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2nd BOMB from FTC-New Rules for Affiliate Review Sites!

Yep, I am back with a bad news (but please don’t shoot the messenger, okay? ;) ) – FTC has just updated their "rules"! Previously, adding disclosure in the footer of your review site was enough (or, I thought so).

But now, the disclosure should not only be located ABOVE THE FOLD (so that the reader does not have to scroll down to read it), but should also be in COLORED text. In addition, you simply cannot just say: "Hey, Click here to read my disclosure". Your disclosure must be able to convey the whole message completely to the reader, without having to click on any link!

To learn what the buzz is all about, please check the warrior forum thread located here.

For those of you who are members of Earn1KaDay forum, you can find some additional suggestions in this thread.

For details of acceptable and unacceptable disclosures, click here.

What have I done?

Well, so far I have only updated my review sites, although I cannot rule out FTC’s axing even the so called "information" sites containing affiliate links – in the near future. An example of such a site would be this one. I am hoping that the FTC guys would be too bored to detect the affiliate links! ;)

Since I have only a handful of affiliate review sites, updating them was not hard at all. However, in order to keep up with the ever changing rules of the fickle-minded FTC, I devised a plan: using PHP includes instead of plain HTML code. That way, if FTC changes their rules again in future, all I have to do is to change just ONE file (instead of manually updating dozens of different affiliate review sites).

So let me give you an example of how to do it on your WordPress blogs.

First, write your disclosure in HTML. Make sure that it is succinct and yet conveys the message very clearly to the reader; you don’t want them to scroll down to read the whole thing (that would violate FTC’s new "rules").

From what I read, you can write a very short disclosure and then provide a link to your longer disclosure page, but even the SHORT disclosure should convey the message clearly to the reader. :D It is a lot like writing an Adwords™ ad. ;) (kidding)

Let us say that your disclosure is like this:

Disclosure: Blah Blah Blah. Click here for more details. (replace the italicized part with your own disclosure; note that your disclosure does not necessarily need to be italicized, at least I did not read any such thing in the "rulebook").

Open Notepad or Xpad. Put your disclosure HTML code in a blank text file, under the ‘Save as Type‘ option, select "ALL Types"; then add a .html or .htm extension to the file name when saving it!

Bingo! You have done it! Now just upload the file to your webserver. ;)

Next, download and install the PHP Code Widget.

Now click on "Appearance=>Widgets". Drag a "PHP Code" widget to the widget area – preferably to the very top of all the other active widgets! Then click on the widget to open it. In the second box (the larger one), put the following PHP code:

<?php include("http://yourdomain.com/disclosure.html"); ?>

Where http://yourdomain.com/disclosure.html is the URL of the file you just uploaded to your server! DO NOT check the "Automatically add paragraphs." option! Save and close the widget, then check your blog to see how it looks like. Again, make sure that you do not have to scroll down to read the disclosure: it must be ABOVE-THE-FOLD!

Non-Wordpress users can simply include the given PHP include code at any part of their site, provided that the whole text appears above-the-fold!

If you are not comfortable with PHP, you can try using a "Text" widget instead and include Iframe or JS Code. Here is a nice free tool that would convert any HTML code into Javascript! Here is another.

BTW, I have kept the "footer disclosure" intact. With FTC…you just never know…when they combine their "old" and "new" rules to make a third "amendment". ;)

Perhaps the most unfortunate thing is that despite being a non-US citizen, I still have to comply with FTC rules, mainly because a majority of my customers are from America, and also because my domains and servers are US-based. :(  

My last advice is to branch out: involve yourself in different business models. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I hope you can figure out what I mean, LOL. :D

I hope you "enjoyed" this short boring article. Please let me know your thoughts – click here to post a nice comment, thanks :)

Disclosure: ArindamChakraborty.com is affiliated to Earn1KaDay forum

15 Comments

  1. Linda

    Again new FTC rule???? Oh! I was not aware of this. Thank you Arindam for such a clear explanation. Going to change blogs again.It’s strange that they need Disclosure to be in colored text and above the fold.

  2. Cedric Aubry

    Great post.

    I really like the PHP Code Widget trick.

    This will be very useful to update many of my blogs.

    Thank for sharing.

    Cheers,
    Cedric Aubry

  3. Mark

    Hi Arindam,

    Thank you for the thorough post. You did your homework.

    I also appreciate your tips on how to fix WP blogs.

    I have a couple of questions.

    1. Do you link from all of your other websites to this websites’ disclosure statement?

    2. Where can I get a disclosure written as well as yours?

    Regards,

    Mark

    1. Arindam

      >>Do you link from all of your other websites to this websites’ disclosure statement?

      Yep :)

      >>Where can I get a disclosure written as well as yours?

      Mine was mostly written by myself. ;) You can get one easily from http://disclosurepolicy.org/

      Or check this article:
      http://flexiblewriter.com/beware-of-posting-affiliate-links-on-your-blog

  4. Gary

    Arindam, that was anything but boring.

    I like your ‘how to do these techie things’ articles that explain the steps… simply!

    Thanks
    Gary

  5. Ade Martin

    Thanks Arindam.

    Another great informative post and not at all boring!!

    Ade

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  7. wai kei-toptoyforchristmas.com

    Arindam,

    It seems that the disclosure rules as specified above is the interpretation of a merchant and not necessarily what the FTC requires.
    If indeed there is a requirement to state that “they have tested the product”, that would put 99% of prospective affiliates out of business.
    Indeed, Steven Wagenheim in the WF is saying that the new(old?)rules are not enforceable, so there!

    1. Arindam

      @Wai

      Maybe you are right. But notice this text at the very beginning of the email sent by the Affiliate manager:

      “Earlier this week I told you that we are making some changes to our affiliate policies. The first and biggest change is required by the FTC. They informed us that our review affiliates (that is any affiliate doing a review of our course on their site) were not in compliance. Literally, not a single one. That sure took us by surprise!”

  8. Dan Silver

    Fantastic information and resources. Theses should make it a lot easier to meet the new rules. However it would be nice to see a few more examples of the correct wording for this notification. I ha ve seen a couple and they seem a little too limited to meet the requirements.

  9. Chef Brian

    Awesome post Arindam! Now we should just have an affiliate disclaimer as a header image, details about the disclaimer in the sidebar starting above the fold running down to the footer where we will have the full disclosure in 6 different languages for the ‘unable to translate’ unfortunate few and finally a downloadable PDF of the entire 12 page affiliate disclaimer available from an unblockable pop-up that appears upon site entry to force everyone to take and save a copy for future reference!!!!!!

    I have given up on the whole affiliate thing. I make mini sites, buy a product (or have one made)for the site and sell MY OWN STUFF. Affiliate review sites are a good source of one-off sales for the quick buck but the way the FTC has been going the whole affiliate thing is just going to get worse.

    Let’s face it, they are jealous! The FTC boys are sitting around doing their mundane jobs in their ugly little cubicles hating the fact that IMer’s can simply write a review of something, put a link for it in their review and BAMM, make instant cash without the cubicle!

    Jealous people can be very mean and remain that way for a long time. When the jealous ones are making the rules, we lose.

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  11. PLR report

    I really like the PHP Code Widget trick.

    This will be very useful to update many of my blogs.

    Thank for sharing.

  12. Chandan

    I need to change a lot of blogs. Complete affiliate marketing is going tough day by day. Who knows what will be next rule from FTC.. Anyway thank you for explaining the complete process.

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