What Every Affiliate Blogger Needs to Know about the FTC Disclosure Guidelines

No affiliate marketing program is the same. The terms and conditions may vary from one program to the next.

But there’s one rule that remains the same across the industry: You must comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s affiliate disclosure guidelines.

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Whether you receive a commission, flat fee payment, free products or discounts in exchange for endorsing a product in a post or video, the FTC requires that you properly disclose your relationship. If you don’t, you or the business you’re promoting could get slapped with a fine.

Why you need to include an affiliate disclosure

While the FTC isn’t spending all its time monitoring blogs for noncompliance, they take affiliate disclosure seriously and will investigate complaints. That’s because the FTC’s rules are in place to make sure there’s transparency between all parties involved.

For instance, if an affiliate blogger promotes a new vacation resort on their blog, the FTC believes the consumer has a right to know the writer is being compensated to endorse the resort. Once the consumer has all the information in front of them, they can properly evaluate the blogger’s recommendation.

Any active affiliate program should follow these FTC disclosure guidelines. Here at AWeber, we require all of our affiliates to adhere to these rules completely because it fosters openness and accountability with our customers. Here are four key tips we give our affiliates to make sure they’re in compliance and creating the best experience possible for their consumers.

(Are you an AWeber affiliate yet? Sign up for our affiliate program and start making money today!)

1. Placement is everything

The reader shouldn’t have to search for your affiliate disclosure.

The full message must stand out in a way that is easily noticeable. It should be revealed at the “top of the fold” on the page, which means the reader shouldn’t have to scroll down the page or click a separate link to see it.

Simply having a link at the top of the page that says “click here for my advertising disclosure”, and/or a full statement at the bottom of the page, won’t cut it.

The example below shows a disclosure that follows the FTC’s guidelines. 

blog affiliate disclosure

It’s placed at the very top of a blog article between the subject header and the body of the message. The light grey background provides contrast to make the text stand out. Plus, the message is clear: The blogger gets paid when you click. While a link is present, the disclosure still provides an appropriate level of context without it.

2. Disclose everywhere

The FTC’s rules apply to any online medium including articles, blog posts, social posts, video content, podcasts, webinars, infographics, and illustrations.

In video, the affiliate disclosure must be at the beginning and on the screen long enough to be read and understood. You are not allowed to put the disclosure outside the video in a description or related text field.

For audio disclosures, you must speak at a cadence that is easy for consumers to follow and in words consumers will understand.

If character limits are a concern in a social post then adding a short disclosure like #ad or #sponsored will likely be effective provided that any subsequent landing pages contain the full disclosure as outlined in number one. Below is an example of how to properly disclose a relationship via a Twitter post.

Twitter-affiliate-disclosure

3. One size doesn’t fit all

While a disclosure’s placement must be at the top of a page, there’s some flexibility when it comes to the actual wording of the disclosure.

However, no matter how you phrase the disclosure, don’t try to fool or confuse the reader. The FTC requires that you use plain and unambiguous language.

So you could say something like, “I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.” It’s short and clear.

You may provide additional context, too. For example, “I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. This is to help support my blog and does not have any impact on my recommendations”.

The first part completely satisfies the FTC requirements, while the second part explains why you are posting the links. It’s not necessary, but it may help to reassure your readers that the opinions presented are free of influence.

4. Banners don’t count

The FTC states that banner ads do not need to be disclosed, as most people can reasonably understand their intent. You can think of them like commercials on TV.

It’s important to note that posting a banner on the same page as editorial content with affiliate links does not exempt you from posting the disclosure as outlined in number one — regardless of whether or not the banner relates to the article. You still need to add a prominent disclosure. 

Below you can see a banner ad followed by the blog affiliate disclosure. If this banner ad were to appear on a page with no affiliate links, you would not need to include the disclosure.

affiliate disclosure

Questions or concerns about your disclosure? Leave a comment below!

Want to become an affiliate for AWeber? We’d love to have you on board. Sign up here and start earning a 30 percent commission on all referrals today!

