FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials

98 replies
Source: FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials

Although it may be difficult or may not be even feasible for FTC to enforce this but it will make lot of folks change the way they use testimonials.

What do you think? Are you changing the wording on your sales pages?

You can have a look at this thread as a backgrounder:http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...-solution.html
#endorsements #final #ftc #governing #guides #publishes #testimonials
  • Profile picture of the author DAS_Matt
    Definitely something people should take the time to look over. Thanks for the post.
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  • Profile picture of the author LB
    Total insanity.

    It's all selective enforcement.
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  • Profile picture of the author Scott Ames
    I think I'll add a disclaimer to anything I sell now.. Results not typical, expect nothing.

    Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect
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    • Profile picture of the author LB
      Originally Posted by Scott Ames View Post

      I think I'll add a disclaimer to anything I sell now.. Results not typical, expect nothing.
      Under these new terms, that's not enough.

      You have to actually say WHAT results buyers can expect. Good luck with that...

      Even if you attempted to comply with the above rules I can imagine the FTC hauling you into court and battering you with multiple lawyers to put holes all through the "methodology" you used to arrive at your conclusions.

      That's why it's all selective enforcement. It'll be easier for the FTC to go after people...it's all about revenue for the government.
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      • Profile picture of the author Sylonious
        Here is what an FTC spokesperson had to say about enforcement.

        I must stress again that Cleland informed me that enforcement wouldn't make sense if individual bloggers were targeted. The FTC intends to direct its energies to advertisers.
        That means you are more likely to be kicked out of your affiliate network than anything, but only after being educated and warned about disclosure. Keep an eye out for the affiliate network TOS changes.

        Originally Posted by StewieG View Post

        On top of everything that has been mentioned above, Google and the others will be able to find and discount the paid blog post giving them zero value. Companies like Linkvana, AMA, etc etc are gonna be owned from this.

        Would those be considered payed reviews, your letting a 3rd party post text to your blog promoting products?
        Splog links? That's completely unenforceable, imo. There are a lot more splogs out there than even ugly affiliate sites.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kevin AKA Hubcap
      One part of me feels that this is a good thing but another feels like its a way for the FTC to put undue pressure on small business not to mention larger businesses using the FTC as a proxy to drive down competition and I think the biggest problem will be selective enforcement.

      I think we can all agree that the hidden continuity offers (you know which ones I'm talking about) should be exposed and dealt with but I wonder how large a net the FTC will cast and I really wonder if it will catch any big fish or will they swim out of large pre-cut holes.


      Take a look at some of the tv, print, radio, and web advertisements/endorsements/commercials. A large percentage of commercials are endorsements, the majority of which use actors to portray an "average consumer". If those commercials are ok why can't someone do something similar on a blog?

      I also have a problem with this statement from the FTC's press release...

      Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect.
      The quote above mentions a consumer and his/her experience. Does this mean that I can hire an actor to talk about a "typical" consumer experience and it won't be flagged by the FTC?

      And what is a result that consumers can generally expect? Say you're selling a nutrition program to help people lose weight and become more fit. It's composed of sensible eating guide lines and exercise recommendations.

      The program is solid but will only work if people follow it. How can you, as a seller, know what people will act on and what they won't. All that you can do is provide good, useful information. You can't force someone not to eat that donut or drink that liter of soda yet those will be the people that say the program doesn't work.

      Think about all the cereal commercials that say "part of a nutritious and balanced breakfast" eventhough the cereal is nothing more that colored sugar.

      Like I said... I'm all for scammers getting their due but the fact that you can have two companies using the exact same methods and the FTC can selectively prosecute one and not the other is not s good thing and will lead to abuses in my opinion.

      Kevin
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      • I blogged about this in detail this AM.

        There are 2 parts to these guidelines. 1) Accurate testimonials 2) Reviews and endorsements disclosure for financial gain.

        I am MUCH MORE WORRIED about part 2 of the guidelines, which I haven't seen anyone discuss in this thread yet.

        I'm especially concerned with the reviews and endorsements issue. The FTC does not state HOW monetary disclosure needs to be made. Much of the wording focuses on bloggers, but they also mention "other word of mouth marketers" which certainly would include affiliates.

        REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS "These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other "word-of-mouth" marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service."
        Also of note and not mentioned on the FTC site. The new guidelines supposedly go into effect
        Dec. 1 according to the Associate Press news story I cited on my blog today.


        So what impact do you think this has on affiliates??? Obviously if you do affiliate reviews you should disclose. But a single affiliate link could be seen as an 'endorsement' of a product. Do you think affiliates need to disclose every affiliate link or what???
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      • Profile picture of the author Centimetro
        Originally Posted by Kevin AKA Hubcap View Post

        One part of me feels that this is a good thing but another feels like its a way for the FTC to put undue pressure on small business not to mention larger businesses using the FTC as a proxy to drive down competition and I think the biggest problem will be selective enforcement.
        The second part of you is right. Vague guidelines like these are NEVER a good thing
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  • Profile picture of the author HeySal
    I'm especially concerned with the reviews and endorsements issue. The FTC does not state HOW monetary disclosure needs to be made. Much of the wording focuses on bloggers, but they also mention "other word of mouth marketers" which certainly would include affiliates.
    That will be a bit interesting.....but considering that these rules go into effect on December 1st - and fines for violations being set at $11,000 a pop, I'd think there are quite a few people with review sites that better get on the stick and suss it all out - and keep their eyes open for the announcement of what the disclosure guidelines are going to be.
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    It will be next to impossible for them to police millions of posts. They will pick and choose their fights, as indicated below.

