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FTC Affiliate Disclosure

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by KJ Dearie

June 1, 2022

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If you receive compensation for promoting another company on your site, you need an FTC affiliate disclosure. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires affiliate disclosures to help protect consumers from deceptive marketing practices.

Bloggers, ecommerce merchants, website owners, affiliate marketers, influencers, and others using the internet to promote products or brands are required to disclose their financial relationship to the brands and products they mention. ‌

If you’re compensated in any way from talking about another product or brand, you need an FTC affiliate disclosure. Keep reading to learn what this disclosure is, how to write one, and what you can learn from examples online.

Table of Contents
  1. What Is an FTC Affiliate Disclosure?
  2. How to Present an FTC Affiliate Disclosure
  3. FTC Affiliate Disclosure Guidelines
  4. FTC Disclosure Examples
  5. Next Steps‌

What Is an FTC Affiliate Disclosure?

An FTC affiliate disclosure is a prominent statement that disclaims your relationship to companies that pay you to sponsor or otherwise promote their offerings. Anyone engaged in affiliate marketing needs an FTC affiliate disclosure.

Affiliate marketing is when internet influencers, bloggers, YouTube video creators, or other digital professionals promote a brand or product that isn’t owned by them. Promotion is loosely defined as driving traffic to a company’s website with the expectation of receiving a reward when a product is purchased. Examples of affiliate marketing include product reviews, paid guest posts, or recipe videos that link to a cooking product you use in the recipe.

You may receive different forms of compensation, such as:

  • Cash payments (typically paid per click, per lead, or per sale)
  • Special access to products, services, or events
  • Free products
  • Store credit
  • Discounts

If you’re compensated in any of these ways for mentioning a brand or product, include an FTC affiliate disclosure near the relevant link or review in order to avoid FTC fines.

How to Present an FTC Affiliate Disclosure

About affiliate disclosures, the FTC states that:

the guiding principle is that it has to be clear and conspicuous.

If you inconspicuously include an affiliate disclosure in your content in an attempt to draw the least amount of attention, you’re likely not compliant with FTC guidelines — and should alter your content to make your affiliation with the brand clear to your audience.

The way your FTC affiliate disclosure is presented will vary based on where and how you include promotions. For example, bloggers often include disclosures at the top of a post, while some choose to make their disclosure a fluid addition to their content.

Social media posts tend to be shorter than blog posts or other articles, and posts on platforms like Twitter and Instagram have a maximum character limit. Hashtags are a legitimate disclosure and can be as simple as #ad, making it easy to squeeze an FTC affiliate disclosure into a post.

FTC Affiliate Disclosure Guidelines

The FTC affiliate disclosure guidelines are somewhat vague. However, there are several points to keep in mind when posting an FTC affiliate disclosure:

1. Links in site navigations are not adequate disclosure.

Simply linking to your disclosure in the header, footer, sidebar, or other site navigation is not enough to satisfy FTC disclosure guidelines.

2. The disclosure must appear before affiliate links.

Your FTC disclosure must appear before the link leading to the brand’s website or product listing. The FTC advises that the disclosure should appear as close to the beginning of the content as possible, or where the audience is likely to first look within the content.

3. Disclosures must be clear and conspicuous.

If you make any attempt to conceal the nature of your relationship with a brand, your FTC disclosure isn’t compliant. Using tiny fonts, colors that blend in with the page’s background, or any other trick to conceal that compensation is being received does not satisfy FTC guidelines.

4. Using notations like (Affiliate) or #Affiliate does not meet FTC disclosure guidelines.

If the user doesn’t know anything about affiliate marketing, they won’t know what’s being conveyed. Hashtags like #ad meet requirements because an ad is a widely familiar concept. ‌

5. Disclosures must clearly convey the relationship between the affiliate and the brand without an additional click.

Users must clearly understand what’s being disclosed and why without needing to investigate on their own. If they have to follow a link like “Click here to read my affiliate disclosure,” that doesn’t satisfy the FTC guidelines.

However, this type of disclosure is acceptable: “This post contains affiliate links for which I may receive compensation. Please click here to read my full FTC Affiliate Disclosure policy.”‌

FTC Disclosure Examples

The following are examples of adequate FTC disclosures that satisfy guidelines:

1. FTC Affiliate Disclosure for Bloggers

Here’s an example of an FTC blog disclosure found on a Downshiftology tuna salad recipe:

ftc affiliate disclosure on a blogger's tuna salad recipe

This is a very common form of affiliate disclosure that you’ll see at the top of posts. It clearly states that the page contains affiliate links and provides a link to the full disclosure policy.

Notice it appears just below the author’s byline, before the content of the post, and is likely to be one of the first things a reader will see.

2. FTC Affiliate Disclosure for Reviews

This PCMag review disclosure covers everything it needs to disclose at the top of the article. It indicates that reviewed products are chosen independently by editors, but if readers purchase through affiliate links, the website may receive commissions.

ftc disclosure example of a PCMag product review

Including “which helps support our testing” gives readers the reason affiliate links are included in the review. Stating that “editors select and review products independently” lets readers know that although PCMag may be compensated, the reviews are valid and unbiased by monetary commission. ‌

3. FTC Affiliate YouTube Disclosure

FTC YouTube disclosures can be done in one of two ways:

  1. Disclose your sponsorship visually at the beginning of the video.
  2. Announce it verbally in the video.

Many YouTubers choose to include an FTC affiliate disclosure in their videos using both methods, along with relevant links in the video description. Here’s an example from a book review video:

example of an FTC affiliate disclosure on a YouTube video

The creator discloses the sponsorship at the beginning of the video, keeps the brand’s logo on-screen, and includes the appropriate link in the video description.

You cannot have your affiliate disclosure only in the video description, as viewers can easily overlook it. You should, however, also include the disclosure in the description or expound on it there.

This is what the FTC has to say about affiliate disclosures in video content:

  • For video ads, the disclosure should appear on the screen long enough to be noticed, read, and understood.
  • Audio disclosures should be read at a cadence that’s easy for consumers to follow and in words consumers will understand.

‌Looking at FTC affiliate disclosure guidelines and these disclosure examples, the main lesson to learn is: make your disclosure obvious.

Generate a Free Customized Disclaimer Using Termly

Here’s how you can use Termly’s generator to create a custom and legally compliant disclaimer with an affiliates section.

Step 1: Go to Termly’s disclaimer generator.

Step 2: Answer a few simple prompts and questions, and go through all of the steps until you reach “Final Details.”

affliate-disclaimer-termly-screenshot

Step 3: Once you’ve filled in everything and you are satisfied with the preview, click “Publish.” You will then be prompted to create an account on Termly so you can save and edit your legal disclaimer further.

Next Steps‌

With good intentions and a little care, you aren’t likely to get fined by the FTC for affiliate deals and sponsorships. In general, the FTC seeks to make businesses transparent about their practices to consumers.

To comply with FTC guidelines and keep your site, profile, or channel on the up-and-up, disclose your affiliate relationships within the related content and detail them in your disclaimer page. To create a disclaimer quickly that meets FTC guidelines, use our free disclaimer generator, or customize a disclaimer template.

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Written by KJ Dearie

KJ Dearie is a product specialist and privacy consultant for Termly, where she advises small business owners on how to comply with the latest data privacy laws and trends. She's been published in Business News Daily, Omnisend, ITProToday, MarTechExec, and more. More about the author

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