Our Position on FTC’s New Guidelines

Last Fall, the FTC published an updated 81 page guideline governing endorsements and testimonials that became effective December 1st, 2009.

Since then, we’ve seen a slow adoption of affiliate marketers who have been including various forms of compensation disclosure in their resource boxes (located below the article body). Honest affiliate marketers are not scared by increasing transparency whereas many fear that an increase in disclosure will result in a decrease in conversion results.

One area of the new guidelines that didn’t impact the EzineArticles system is that marketers are now required to clearly state the substantiated generally expected results along with the spectacular results when used in testimonials. Because the greater majority of articles do not include testimonials, we don’t feel the need to make any ruling here. It’s our hope that most expert authors will keep their testimonials on their website and not in their submitted articles.

For consistency sake, we’ve decided that the material relationship disclosure should be uniform throughout EzineArticles.com and on a per-article basis located directly below the resource box. We need your help to determine what that disclosure should be. Here are two examples to get your feedback on:

Example A:
"Affiliate Disclosure: $AUTHORNAME may receive compensation for products and services promoted in this article."

Example B:
"Affiliate Disclosure: Assume that any mention of a product or service in this article is made because there exists a material connection between the product or service and this author. Should you make a purchase of a product or service described here the author of this article may be compensated."

Which do you like best? Do you have an alternative disclosure statement you’d like us to consider?

Members will be asked to check a box on each article submission to disclose to us that they are including affiliate link(s) in their article and/or resource box. When that box is checked, the default disclosure will be included. If a member fails to check the box and we determine they pitched an affiliate link, we’ll add the disclosure.

Your thoughts?


Keith writes:

As affiliate links in articles are contrary to the T&C of EzineArticles a full disclosure is also needed on the site the article points to. Therefore, the shorter the better for the statement, if at all.

Am I correct in thinking that the FTC only affects American sites? So an article pointing to a UK website that promotes a UK merchant selling only within the UK (for example) is governed under different rules.

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 9:18 AM



I’m not certain the reach of the FTC, but because our servers are based in the USA, we’re going to apply their standards to all members regardless as to where your links point to.

I do agree that a shorter statement is better than a longer one.

For clarification, we DO accept articles that link to affiliate links, but not directly… ie: You’ve got to own the domain that redirects to the affiliate link.


Keith writes:

I’d never thought of pointing to a page that does a redirect – this all makes a lot more sense now!

Not something I’ll be doing – all my links go to pages for people to read, with maybe affiliate links / adsense etc on. So my articles should not be affected. Or maybe it is something I should try!



CharLena writes:

I agree with Keith, the shorter the better for easier understanding.

FTC’s (regulatory-speaking) reach is for the United States Only, unless they made a deal the UK and that would be under another name or acronym, for instance: NAFTA or ACTA. The latter are “Free” Trade rather than Federal Trade commissions.

My vote is for A.



Short and sweet is ALWAYS better. The second one is too long and implies something that may or may not be true, whereas the first one is simple and says what it should. I’ll vote for A.

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 9:57 AM


Zack Lim writes:

Hi Chris,

I personally feel that Example A is better as it is short and sweet.

If the author is providing genuine content that is helpful to the reader, I am doubtful that there will be drastic drop in sales conversion.

It will be interesting to test it out and track the results :)


Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 10:02 AM


While we don’t really know for sure, I’d expect a ZERO change or drop in clicks to your links in the resource box because of this.

I expect consumers may likely ignore or be blind to this consumer alert no different than a caution sign in a hallway; but we have an obligation to “say it”.


Grant Gerver writes:

Well, i do include my company’s basic link, but it’s free to join and use our services on a limited basis. There is no fee requirement, so I don’t see that that’s necessary for my personal situation. But, i know you’ll correct me if I’m wrong. Thanks.

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 10:02 AM



This ONLY applies to AFFILIATE MARKETERS who include a URL that redirects to an affiliate links.

This does NOT apply to expert authors who are pitching their own website, even if that website contains affiliate links or ads.


Neil writes:

I am a bit confused. Why is this statement directed only at Affiliate marketers? Isn’t this discrimination? I mean, as an affiliate marketer, I am required to disclose that the website that I am sending you to could earn me some commission (even if it is my own website for which I am paying for Domain name and hosting and it only offers give-aways). But if it is my own website with my own product, I don’t have to warn you that I will make a profit out of you if you buy something from me.
I don’t quite understand the difference, or are affiliate marketers not really decent, honest citizens?
As a buyer, I could find a statement warning me that the marketer may make a profit out of me, rather off-putting and wonder why it is happening. Not all shoppers read and understand the USA FTC regulations.