    "The FTC's published discussion of its rules indicates that the agency will rely mainly on self-regulation, with enforcement action only in the most egregious cases, much as it does in dealing with online fraud."
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    • Profile picture of the author steve39
      I wonder if the FTC has any power or influence outside of the US? Also, if I have a blog with affiliate banners near the content, could that be considered an endorsement? If that is the case, then are we also responsible for 3rd party ads such as adsense and other advertisements we might have running on our site?

      Personally, I think they are really going after the blatant abusers like flog owners and forced continuity scams. That was really getting out of hand anyway and needed to be dealt with.

      This could be interesting...
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      • Profile picture of the author islander1
        Originally Posted by steve39 View Post

        I wonder if the FTC has any power or influence outside of the US?
        I don't see how the FTC could enforce this on people outside of the U.S., but we may want to stay away from U.S. based web hosting companies, etc.

        I hate to say this cause it may not be politically correct in this forum, but this is what happens when you elect socialists to run your government. These kind of people are all about control.

        I think this is only the beginning of the kind of stuff we'll see from this current U.S. administration. Us marketers need to prepare to adjust to many changes like this in the near future.
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        • Profile picture of the author Daniel Brock
          Originally Posted by islander1 View Post

          I hate to say this cause it may not be politically correct in this forum, but this is what happens when you elect socialists to run your government. These kind of people are all about control.

          I think this is only the beginning of the kind of stuff we'll see from this current U.S. administration. Us marketers need to prepare to adjust to many changes like this in the near future.
          Bingo!!!! Internet is the one easy way for people to break out of the system that they(government) have spent so long trying to create.

          So naturally, they must regulate it to clamp down on the people who have power, but "shouldn't".

          Here is what they want:

          Go to college -> take out student loan(debt) -> force yourself into workplace because you have to pay off debt -> buy fancy cars and houses you can't afford further trapping yourself in their system -> have kids -> get into more debt -> get locked into job for the rest of your life because you are now enslaved.

          What they don't want:

          kid drops out of college -> starts internet business -> has money to buy whatever they want and NO debt -> can now do whatever he/she wants to do.

          Sure, you can always start your own physical business. But that is just way harder than jumping online and spending $50 to make a fortune.
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          • Profile picture of the author TelegramSam
            Originally Posted by Daniel Brock View Post

            Bingo!!!! Internet is the one easy way for people to break out of the system that they(government) have spent so long trying to create.

            So naturally, they must regulate it to clamp down on the people who have power, but "shouldn't".

            Here is what they want:

            Go to college -> take out student loan(debt) -> force yourself into workplace because you have to pay off debt -> buy fancy cars and houses you can't afford further trapping yourself in their system -> have kids -> get into more debt -> get locked into job for the rest of your life because you are now enslaved.

            What they don't want:

            kid drops out of college -> starts internet business -> has money to buy whatever they want and NO debt -> can now do whatever he/she wants to do.

            Sure, you can always start your own physical business. But that is just way harder than jumping online and spending $50 to make a fortune.
            Very well said, and oh so accurate!

            ( By the way though, where do I spend that $50 to get myself a fortune? )
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            • Profile picture of the author JackDuncan
              The more truth in advertising, the better for all of us. Deceptive ads bring down all the marketers out there because it increases shopper skepticism and distrust. Outrageous claims are not the way to build business. In the long run, moral, ethical and legal means are the way to true success!
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          • Profile picture of the author apollocreed
            Originally Posted by Daniel Brock View Post

            Bingo!!!! Internet is the one easy way for people to break out of the system that they(government) have spent so long trying to create.

            So naturally, they must regulate it to clamp down on the people who have power, but "shouldn't".

            Here is what they want:

            Go to college -> take out student loan(debt) -> force yourself into workplace because you have to pay off debt -> buy fancy cars and houses you can't afford further trapping yourself in their system -> have kids -> get into more debt -> get locked into job for the rest of your life because you are now enslaved.

            What they don't want:

            kid drops out of college -> starts internet business -> has money to buy whatever they want and NO debt -> can now do whatever he/she wants to do.

            Sure, you can always start your own physical business. But that is just way harder than jumping online and spending $50 to make a fortune.
            The FTC crackdown was on the plate way before the "socialist" government was in power. (by the wa the U.S democrats are far more rightwing compared to most European right wing parties)

            The government like any self serving entity, wants as much amoney as possible in order to sustain and grow itself. The governemnet gets most of its money from taxes.

            As a result, the only thing the governemnt cares about is to mximise the amount of taxes it collects. If you make more money as a kid having your own interent business and also therefore pay more taxes, the government will love you. This is simply because you are making it richer.

            I think your logic in thinking that the governement wants the people it governs to remain poor and in debt is very false.

            The reason the FTC is cracking down is because of the greed and corruption of certain members of our community of making false promises and ripping off people.

            Apollo
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        • Profile picture of the author thmgoodw
          Originally Posted by islander1 View Post

          I don't see how the FTC could enforce this on people outside of the U.S., but we may want to stay away from U.S. based web hosting companies, etc.
          There are two intertwined elements here.

          First, the U.S. courts have in the past (and will continue in the future) to allow lawsuits against foreign residents not residing in the U.S., if such party does things like sell products to Americans. The U.S. courts will do what they think they need to do to protect american consumers.

