The FTC and Affiliate Marketing

I’m sure by now you have heard about the new FTC guidelines governing reviews and testimonials used on blogs and websites. This has bloggers and affiliate marketers freaking out. Specifically, about the supposed $11,000 fine for posting a review of a product on your site. This isn’t actually the case and has been misunderstood.

The FTC is not trying to stamp out the review process or regulate every aspect of how affiliate marketers write about and promote products. This has more to do with them writing false and unrealistic testimonials that cannot be achieved or duplicated by the vast majority of the general public.

For certain, this will affect affiliates and bloggers, but what they really want to do is curb the “scam” reviews and bring to the light the relationship of the reviewer and the products or companies that are being reviewed. THAT’S the real issue.

Not the review itself, which is what people actually want to read when they search for products. But the material relationship between the reviewer and the products being promoted.

For instance, if you review widgets and do not disclose that you receive compensation for the “reviewing” of the widget, then it cannot be construed as an honest review because your relationship is based on the compensation, and not actually on your true and honest opinion.

Sure, you may actually have used the widget and think it’s just great.  But if you do not disclose that your review and relationship is based on compensation, then it can’t be regarded as a completely unbiased and honest review. This is where the problem seems to arise.

The other issue that seems to be prevalent is the false and misleading testimonials attached to many of the promotions being published these days. So, if the product says “hi I’m Mary, and I lost 124 pounds using this weight loss product”, it must also be stated that these results are not typical of the average user of this product. I think this is actually a good thing and will help curb the false and misleading testimonials attached to most products and promotions.

So, if you have a website or blog and are promoting affiliate products, as most of us are, then it would be wise to have a disclosure policy in place. Almost every company on the planet is pushing the products and services of others, that’s the nature of business.

From your bank, to the car dealership, to your mechanic or your drugstore, every one of them is pushing affiliate products. You simply can’t produce everything yourself. But, if you review and provide testimonials for those said products, you have to disclose that you receive compensation for those reviews.

I personally don’t have a problem telling you that almost every banner, link and product on this page is an affiliate product that I will receive commission on if you buy it through my link. I would hope that you wouldn’t have a problem giving me a commission if I have provided some value to you in the way of an honest review or recommendation.

Someone will get paid when you purchase, regardless if it’s from me or another website. That’s the name of the game. So, hopefully, this sheds some light on the subject. Just be honest and transparent and don’t try to hide the facts. This should be part of your business model anyway.

So, just provide honest reviews and disclose your material relationship with the products or companies you recommend. That’s all. I’m not a lawyer so please educate yourself on all aspects of this matter before making an informed decision.

If you want to read just the actual FTC press release, click here. Download the whole guideline in PDF form here.

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20 Responses to “The FTC and Affiliate Marketing”

  1. You made me understand FTC regulations better. I definitely mis-understood some of the points but I got it right that it was actually for the betterment. It’ll actually simply cut down those marketers who want to make money and sell products which are not good etc. And may bring those people more in light who’re working very hard and their reviews are honest.

    I’ve been to one blog where the owner has actually said that he first uses the product himself which he promotes.

    (Exactly. Most misunderstand the guidelines and think it only attacks the whole industry. But it only regulates the false marketers who prey on people. Plus, it just makes the whole system more transparent. P)

  2. thanks !! very helpful post!

  3. Appreciate it, was looking for something along the lines of this for a while. Where’s the subscribe button? Ha :)

    ( Glad you found this useful. The opt in box is in the upper right hand corner. Just enter your details and get some free digital downloads immediately Take care. P:)

  4. How long has this blog been around? I have been searching for this kind of information for the past week and a half.

    (Angela, It’s been online for over a year. Glad you found it useful and hope you’ll return again. Better yet, why not subscribe and receive notification when there is an update? Take care. P)

  5. This post has really caused me to think about several new issues in our world. Thanks for causing others to think.

    (That is exactly my intention. Take care. P)

  6. I am desperate to find a way to start my own home based business, and affiliate marketing seems good because there is virtually no startup cost (I’m broke). Is this something likely to bring in a real income?

    (Sure, and many people are making quite nice incomes doing this. You will need some education to do this as it’s very competitive. But anything worth doing will require the same commitment, so I say go for it. P)

  7. I enjoyed your post alot. I just started college and in need of some cash. I have never heard of this b4 but it looks very promising and I am going to give it a try. Thank you so much!

  8. I use cj, copeac, and a few others but I am looking to expand into more. What are some other good affiliate marketing networks? thanks..

    (A quick look on Google under CPA affiliate networks reveals many. Here’s a directory with a ton- http://www.affiliateseeking.com/. There are thousands more, just do a search. Hope that helps. P)

  9. Thank you for discussing such an informative article with all of us. I’ve bookmarked your blog will come back for a re-read again. Keep up the good work.

  10. I have registered with click bank and become affiliate for lot of products. But i couldn’t able to make any sale so far. Please help me to become a successful affiliate marketer.

  11. Found a great Afifliate program that may be worth taking a look at.

  12. Thank you for discussing such an informative article with all of us. I’ve bookmarked your blog will come back for a re-read again. Keep up the good work.

  13. I am desperate to find a way to start my own home based business, and affiliate marketing seems good because there is virtually no startup cost (I’m broke). Is this something likely to bring in a real income?

    (Sure, and many people are making quite nice incomes doing this. You will need some education to do this as it’s very competitive. But anything worth doing will require the same commitment, so I say go for it. P)

  14. I enjoyed your post alot. I just started college and in need of some cash. I have never heard of this b4 but it looks very promising and I am going to give it a try. Thank you so much!

  15. Thank you for discussing such an informative article with all of us. I’ve bookmarked your blog will come back for a re-read again. Keep up the good work.

  16. Thank you for discussing such an informative article with all of us. I’ve bookmarked your blog will come back for a re-read again. Keep up the good work.

  17. I have registered with click bank and become affiliate for lot of products. But i couldn’t able to make any sale so far. Please help me to become a successful affiliate marketer.

  18. Thank you for discussing such an informative article with all of us. I’ve bookmarked your blog will come back for a re-read again. Keep up the good work.

  19. I enjoyed your post alot. I just started college and in need of some cash. I have never heard of this b4 but it looks very promising and I am going to give it a try. Thank you so much!

  20. I use cj, copeac, and a few others but I am looking to expand into more. What are some other good affiliate marketing networks? thanks..

    (A quick look on Google under CPA affiliate networks reveals many. Here’s a directory with a ton- http://www.affiliateseeking.com/. There are thousands more, just do a search. Hope that helps. P)

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