Online shopping is more popular than ever. It’s fast, convenient and secure. Many of the businesses now offer an option to buy their products online instead of heading over to the physical store. As the online businesses grow, more and more entrepreneurs try to capitalize on that by getting into affiliate programs and earning a percentage of those ever-increasing sales.
Amazon Associates is one of the most popular affiliate programs among many of the bloggers and internet marketers these days. They offer a huge variety of products that almost anyone can relate to on their websites which makes it almost a no-brainer to work with them, not to mention their fantastic conversion rates.
What is the Amazon Associates program?
Amazon Associates program is one of the first affiliate marketing programs launched all the way back in the 90s. It allows markers to promote their products and earn a small commission for each sale.
Unlike many other affiliate programs, it’s very strict when it comes to specific rules their participants must follow if they want to remain a part of the program. If an associate does not adhere to the legal requirements of Amazon, not only Amazon will revoke access to the associate’s account but the offender can also land in legal trouble for violating U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) consumer protection guidelines.
Amazon’s aim is to protect its brand name and comply with the US laws to ensure a fair eCommerce experience for its shoppers. Below are two of the very important, yet often forgotten things all Amazon associates program participants must follow.
Affiliate disclaimer and disclosure are essential under both, US law and Amazon Associates legal requirements.
Amazon strictly requires you to identify yourself as an Amazon Associate. They are very specific about this and have even provided example paragraph affiliates may copy to their website:
[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 amazon.com.
The reason Amazon is so specific about full disclosure is that the blogger or content creator develops a certain trust with its users - they follow their posts, look for their opinions and trust their reviews and recommendations.
Getting paid to write something positive about a product is not very ethical and will be considered as betraying your users. Therefore, Amazon requires you to clearly state if you’re endorsing a product out of fondness or getting something in return.
Moreover, putting this statement will also help you in abiding the FTC’s online endorsement guidelines and you’ll be able to avoid legal trouble with them.
FTC and Amazon both demand to put the disclaimer statement explicitly on the website where it’s clearly visible. You should not place it as part of the “about us” or “information” pages.
For example, displaying it prominently on the page with a product review or even next to the affiliate link is what many bloggers do. This will catch the attention of users who are about to click the affiliate link and make them aware of it.
The language used to state the “affiliate link” should be clear and obvious. It should mention that the website is being compensated for putting up the affiliate link
I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.
To sum it up - anyone who is part of the Amazon Associates program and earns money through it should put a disclaimer on their website which should be available all the times. In case of non-compliance, Amazon can close your account so why risk losing your hard-earned commission over such small detail.
Placing a full version of the disclaimer at the bottom of the site or within your other legal pages is also a good idea to ensure you cover all other aspects of running a website and not just the affiliate part of it.
It should clearly state that you and your website guarantee to follow all applicable privacy-related laws.
Although many blogs and small businesses which simply review products don’t intentionally collect personal data of users (for example, by asking them to sign up for an account), they still actually collect privacy-related information in the background. One such source of collecting personal information is through cookies which can store IP address, demographics and other personal details of users. And if you use any third-party affiliate or advertising services, then you most definitely collect personal information from your users which is passed on to those companies.
Affiliate programs are great for small businesses and bloggers and help them generate more revenue from their websites and sometimes even be their primary source of income. But it’s always critical to pay attention to the terms and conditions whenever getting into a contract to avoid any legal trouble in the future.
Thoroughly evaluate your website’s content, bring it in line with the legal requirements of Amazon, protect your users’ privacy and put up a noticeable disclaimer. This will help you avoid legal violations and will ensure a long-term relationship with Amazon and other affiliate programs and services.