If you are a business owner or blogger who is using or planning on using Amazon Associates, you may be wondering if you need a disclaimer or a disclosure informing users about your use of Amazon Associates or if you need other legal agreements as well.
This article will help you answer that question, as well as provide examples of how other business owners and blogs are successfully using disclaimers and disclosures relating to their use of Amazon Associates program.
Amazon Associates is an online affiliate marketing program that allows business owners and bloggers to earn referral fees by placing links to products for sale on Amazon.com on their own websites.
Bloggers (or any online business) who advertise or write about certain products can place links on their websites for these products from Amazon. Users then click on those links to buy the products from Amazon, generating a referral fee for the blogger whose link the user clicked on.
It's the classic affiliate marketing program with referral links.
Section 5 of the Associates Program Operating Agreement is called "Identifying Yourself as an Associate" and it requires that everyone who signed-up to be an Amazon Associate must identify as an associate:
"clearly state the following on your site or any other location where Amazon may authorize your display or other use of Content: "We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites."
Here's an old screenshot of that "Section 5" from Amazon's agreement:
By agreeing to the terms of Amazon Associates Operating Agreement, you are agreeing to comply with these business requirements you need to have in place before you can use Amazon Associates.
As for disclosures that you're an affiliate using Amazon Associates program, Amazon does require you to disclose this.
"Section 10" of its Associates Program Operating Agreement states that you need to:
clearly state the following on your site: "[Insert your name] is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to [insert the applicable site name (amazon.com or myhabit.com)].
Here's an exact screenshot of the above:
You collect personal information from users, e.g. web forms, email newsletters etc.
You use Amazon Associates for your affiliate marketing
And so on
However, if your website does not collect any personal data from users, but you do use affiliate links for Amazon products, then you only need a disclaimer.
Guidelines by the FTC
When people are reading a blog that recommends a product, people are placing their trust in that website to steer them to a good, quality product. If the owner or operator of that website is making money from people who purchase the product via her/his site, this is something that most people would want to know about.
Not disclosing affiliate marketing links can be misleading to the visitors of your website. Without a disclosure, these visitors may think that you really just recommend that product because it's great. While this may be the case, knowing that you are making money on each purchase gives your visitors information to consider before making the purchase based on your recommendation.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has provided the "Endorsement Guide" document that addresses a number of social media advertising and marketing best practices and requirements, including the requirement that there must be disclaimer made available when affiliate links are used on a website.
This kind of disclaimer must:
Disclose your relationship to Amazon.
According to Section 10 of the Associates Program Operating Agreement, a reader must be able to know, after reading your disclaimer page or comment, that you use affiliate links and that you get paid when a user clicks on your links.
Be written clearly and conspicuously.
Not everyone knows what an "affiliate link" or "affiliate program" is.
Simply saying something like, "This link is an affiliate link" is not clear and conspicuous enough. Provide more information about what the link is for, and what happens when a user clicks on this kind of link.
It's acceptable to say something as simple as "I make a commission for purchases made through the following link."
Be placed prominently and conspicuously.
It's not adequate to bury the information disclosing your affiliate link on a random web page, such as an "About Us" page or "Information" page, nor should that kind of disclaimer be placed at the bottom of your web pages where users may never scroll down to.
It needs to be visible.
The disclosing information must be placed close to the affiliate link itself in such a way that by the time the user would be able to notice and click on the link, she can also easily notice and read or click on a link to read your disclaimer.
Place the disclosing information right before or next to the affiliate link for maximum effectiveness. The below example is taken from the FTC's Endorsement Guide, linked above:
The disclaimer you plan to draft and use should make it very clear that you are being compensated when a user clicks on one of your affiliate links.
Use clear, concise language, and conspicuous, prominent placement.
Au Naturale Nutrition places a large disclosure section in the footer on every single page of the website. Their section disclosing information related to affiliates links, placed in the footer of the website, states that:
I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you real information about health and holistic wellness.
This section is also linked to the Disclosure page that thoroughly describes what an affiliate link is, why this disclosure is being made, and a thorough list of each company where affiliate links are used.
Here's how it looks:
By including relevant information in the footer of every web page with a link to a more thorough page on this information, Au Naturale Nutrition is making sure that users visiting the web site will notice the disclaimer information.
This screenshot from Au Naturale Nutrition shows the section that mentions the use of Amazon Affiliate links. It's very detailed and informative for users who may not know how affiliate links work:
Here is some general information on how endorsements must be disclosed, as suggested by the FTC guide.
Use these examples of endorsement disclaimers on how to draft your own affiliate disclaimers.
Endorsements or not, you need to make sure to disclose all forms of compensation to your users, whether you were given monetary compensation, free products, or other compensatory perks for writing an article, or a review, or providing a service, and so on.
Below is an example of a disclaimer that Mom Does Reviews places prominently on each of the reviews:
If you write an ad for a product that you will be financially compensated for, you must disclose this.
For example, say you create a tweet that promotes a product and includes an affiliate link where users can purchase the product and this will generate a commission for you.
You must include a hashtag or disclaimer in the Tweet that you are advertising. Including a #ad will be a sufficient disclaimer. The same goes for other social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram:
If you're earning money through Amazon Associates and you're using affiliate links on your blog, mobile app, make sure that a disclaimer is available on your website and visible at all time.