Affiliate Marketing can seem complex at first, between signing up for affiliate programs, finding your niche, and building an audience. With all of that juggling, one of the most overlooked aspects of affiliate marketing is crafting an affiliate marketing disclosure that is FTC and Amazon compliant. In this article, we will take you through what an affiliate marketing disclosure is, who needs them, and why they are important. Additionally, there will be best practices and examples at the end. So let’s get started!
What is an Affiliate Marketing Disclosure?
An affiliate marketing disclosure is a disclaimer to communicate that you have a (financial) relationship with the brands and products you are promoting and that you might receive a commission if you are responsible for their sale. This is so you do not deceive your audience, on accident or purpose, in that you benefit from their purchase. As an affiliate (of any program) you are required to have an FTC disclosure at the page or link-level. If you use multiple affiliate programs, including the Amazon Associates program, you need another disclaimer, specific to Amazon, at the “site” or “channel” (for social media) level. Failure to do so could lead to having your Amazon Associates account closed. If Amazon’s affiliate program is your sole focus then it’s recommended that you use the standard Amazon affiliate disclosure as your FTC disclosure, which we will cover more on that later.
You may be trying to figure out if this Affiliate Marketing Disclosure applies to you, and the answer is most likely yes. If you are part of any affiliate program, endorsement deal, or reviewing a product, you will need an Affiliate Marketing Disclosure. Most likely if you’re reading this article on Affiliate Marketing Disclosures, then you need one.
At the end of the day, these requirements don’t only save you from issues with your affiliate account, they also help you to build customer trust. Trust can be one of the greatest ways to retain your audience. If people can trust your word on a product then they are more likely to buy. One report from consultancy giant Bain & Co found that boosting customer retention by 5% can lead to a correlated 95% increase in your profitability. Transparency is an excellent way to build that trust. If visitors know that you make money from the link and that you aren’t trying to hide that fact, it shows that your intentions aren’t bad.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Disclosure for Affiliates
This Affiliate Marketing Disclosure became a requirement in 2009 when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) started cracking down on misleading messages from bloggers for products. The FTC creates and enforces rules concerning how corporations and individuals conduct business. As part of its role in protecting consumers from deceptive marketing practices, the FTC requires that affiliate marketers and others using the internet and social media to promote products and brands disclose their financial relationship to the products and brands they mention.
FTC Disclosure Applicability
Now, what exactly do you have to disclose. Mainly, you have to communicate that you are receiving some form of compensation for the sale of the items you are reviewing. Describing the nature of your relationship with the company is another important part of your disclosure. The recommended language for Amazon affiliates is:
“As an Amazon Associate, I will earn a small commission on qualifying purchases”
Additionally, this disclosure needs to be in the same area as your affiliate links. A few general guidelines for the FTC disclosure include:
1/ The verbiage must be clear to “a reasonable consumer.” A reasonable consumer probably doesn’t know what “affiliate” means with regards to the financial relationship, so spelling that out is essential. Further, it’s best to keep the disclosure as short as possible and avoid complicated or technical terms and jargon.
2/ The verbiage must also be “conspicuous” to that reasonable consumer as well. This means no hiding it! As a good rule of thumb, the disclosure should go before any affiliate link is used or immediately after the affiliate link. Further, the disclosure should go above the fold of the website. Finally, the font of the disclosure should be at least the size of the affiliate link, and the text color should have good contrast. A disclosure that is too small or doesn’t stand out against the background isn’t going to get you off the hook.
3/ Ideally, the verbiage finishes with a hyperlink to the full disclosure on your site.
Because of these requirements, we have built an affiliate disclaimer into all of our Choice Pages. What are Choice Pages you ask? Here at Geniuslink, we are in the business of helping affiliate marketers, whether that is providing a handy dashboard to manage your links, localizing international traffic, or keeping our clients out of hot water with the FTC (while helping them earn more!) Choice Pages are a tool we built to allow affiliate marketers to leverage multiple affiliate programs at the same time when recommending product and they’ve even been proven to increase earnings 2.2x! To sweeten the deal, we built in an automatic affiliate disclosure option so you spend less time worrying and more time earning!