          Second, is the enforceability of any such judgment against you. If you ever step foot on U.S. soil, then certainly you would be in trouble then. In addition, with the various treaties and global agreements in place, there is a decent chance that the U.S. would be able to go after your assets in your country.
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        • Profile picture of the author Ian Jackson
          Originally Posted by islander1 View Post

          I don't see how the FTC could enforce this on people outside of the U.S., but we may want to stay away from U.S. based web hosting companies, etc.

          I hate to say this cause it may not be politically correct in this forum, but this is what happens when you elect socialists to run your government. These kind of people are all about control.

          I think this is only the beginning of the kind of stuff we'll see from this current U.S. administration. Us marketers need to prepare to adjust to many changes like this in the near future.
          Spot on. Socialists are akin to the "Midas Touch" in reverse - everything they touch turns to sh*t. We have the same with our current government here in the UK.

          12 years ago the leader of the Labour party (then opposition) duped and conned most of the UK electorate with his powerful "bling" and your current President has played the same trick in the USA.
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      • Profile picture of the author spearce000
        On reading the announcement on the FTC website, one paragraph stood head and shoulders above the rest IMHO:

        The Guides are administrative interpretations of the law intended to help advertisers comply with the Federal Trade Commission Act; they are not binding law themselves. In any law enforcement action challenging the allegedly deceptive use of testimonials or endorsements, the Commission would have the burden of proving that the challenged conduct violates the FTC Act.
        (my emphasis above)

        The law is already on the books. They (the FTC) have just decided to interpret it differently. It will almost certainly not be widely enforced until a legal precedent has been set. Which means they'll probably pick on some poor affiliate marketer and hang him/her out to dry rather than go after a big corporation with an army of Wall Street lawyers and megabucks to pay them with. Either way, I suspect the US Supreme Court will be the final arbiter of all this. You just have to hope you're not the one they decide to pick on.


        Originally Posted by steve39 View Post

        I wonder if the FTC has any power or influence outside of the US?
        Whether they like it or not, America's laws end at America's borders. If you're outside the US and have your website or blog hosted on a server in your own country, you probably don't have a lot to worry about ... for now.

        Which brings up another (slightly off-topic) question. As governments the world over seek to regulate the Internet more and more, what's to stop the US (or any other government for that matter) from insisting that only websites that comply with their rules can be accessed from within their jurisdiction and blocking out those which don't? If China can censor Google, anything is possible.
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        • Profile picture of the author GarrieWilson
          Originally Posted by spearce000 View Post

          Whether they like it or not, America's laws end at America's borders. If you're outside the US and have your website or blog hosted on a server in your own country, you probably don't have a lot to worry about ... for now.
          Hate to break it to you but you are sadly mistaken.

          Thanks to international treaties signed by your government, they can come after you if you sell/promote to any one in the US.

          It's not likely they will but they could. They will more than likely have your government do it.

          Which brings up another (slightly off-topic) question. As governments the world over seek to regulate the Internet more and more, what's to stop the US (or any other government for that matter) from insisting that only websites that comply with their rules can be accessed from within their jurisdiction and blocking out those which don't? If China can censor Google, anything is possible.
          Already being done in a way. There is no federal US law requiring privacy policies (last I looked) but California requires them. So if you want to sell to people in California, you better have one. If not, Arnold will terminate you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dana_W
    Yeah, saw this article in the NY Times this afternoon:
    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009....html?_r=1&hpw

    Definitely rethinking putting up review sites.

    Does this affect people who already HAVE review sites up? Does everyone have to go back and change their wording or add disclosures?
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    • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Dana_W View Post

      Yeah, saw this article in the NY Times this afternoon:
      http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009....html?_r=1&hpw

      Definitely rethinking putting up review sites.

      Does this affect people who already HAVE review sites up? Does everyone have to go back and change their wording or add disclosures?
      Yes, I am sure it affects already existing sites as well as new sites, but like they say in the article, this will be pretty much impossible for them to monitor except for the big cases.
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    • Profile picture of the author thmgoodw
      Originally Posted by Dana_W View Post


      Does this affect people who already HAVE review sites up? Does everyone have to go back and change their wording or add disclosures?
      If you've been driving 65mph in a 65mph zone, but they decrease the speed limit to 55mph, you couldn't be punished for driving 65mph prior to the enactment (actually the effective date) of the lower speed limit, but you certainly would be punished for driving 65mph after the the law goes into effect.

      Same analysis here. You will be OK up until Dec. 1, then anything on the internet will be fair game (obviously subject to jurisdictional and citizenship issues).
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  • Profile picture of the author Greg Jacobs
    This is %100 in direct response to floggers jacking obamas and oprahs brand for the grants and teh berries. Though now that it is here, it will be a selective enforcement nightmare and can cross over into anything.
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  • Profile picture of the author plugsnpixels
    I like to think I "promote" rather than "review", but we'll see.
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  • Profile picture of the author TelegramSam
    They tend to attack those that have the means to pay their "law-breaking" fines.

    They do their homework. They find "law-breakers". Check their "confidential" tax records, income statements and balance sheets. They follow the money, otherwise it wouldn't be "worth" most prosecutions.

    Obviously the suspicious company or individual must be ripping the public off big time, as they are "breaking the law" and are profiting from it. So we must "protect the public" and prosecute.

    Usually a deal will be done where the person being attacks realises that they can't win as the cards are stacked against them.

    They don't have a leg to stand on as the FTC has "found" a member of the public who is willing to complain about the "injustice and hardship caused".

    So the person or company coughs up a few hundred grand or more in seized assets and so the FTC is able to grow its pot of funds for the "public good" and another "scammy" marketer and his family bites the dust.

