The FTC recently added bloggers to its guidelines about endorsements and testimonials in advertising. For bloggers this means any product review or endorsement that contains affiliate links must be treated with full disclosure.
Full disclosure is nothing more than transparency about the fact that a click on a link could potentially earn the blogger some money. It’s a simple process to provide the needed transparency, either in plain text or with a bit of information placed in the HTML for the link.
A sentence or two at the beginning or the end of an article containing affiliate links will be satisfactory. This would do: The links to the product reviewed in this article are affiliate links. If you buy this product after clicking one of my links, I’ll make a small amount of money.
It wouldn’t hurt to add another sentence saying that the possibility of earning something from the affiliate link has not influenced the objectivity of the review and that your opinions are honestly offered.
It’s also a good idea to have a full out disclosure policy somewhere on your blog that explains how you get products, if you keep the product or return it after reviewing it, if you get paid for the review in some way other than by the affiliate link and anything else that might be relevant. You can add a link to this longer disclosure statement to each individual review you write.
In the link code
Use an HTML
title attribute in the link to create a tooltip that the user will see when using the link. For example, say you were linking to a book at Amazon.com. You could add the title attribute to the link, like this:
<a href="somewhere.html" title="affiliate link to Amazon">Book Title</a>
If the link is an image of the product, say an image of a book cover, mention the affiliate link in both the image’s alt text and with a title attribute. Here’s how:
<img src="image.jpg" alt="affiliate link to Amazon" title="affiliate link to Amazon">
With the plain text disclosure statements and the link tooltip, you cover everything in a blanket of transparency that satisfies all the FTC requirements.
About the author: Virginia DeBolt blogs at Web Teacher about web design education, web standards, accessibility, and general technology topics.