Like every other area of our lives, internet is changing as well. If you were able to write anything you wanted on your websites just few years ago, this is not the case anymore. Because government wants to protect consumers from dishonest business practice on the internet, FTC accepted some guidelines for bloggers and affiliate marketers.
Everything started because FTC was receiving many complaints from consumers because of false and misleading advertising of the Acai products. In addition to misleading advertising, FDA was angry because of rebills on customer credit cards.
In its simplest meaning, bloggers and affiliate marketers are obliged to disclose certain information on their web pages. The most important question is who needs to have a disclaimer on the website? FDA answer is simple – A disclaimer or disclosure must be present in case of sponsored communication between affiliate marketer (or blogger) and seller.
What in fact sponsored communication means is a rather complicated question, but FTC Guidelines have provided some basic explanation. Disclosure must be present only in case of material communication – material communication is present, if reviewer received any kind of consideration (cash, merchandise) in exchange for review. This simply means that if you have any benefits from the sale of product you are presenting on your websites, you must have a disclosure on your website which explains your connection with the producer or seller of the product.
FTC guidelines also impose liability on advertisers, advertising agencies and endorsers (including celebrity endorsers).
Another important thing besides the question whether you need a disclaimer or not is also where on your website should you have your disclaimer. The guidelines only say that disclaimer must be placed clearly and conspicuously. I suggest using common sense approach – put the disclaimer where your clients (visitors) can see it. There is no sense of hiding it from your customer, because you may be responsible for the damage caused to your client.
Are FTC Guidelines threat to the affiliates? Yes they are, but only to bad ones. If you are selling good product, the fact that you will get commission for every sale won’t turn away your client.