A lot has changed in the world of affiliate marketing over the years. Way back, it had a bit of a wild west feel with few rules, but these days things are a lot more regulated. As an affiliate marketer trying to earn an income from the eBay Partner Network (EPN) or other ad and affiliate networks, you need to be aware of and adhere to regulations that apply to your business. Failure to do so could land you in trouble.
Much of the regulation impacting affiliate marketing is born out of providing full transparency to visitors to your site so they’re aware that clicking links on your site may earn you a commission and thus why they are placed before them on the page.
So What Should You Do?
Don’t worry, only minor additions are needed on your site to adhere to recent regulations. In a nutshell, you need to make sure ads and affiliate links are clear to visitors. The FTC in the US states ‘the guiding principle is that it has to be clear and conspicuous.’. The ASA in the UK states ads ‘must be obviously identifiable as such’.
You can satisfy these rulings by simply adding a line of text to describe links as affiliations.
The FTC in the US is more prescriptive in its guidelines than other countries, but its requirements more than satisfy the requirements of other countries. As such you can easily make your site compliant for many jurisdictions.
Why Should You Even Bother to Display Affiliate Disclosure?
I can totally sympathise with you here, it does feel like yet another redundant and annoying notice visitors will blindly zone out, like the cookie popups. It is more clutter on your page, and worse, what if it even discourages visitors from clicking your affiliate links?!
Regardless of your thoughts here, it is now law in many countries and failure to comply could potentially lead to penalties from your local advertising authority.
Secondly, the eBay Partner Network (and many other affiliate networks) dictate you should follow these rules as part of their terms. Thus, failure to comply puts you in breach of these terms and could jeopardise your affiliation with eBay and other networks. You don’t want to be kicked from these, as then you’ll completely lose your revenue stream!
Thirdly, in some markets, failure to disclose your affiliate relationship could legally imply that you as a partner have “adopted” the content and is therefore liable for it. So these disclosure measures also protect your business.
How Fast eBay Listings Can Help You
To help you adhere to these ad disclosure guidelines, Fast eBay Listings has features to automatically display a suitable notice on your webpage for you.
By default, this feature is not enabled, you will need to go into the ‘eBay Partner Network’ section of the plugin settings to tailor and enable this feature.
You can tailor where the ad disclosure notice should be shown:
- At the top of each page
- At the top of each Fast eBay Listings block, shortcode or widget
- Below each Fast eBay Listings block, shortcode or widget
- At the bottom of each page
- Not shown at all – the default option when first installed.
A default suggested text is provided, but you can fully customise the exact disclosure text that is shown to meet your exact needs or site language.
What Settings Should I Use?
Which ad disclosure setting you use will depend on a number of things. Whether you are based in the USA and subject to the FTC regulations, or whether pages on your site have links to multiple ad/affiliate networks or multiple uses of the Fast eBay Listings plugin.
Ask yourself these questions to choose the best setting for your site:
- Are you based in the USA and subject to the FTC regs?
- If so, then place your notice at the top of the pages or above each Fast eBay Listings usage, to meet the more prescriptive FTC guidelines.
- Do your pages have links to multiple ad/affiliate networks, or use multiple instances of the Fast eBay Listings plugin (e.g. multiple eBay searches on one page)?
- If so, then choose a placement at the top or bottom of the page, to cover all ads and affiliate links with a single notice to avoid repetition.