I am not sure how long this has been in the rules at Clickbank, as Clickbank currently block archive.org – 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.
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.