    Well boys and girls, it's time to hitch up the wagons and move even further out West.

    Ooops!!! Cr*p, there is no where else to go to get away from these bureaucrats.

    Bang, bang. BANG.

    That'll teach the blood-suckers.
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  • Profile picture of the author TheRichJerksNet
    If you use real testimonials fom real people that actually use the product/service, then what's the big deal ???

    Maybe I missed something ...

    James
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    • Profile picture of the author Centimetro
      Originally Posted by TheRichJerksNet View Post

      If you use real testimonials fom real people that actually use the product/service, then what's the big deal ???

      Maybe I missed something ...

      James
      Yeah, you missed something...

      It has very little to do with whether or not your testimonials are real. Fake testimonials are obviously deceptive and I'm sure has been against the rules for a long time.

      What people are worried about with these new guidelines is that there are very unspecific clauses that suggest that testimonials, even if real, must portray "typical" results, or clearly state the difference between the testimonials and the typical results.

      How and who determines what results are "typical"? Who knows. Will it actually be a big deal? Maybe not, but I'm just pointing out that fake testimonials aren't really the issue here
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      • Profile picture of the author TheRichJerksNet
        Originally Posted by Centimetro View Post

        Yeah, you missed something...

        It has very little to do with whether or not your testimonials are real. Fake testimonials are obviously deceptive and I'm sure has been against the rules for a long time.

        What people are worried about with these new guidelines is that there are very unspecific clauses that suggest that testimonials, even if real, must portray "typical" results, or clearly state the difference between the testimonials and the typical results.

        How and who determines what results are "typical"? Who knows. Will it actually be a big deal? Maybe not, but I'm just pointing out that fake testimonials aren't really the issue here
        Is this not what disclaimers are for ? I mean I guess it depends upon the sales letter if it is listing some kind of screenshot for making money or something, but disclaimers should take care of that because not everyones results will be the same...

        James
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob Howard
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    • Profile picture of the author brchap
      We all know that the sales letter has to "sell the sizzle", and make the potential buyer believe that buying your product could lead to untold riches, happiness, more sex, better sex, better behaved pets, kids and spouses...

      But, we also know that after they purchase your product, they actually have to DO SOMETHING. They cannot simply print out the PDF on their laser printer, stick it under their pillow at night, and then wake up with the desired results.

      The FTC is following the standard modus operandi for any governmental entity (or large organized religions): If we can't directly make money from it, REGULATE IT.

      Also, as far as the other "interpretation" is concerned:

      The FTC will require that writers on the Web clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products. The commission also said advertisers featuring testimonials that claim dramatic results cannot hide behind disclaimers that the results aren't typical.
      Where does that leave affiliates? Will we have to disclose that we make money any time anyone buys a particular product? I can't imagine that going very well.
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      • Profile picture of the author halfpoint
        Originally Posted by brchap View Post

        Where does that leave affiliates? Will we have to disclose that we make money any time anyone buys a particular product? I can't imagine that going very well.
        This is the one that worries me the most.

        Depending on what it actually entails I probably won't be hosting my sites in the US anymore.
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      • Profile picture of the author gvannorman
        Originally Posted by brchap View Post



        Where does that leave affiliates? Will we have to disclose that we make money any time anyone buys a particular product? I can't imagine that going very well.

        Im not sure ont hsi...but the it says that we have to disclose any product that is reviewed by us and we make money on it. I personally just started in affiliate marketing and havent reviewed any product as of yet, but I am going to promote a few products as soon as I get my traffic levels up where it will make it worthwhile...if your only getting 20 hits a day...why bother wasting time on promoting products...promote your blog/site.

        After I get upto 100 or more hits a day then Ill start promoting products plus keep the promotion going for my blog/site. Just a thought.

        As long as we are not reviewing a product then the earnings shouldnt have to be disclosed. But, if your really worried about it, have an attorny read it and explain it in more detail.
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    • Profile picture of the author mattlaclear
      Originally Posted by ccmusicman View Post

      Here is the problem with the testimonial part.

      Take Make money Online.

      Say someone says: "I made 100k a month with this product!"

      Then lets say that that statement is 100% true. That person really did make that kind of money a month.

      But, we all know that 90% of people that buy do nothing with the product and make no money. So we would have to add this disclaimer:

      "Disclaimer: The above testimonial is not typical. Instead, most people don't really make anything with this product."

      And if you really wanted to cover your butt, you would probably want to list statistics.

      And having this disclaimer at the bottom of the page wouldn't fly. It would need to be in big bold letters right under the testimonial.

      However, I think with a bit of humor, you could turn this for you by saying this:

      "That testimonial is rare. Only 10% will actually make money. And of those, only 5% will make near that money. But you want to know why? Because most won't take action on it!"

      I would include that in the sales letter - then you are covered AND you are still promoting well - you do want your customers to consume your products.

      Rob
      I'm with Rob on this one big time. We all know our products do not help most people simply because the consumers who buy them never put them into action. But is that our fault? According to the FTC it is. Seems they want us following up with each of our customers to ensure they use the product to the best of their ability. That way they can get the same results the testimonials did.

      Which is complete bull****.

      Plus how do we know which of the testimonials our customers are giving us are actually true? Do we have to go check their financial statements before posting their testimonial?

      Also how are we supposed to figure out what the typical results are from someone who buys our products? Do we have to go check the financial statements of everyone who purchases our $5 eBook?

