Affiliate Disclosure Requirements and Examples
In December 2009, the FTC released Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. The guidelines require that any affiliate who uses reviews, rankings or testimonials to promote products must clearly disclose the fact that they receive compensation for doing so.
All affiliates must disclose commercial relationships with businesses that appear on your site (and how that affects the businesses' ranking) and clearly identify advertising and paid promotions. Review sites should clearly state how reviews are composed and checked, and whether and how commission or conversion rates influenced the presentations, including ratings or rankings.
The FTC has also published answers to Frequently Asked Questions applying these guidelines directly to the context of Affiliate or Network Marketing, as follows:
What about affiliate or network marketing?
I'm an affiliate marketer with links to an online retailer on my website. When people read what I've written about a particular product and then click on those links and buy something from the retailer, I earn a commission from the retailer. What do I have to disclose? Where should the disclosure be?
If you disclose your relationship to the retailer clearly and conspicuously on your site, readers can decide how much weight to give your endorsement.
In some instances - like when the affiliate link is embedded in your product review - a single disclosure may be adequate. When the review has a clear and conspicuous disclosure of your relationship and the reader can see both the review containing that disclosure and the link at the same time, readers have the information they need. You could say something like, "I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post." But if the product review containing the disclosure and the link are separated, readers may lose the connection.
As for where to place a disclosure, the guiding principle is that it has to be clear and conspicuous. The closer it is to your recommendations, the better. Putting disclosures in obscure places - for example, buried on an ABOUT US or GENERAL INFO page, behind a poorly labeled hyperlink or in a "terms of service" agreement - isn't good enough. Neither is placing it below your review or below the link to the online retailer so readers would have to keep scrolling after they finish reading. Consumers should be able to notice the disclosure easily. They shouldn't have to hunt for it.
Is "affiliate link" by itself an adequate disclosure? What about a "buy now" button?
Consumers might not understand that "affiliate link" means that the person placing the link is getting paid for purchases through the link. Similarly, a "buy now" button would not be adequate.
What if I'm including links to product marketers or to retailers as a convenience to my readers, but I'm not getting paid for them?
Then there isn't anything to disclose.
Does this guidance about affiliate links apply to links in my product reviews on someone else's website, to my user comments, and to my tweets?
Yes, the same guidance applies anytime you endorse a product and get paid through affilate links.
It's clear that what's on my website is a paid advertisement, not my own edorsement or review of the product. Do I still have to disclose that I get a commission if people click through my website to buy the product?
If it's clear that what's on your site is a paid advertisement, you don't have to make additional disclosures. Just remember that what's clear to you may not be clear to everyone visiting your site, and the FTC evaluates ads from the perspective of reasonable consumers.
Dot5Hosting requires all affiliates to comply with these guidelines. Failure to do so may result in removal from our affiliate program and the cancellation of commissions.
In order to comply with these guidelines disclosures about the fact that you are receiving commissions made through links in your websites, for example, must meet four basic requirements. They must be frequent, clear, conspicuous, and require no scrolling or other type of user action to locate the disclosure.
If you include consumer reviews or feedback about listed brands, then you must also adhere to FTC Guidelines prohibiting the biased manipulation of consumer reviews.
More information about the FTC Disclosure requirements is available at: