All Sovrn Commerce publishers should understand what a disclosure statement is, as well as how it plays into your affiliate marketing strategy.
Sovrn Commerce publishers should be thinking strategically about what disclosures need to exist on their site. Various laws and regulations require that “material connections” to sellers must be communicated to readers. This article is meant to provide you more information regarding various disclosure requirements.
Please be aware that consumer disclosure requirements and policies may change without notice. It is your responsibility to be aware of and compliant to any consumer disclosure requirements required by jurisdictions applicable to you.
The information provided in this article is not legal advice, and it does not guarantee compliance to applicable law(s). Please consult with legal counsel for further advice as needed.
What is a Material Connection?
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires publishers to disclose to readers and visitors of your site that you have a “material connection” to a seller when you endorse a product or service. If you’re using affiliated links, with or without Sovrn //Commerce, you may have such a connection.
What is a disclosure statement?
The online guidelines require that disclosure statements are on every page where an affiliate link is included. The disclosure statement should be clear and concise, stating that you are potentially receiving compensation for traffic generated through your review or endorsement. If you have received a product or service free for review, this should also be clearly stated in your disclosure.
The FTC provides the following general guidelines about where and how to place disclosures:
- disclosures must be present on every page that contains an affiliate link, promotion, or where the product/service was provided free for the review
- disclosures cannot be solely located in a site’s Terms of Service, Legal, About Us, or any other linked page
- disclosures must be clear, concise, easily visible, and written using language that most consumers can understand
- disclosures should appear before any links, advertisements, or promotions without scrolling required (“above the fold”)
- disclosures are required regardless of promotional method, medium, or location – content site, forum, email, mobile application, software, social media, etc.
For more detailed information and guidelines on FTC disclosure requirements, please thoroughly review the FTC’s documentation & specific examples on Material Connections.
You can also check out these additional resources that are available on the FTC’s site:
- .com Disclosures Press Release
- Guide for Businesses that Participate in Native Advertising
- Enforcement Policy Statement on Deceptively Formatted Advertisements
What are endorsements?
An endorsement is any advertising message that consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser, even if the views expressed by that party are identical to those of the sponsoring advertiser.
Endorsements can come in the form of likes, pins, tweets, and other social media engagements, so be sure to understand how to properly disclose the endorsements you are making as a publisher.
Here’s more information from the FTC on endorsements that you can review.
Affiliate marketers are entirely responsible to keep track of legislation and rule changes based on their location. Sovrn is based in Boulder, Colorado, USA and we share FTC guidelines because we have found them to be in-depth, and helpful for our publishers.
The FTC guidelines and resources above should help you create an effective disclosure statement, but please let our team know if there are additional resources that you have found valuable.
With that said, European publishers can review the CAP requirements here.
Canadian publishers should review the Canadian Code of Ad Standards for further information.
If you haven’t created your disclosure statements, now is a great time to start.
Remember that your affiliate disclosure is your statement informing consumers of your paid relationship(s) with the company or person you’re an affiliate for. Sovrn is not responsible for this, and this blog is not meant to be legal advice.