(Updated 6/29/23) In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) first updated its guidance for advertising disclosures in a guide called .com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising. The original guidance from 2000 left open many holes including advertising on mobile devices and places like Twitter and Facebook. Since then, the FTC has clarified much of what it originally wrote. The most recent update was June 29, 2023.
This is a short summary of the Guidelines but for a full understanding, keep reading for the various updates listed below over time. As affiliates, we have already been advised that disclosure must be “clear and conspicuous.” The new documents go even further. In fact, it specifically states that disclosure at the end of blogs posts is not acceptable. Here are some of the highlights from the guidelines:
- Affiliates and Influencers (“endorsers”) must disclose any “material connections with an advertiser.” This includes commissions, free products, placement fees, etc.
- Disclosures must be “clear and “conspicuous” and “unavoidable.” This includes being placed at the top of any blog posts and not hidden on a privacy or disclosure page. The customer must not have to click to read the disclosure. Pop-up disclosures should not be used.
- Using hashtags for disclosure is okay but MANY are not adequate including “affiliate link.”
- Disclosures on social media follow the same rules and cannot be buried.
- Disclosure effectiveness will be evaluated based on the target audience of the endorsements (e.g. children or elderly).
- Affiliates, influencers, agencies, and advertisers can all be found liable when disclosures are not done properly.
- Advertisers and agencies are responsible for instructing endorsers as well as monitoring and correcting compliance.