1kings, comparisons, or reviews are influencing the information on your site or how it is arranged, then you must clearly explain this. Whenever possible, incorporate disclosure language directly into promotional claims and recommendations rather than putting it in a separate disclosure.
Do not promise or imply neutrality or independence when, in fact, commissions and/or conversion rates are determining or influencing the presentation of information. If you are receiving commissions from all of the brands listed on your site, you must state this. You must disclose that your business incentives are driving placement or ratings if that is the case. In addition, disclosures about your business incentives should be consistent with all other content on your website. For example, if one part of your website makes a factual claim or suggests that the information you present is objective, that claim must be true -- you can’t undermine, contradict, or otherwise "go back on" it in a separate disclosure.
Finally, if your site mixes content related to a product or service for which you receive compensation with other, unrelated content, a visitor should easily be able to tell which parts are influenced by compensation and which are not. This may require placing multiple disclosures on the same page -- for example, next to each promotional item in a news feed, or at the beginning of an article within a news feed and next to a "Top Sites" widget appearing in a sidebar further down the page. Vague catch-all statements such as "the commissions we receive may affect certain articles or rankings on our site" are insufficient.
Conspicuous: The disclosure must be easy to see, distinct, and unavoidable. It should begin with a self-explanatory signal - e.g., "Disclosure," "Paid Advertisement," or something similar. No scrolling away from the promotional content should be necessary to locate the disclosure. For example, a site with multiple affiliate links should have a disclosure visible on the same screen as each affiliate link, and a website with promotional articles or lists should display disclosures in close proximity to that promotional material, not tucked away in a sidebar or footer.
Disclosures must be prominently displayed so they are noticeable to consumers and should be of a size, color, and graphic treatment that sets the disclosure apart from other parts of the webpage. For example, disclosures should be in a font size that is at least as large as the main text on the page and in a contrasting style and/or color to the surrounding text.
Require No Action: Your disclosure must be immediately evident to a typical visitor to your site who views a review, ranking, or endorsement. A visitor should not need to scroll, click, or hover to learn that you receive compensation. In certain circumstances, you may be able to include a clickable link for additional information when a visitor hovers over text, provided that the language of the link itself reveals the fact that you receive compensation -- e.g. "Advertising Disclosure: We are compensated for our reviews. Click here for details."
If you include consumer reviews, feedback, or endorsements about products or services listed on your site, you must comply with the FTC Guidelines prohibiting the biased manipulation of consumer reviews, including the following:
The FTC has published answers to Frequently Asked Questions applying directly to the FTC Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. For your convenience, we have reproduced some of the most applicable ones below. Still, we encourage you to read the FAQs from the FTC in their entirety.
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.
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.
It’s more likely that a disclosure at the end of the video will be missed, especially if someone doesn’t watch the whole thing. Having it at the beginning of the review would be better. Having multiple disclosures during the video would be even better. Of course, no one should promote a link to your review that bypasses the beginning of the video and skips over the disclosure. If YouTube has been enabled to run ads during your video, a disclosure that is obscured by ads is not clear and conspicuous.
Yes. Truth in advertising is important in all media, whether they have been around for decades (like, television and magazines) or are relatively new (like, blogs and social media).
Yes. Knowing that you received free travel and accommodations could affect how much weight your readers give to your thoughts about the product, so you should disclose that you have a financial relationship with the company.