Want more? Read our top blog post: 95 Tools to Help You Be the Best Email Marketer on the Planet

11 Comments

  1. DNN

    12/19/2017 8:34 pm

    Affiliate marketing back in the day was a piece of cake. This was before the Federal Trade Commission put the smackdown concerning affiliate link direct promotion on ad networks such as Microsoft add Center, Yahoo overture advertising platform, and Google AdWords. You could basically direct people looking in search engines for certain products and services to your paid affiliate Link promotion on Google AdWords and not have to worry about promoting affiliate links on blogs and websites and make money direct through PPC advertising. Once the FTC change the game, it changed the lives of affiliate marketers forever. You couldn’t basically direct people looking and search engines for certain products and services to your paid affiliate link promotion on Google AdWords and not have to worry about promoting affiliate links on blogs and website and make money direct through PPC advertising once the FTC change the game it changed the lives of affiliate marketer forever I do agree that affiliates should properly disclose their affiliate promotion policy disclosure that they are compensated paid a commission for products and services they promote on blogs and websites.

  2. Andy Shal

    12/20/2017 2:41 pm

    Hey DNN, thanks for writing! I agree, the affiliate landscape has certainly changed a great deal over the years. While some of that was negative, as you noted, it also brought along many new opportunities that didn’t exist before (especially on social platforms), so it really highlights the importance of continual refinement and adjustment to stay ahead of the curve.

    Our new Automations features are a great way to level up your marketing. With Automations, you can add tags to your subscribers when they click on a link in an email or open an email. Then, you can launch automation series or send one-time emails based on those tags. With action-based automation like this, you can save time while sending more engaging emails. And this gives you more time to create awesome affiliate content!

  3. Shadab Ahmad

    12/22/2017 9:24 pm

    Affiliate marketing back in the day was a piece of cake. This was before the Federal Trade Commission put the smackdown concerning affiliate link direct promotion on ad networks such as Microsoft add Center, Yahoo overture advertising platform, and Google AdWords. You could basically direct people looking in search engines for certain products and services to your paid affiliate Link promotion on Google AdWords and not have to worry about promoting affiliate links on blogs and websites and make money direct through PPC advertising.

  4. Angela Matta

    12/26/2017 10:47 am

    I worked 3 years as an affiliate, this year I started to sell my own products and services and I say for sure that it was the best thing I ever did, it is possible to make a lot of money as an affiliate, but there are certain affiliate networks that have many unnecessary rules .

  5. Dave Dayanan

    12/27/2017 7:44 am

    Thanks for the post. Info absorbed. New to this thingy.

  6. Andy Shal

    12/27/2017 9:01 am

    Hi Dave,

    Glad you found value in the post, and best of luck in your affiliate journey!

  7. Jean

    12/28/2017 4:26 pm

    I have clients with blogs in other languages that have affiliate links… Do they need also to have this disclosure, as some clients may be from the US?

  8. Andy Shal

    12/28/2017 4:43 pm

    Hi Jean,

    Great question! The important thing to keep in mind is that even if one of your clients is outside of the US (along with their audience), the advertiser they are promoting will likely have a presence in the US and thus they will be bound by the requirement themselves. As a result the advertiser (and any agencies working with them) will want to see compliance across the board to ensure no difficulties arise. Better safe than sorry!

    I always recommend strict adherence to the Terms & Conditions of every program being promoted to avoid any sudden changes or loss of earned revenue. A few quick sentences or a hashtag now can avoid much more serious problems later, so in your case I would suggest having your clients disclose as much as possible as a rule. Thank you again for asking!

  9. Walmart One

    12/30/2017 3:39 am

    Awesome post this is. Thanks for sharing.

  10. DNN

    12/30/2017 3:54 pm

    Hi Andy,

    Thanks so much for getting back to me. I totally agree with you that a short disclaimer about affiliate links and commission should be shared by every blogger or Internet marketer on blogs and websites. Additionally, I didn’t think of it personally, but I totally agree with you about the hashtag being added to affiliate commission disclaimers. Reason being is because when that is automatically shared either by the content marketer of themselves or someone who shares that specific content to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn, that hashtag and Abel’s that content to show that that particular content marketer does earn an affiliate commission and the affiliate commission disclosure is properly disclosed to every site visitor. This way, the content marketer is covered and can have a piece of mind knowing the FTC will not be on them later down the road for not having an affiliate disclosure on their site.

  11. Kenneth Bell

    1/6/2018 1:53 pm

    No website set yet as im registered with NicheProfitFullControl and found your link on clickbank
    to Blog .
    Awesome notes i have read. ,Thankyou s