Clickbank Require Disclosure – A-List Bloggers Totally Missed the Point In December


I am not sure how long this has been in the rules at Clickbank, as Clickbank currently block – that being said I am sure it would have been brought up by someone during the last few months in discussions regarding various paid review services such as PayPerPost, ReviewMe and Sponsored Reviews.

The A-List bloggers concentrated their attacks on the paid reviews services because it made good headlines, and most missed the much more serious implications for affiliate marketing.

Clickbank isn’t a small startup company looking to carve a niche – their daily sales turnover is probably higher than the funding received by any of the paid posts companies. It is only possible to estimate their sales figures, because they are a privately held company. They claim 20,000 sales per day on their website, and typical prices of their digital products are $47 to $67 each, with many of the top sellers costing $77 to $97.
In the past I have asked Clickbank directly for more accurate figures, but as is their privilege that was declined.

As an example, the current top selling ebook launched 6th February, Day Job Killer, an ebook that provides tactics for affiliate marketers using Adwords PPC to drive traffic to various affiliate merchants such as Amazon and Ebay has sold more than 5000 copies in the first 24hrs of release, with a $77+tax price tag, thats $385,000 in sales which many Web2.0 statups can’t achieve in advertising revenue in one month.

A large chunk of that revenue will go to affiliate partners, but that will easily be recouped by backend sales. As an example this is the 3rd Ebook published by the same authors, and I am sure many of the 5000 sales recorded were direct sales by the authors to their private mailing list.

I am not a lawyer, and this blog article is purely a discussion topic for your own amusement and does not represent legal advise.

Here is the specific clause from the Clickbank Rules:-

If you promote products listed by ClickBank, then:

* You agree to make no such promotions that suggest or imply any warranty or other policy that might conflict with ClickBank’s eight week return policy.
* You agree to make no such promotions that involve unlicensed use of materials protected by copyright or trademark law.
* You agree that you will not engage in activities that interfere with our tracking of commissions, or with the normal flow of traffic from affiliates.
* You agree that all such promotions will be fully compliant with federal and state laws, including US federal and state laws regarding network abuse, unsolicited messaging, and FTC Advertising Rules and Disclosure Rules.
* You agree to make no such promotions promising customers rebates, coupons, tickets, or vouchers in connection with their ClickBank purchase.

I have bolded the first line and 2 sections, and I will deal with the second section first

Offering Bonuses for Clickbank Products

The wording is clearly aimed at monetary bonuses as we expected the clarification in Clickbank rules from back in November to contain. Many Clickbank affiliates are still offering cash incentives as this advert for Day Job Killer grabbed yesterday confirms.

Clickbank rules violation

I have also received many emails offering cash rebates. With those who I trust and have business dealings with in the past, I just sent a friendly note. It is not like Clickbank send out email notifications of rule changes. In fact the rules changes don’t even make it to their internal news system.

Clickbank and Disclosure

I don’t remember seeing the statement regarding disclosure within the Clickbank Terms of Service when I was last reading them in November.
Whenever Google change their policy statements, everyone knows about it, and discusses it. When they change their Terms of Service, you normally have to agree to the changes, and there is normally word for word analysis by many sites.

The above clauses are clearly intended for affiliates, because the opening line is “If you promote products listed by ClickBank“.

The FTC Disclosure Rules don’t mention the word affiliate, but they frequently mention advertising. I am clear in my own mind that the rules cover both placement adverts, and various forms of word of mouth advertising.

For an Affiliate Marketer, I am fairly open about disclosure. I have a disclosure policy, and there is a link to my disclosure policy with my feed items, both in the form of a custom footer in my posts and RSS feed(Disclosure Policy Plugin for WordPress), and as a Feedburner Feed Flare. Those are my own developed solutions for affiliate disclosure as an alternative to adding (aff) after affiliate links, which might not have meaning to a casual reader.

As I pointed out in my fairly neutral review of Day Job Killer, it is important to conform to all the rules, and some of the techniques in Day Job Killer would be less successful if you plastered “I am trying to sell you something” all over a squeeze page.
I offered a bonus for Day Job Killer, but none are cash equivalents.

Duncan Riley’s research into one of the endorsements on the Day Job Killer sales page is also intriguing. There is also the possibility it is a real person, or a real testimonial with a made up pen name.

I just read a Squidoo Lens promoting Day Job Killer written by a Tax Attorney – it is a shame he is breaking Clickbank’s rules on disclosure, not a disclosure in sight.

It is interesting that Clickbank now require disclosure, and Google effectively prevent disclosure for their referral units.

I would be very interested in the opinion of some more legal experts such as Brian @ Copyblogger or Mike Young

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  1. Farkfan says

    Off Topic, Andy, I’m sorry about that dumbass post on Digg. If there’s a way to delete it, I will.

    But I just have to say when someone visits your blog for the first time it’s best for them to see your posts right away, not “Subscribe to Me” first. I’m just saying. The subscribe form and web aggregators would look better on a left sidebar, with your article in the middle. Your great writing is the first thing I want to see when I visit.

  2. says

    On many sites instead of subscription information in that area you get advertising. Their primary goal is to get you to click the adverts.

    My primary goal on this site, at least currently is to grow my subscriber base, and the good news for subscribers is that they get to read all my content without the subscription boxes, widgets etc.
    I offer full feeds, and even allow people to re-purpose my content, as long as I get credit (such as a link back to the original article)

    I am tracking various elements all the time – not quite as much as I would possibly like, but then this site doesn’t have enough traffic yet to make it worth tracking between small adjustments.

    One thing I haven’t yet written about is the effect of social networking and images of readers in social proof. By seeing the name of someone you recognise in the sidebar, it shows that obviously your blog is a worthwhile read, and so you sign up.

    I still need to add more subscription options in some way at the bottom of each article, but I have other things to tweak first, for instance subscribing is still an exit from the site, and I would love people to hand around and leave a comment.

    I actually like criticism, because it makes you question your ideas from a different perspective. Whilst I am maintaining a 5-10% growth in subscribers daily,
    I don’t think there are too many problems with the positioning of the subscription boxes, especially when many of my visitors are used to entering their details into a squeeze page to get information, or even to just a sales page.

    I might also start varying page elements depending on the source of traffic. As an example I have a lot of traffic coming in from Google atm for my Day Job Killer review. I am highly tempted to stick a lighbox popup on that traffic with subscription information.

  3. says

    Hmn…I remember you posted a link to the “Disclosure” plugin somewhere–but I lost the place. I tried searching for it, but it’s like a needle in a post’s stack =P. Anyway, let me thank you in advance for the link to the plugin :).

    *BTW–to reduce the ‘white’ space produced by your “Technorati Fav, DiggIT, Stumbleupon, Bumpzee” block, go to the CSS and shrink the “height” of the .mybot___ class to 197px.

    And thanks for your post on how to get the block like that. I’ve already implement it. Check it out at my blog =).

    O.K. I’ve gotten to go–set up more sites.


  1. Clickbank Require Disclosure – A-List Bloggers Totally Missed the Point In December…

    At a rough estimate 90% of Clickbank affiliates are currently breaking Clickbanks disclosure rules, and many are breaking the rules relating to bonuses….