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I’m sure you’ve noticed there’s a lot buzz about the new FTC laws coming into affect starting at the end of this year. These laws may affect many of us online marketers and we should at the very least get familiar with what it’s all about.
The basic idea behind the new updates relates to advertising, product endorsement and testimonials – requiring the presentation of what is being represented is accurate, true and not deceitful.
Over the last week or so I’ve been collecting opinions and blog posts on how this will affect my business, your business and the face of internet marketing.
Let me just give you a summary of what I got out of everything I read.
Also, as always, I invite you to add your comments and opinions in the comment section below.
FTC Rules For Product Sellers & Affiliates:
1. Testimonials. You can no longer post extraordinary results and slap a ‘results not typical’ warning below it. The FTC is calling for marketers to also post TYPICAL results as well. In John Reese’s new report, he suggests you remove testimonials from your products completely. I tend to agree. Posting typical results will be both discouraging (not helping sales) and nearly impossible to produce. I mean, how many people are going to email and say they never even cracked open that product they bought, or that they didn’t follow your process so they didn’t get any results? And how do you determine what is typical? Is it the person who followed your instructions, the people who didn’t and just skimmed, the people who leveraged other sources at the same time, etc?
2. Affiliate Programs. As always, product sellers with affiliate programs can be held liable for the actions of their affiliates. This is something to be mindful of with the new FTC laws. Affiliate Managers will need to make sure their affiliates are aware of the new laws and all the rules apply to them as well.
3. Product Endorsements. If you sell products and give away products or payment in exchange for a review you must ensure that the person reviewing the product discloses that relationship with you. If you are an affiliate you must be sure to disclose the relationship with the product owner.
4. Affiliate Marketing. The full reach of this FTC Law to affiliate marketers is pretty unclear. It is unclear that if you get a possible commission as an affiliate what you must do to disclose that relationship. It appears to be left to the discretion of the affiliate whether they indicate directly in their content (ie. in a blog post) or if they include it in their website policies and disclaimers.
Of course the above points are all my take on this law and in no way should be taken as legal advice. There’s also a lot more to it so I recommend you check out a number of opinions and views as I’ve done.
What Does All This Mean to the Blogger and Affiliate Marketer and Internet Marketing in General?
Well that’s the big question a lot of people are asking.
Lynn Terry mentioned she heard that a blogger or affiliate marketer may need up to 100 complaints before they actually get the FTC checking them out. If that’s the case it will be a big relief to most bloggers and affiliate marketers, since you’ll never get that many complaints if you are running a business honestly and ethically.
Lynn also mentioned that these laws are not being made to crack down on the legitimate, smaller blogger. They are after people who are out there making big waves with fake testimonials and highly unethical marketing.
John Reese suggests that this will be a benefit to many of us, here’s a quote from his report you can download from here:
But just as there are new developments like this that might be viewed as a ʻnegativeʼ there are almost always OPPORTUNITIES that are created because of it.
This might be a great opportunity for you to grow your business while
your competitors might leave your market because of the new regulations.
I guarantee some smart entrepreneurs will find a way to do things
ʻrightʼ and make a killing from these changes while others are bailing out.
Being a Canadian myself I am still very much in the same boat as Americans with this law. I consider any laws and regulations that the US pass (such as the Can-Spam Act) as laws for me too. Once Canada does get on board with internet laws and creates them I’m sure they’ll be looking to the US as an example.
So What Should We Do Next to Comply?
Michel Fortin is a fellow Canadian and he’s just changed the disclosure policy on his site as most internet marketers and bloggers are currently doing. He also posted a short version of the disclosure policy in the sidebar of his blog which is a nice touch. Read Michel’s disclosure policy here.
I will also be updating my own disclaimers and policies. Right now I have a few pages of disclaimers but I like the idea of putting all your disclaimers on one page so I will be doing that as well.
My disclosure policies were created by Internet Lawyer Mike Young (and YES that is my affiliate link and I will make money if you click and buy ).
When I bought it there wasn’t a clause for affiliate marketing but I recently got an email from the affiliate manager telling me how swamped they’ve been with questions about the new FTC Laws. As a result they’ve updated the product with an Affiliate Compensation Disclosure Package. I will be buying this and adding it to my site.
So there’s a lot of information here but I think overall the state of internet marketing will be in good shape with these new laws. I live by my Marketers Mojo Pledge and I’m happy to comply with anything that makes me a more transparent marketer.
Yes, I’m here and you’re here to make money but I’m always more committed to being an ethical marketer over making a quick buck.
I’d love to hear your thoughts or links to any other opinions and blog posts you’ve found to be of interest on this topic!