Amazon's reminder FTC compliance guidelines

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What do you make of Amazon's latest email that all the affiliates got?

The Amazon disclosure terms haven't changed, but they are reminding people to follow the FTC requirements, which are a bit excessive, to say the least:

To comply with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, your link-level disclosure must be:
1. Clear. A clear disclosure could be as simple as “(paid link)”, “#ad” or “#CommissionsEarned”.
2. Conspicuous. It should be placed near any affiliate link or product review in a location that customers will notice easily. They shouldn’t have to hunt for it.
Some people are already going through their links and placing "(paid)" after every single one.

But I don't see anything about following FTC guidelines in the current Associates operating agreement. Which means that we shouldn't have any trouble with Amazon for not following the FTC guidelines... right?

What are your thoughts?

For reference, here's the email that was sent out to affiliates today:

Hello Associate,

This is a reminder of your disclosure obligations under the Operating Agreement. Any time you share an affiliate link, it’s important to disclose that to your audience. They will trust you more if you are transparent about where you are directing them and why. To meet the Associate Program's requirements, you must (1) include a legally compliant disclosure with your links and (2) identify yourself on your Site as an Amazon Associate with the language required by the Operating Agreement.

To comply with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, your link-level disclosure must be:
1. Clear. A clear disclosure could be as simple as “(paid link)”, “#ad” or “#CommissionsEarned”.
2. Conspicuous. It should be placed near any affiliate link or product review in a location that customers will notice easily. They shouldn’t have to hunt for it.

In addition, the Operating Agreement requires that the following statement clearly and conspicuously appears on your Site: “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.” For social media user-generated content, this statement must be associated with your account.

Associates should also consider the relevant social media platform’s guidelines. For example, Associates may use Facebook's Branded Content tool.

To read more about the FTC Endorsement Guides, visit: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking#affiliate.

Visit this page on AC to bookmark this information about disclosures.

Thank you,

Amazon Associates Program
 

CCarter

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Looks like Amazon is trying to cover their asses since a majority of online affiliate sales go to Amazon.com cause their affiliate program is the most popular due to consumers loving Amazon.com. They should go above and beyond in my opinion cause you KNOW someone is going to file a complaint one of these days to the FTC and Amazon is going to get caught up in the dragnet.
 
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YouTube is getting hammered right now by the FTC- Amazon is just trying to get ahead of any problems they might face. Also, I wonder if this message was aimed more at influencers due to the inclusion of the recommendation of using #ad which is commonly done on Instagram, etc.
 

CCarter

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Also, I wonder if this message was aimed more at influencers due to the inclusion of the recommendation of using #ad which is commonly done on Instagram, etc.
I was thinking that too but I went through and read what the FTC was going on about and they talk about blogs in there in some length and have example scenerios specifically for blogs that are selling products for brands.
 

Ryuzaki

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Link level disclosures can kiss my ass. I'm flat out not doing that. I understand on social media and whatever, but not every single link on a blog post, for instance.

I've been told by Amazon that as long as you have the "disclosure statement" linked sitewide and then don't obscure the URL, that's fine enough. So having a raw link to Amazon is fine since it shows where the URL leads, or having something like domain.com/amazon/product-name is fine too. Fine for them, not necessarily the FTC. If they want to go after every little blog, they can have fun wasting tax payer money. They can't hire enough people to do it.

One thing I do is on "Best ___" posts is to have a section that reminds everyone that every link leads to an affiliate site where they can see more images, read more reviews, and I'll earn a commission. But I don't do that on regular informational posts where I reference a product, and I'm not going to change a single thing.
 

mikey3times

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I received a notice from Amazon about non-compliance. They didn't say anything about needing disclosures next to individual links, but they did have a problem with the disclosure language I was using. They said I was encouraging people to click the links so I made some modifications to the language to fix their concern. I don't agree with their assessment, but I like the money they pay me so I changed it.

Beware: They only give you 5 business days to fix everything. Thankfully, I had the disclosure language built into the template so I changed it in one location and it fixed it on every article (you can also use a widget and call it in each article that has links). I also fixed some language in the Terms of Service...so I guess it was two places.

I will say that I had riffed on two very popular review sites for my disclosure. I didn't copy them outright, but it was similar. Obviously, those sites haven't changed their disclosures and they don't use the language that Amazon requires. (Insert a CCarter animated GIF here)

Make Sure You Update Your Site List
They also said I was using special links on a site that I hadn't told them about. Oops. I started a new site and made special codes for that site, but I never went into the Account Settings to edit the website and mobile app list. Make sure that section is up to date, especially if you started a new site recently.