document, which they never did. (Google “LifeStyle Vending FTC” to see a very current example.)

    On the other hand, real franchise systems also had to abide by the Franchise Rule and did provide the required disclosure documents to prospective franchisees, which came to be known as the Uniform Franchise Offering Circular.

    The level of disclosure required by a prospective franchisee is much higher than what a prospective distributor needs to know.

    So in, April, 2006 the FTC proposed a new Business Opportunities Rule, which on one hand would be considerably cheaper to comply with, s 2 page disclosure document, but on the other hand far broader in its scope than was the definition of a “business opportunity” franchise in the Franchise Rule.

    The notice period has closed and some commentators think that it may be up to 2 years for the FTC to tweak the new Biz Op Rule.

    The new Biz Op Rule will have significant effect on both affiliate and networking marketing, in part because of a legal trap.

    You will not be required to make an earnings claim, that is give guidance about how much some one could make using the opportunity, but if you do, then you will have to have a reasonable basis, among other things, for making the claim.

    So can you just avoid making an earnings claim?

    Well, no because the new Biz Op Rule has an extended definition of earnings claim in order to extend the FTC’s jurisdiction over network and affiliate marketing.

    Many people will find themselves making errors in their disclosure documents, and opening themselves up to the possibility of large fines.

    Compliance is going to be a problem.

  16. This is absolutely ridiculous. Everytime someone recommends anything on their site they are getting something for it, money or otherwise.

    Linking to anything off site is a self serving principle.

    I link to good content to get more loyalty out of my readers and build credibility.

    I link to friends to boost both our standings in the blogosphere.

    I link to affiliate products to make quality recommendations for products or services which, yes they make me money, but ALSO make me look good because they work, are much needed, and are high quality recommendations.

    We link to look good. We link to make money even if the link itself doesn’t pay off directly.

    This is clearly a case of people horning into an established culture that they have no clue about and are trying to impose a will from outside that will not work here.

    I will put up a disclosure PAGE if I have to, but will fight having to put ugly (aff) crap all over the place because of spammers.

    Once again, they are trying to regulate where regulation doesn’t belong in an industry that is fine without them.

  17. It seems this is more likely to affect biz op people.

    I am glad that no one considers blogging and authority site building as a biz op now! :)

  18. >>WOMA is so relatively new that the FTC has not formulated any specific response to whether it may violate some of its current guidelines on deceptive marketing, specifically endorsements and testimonials.

    They just made a formal response with this opinion Michael, and have concluded new laws are not necessary because WOMM (and affiliate marketing) can violate existing laws. Please see the references in the opinion to the FTC Endorsement Guide.

    I’m not saying the Bix Opp Rules don’t overlap, but the rules related to disclosure in endorsement situations are what the FTC seems to be focusing on here. Effective affiliate marketing is all about endorsements, whether it’s a product, service or opportunity.

    Everyone seems to be focusing on what the affiliates can get away with. But the real issue here is whether the companies and affiliate networks that recruit and pay affiliates will make disclosure part of the TOS due to fear of an FTC or state action.

  19. Brian: Great analysis. I’d concur with your reading re:affiliates, with the observation that materiality (“likely to affect consumer choice”) is an element of deceptive practices under Section 5 of the FTC Act. Whereas it’s arguable whether brand-building WOMM affects a specific consumer’s choice, it’s a slam dunk when a consumer clicks a specific affiliate link and makes a purchase that spiffs the aff blogger solely because they got the consumer to click/buy.

    Jack@10:58am: if you consider doing a Disclosure Policy, check out the DP Generator at http://www.DisclosurePolicy.org. It’s only a beta version, but it at least gets you started with something you can edit for your affiliations, practices, and voice. Given the diversity of people, media and affiliations in this space (FTC says even non-cash conflicts such as free products/passes and exclusives must be disclosed), a flexible framework like Disclosure Policies could help. It also just makes sense to match sitewide expectations between bloggers and audiences.

  20. Brian said:

    “They just made a formal response with this opinion Michael, and have concluded new laws are not necessary because WOMM (and affiliate marketing) can violate existing laws. Please see the references in the opinion to the FTC Endorsement Guide.

    I’m not saying the Bix Opp Rules don’t overlap, but the rules related to disclosure in endorsement situations are what the FTC seems to be focusing on here. Effective affiliate marketing is all about endorsements, whether it’s a product, service or opportunity.

    Everyone seems to be focusing on what the affiliates can get away with. But the real issue here is whether the companies and affiliate networks that recruit and pay affiliates will make disclosure part of the TOS due to fear of an FTC or state action.”