      Something just isn't adding up.

      But the way around this of course is what Rob suggested. Just spin the copy of the disclaimer into your favor.

      Under your testimonial write something like: "Warning! The FTC wants me to warn you that you most likely will never receive the same results from using this product. Why so? It's simple. They just don't think you're going to follow through and take action with it after you purchase it. So be warned before purchasing it. I on the other hand think you're probably ready to start taking action on the items you purchase. Otherwise why else would you be here reading this? So you can believe what the FTC thinks of your ability or you can believe me. The choice is yours."

      All it's going to take is just a little good old fashioned sales ingenuity to get past the testimonial aspect on our sales pages.

      The review sites can be handled the same way in my opinion. Just write a line or two copy that states : "I liked this product so much in fact that I bought the company. Well not really. But I did join their affiliate program. Made a lot of sense. A product this great I just couldn't ignore. You'll probably want to join their affiliate program too after you see how great their products works. Here's the link..."

      We can all use this new ruling to change our sales copy for the better.

      At least that's what me thinks.
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  • Profile picture of the author Elliott
    Why do so many like to start chanting "the sky is falling"? Or, "the sky will surely be falling"?

    Mlm companies have for years been subjected to these same kind of rules, and they are still peddling stuff. All of them post "earnings disclaimers", for example.

    The folks that perhaps should be worried here, are the "IM system" peddlers who trumpet that "Joe made $111,374 in 36 hours using this system, now being revealed to the public for the very first time EVER!" They will be sitting ducks. That's the kind of advertising got the mlms in trouble in the first place.

    Product claims have also been regulated for years, that's nothing new.
    As for the business about "reviews", I read this as meaning that if you pretend a paid endorsement is your personal review of a product, without disclosing the fact that you were paid to publish it, you could be in trouble. Again, big deal.

    But the "gurus" with their good old boys networks who glowingly endorse each others newly launched products, they may have some cause for concern.

    Elliott
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  • Profile picture of the author ECS Dave
    As I didn't know this thread was here, here's a link to a reply posted on the "other" thread, LOL...

    http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...ml#post1250277

    Be Well!
    ECS Dave
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  • Profile picture of the author khairulazan
    We should consider some solution to this
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  • Profile picture of the author learnmore
    I just saw this post by Copy Blogger, he gives some tips on how to see the opportunity in this situation: How to Turn Affiliate Marketing Disclosure Into a Selling Point | Copyblogger
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  • Profile picture of the author Joe118
    I have no problem with sticking the following disclaimer on all my sites:

    ================================================== ====
    I am an affiliate of product X and will get paid a commission if you purchase the product.
    ================================================== ====

    Very simple and straightforward.

    If you've actually used the product then I would write something like this:

    ================================================== =====
    While I am an affiliate of product X and will get paid a commission if you buy the product from my site, I have used this product and my opinion is XYZ.
    ================================================== =====

    Opinions are still legal in this country as far as I can tell
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  • Profile picture of the author bobsedge
    As someone with too much experience with the FTC, here is what this is about.

    First, the FTC is always selective. They pick an industry and then go after a few players in that industry. There will not be a sting on small bloggers. But the big guys better watch out, because they will be looking for someone to make an example of with this.

    If you have a review site and/or have testimonials where there can be an alternative motive, you have to say so. In other words, if you are a columnist and writing an article on the best digital camera, you have nothing to worry about. But if you are a blogger and the reviews of the camera include an affiliate link, you basically have to state that you will be making money if the reader clicks on the link and makes a purchase.

    With testimonials, if the person giving the testimonial is an affiliate, you better state that as a footnote in the testimonial.

    The FTC can't enforce this across the board but if you are the unlucky SOB they go after, they have you.

    And you never get dragged into court by the FTC. It doesn't get that far because a defense costs $1 million for starters. When you get sued by the FTC you plan your surrender. It starts with losing your assets and your business.

    Even if you have the money to fight, they have not lost in court since 1979 when Amway beat them.

    This is serious stuff and the power "gurus" out there better watch out because I guarantee that at least one will be in the news in the next 12 months because of this.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Romaine
    Man if its not Google, its the government.
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    BS free SEO services, training and advice - SEO Point

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  • Profile picture of the author bobsedge
    The celebrity endorsement section of this makes me believe that the main target here is still infomercials.

    But the testimonial section has some interesting ramifications. If you include a claim in a testimonial you now have to include whether the claim is typical and if its not typical, what is.

    So a testimonial may look like this.

    "Wow, I made $153,000 in six minutes using John's super duper lead generation system. And that was only the beginning...."

    Note: the testimony you just read is not the typical results. The typical results are that 98 percent of users will stick this product on the shelf and never use it. Another 1.5 percent will earn ...


    It could get interesting
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    • Profile picture of the author hyperlite
      A short disclaimer at the bottom of your page will take care of this. No big deal.

      Either way this seems like one of those laws they won't enforce.
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      • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
        People, you gotta understand that there is a HUGE difference between a
        review and a testimonial.

        This...

        "In John Doe's book, <insert title> he goes over the following:

        Chapter 1 - blah, blah, blah
        Chapter 2 - blah, blah, blah

        etc.

        is not the same as

        This...

        "In John Doe's book <insert title> he shows you a great way to cure,
        treat, conquer, whatever <insert problem> and it is certain to work for
        you 100%.

        Just telling somebody what a product contains is NOT the same thing as
        making claims that it will do anything.

        If you keep your reviews to the facts of what is being given and make it
        clear that you can't make any guarantees as to success with the product,
        you have NOTHING to worry about.

