FTC/ASA Disclosure Guidelines for Coupon, Rewards, Shopping, and Comparison Sites
What You Need to Know
Disclaimer: The information and opinions within this content are for information purposes only. Guidance is based on personal interpretations and in no way represent legal advice.
See notes below the infographic for clickable links to additional resources and summaries.
Commission - US
Standards Authority - UK
Advertising Practice - UK
4. Require No Action
DISCLOSURE: We may earn a commission when you use one of our coupons/links to make a purchase.
- Use hashtags like #ad, #advertisement, #sponsored, or #promotion - these terms are commonly understood by consumers and marketers alike
- Place at the very beginning of your post
- Use #ad, #sponsored, or #promotion on your stories
- Youtube: Include written disclosure at the beginning of the video description
- Put disclosure at the bottom of the post or mix in middle of other hashtags
- Only rely on tagging the advertiser
- Make it difficult for your visitor to know you're being compensated for your post
- Youtube: Only include a disclosure on your video content
- Ensure you have a disclosure at least on the footer of your site so it is clear to the consumer/visitor that you are compensated
- Put your disclosure on every page that contains affiliate link(s) – putting the disclosure on the footer of your site will solve for this!
- Make sure your disclosure is easy to read- i.e contrasting colors (black text on white background)
- If hyperlinking to a disclosure page - be sure link is in a color that stands out to consumer. All the other elements above still stand for this option. (Example: We earn a commission when you follow the link to make a purchase. Click here to learn more about how we make money.)
- Put in color or font that is difficult to read (i.e. light grey on white background)
- Only state 'we use affiliate links'
- Make your disclosure tough to understand
- Rely only on a single disclosure on your 'about us' or homepage
The information and opinions within this content are for information purposes only. Guidance is based on personal interpretations and in no way, represents legal advice.
Disclosure is important not only to be compliant with our Rakuten Advertising and advertisers' policies, but to ensure you are compliant with all relevant governmental regulations. Disclosures are required for anyone who is making money from these ads -- including using affiliate links. The purpose is to help consumers understand that the publisher may earn money from clicking on a link.
Disclosures should be:
- Require No Actions
Other key elements of disclosure guidelines:
- Disclosing your relationship to the brand is another way you can be sure you are compliant.
- The disclosure guidelines apply to influencers as well as publishers.
- A “Buy Now” button might not be understood that the person placing the link is getting paid for purchases through the link.
- If a publisher's affiliate links appear on someone else’s website or in user comments, a disclosure should be included anytime a product is endorsed and the publisher receives compensation.
- A disclosure is not required if there is no material connection.
- For example, if you want to promote a brand’s product on your own, and you are not partnered with that brand, and only share it simply because you love it, you don’t need to add a disclosure.
- Posting an image of an advertiser's product on social media could be seen as a material connection and would require a disclosure to accompany it.
- It is important to include both an audible and visual disclosure on videos or live streams as consumers can enter and exit a video/live stream as they please; therefore, a clear and conspicuous visual disclosure should be available.
- All the above information for disclosure guidelines applies to mobile sites and apps.
Digital marketing and disclosure guidelines will continue to change and evolve, so it is important to be aware of any changes and be sure you are always being transparent with consumers.
Follow the suggested guidelines above and do your own research about other guidelines that may apply to your specific site content.
Additional Information and Resources
Federal Trade Commission Guidelines:
- How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/press-releases/ftc-staff-revises-online-advertising-disclosure-guidelines/130312dotcomdisclosures.pdf
Advertising Standards Authority:
- Influencer's Guide to making clear that ads are ads: https://www.asa.org.uk/uploads/assets/uploaded/3af39c72-76e1-4a59-b2b47e81a034cd1d.pdf
Rakuten Advertising Affiliate Network Policies:
FTC and CAP Code are not the only regulatory agencies enforcing the rules. Other countries will have their own marketing and advertising laws and regulatory bodies that publishers will need to adhere to. We highly recommend that you refer to the rules and guidance applicable to each jurisdiction as this will allow you to make sure that you are not breaking rules on advertising.
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