    Brian, you are right about the current FTC’s advisory – but this is non binding as you know.

    Each case is going to be treated individually.

    I should have made it clear that the FTC thinks for now that the Section 5 guidelines on endorsements are sufficient, for now, viz. they haven’t developed any new position on WOMA testimonials. This may change.

    But I also look at what the FTC has proposed with respect to misleading practices with regard to testimonials for business opportunities.

    When the product itself is in part an affiliate opportunity, sold by affiliates, you are going to run smack up against the new Biz Op Rule, in part because the $500 payment is dropped.

    Also I see that we are using “disclosure” in two different senses.

    Section 5 – does the relationship have to be dislosed? Yes, if material to the ordinary consumer’s decision to purchase.

    Biz Op Disclosure – 1 or 2 page document disclosing the nature of the opportunity I am pitching.

    It appears to me that the FTC wants specific jurisdiction over affiliate networks because of the way that the new Rule was drafted.

  21. Yes, the FTC seems to be saying “some of you have been violating the law all along.”

    And I see what you mean now about the bix op rules… you’re saying it’s actually worse than we thought!

  22. Brian;

    Yup that is about right.

  23. All of this leaves me wondering––will these new interpretations effect bloggers who aren’t using affiliate links, but who are displaying advertising based on the products they write about, ala Chitika, AdSense, etc?

    Or does an ad fall outside of this type of regulation because it is obviously an ad?

  24. Cary, if it looks like an ad, there should be no problem. It’s only when the referral link looks more like a personal recommendation that you enter the area to consider disclosure very carefully.

  25. I’m of the opinion that transparency is a good thing in social media (i.e. blogs, podcasts, etc.) but it’s too bad if the actions tha are required to cover our behinds gets in the way of the user experience either in the form of confusing copy such as “(aff)” or overly intrusive disclaimers all over the place.

    Ideally a nice balance that relies on a relationship of trust that has been previously established would be ideal, but try explaining that to the FTC.

    Jason

  26. Thanks Brian, I’ll be interested to see what exactly ‘disclosure’ means in the case of affiliate links… your average joe-web-surfer hasn’t a clue what (aff.) means, so it seems that real guidance will be required if webmasters are to be compliant.

  27. The issue isn’t about links to Amazon. It’s about people who are paid to review things or talk about things and write blog posts like they just discovered this thing on their own.

    In the link to Amazon scenario,
    you aren’t being compensated by Amazon to review books. You are being compensated when your visitors choose to purchase a book. Now if you were being compensated by the authors or publishing companies — that would be different.

    I think bloggers should disclose when they are being compensated in any way by the manufacturer or their agents. I don’t think that it necessarily devalues the review. I also think that bloggers should acknowledge when a manufacturer sends them free samples in return for a review. Again, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. It’s just a matter of not hiding it.

    And yes, I follow these rules myself.

  28. >>The issue isn’t about links to Amazon. It’s about people who are paid to review things or talk about things and write blog posts like they just discovered this thing on their own.

    I would consult with an attorney of your choosing on this if you don’t trust the opinions of the multiple attorneys who interpret this much differently that you assert.

    >>Now if you were being compensated by the authors or publishing companies — that would be different.

    This is illogical. The law focuses on confusion to the consumer, not who is doing the paying. Are you under the impression that Amazon doesn’t make money from book sales?

  29. Good point — I will check with an attorney. Logic and the law don’t always have anything to do with one another.

    You asked: Are you under the impression that Amazon doesn’t make money from book sales?

    I may need to review the language of the law again, but I thought the issue was about bloggers being paid to write positive things and not disclosing it. Amazon doesn’t pay me to do anything. When a consumer clicks on a link — then I receive a small amount of money. I am possibly splitting hairs here. Now if Amazon was directly paying me, despite user action, to post things — I would think that would be different.

    Again — I do need to read the language of the law again more closely.

  30. This issue is whether or not a consumer is misled about the reason you are recommending a product or service. The FTC opinion does specifically apply to circumstances where a flat payment for a mention is made, but it does not split out contingent commissions (such as with affiliate programs).

    Think about it this way… who will try to sell you harder on something, someone who gets paid no matter what, or someone who only gets paid if you actually buy? The FTC opinion basically says that some affiliate marketers have been breaking the law all along, with some being much more egregious than others, of course.

    It doesn’t say this directly in those exact words, but it doesn’t have to. The existing endorsement rules already require disclosure of this type of compensated relationship, whether WOMM or affiliate; this opinion just brought the issue out in the open.