        Otherwise, Amazon.com would have to shut its doors.

        Think I'm kidding?

        Take a look at some of the products they sell and some of the writeups
        on them.

        Some come very close to endorsements.

        Sticking to the facts will keep you out of trouble.

        ** DISCLAIMER ** As I am not a lawyer, I make no guarantees that the
        above advice is 100% accurate. But it's a lot safer than raving about
        that penis enlargement contraption you've been hawking when you weren't
        born with one to begin with.

        Use a little common sense folks.
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        • Profile picture of the author Jim Hallmark
          Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

          People, you gotta understand that there is a HUGE difference between a
          review and a testimonial.

          Use a little common sense folks.
          Couldn't agree more Steven. The panic wave here is generally not warranted. Will changes need to be made in how we operate? Certainly, but folks that's how we get paid in the first place, by our marketing! A little innovation is all that's going to be required in most cases.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jay Truman
      Originally Posted by bobsedge View Post

      The celebrity endorsement section of this makes me believe that the main target here is still infomercials.
      Probably has more to do with Oprah, Obama, Dr.Oz, Rachel Ray, and all the other celebrities floggers used to promote CPA offers. Im sure its no coincidence this law came about right after all those marketers were rounded up by the AG.
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  • Profile picture of the author bobsedge
    Here is the thing, these rules are not put in place to round up everyone that breaks them, they are put into place to give the FTC more clout in going after the people they want to go after.

    They always have people in mind when they make these changes. That being said, even if IM'ers are not in their sites now, it doesn't mean these rules won't be used against them later.
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  • Profile picture of the author linkedinlincoln
    1- this wont really effect the market as a whole I think. Big time scammers (the target of this in my mind) are already under close scrutiny. And the fed's (though I'm sure they try ) don't have nearly the man power to clean up the mess below the radar... Most information or diet/health products make a couple hundred sales a week. which is enough to make a decent living as the owner, but not enough to raise the ire of the FTC.

    2-Secondly, as a lot of government intrusion seems to do, this new set of guidelines will add several layers of bureaucracy without getting at the root of the problem.

    The language is specific, if you use a consumer testimonial that "promises" or otherwise implies a specific result, then you must also show the "typical" result, which would be disastrous for companies selling products that don't live up to the hype. Except, they can still make the bogus claim, they just can't do it in testimonial form.

    So, I say "BS Product X can make you billions of dollars" and then I have my friend Brad pose for a picture and say "Gee, I sure am glad I found BS Product X. This is life changing stuff! -Brad from Nebraska"

    Now the claim has been made, Brad has essentially reinforced without saying anything actionable, and since I don't have have to counter my claim under the new guidelines because it was me saying it not Brad, I have an implied government endorsement courtesy of the FTC...

    If anything, this will help the scammers who are willing to get "creative"

    Meanwhile, who it really hurts are honest bloggers. Somehow if I print material and mail it or pass it out on a street corner, I'm protected by the first amendment, but if my words are stored and transmitted digitally (Tv, Blogs etc) I am under a level of scrutiny which essentially inhibits free speech.

    If I review a product, and as a thank I get a free copy of said product, I have to disclose that. That's whether I actually endorsed the product or not, or even give it a good review. If I do happen to give it a positive review, my word becomes somehow tainted when I should have been a non-issue in the first place.

    Unhappy about this to say the least. Rewarding dubious "creativity" in the name of the public good... While underming the credibility of digital media. I wouln't be surprised if print media lobbyists were supporting this.

    -Kathy
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  • Profile picture of the author graham41
    i am soooo pleased ... finally good copywriters will florish and scam artists and those who exaggerate be damned. I AM SOO PLEASED !!

    If this had happened 6 years ago a lot of honest innocent people with dreamswould not have been fleeced of thier savings by marketers with nothing to offer but shallow dreams
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    • Profile picture of the author Scott Ames
      Originally Posted by graham41 View Post

      i am soooo pleased ... finally good copywriters will florish and scam artists and those who exaggerate be damned. I AM SOO PLEASED !!

      If this had happened 6 years ago a lot of honest innocent people with dreamswould not have been fleeced of thier savings by marketers with nothing to offer but shallow dreams
      Scan artists don't really care about following laws so they won't even blink at this. The assumption is that this rule change will solve all the ills of marketing. I doubt it very much. Honest marketers will jump through hoops to comply, but mostly it will give the government a big hammer to wallop anyone that makes a mistake.

      The way its written there is going to have to be a lot of case law to narrow down what is acceptable and what is not. Lawyers love this.
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      • Profile picture of the author Rod Cortez
        I just heard on the radio that these are "guidelines" and not laws. The FTC is also severely understaffed. Scammers know this. It's not hard for them to get hosting in a country outside of their jurisdication anyway and continue to spam / con people. Though if you are a US citizen it doesn't matter where you live or what hosting you use, you're still fair game. Even so, these guidelines do not have any real teeth because it's not the guidelines, it's the enforcement behind it. If you doubt me, try complaining to the FTC about a company and see how much traction you get.

        People who use the Frank Kern example don't realize that is a complete abberation from the norm. But I digress.......
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  • Profile picture of the author blur
    Wouldn't this apply to the same print lobbyists too?
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  • Profile picture of the author Joe Giannetti
    no more over inflated claims.....sounds good to me.
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  • Profile picture of the author JasonParker
    It sure would be nice if the FTC would give examples of what they want instead of all these vague rules... It would be much easier to comply.
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  • Profile picture of the author StewieG
    On top of everything that has been mentioned above, Google and the others will be able to find and discount the paid blog post giving them zero value. Companies like Linkvana, AMA, etc etc are gonna be owned from this.

