I'm sure you have heard Affiliate Marketing or Affiliate Disclosure once or twice. Whether it was from doing research on what types of disclosures your business needs or from your favorite blogger mentioning it a time or two.
So, what does it really mean? Who does it apply to? Does it only apply to people like the Kardashian's and the brands they promote...? Let's take a dive into this topic and determine if this is something you need to be doing.
NOTE: This Act is very long and has a lot of requirements, therefore I will be breaking this down into parts as this post was like a 45-minute read before I decided to do that. It will be easier to digest, understand and determine if it applies to you. And if it does, you can easily come back to a specific post to refresh yourself on a certain piece of the Act instead of having to reread or dig through a novel of a post.
Now, the FTC defines affiliate marketing as: "For purposes of this part, an endorsement means any advertising message (including verbal statements, demonstrations, or depictions of the name, signature, likeness or other identifying personal characteristics of an individual or the name or seal of an organization) that consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser, even if the views expressed by that party are identical to those of the sponsoring advertiser. The party whose opinions, beliefs, findings, or experience the message appears to reflect will be called the endorser and may be an individual, group, or institution." (16 CFR Part 255 (b) - this quick overview of the Act is surprisingly easy to read and understand so if you can click the link and take a gander)
Basically everyone has to follow this Act and no one is exempt. Obvs if you do not endorse/market ANYTHING then you are exempt, but if you do, even the smallest thing and are compensated in some way, you are NOT exempt.
Just about anything you can think of qualifies as "compensation" per the FTC. Some examples are:
Any type of discount
Special Access (VIP baby)
Favors (getting you in with a client, publisher, influencer, etc)
Comped meal, hotel, vacation, etc
One year or five of some type of free service, membership (hello free diapers for life!)
ANY type of gift, benefit, service, a product that you did not pay for yourself (even if you partially paid) Even if you are compensated a dollar or one stick of chapstick, this applies - if it's one time or 89 times. You have to disclose the fact that you have received some form of compensation from the company whose products or services you are posting about, storying about, blogging, tweeting, SnapChatting, Tik Toking...Have you seen post on FB or IG that say #ad or #sponsored time or 89 times. I'm sure you have - this is why those are there.
Tip: Explain your relationship or partnership with the company. If you are an employee, former employee, contractor, the owner's sister - brother - mother, tell your audience.
This disclosure has to immediately be disclosed, errrry single time. The disclosure must be done as close to the endorsement/review as possible. Meaning if you post it - it has to be included in the post and not in the comments, story it - include it in the specific slides where you are talking about it and not 10 slides later, blogging it - include it in the blog post and not just a link in the footer that takes them to all of your disclosures.
You cannot hide or obscure your disclosures. Per the Act, the disclosure has to be clear and conspicuous to a "reasonable customer/consumer".
The FTC also uses the phrase "a substantial minority," meaning: If a substantial minority of people reading the ad would miss the disclosure, then it is not clear and conspicuous. You can't assume that someone could do some digging and "find" the disclosure...it has to be readily available and viewable by an average person without having to research your website like a chemistry textbook. I mean, we all know what assume means, right?
Phew - okay, I am going to stop the first part here. Our next part we will go into detail on the Do's and Don't of placement, color, links, distractions (yup!), verbiage and more. This will be the longest and most in-depth part of this topic and I will do my best to not make you fall asleep. It's really not that snooze-tasic, but you feel me.
Don't forget to drop any comments or questions that I can answer/clarify in the next parts. As easy as this Act is to understand, there are A LOT of moving parts and requirements. And, as always - don't be that person who gets fined for something like this. Go big or go home. Hahahahahah - no, don't do that.
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**Although I am a Licensed Business Coach and Compliance Auditor, this post is not legal advice and is educational and informational only. Reading this post and others does not constitute a client-consultant relationship. Should you want to work 1:1 on this Act or another topic, please contact me at email@example.com.