    The huge “independent review” sites have much more to worry about than the average blogger who recommends a book from Amazon. I’m just saying that it’s not clear where the line is regarding disclosure of compensation and when a lack of it might be deemed deceptive.

    >>about bloggers being paid to write positive things and not disclosing it.

    That’s exactly how some people make money from affiliate programs. :) They may not intend to be deceptive, and maybe assume everyone understands, but most “normal” people don’t have any idea about affiliate marketing and how it works. The law takes their side, not ours.

  31. Brian said…”This is illogical. The law focuses on confusion to the consumer, not who is doing the paying. Are you under the impression that Amazon doesn’t make money from book sales? ”

    No, Brian, she’s right on here. This is all about the enabling of deception. I just wrote about it.

    “This is about deception in the form of content, from the perspective of the “companies” that enable this type of behavior, plain and simple. PPP does not require disclosure, and in doing so is a target in this situation.

    A blogger writing a review about a book and linking to Amazon and using their associate link (disclosed or not) is VASTLY different than Amazon paying the blogger to write the content. Sure, the blogger “might” get paid if a sale is made, but the blogger does not get paid for writing the content.

    There’s the difference that they are looking at. It’s the enabling of the deception. The intent, by “companies”, either PPP or any other big companies who think that fooling you is somehow going to create a long lasting brand. “

  32. Jim, you both may be right about it being different in an ethical sense, and I agree. But this is a legal issue. We can all argue and debate but the point of all of this is what the FTC thinks should be done and what you think should be done may not be the same.

    Trying to argue the issue away will only hurt affiliate marketers in the long run if it turns out that the FTC does not share your world view. Every smart industry that senses a legal threat will take steps to avoid regulation. Think about what that may mean.

    I’m not happy about the possibilities here. But I’m not sticking my head in the sand and hoping it goes away, either.

    Here’s another attorney’s take on the topic:

    http://www.copywritersblog.com/2006/12/13/ftc-cracks-down-on-word-of-mouth-advertising/

  33. My concern as a vocal voice for affiliate marketing for years now is brand control at this moment. I know that the legal concerns are way over my head. I can only speak to my opinions.

    The reason I’m being so vocal on this issue is to control the discussion of how people are perhaps misrepresenting my interpretation of this whole thing… which is that it doesn’t affect affiliate marketing. In other words, I’m trying to help protect the industry I love so much from losing a public battle of perception. We already have a tough time as it is, we don’t need to be labeled in with the rest of the decepticons (bad transformer reference).

    Actually, there are some in the affiliate industry already talking that if they do come this way, it might be a good thing, we have a lot of clean up that might get done if so.

    By the way, the link that I messed up above goes to here. Sorry.

    http://www.revenews.com/jimkukral/archives/002532.html

  34. OK, I concede there. No one, especially me, would question your allegiance to the industry.

    I just think a lot of affiliates *want to believe* that this is not a problem, and it would suck if it comes back to bite them.

  35. What I can’t seem to find is a link to the actual ruling. I searched the FTC site, but couldn’t find it. I found all the general business and marketing stuff, but nothing about this ruling.

    Anyone have link?

  36. The link to the opinion in PDF is in the first update to the post above.

  37. The solution is obvious: abolish the FTC and the other unconstitutional regulatory agencies.

  38. Missed the PDF — sorry! And thanks for pointing it out.

  39. >>The solution is obvious: abolish the FTC and the other unconstitutional regulatory agencies.

    Wrong. The obvious solution is to be aware and be smart, especially if the “unconstitutional regulatory agency” WAS formed via law:

    http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/history/ftchistory.htm

    You don’t like what the FTC is doing? Don’t do business to US-based customers.

  40. Arrgh… 43 comments and still going.

    And who the heck is Brian Hale?

    -James D. Brausch

  41. Nice follow up here by Beth at ReveNews on the supposed death of affiliate marketing… again.

    http://www.revenews.com/bethkirsch/archives/002535.html

    Summary: over the years, affiliate marketing has been about to die because of the following:

    The return of CPM

    CAN-SPAM

    Spyware

    Cookie blocking from the anti-spyware products

    The rise of CPA networks

    Pretty much everything from Google: Google’s arbitrage rule, Google checkout, Froogle, AdSense, The Florida Update, The Quality Score update, etc

    Something to think about.

