IANAL so I am not going to offer anything material to any conversations about the new FTC guidance.
But this annoyed me yesterday
Clickbank has required for some time (at least 2 years) that affiliates comply with FTC recommendations for WOMM. That could just be looked at as a legal “out” but it is there in writing.
There is lots of noise (and some signal) over the last couple of days about the FTC, so affiliates are using it in headlines for email promotions. I opened one and the link was a Clickbank promotion, I opened a second, and it was to a genuine blog post.
Here is what the person promoting an affiliate product sent
BREAKING NEWS: Making Money Online Illegal??
It no longer matters if you are struggling to make your first
buck or if you are already killing it on the internet…
EVERYBODY is going to be effected by this…
This blog just broke the story and it is THE most important
information you will ever read this year…
[Go here now] and see for yourself:
No optin needed. This is a shocking blog video news post that
was just published a few moments ago.
It will change the way you look at your ability to make
[Find out here now]. Fast.
This is the scoop: There have been A LOT of changes
online recently and now the big question is “Has making
Money Online Become Illegal?”
The answer might shock you…
This WILL change everything. [Get the full story here:]
To your success,
- This was pre-written email copy supplied to JV partners as I have seen this email sent by 2 different unrelated email lists.
- The links in the email I added square brackets and are in bold like [this is a link]
- The deceptive headline did get me to open it, but a smart copywriter would have added some truth to the content
- The links proclaim a blog post
- You click the links and end up on a sales page
- The sales page itself is full of elements that are probably extremely dodgy now, and the biggest insult is probably the fake “trust marks”.
If someone is using fake trust marks, would you:-
- Believe their income claims?
- Actually trust them in any way?
Notice any similarities between legitimate trust marks provided by Trust Guard, and the fake ones?
That is an affiliate banner, and I have chatted with Garrett the affiliate manager in the past regarding my larger project. Trust Guard is one of the most affordable legitimate trust mark providers, and possibly the cheapest for things like PCI compliance though it has been a while since I did my research.
If you like what they offer, do your own due diligence and end up becoming their customer, there is a small chance if you haven’t cleared your cookies and the tracking works and countless other potential problems, that I might earn an affiliate commission.
Oh, and I have just lost trust in the people who sent me the email, and the chances of me promoting one of their products in the future, or even remaining on their email list are remote.
I wouldn’t want my readers to be sent dishonest emails if I referred them and they ended up on their list.
Real FTC Commentary From Marketers
There has been lots of coverage on technology blogs and “social media maven” blogs but I just want to highlight a few I have read you might have missed.
Michel Fortin has some great commentary about testimonials and vendor liability for the actions of affiliates.
The FTC’s Feebie Rule on Fashionista – included because sometimes I get free samples to review, and free samples I don’t end up having time to even look at, or find unsuitable. I also sometimes get free access to things based upon previous affiliate performance. I used to work in the games industry – do you think logos of hardware manufacturers end up on product boxes without some quid pro quo?
How much are PC adverts subsidized if they include Intel and Microsoft logos? How do they disclose the financial arrangements of pre-installed sample software?
Testimonials… does it really change how they look on a page to add disclaimers. Have a look at this sales page Howie just posted for one of his programs and look at all the disclaimers in the testimonial boxes. I am not using an affiliate link and am linking because it is the first example I have seen since the new rulings… I am not sure this is the best method – I think a “speech bubble” on mouse over might work better.
John points out us Euros have had to live with this quite a while (I have covered it a lot myself in the past) along with some sound tips – I suppose I should disclose that John leaves great comments and has been known to tweet my articles.
Don’t forget my old post defining 32 kinds of Blogging and Linking Payola – the FTC should really have addressed every form and more – I probably only covered half of them.
Lets finish up with a question… if I updated my old disclosure policy plugin to work with current versions of WordPress, would anyone actually use it? (well I know a few people who might for monetization as it was really effective)
I have had a few enquiries, and the download stats over the last few years suggest there may even be people using it still, though it only supported up to WP2.2 officially.
The plugin was contextual so now for instance Matt Cutts has a full disclosure policy finally he could add the plugin, and on every historical post where he mentioned Google, it could add a short disclosure with a link to a full disclosure policy, or even a specific disclosure policy about Google, both on the page and in his feed.