You can call it discrimination if you’d like.

It is assumed if you are pitching your own website, that you intend to make a profit most likely. No disclosure is needed in this case.

Before this FTC guideline update on deceptive business practices online, affiliate marketers in my estimation, disclosed very little and the greater majority did ZERO disclosure. Conflicts of interest were super-secretly hidden. Sure, we old dogs could see right through it, but non-savvy consumers probably had no idea they were being flipped.

After this FTC guideline update, most honest, decent and ethical affiliate marketers are including partial or full disclosures and in doing so, have improved transparency for end-consumers. That leaves the rest who aren’t doing this and fear by disclosing the truth, their earnings will go down.

I’ve heard this argument a few times about how non-Americans feel that the FTC doesn’t reach them… and to that, I say this:

If you’re participating in the EzineArticles system, you’re articles get published here on American soil, the servers & our business is governed by American law, and most importantly, when your articles are listed on EzineArticles.com; you GET primary access to a 70% American audience of buyers of your products & services. It’d be different if your articles originated offshore, our servers were offshore, we were multi-national, and our traffic for your content only came from your own country. Because this isn’t true, with the goodness of 700,000 unique daily visitors from the USA alone that you get access to in terms of attracting them back to your website…you also get snagged in some of our anti-deceptive practice laws.

Because of your very argument that some buyers might be put off by this disclaimer… is the very reason we aren’t putting this disclaimer site-wide because non-affiliates who aren’t pitching someone else’s product in their articles shouldn’t have to be forced to have the disclosure statement included.


Neil writes:

Thanks for your informative reply, Chris. As a newbie to affiliate marketing, I never realized that affiliate marketers had such a bad reputation and many were ripping off the public.
You are quite right in referring to the USA market being open to all international website entrepreneurs, whether they planned it or not. I think that this is a big advantage to us all.
I now understand where you are coming from and I have no problem with disclosure.



This has been a topic of discussion with my students, so I am glad we are finally discussing it here.
I prefer Example B, as that is more similar to what I add to emails to my list when I am promoting affiliate products or services to them.
Full disclosure and transparency bring us more credibility in our online businesses.

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 10:07 AM


Ryan writes:

I like the second one better but instead of the word exists I would like that changed to “made because there may be a material connection between the product or service”.

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 10:15 AM


Jed Jones writes:

Following the KISS principle, A is better.

Also, a question: do the FTC rules apply when the page being linked to from the article is a review page containing multiple links, some affiliate, some not? Or, what if it leads to a page that leads to another page that has affiliate links? In other words: how many degrees removed (in terms of hops/clicks) does the affiliate link need to be from the article such that the FTC rules no longer apply?

And: does the rule apply to Adsense or only affiliate links?



Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 10:31 AM



While I’m not here to give legal advice as to what the FTC guidelines will mean; I will say that we’re only going to be concerned today with links that rewrite/redirect directly to an affiliate link.

Links that go to your home page where you have affiliate links is your business and your responsibility to disclose.


Jed Jones writes:


Makes sense – many thanks.




Example A please. Short, sweet and too the point is what works for me. No need to belabor it.


Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 10:36 AM


Donald E Yerke writes:

Boy, you just opened up a can of worms Chris with this one. I know it is your company, and I have no real say but I will give a suggestion.

98% of the quality writers of 500 word articles, that are meant to inform consumers and the public do not use this technique. For the sake of us, just make it simple! These others dilute the quality of our writing.

Any article stating substantial or $______
increases in income will be rejected.

In the financial services industry, disclosures are becoming 500 words long. This is a two-way quicksand pit. EzineArticles might be able to afford the fine, but the article writer cannot.

Donald Yerke
40 year independent consultant/adviser to the insurance and financial industry.

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 10:40 AM



The quality of the writing is not relevant for this issue.

Right now, we’re zeroing in on the LINK itself and where it goes to. If it goes to an affiliate link, then a disclosure must be included.


Lynn Black writes:

K.I.S.S. always works for me. Still a “virgin” in this territory so always looking for improvement and guidance.

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 10:41 AM


Ann writes:

Personally, I like example A – it’s short, sweet and to the point. Also, I may mention something in an article that I am not an affiliate for. So I think the first one was more clear.