    Would those be considered payed reviews, your letting a 3rd party post text to your blog promoting products?
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  • Profile picture of the author pcpupil
    I just downloaded the PDF from 5star-thanks.Ill go look it over.
    But how about bum marketers using article writing.
    Does this mean we have to put a disclaimer in our bio or at end of article with our link saying where getting endorsed by monetary or merchandise means.
    Matt
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  • Profile picture of the author gvannorman
    Im still confused on how this whole thing works. Does it mean that if we sell a product on our site we have to disclose that we are affiliate marketers and we get a profit from the item in question. Im not saying that we endorse the produt, but if we find it relevant enought to sell then we technically are endorsing it I guess.

    Does this also mean that adsense ads placed on our sites have to have a disclosure as well. It is so confusing. I just want to comply since Im new to the whole thing.
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    • Profile picture of the author SageSound
      Originally Posted by gvannorman View Post

      Im still confused on how this whole thing works. Does it mean that if we sell a product on our site we have to disclose that we are affiliate marketers and we get a profit from the item in question. Im not saying that we endorse the produt, but if we find it relevant enought to sell then we technically are endorsing it I guess.
      I only have a similar question that nobody has addressed: if you post a review on your blog for something that you actually purchased directly, and you include an affiliate link, you don't get compensated until AFTER a person has made a purchase through your link. So why would you need to call attention to that fact?

      That would seem different than if you didn't purchase the product, or if one was given to you as a "review copy". (Er, how many supposed "reviews" of Clickbank products were done by people who even saw the product? Very few, I'd guess!)

      This is a disconnect I simply do not understand about the IM community. We produce TONS of materials that tell people about every possible angle on how to make millions selling products as an affiliate, yet publically flog anybody who DARES to post affiliate links in discussion areas like this.

      This forum even forbids affiliate links in sigs!

      So evidently, it's fine to clutter up everybody ELSE'S blogs and forums with affiliate links, but you'd better not try polluting any IM blogs or forums with aff links, lest you'll get banned.

      And yet, listen to the OUTCRY about having to DISCLOSE that you're USING AFFILIATE LINKS where you are not now doing it!

      Sorry folks, but WE are the ones driving the AFFILIATE BANDWAGONS.

      Nonetheless, there's a CLEAR sentiment that "affiliate links are BAD". Otherwise there wouldn't be such a strong pressure to avoid them in forums like this.

      If they're not "good enough" for us to allow to be used in our own forums and blogs (by others), then why are we even having this discussion? THEY'RE OBVIOUSLY *BAD NEWS* and should be AVOIDED!

      -David
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  • Profile picture of the author SageSound
    While I see some valid points here, I think y'all are missing a really BIG point in all of this....

    The #1 complaints the FTC gets from consumers are about outfits selling stuff like weight loss supplements and penile / breast enlargement stuff that do absolutely NOTHING! Yet, their ads claim AMAZING RESULTS!

    They have been battling these scumbags for years, and it's like squeezing a baloon. These industries continue to grow, yet nobody is getting any measurable benefits whatsoever from any of the products being marketed. It's mostly a bunch of modern-day snake-oil, pure and simple.

    Now, when you read what all of the "experts" say about what lends the MOST CREDIBILITY and BELIEVABILITY to ANY OFFER .... it's what? TESTIMONIALS!

    Ladies, if you could take some magic pills that would quadruple your breast size in a week, wouldn't you prefer that to an operation? Don't you think the market for doctors peddling "scalpels and saline baggies" might notice a slight drop in business? News flash! Those guys are NOT losing business.

    Obesity has risen steadily over the past 50 years in America, and it's not showing any signs of changing course. But you'd think that with the billions being spent every year on so-called "dietary supplements" then we'd see some REAL EVIDENCE by a reduction in obesiety rates, no?

    As far as claims on monetary gains from "home business" types of products, the solution is simple: you're selling educational materials. Just use testimonials that focus on the quality of the materials and ease of learning/understanding, rather than the financial results. After all, that's really a more objective measure since the vast majority of customers will never lift a finger anyway.

    -David
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    • Profile picture of the author Robert Puddy
      Originally Posted by SageSound View Post

      While I see some valid points here, I think y'all are missing a really BIG point in all of this....

      The #1 complaints the FTC gets from consumers are about outfits selling stuff like weight loss supplements and penile / breast enlargement stuff that do absolutely NOTHING! Yet, their ads claim AMAZING RESULTS!

      They have been battling these scumbags for years, and it's like squeezing a baloon. These industries continue to grow, yet nobody is getting any measurable benefits whatsoever from any of the products being marketed. It's mostly a bunch of modern-day snake-oil, pure and simple.

      Now, when you read what all of the "experts" say about what lends the MOST CREDIBILITY and BELIEVABILITY to ANY OFFER .... it's what? TESTIMONIALS!

      Ladies, if you could take some magic pills that would quadruple your breast size in a week, wouldn't you prefer that to an operation? Don't you think the market for doctors peddling "scalpels and saline baggies" might notice a slight drop in business? News flash! Those guys are NOT losing business.

      Obesity has risen steadily over the past 50 years in America, and it's not showing any signs of changing course. But you'd think that with the billions being spent every year on so-called "dietary supplements" then we'd see some REAL EVIDENCE by a reduction in obesiety rates, no?