  42. When I read the letter discussing the disclosure requirement for paid “consumers” who promote to other consumers (especially to children (read teens too) I think of the testimonials for weight loss and the next get rich quick scheme or the kids hired to go into video stores and tell other kids about a great new game.
    I might be splitting hairs (as a lawyer I got a A in Hair Splitting) I would argue that affiliates such as bloggers do not fit the definition of the consumers in the sense of this law and blogs may be more akin to online magazines.
    signed,
    Loophole Louie :)

  43. Blog posts are specifically mentioned.

    Regardless, the Endorsement Rules are what controls recommendation when money is involved, no matter the medium.

  44. I must have missed the mention of blogs in the letter. Thanks, Brian, for pointing that out. I guess it’s case closed then.

    Do you suppose the WordPress Disclosure plug-in suggested by Andy Beard will cover us?

  45. For those interested, I just found this video interview with a representative from the FTC about this issue. It took place at the recent WOMMA conference. She mentions blogging.

    http://www.cobrandit.com/blog/2006/12/mary_engle_federal_trade_commi.html

  46. Well based on what the FTC says, it’s going to make it tough for certain sites and niches to really hit paydirt with their recommendations, but as always the extremely smart marketers will find a way to circumvent the system and skirt around the issue when it comes to recommending a product for a commission.

    It’s the age old battle between politics and commerce.

    What’s next…someone should ask you on the street while your walking you dog, “hey where did you buy your dog from?”

    Should you tell them if you know that you just made a deal with the breeder to send him/her referrals and get a bird dog fee (no pun intended there) for everyone you send?

    My take on the whole, tell your subscribers up front that you get a commission if it worries you that much.

    As long as you provide quality content
    and over deliver your doing the visitor a huge favor by saving them a lot of time and aggravation.

    I run an information site where I show people how to make money with information products should I now close up shop and not provide a valuable content to my subscribers and make recommendations and get paid for it?
    http://tendollars2wealth.com

  47. When will the “Powers that be” let the entrepreneur hunt and find their food?

    The spirit of making a commission off of a high quality recommendation is a god given right to anyone.

    If you provide the skill and the content to people that are very interested in what you have to say and they want to take your advice and recommendation on a particular product or service you should by all means get paid for it, and not have to worry about having to disclose the fact.

    Basically anyone in the IM community knows that most review sites are affiliate based to begin with, and the average web visitor is becoming very savvy now, especially if they have been online for more than 2 months.

    With all the offers that they get hit with, sooner or later they start to see a pattern and some accept the fact that it is your’s or mines lively hood that depends on making recommendations for commission based purposes.

    Most understand and automatically assume that they are following an affiliate link of some kind so they can make a purchase.

    Revealing the fact upfront will work in your benefit when you do it right.

    http://niche-profit-marketing.com

  48. A (TAX) concultant also gets paid for his recommendation and a blogger shouldn’t?

  49. thanxs brian for the update,

  50. In foresight of this I put alt text within my logo at the very top of my main siteto cover this…hover over the two logos and check it out.

  51. Excluding twitter for the moment, why not use an existing paradigm to deal with affiliate links – semantically as microformats?. Something as simple as rel=”affiliate” might be sufficient. A more complex microformat might identify the advertiser or network (a la rel=”license” microformat”).

    This way, the small percentage of people who may be concerned can download the inevitable plugin if needed, management and links to privacy and disclosure pages automated, etc. Of course, the real drivers of this may need to the actual affiliate programs – if CJ for example put this in their auto code generation tool.

    As for Twitter, the major URL shorteners like BudURL could simply set up a complementary domain for affiliate/sponsored links and maintain the disclosure on their site via a link preview function. Again, it would help if Twitter then autotagged the URL.

    A modest proposal, at least. And requires no one else’s permission to start!

  52. So what is the implication for us marketers up here in Canada (y’know … behind the wall of ice …)? Internet law has always been messy for us anyway. Very few lawyers to turn to yet many/majority of customers/clients are often Americans …

    Is a “policy” page on my site (linked to from every page) enough? And if it is, who the heck is gonna write one for a Canadian online biz person who transacts with Americans all of the time?

    An already frustrating area (legally speaking) about to get more frustrating I think … though I can understand the need to discourage deceptive advertising on the ‘net.

    As always, it’s a “where to draw the line” thing which is never in the same place for any two individuals.

  53. @Karri, I’m not a lawyer but I’ve had a few conversations with an attorney in Canada who definitely handles FTC complaints against Canadian companies. If you’re doing busiess with U.S. customers, you’ll want to stay on the right side of the line. Whatever the heck that turns out to be. :)

    I think it’s very likely we’ll be running at least one post on this in the near future, it’s such a big issue.