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 10:46 AM


James writes:

Affiliate Disclosure: %AUTHORNAME, the Author of this article, may be compensated for works displayed concerning the purchase, promotion or service mentioned herein.

Simple and to the point!!

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 10:52 AM


Bryan Stevens writes:

I like A. Short and sweet

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 11:01 AM



Hi there, Chris,

I vote for version A. People understand sweet and short and easy. Each time I see the longer version my thought is the author will hope a reader won’t understand what it says.

Both versions say the same thing but version B is the legalese version. Big words not needed here.

If people do read the disclosure and can understand what it says, they will be more comfortable.

Thanks for asking!

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 11:06 AM


Sam writes:

I like the first one too – it’s clear and to the point.

I’m glad you’re addressing this. I’ve been including my own disclosure at the end of my resource box when I use redirects, but think it will look better if there’s a uniform statement across the site.

As far as conversions go, I haven’t noticed any negative effects. And over time, people will become so used to seeing statements like this, that they’ll probably just tune them out anyway.

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 11:12 AM


Sheree Douglas writes:

If A covers it legally, I’m all for it.

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 12:39 PM


michael jordan writes:

i stand by point A. This is quite simple and gentle which doesn’t harm both the parties i.e. EzineArticles and the author more

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 1:07 PM


Cathy Chapman writes:

I like “A”. Is it possible to supply options. We’d check “A” or “B” or “C”which would be write our own? I may be trying to be too accommodating here.

I just wrote an article mentioning a site I’m not an affiliate for. I assume everyone thinks I’m making money off links, so I said up front that I wasn’t an affiliate.

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 1:12 PM


CJ writes:

I like B better. But if you decide to go with A, please replace $AUTHORNAME with “The author” or “The author of this article”. I say this because, if you automatically insert their name, that author may prefer that you use his/her company name, or nick name, or full legal name, etc. You will upset some authors by automatically inserting their names because they will feel they have even less control over the article.

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 3:31 PM


Ray writes:

Thumbs up for A. B makes it sound like we WILL receive compensation, which may not always be the case, whereas A is a bit more ambivalent.

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 3:36 PM



I, too, vote for A. It’s simple and straightforward (and I also like CJ’s suggestion re: “the author” vs. $AUTHORNAME).

Version B feels complex, indirect and overall sleazy.

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 4:43 PM


Mark writes:

Go with A. Much nicer.

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 5:17 PM


Kym writes:

Version A it is concise but still states what it needs to say. Too much legal jargon may only start to intimidate and confuse people.

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 6:05 PM



I like the “A” version, but agree with previous comments to change $AUTHORNAME to “author.”

Just curious, though…if you decide to keep $AUTHORNAME in Version A, will the author’s name be picked up more by the search engines?

Comment provided March 31, 2010 at 9:25 PM


Sam writes:

Just to add to my previous comment – I agree with the suggestion about replacing the name in version A with ‘the author’ or something similar.

Comment provided April 1, 2010 at 2:22 AM


Emma writes:

I like short and sweet example A as well. It does everything it needs to do.

Comment provided April 1, 2010 at 2:47 AM


Bob Crawford writes:

I’d vote for ‘A’, if I were to include affiliate links in my resource boxes.

But if I’m not mistaken, I believe the burden of disclosure falls on the owner of the webpage that the affiliate link appears on.

I think a better solution would be for EzineArticles.com to place a blanket disclosure on the EzineArticles.com site similar to ‘B’. This allows EzineArticles.com to CYA (cover your a**) without having to worry about each and every article. Put one disclosure in the sidebar and be done with it.

Comment provided April 1, 2010 at 9:28 AM


We thought about that; but that decision hurts non-affiliate marketers… or more than half of our membership.

If we bury the disclaimer, then no one sees it… but that’s not the point and we’ve been advised to make it visible enough so that any normal reader would naturally see it.


Glen Ford writes:

Theoretically, the FTC rules only affect companies in the U.S.

For that reason alone, I would vote for keeping it simple.

However, the simpler version is also more accurate, easier to understand, and does a better job. And if it uses “the author” rather than $authorname, it looks like you are making the disclosure … which overcomes the U.S./non-U.S. issue as well.

So I’d have to say that I agree with version 1 using “the author” rather than $authorname.

You’d even have room to include the “Any $ claims should be considered speculative” phrase.

