Over the past four days I have been receiving numerous emails from merchants and affiliates, asking how to word their texts to meet the new Federal Trade Commission rules for testimonials, reviews and endorsements.
Affiliates wonder how to put together disclosures:
As a publisher, is there generic type of blurb that I could add to my website that would cover me for the FTC guidelines you were talking about.
…while merchants want to know how to phrase their affiliate program agreements:
What do we need to do? Your help and guidance is appreciated.
Affiliates, several good examples of disclosure policies have been posted over the past few days. Below I am listing the ones that I have found to be especially well-put-together. They may provide a good starting point for crafting your own policy:
Per FTC’s recent interview, affiliates are not expected to include the disclosure on every page of their website. “Whether you make it outside of the text but in proximity to blog, or incorporate it into the blog discussion itself — those are the issues that bloggers will have discretion about” [source]. So a dedicated Disclosure Policy page visible from every page of the website should suffice.
Affiliate program managers and advertisers/merchants, on the other hand, may use the following text I have put together, making it a sub-clause of an Affiliate Obligations clause in their programs’ Terms of Service:
We strongly advise affiliates to stay compliant with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines on testimonials and endorsements. All endorsements, reviews, testimonials on CompanyName.com’s products and services, as well as relationships between other types of content websites (forums, blogs, microblogs and other Social Media channels) and CompanyName must be clearly disclosed in a separate policy on the affiliate sites. FTC points out that “when there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product” it is imperative that such connection is “fully disclosed”. FTC deems the relationship in an endorser-sponsor light, and believes that the end user has the right to understand that one exists [full text here]. We share the undergirding idea of this approach, and strongly encourage our affiliates to adhere to the FTC’s rules. We also reserve the right to terminate relationship with any non-compliant affiliates.
As always, I am open to comments and criticisms.