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I’ve been involved in affiliate marketing off and on for about 8 years, and the trend towards disclosure of affiliate links in the blogosphere has been a strange situation for me. It’s just bad, distracting copy, so I try to find some other way to reveal the affiliation in a way that makes sense. Now it looks like anyone who markets to US citizens will be required by law to make these disclosures or face potential action for deceptive advertising. The Federal Trade Commission yesterday said that companies engaging in word-of-mouth marketing, in which people are compensated to promote products to their peers, must disclose those relationships.
I can certainly live with it, although I feel a bit offended that I’m subject to potential legal action thanks to the actions of unethical marketers who have prompted blanket sanctions against everyone involved in a legitimate industry. But as Tony Hung also points out, this is going to potentially hurt some highly profitable, if less than transparent, affiliate business models. There are tons of these types of sites. If you’re planning to begin affiliate marketing on your blog, don’t despair. I think disclosure can be a very good thing that need not hurt your sales, as long as you create a benefit that coincides with the transparency. I’ll be starting an affiliate marketing video series on Tubetorial next week that will show you what I mean.