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New FTC Rules for Affiliate Marketers and Bloggers Effective Today

Discussion in 'Affiliate Programs' started by bizwoman, Oct 7, 2009.

  1. bizwoman

    bizwoman Registered Member

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    If you are a blogger or involved in affiliate marketing, take note of the new rules confirmed today by the federal trade commission.


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    FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials

    Changes Affect Testimonial Advertisements, Bloggers, Celebrity Endorsements

    The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it has approved final revisions to the guidance it gives to advertisers on how to keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in line with the FTC Act.
    The notice incorporates several changes to the FTC?s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which address endorsements by consumers, experts, organizations, and celebrities, as well as the disclosure of important connections between advertisers and endorsers. The Guides were last updated in 1980.
    Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides ? which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as ?results not typical? ? the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.
    The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that ?material connections? (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers ? connections that consumers would not expect ? must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other ?word-of-mouth? marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement ? like any other advertisement ? is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.
    Celebrity endorsers also are addressed in the revised Guides. While the 1980 Guides did not explicitly state that endorsers as well as advertisers could be liable under the FTC Act for statements they make in an endorsement, the revised Guides reflect Commission case law and clearly state that both advertisers and endorsers may be liable for false or unsubstantiated claims made in an endorsement ? or for failure to disclose material connections between the advertiser and endorsers. The revised Guides also make it clear that celebrities have a duty to disclose their relationships with advertisers when making endorsements outside the context of traditional ads, such as on talk shows or in social media.
    The Guides are administrative interpretations of the law intended to help advertisers comply with the Federal Trade Commission Act; they are not binding law themselves. In any law enforcement action challenging the allegedly deceptive use of testimonials or endorsements, the Commission would have the burden of proving that the challenged conduct violates the FTC Act.
    The Commission vote approving issuance of the Federal Register notice detailing the changes was 4-0. The notice will be published in the Federal Register shortly, and is available now on the FTC?s Web site as a link to this press release. Copies also are available from the FTC?s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.
    The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC?s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,700 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC?s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
    MEDIA CONTACT: Betsy Lordan
    Office of Public Affairs

    202-326-3707STAFF CONTACT:Richard Cleland
    Bureau of Consumer Protection
    202-326-3088 (FTC File No. P034520)
    (endorsement testimonial guide.wpd)
     
  2. Longover

    Longover Power Member

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    I second that
     
  3. blackhataffiliate

    blackhataffiliate Senior Member

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    So does this mean we need to start disclosing how much commission we receive from networks or are they talking about cash received directly from the manufacturer? Also, what if you are not endorsing the product, but simply list the product on your site or blog? Is the listing considered an endorsement?

    It seems like there could be some fine lines to walk!
     
  4. Website

    Website Supreme Member

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    Govt is ineffectual at enforcing or regulating anything. Took years to bust maddoff even though they got many tips.
     
  5. Guaji

    Guaji Regular Member

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  6. exiledone

    exiledone Newbie

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    It says it will be determined on a "case by case" basis, which is pretty much bullshit because they can just decide whether or not they want to fine you based on your content. It's like the RIAA and how they just randomly pick on whoever they feel like suing for downloading music - even if it's some old woman without a computer.

    Did anyone even bother going over the details before making this official? Seems like some half-assed rule they decided to just throw out there.
     
  7. pyronaut

    pyronaut Executive VIP

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    From me reading it, i got the feeling its all related to especially paid testimonials or i guess you could twist it into paid reviews. But not necessarily if you are just reviewing a product to get an aff sale...
     
  8. donjuan

    donjuan Power Member

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    this is all bullshit, what do they think they are the global internet police or smthg they may be able to enforce on blogs in their own jurisdiction but I doubt those overseas.
     
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  9. polymorphs

    polymorphs Newbie

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    this legislation is for the news networks and general populace to make it look like something is happening - it changes nothin
     
  10. bizwoman

    bizwoman Registered Member

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    Here's a summary of what it means:

    1. If you are getting paid a commission for a product or service that you promote on your site, you have to let the consumer know. You don't have to disclose the amount that you are paid. This can be done by including it in your Terms of Service or in your page's footer.

    2. Testimonials - You can no longer use a testimonial citing specific results unless you also say what result the average person can expect to get from using the service or product. Before, you could use a testimonial saying that John Doe made 5 million dollars using your product but you had to include a disclaimer saying that Johns results were not typical. Now you have to state what the average person can expect to make ( or accomplish )

    3. Obviously, the blogs with the celebrity endorsements are not allowed.

    Here is the web page of the final guidelines
    Code:
    http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm
     
  11. Quattro

    Quattro Junior Member

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    This is clearly their way of getting a share of the money that affiliates are earning.
     
  12. UndeniableSpirit

    UndeniableSpirit Regular Member

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    Thanks for letting us know :)

    But what about those who are residing outside of the USA and have hosting offshore? Can they honestly do something then?

    Technically, we are in their jurisdiction if we are advertising to a USA audience, but I am wondering how much leverage they have to enforce these rules with international affiliates whose websites are not hosted in the states either :)

    I am sure we will soon see!
     
  13. E-yun

    E-yun Newbie

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    couldn't you just add a small link at the bottom of your site that says "Our Affiliate Companies" and be in the clear? Nobody ever clicks that shit anyways.

    Celebs and traditional advertising is unaffected by the changes. This is like the ultimate keep the little man down and maintain dominance ploy. If this isn't all about elitism I don't know what is.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2009
  14. LuckyPimp

    LuckyPimp Newbie

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    Frank Kern was talking about how it applies to testimonials!
     
  15. abhi1

    abhi1 Power Member

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    And how does it effects international marketers or offshore hosted sales letters?
     
  16. bl4ck1ce

    bl4ck1ce Regular Member

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    FTC has no jurisdiction over me since I'm Canadian, but I've been making the "testimonials" on my websites sound pretty achievable for a while now, otherwise even I couldn't take my own products seriously. lol.

    The most I've claimed anyone has earned with any of my products, is $300 in 2 days, and that was from allegedly reselling a physical product. I hope I'm in the clear.
     
  17. peter2002

    peter2002 Senior Member

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    No, you only have to disclose anything if you got any kind of incentive (cash, etc.) from the manufacturer for reviewing their product (paid endorsement).

    Hope this helps.
     
  18. stunna

    stunna Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    You sure about that?

    Might want to double check.
     
  19. B*Dogg

    B*Dogg Registered Member

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    So the FTC won't let me be
    or let me be me, so let me see
    They try to shut me down on ACAI
    But it feels so empty, without me
     
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  20. almir

    almir Power Member

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    They can kiss my ass and I don't need to check about it :)

    I am not American and I don't give a shit what rules FTC have :)