FTC Compliance

In 2009, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued new guidelines that require bloggers to “disclose material connections” for product or service endorsements. in fact, according to The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), “People who blog, tweet or use Facebook to post opinions about consumer products could be fined $11,000 for repeat violations of new federal disclosure rules.” I don’t know how serious the FTC will be in enforcing these guidelines. I have read some reports that indicate they will be primarily focused on advertisers who attempt to influence bloggers without requiring them to disclose that they were either paid or received free goods or services.

I don’t know how serious the FTC will be in enforcing these guidelines. I have read some reports that indicate they will be primarily focused on advertisers who attempt to influence bloggers without requiring them to disclose that they were either paid or received free goods or services.

In an attempt to decipher the new FTC Guidelines, the PRSA says,

The FTC dubs them [bloggers] “endorsers” and makes endorsers liable, along with advertisers, for false or unsubstantiated claims or for failing to disclose material connections between the parties.”

What does this mean? It means that if you have a “material connection” with a third-party advertiser or sponsor, you must disclose it. Specifically,

Bloggers who receive cash or in-kind payment (including free products or services for review) are deemed endorsers and so must disclose material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.”

I have decided to include one blanket disclosure at the bottom of every blog page. I am using a simple block of text. I am using a smaller font (though still readable) and a slightly lighter color. I currently have the following six disclosure templates. I am inserting at least one at the end of each post. You will see these throughout this entire site. I have included them all here in one place to both use for myself and to provide for others to use if they wish to.

  1. Disclosure 1: No Material Connection. This is the standard disclosure I use when I don’t have any embedded links or a relationship with any of he products or services I have mentioned:
    Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this page. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
  2. Disclosure 2: Affiliate Links. This is the disclosure I use when I included an embedded affiliate link from Amazon, Clickbank or some other provider:
    Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
  3. Disclosure 3: Review or Sample Copy. This is the disclosure I use when I am reviewing a book or other product that I have received from someone in the hope that I will review it:
    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
  4. Disclosure 4: Sponsored Post. This is the disclosure I use when someone pays me to write a post for a product, service, or conference. I turn down more of these posts than I accept, because I have to be genuinely excited about the product:
    Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
  5. Disclosure 5: Employee/Shareholder Relationship. This is the disclosure I use when I am providing templates, books, etc. my company, Dillon Enterprises, has published.
    Disclosure of Material Connection: I am the CEO of Dillon Enterprises, the company that published this website.The templates attached to this page are free to download and modify. Regardless, I only recommend items that I have personally read and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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