Comment provided April 1, 2010 at 1:52 PM


William Henry Hann writes:

I prefer the shorter example A. It communicates the message well and the simple transparency should make the reader confident that the author is trustworthy.

Comment provided April 1, 2010 at 4:18 PM


Nette writes:

I prefer Example A definitely- it’s clear, direct concise and short!

How about giving the authors a choice in each article? Authors can check Box A or Box B.

Comment provided April 2, 2010 at 12:19 AM



Thanks for the suggestion.

I can tell you that we’re certain we’ll only be using one single template disclaimer site wide for all articles that have affiliate links in them.


Jeremy Kelsall writes:

Will you also be publishing this disclosure by all of your Adsense blocks?

Comment provided April 6, 2010 at 8:36 PM



No. It’s not required by the FTC updated guidelines.

Why? Because no deception is involved.

It’s my perception that the FTC wants to clamp down on affiliate marketers who promote products or services that they don’t sell themselves without disclosing that they are getting paid off for the endorsement or recommendation. ie: An increase in transparency is the end goal.


Jeremy Kelsall writes:

But, don’t you earn money if someone clicks the link?

On the pages that follow, aren’t there things for sale where someone is going to earn money if a product is purchased?

If I write an article, attach my resource box, and someone follows it and makes a purchase, I get paid.

If someone clicks on your Adsense ad, goes to the next page, you get paid for the click, and the person who owned the ad gets paid if they make a purchase.

What’s the difference?

Either way, it is the person who owns the landing page to make sure that they are within the FTC guidelines, right? I know you are trying to CYA, but adding ANOTHER distraction to an already busy page, is kind of a detriment to all of your publishers end game.

Not that I think anything that anyone says will change your mind, just letting you know that your decision isn’t a popular one with many folks.


Emma writes:

Aside from what Chris said, Adsense blocks already have a disclosure on them anyway. Every block says “Ads by Google” on it.


George writes:

I agree with the FTC policy is ensuring affiliate markets are disclosing that they are getting paid for the endorsement or recommendation to prevent sellers from misleading buyers. I’m not sure if you present facts in an article and invite someone to visit a website to make their own determination about a product or service falls under the realm of the FTC guidelines. I don’t think the FTC’s intent is to disclosure you may earn income if someone clicks on a link.

Article about membership sites follow EzineArticles guidelines which precludes endorsing or recommending a particular product or service.
Resource Box
George invites you to learn more about membership site by visiting http://www.membershipstuff.com. Owning a membership site will increase your sales and profits.

I choose B. If this takes affect, I will add to my resource box I use and can highly recommend product X – which will be a true statement. I don’t want to market crap.


Comment provided April 11, 2010 at 2:18 PM


George writes:

Add to above comment

I don’t think my example is a recommendation. It does not say get it now, this is the best, you have to have this to succeed, etc. It simply invites you to have a look.

Comment provided April 11, 2010 at 2:26 PM


Donald E Yerke writes:

Jeremy hit it right on the head. Emma sorry, but the FTC is mean, call a “do not call” phone number and pay $11,200. No questions asked, none answered.

If EzineArticles expects members to post articles, then it is up to EzineArticles to provide full disclosure, it is YOUR website.

Do not pass down the liability. If I post someone’s Ezine article on my site, I cannot come back at you if I am fined, nor can I pass it to the article writer.

Comment provided April 11, 2010 at 2:39 PM


Andrew writes:

I’m pretty sure in some way shape or form the FTC guidelines will come into the UK. Normally happens.

FTC guidelines currently only affect the US.

Does that mean then as a non US. I get an opt out option? No, since EzineArticles is US based.

I’m pretty certain in a year or so this will all quieten down and readers will just gloss over it. Content is still king.

Neil – It’s like many rules. Not thought out fully and implemented. UKers have just had such a case with living out of the country for 90 days and tax. It was all a myth.

Chris – What does the lawyer say?

Comment provided April 13, 2010 at 9:55 AM



I like A. Short and sweet

Comment provided April 14, 2010 at 8:02 AM


Gail writes:

How about reviews, specifically books? I’ve been including my own:

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided to me at no cost. This review is my honest opinion of the work.


Comment provided May 13, 2010 at 11:13 AM


Sam writes:

I just wondered if you’ve made a decision & if this is going to be implemented soon?

Comment provided June 20, 2010 at 7:08 AM


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