Amazon Associates Disclosure
If you are part of the Amazon Associates Program then you also need an Amazon Associate Disclosure. Thankfully the Amazon Associates Operating Agreement does a good job precisely outlining what to use for compliance. Additionally, it is standard practice to use your Amazon Associates Disclosure at the page / link level to suffice the FTC requirements.
Amazon’s Operating Agreement clearly states:
Identifying Yourself as an Associate
You must clearly state the following, or any substantially similar statement previously allowed under this Agreement, on your Site or any other location where Amazon may authorize your display or other use of Program Content: “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
Using Choice Pages is one best practice in that your disclaimer is automatically included so even if you forget to add it somewhere on your blog or YouTube video descriptions you are taken care of. But if you want to write your disclaimer the old-fashioned way, here are a couple of best practices to keep in mind.
1. Place Disclosures in Obvious Areas
This means that your disclosure should be easy to find. If someone is going to have to hunt to find it, then you may want to consider a new spot.
For example, in a blog post that contains affiliate links, it is wise to have your disclosure at the top.
2. Be Proactive in Disclosing
Usually, if you’re trying to figure out if you have to have an Affiliate Marketing Disclaimer, adding one just incase is a safe way to stay out of trouble. Just remember, you need one if:
You get paid from a link (and earning a commission form an affiliate link is exactly that!)
Even if you disclosed a link on another page of your website, for every new page you have to disclose it again
When in doubt, disclose it out- better safe than sorry
This goes back to building customer trust, if you are being upfront about earning, it can help build trust within your audience.
3. Use Clear Language
Don’t try and confuse your audience to talk around the fact that you are earning commissions. An Affiliate Marketing Disclosure should be clear and concise. Next, I’ll take you through some examples of Affiliate Marketing Disclosures that do just that!
Examples of Affiliate Marketing Disclosures
First, I’ll start with the disclaimer that we have on our Choice Page. When you click on this (https://geni.us/4ultQ) Choice Page from Linus Tech Tips, you’ll see “Note: Commissions may be earned from the links above.” to cover the immediate page/link requirements for the FTC. Then again, at the bottom you will see a hyperlink to an “Affiliate Disclosure.” This will take you to a page where we clearly articulate the relationships and include the necessary disclosures for our clients.
Additionally, we have an Amazon Associate Disclaimer built-in to satisfy those requirements:
Now if you want to write your own Affiliate Marketing Disclosure, we have a blog that we keep updated for any disclosure updates we come across. But here are some awesome examples:
“This post contains affiliate link(s). An affiliate link means I may earn advertising or referral fees if you make a purchase through my link.”
We like these because they keep in mind that the “reasonable” customer may not know what an affiliate link is.
“I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.”
“If you buy something through our posts (or “links”), we may get a small share of the sale.”
“Just so you know, [XYZ site] may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.”
One thing that we see pretty frequently is people asking for support in their affiliate disclaimers. For example:
“Clicking the affiliate links below supports our site”
Asking your readers, or even hinting, to click your affiliate link to “support” your website is considered a form of “incentivizing” shoppers and is not allowed by the Amazon Associates program in section 6. Content on your site (g) of the Policies page:
(g) You will not offer any person or entity any consideration, reward, or incentive (including any money, rebate, discount, points, donation to charity or other organization, or other benefit) for using Special Links. For example, you cannot implement any “rewards” or loyalty program that incentivizes persons or entities to visit an Amazon Site via your Special Links.
But again, if you are primarily focused on Amazon’s affiliate program, then their disclosure is incredibly straightforward and easy to use. It’s simply:
“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
Hopefully, this article helped to simplify some of the jargon and confusion surrounding affiliate marketing disclosures. Now that you know what a good affiliate marketing disclosure looks like, you will be able to simply use the one Amazon provides in the appropriate spots or successfully craft your own!
Here is a short we made to show how easy it can be to write a disclaimer.
You now carry the burden of noticing when other people’s disclosures are out of whack. If they have an email associated with their blog, website, or YouTube channel, feel free to forward them this article so they can stay out of hot water! As always, thank you for reading and please leave a comment with any further questions below!