      As far as claims on monetary gains from "home business" types of products, the solution is simple: you're selling educational materials. Just use testimonials that focus on the quality of the materials and ease of learning/understanding, rather than the financial results. After all, that's really a more objective measure since the vast majority of customers will never lift a finger anyway.

      -David
      Whats this got to do with anything?

      They already have the power to shut someone down for using lies in their advertisements...

      This is about being able to use real, truthful testimonials in your advertising. Now even if everything you have n your page is real and truthful you still cant use testimoials unless you can prove that everybody will get that result

      Robert
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      • Profile picture of the author SageSound
        Originally Posted by Robert Puddy View Post

        Whats this got to do with anything?

        They already have the power to shut someone down for using lies in their advertisements...

        This is about being able to use real, truthful testimonials in your advertising. Now even if everything you have n your page is real and truthful you still cant use testimoials unless you can prove that everybody will get that result

        Robert
        If that's true, then we'd not be seeing a fraction of the ads for weight loss supplements, penile and breast enhancement stuff, and many other useless and ineffective things that just seem to keep spreading like fleas throughout the world!

        The FTC has been totally ineffective at curbing the proliferation of ANY of these snake-oil promoters. If you watch any of them, or read their copy, they pretty much all make use of outrageous claims with the simple disclaimer "* these results may not be typical". Guess what -- they're 100% LIES! If all it takes to substantiate your LIES is a simple disclaimer that "these results may not be typical", then you can sell just about ANYTHING without ever having to say one word of truth.

        IMHO, THAT is what the FTC is attempting to curb here.

        When it comes to weight-loss supplements and programs, what's "typical" in the US is ... you're going to GAIN weight unless you change your lifestyle. At least, that's what the STATISTICS say.

        There's little if any TRUTH in those ads! Yet, they're "legal".

        If they're "legal", how much leverage can the FTC really have?

        I heard some guys speak at a seminar who were making a killing selling weight loss patches. The FTC called them one day and said if they didn't stop, they'd find themselves at the wrong end of a very expensive FTC investigation. They stopped immediately. It's more the THREAT of action that has been making a difference. I'm unaware of ANY of these snake-oil promoters who have actually been dumb enough to try to defend the lies they know they're using to sell their products.

        Anyway, all I'm saying is, rather than run around screaming "The sky is falling!", we need to take a look at the bigger picture.

        For example, do you think we might see fewer of those ANNOYING drug company ads? Are the claims they make in their ads kosher according to the latest FTC guidelines? For example, I took an anti-depressant for a few weeks about 10 years ago, and it impaired my cognitive abilities in very clearly defined ways. I stopped taking it, and since then I've talked to numerous people who've experienced the exact same kinds of symptoms. Yet, I discovered that cognitive testing is not part of the regime required for NDA approval. Perhaps it's "typical"?

        "Hi. I took this anti-depressant drug and I'm happier than I've ever been! But now I sweat like a pig, have cottonmouth all the time, and I constantly have trouble recalling common words and phrases." (* -- our studies show that these are TYPICAL symptoms endured by our customers)

        You think you're going to see THAT in drug commercials now?

        -David
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        • Profile picture of the author Lance K
          The best thing about adversity is that if you dig deep enough you'll find the opportunity hidden within it.
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          "You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want."
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  • Profile picture of the author Tim Franklin
    Now this is a can of worms if I ever saw one,)

    the larger issue here is should the government US or otherwise be attempting to regulate or police the internet?

    Does the FTC have the authority to force Bloggers to disclose private information in a public manner?

    Is the foregoing statement even constitutional?

    There are already several court challenges which will most likely make it to the supreme court, this is a dead issue, I expect there is nothing to fear at all because the FTC has no authority to police the internet.

    This is sadly just another attempt at power grabbing and will be put down like the mangy dog it is.

    This is a free speech issue and thus a constitutional issue.

    But I would be all for it if all of our congressmen and senators would reveal every dollar and dime they accept from special interest lobbies to their PAC funds.

    Now that would be true Justice...
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  • Profile picture of the author mpruben
    Here's an interesting example from the FTC docs:

    Example 5: A skin care products advertiser participates in a blog advertising service.
    The service matches up advertisers with bloggers who will promote the advertiser's
    products on their personal blogs. The advertiser requests that a blogger try a new body
    lotion and write a review of the product on her blog. Although the advertiser does not
    make any specific claims about the lotion's ability to cure skin conditions and the
    blogger does not ask the advertiser whether there is substantiation for the claim, in her
    review the blogger writes that the lotion cures eczema and recommends the product to
    her blog readers who suffer from this condition. The advertiser is subject to liability for
    misleading or unsubstantiated representations made through the blogger's endorsement.
    So if we sell a product through affiliates, we are responsible for their testimonials? Ouch.
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    • Profile picture of the author SageSound
      Originally Posted by mpruben View Post

      Here's an interesting example from the FTC docs:

      Example 5: A skin care products advertiser participates in a blog advertising service.
      The service matches up advertisers with bloggers who will promote the advertiser's
      products on their personal blogs. The advertiser requests that a blogger try a new body
      lotion and write a review of the product on her blog. Although the advertiser does not
      make any specific claims about the lotion's ability to cure skin conditions and the
      blogger does not ask the advertiser whether there is substantiation for the claim, in her
      review the blogger writes that the lotion cures eczema and recommends the product to
      her blog readers who suffer from this condition. The advertiser is subject to liability for
      misleading or unsubstantiated representations made through the blogger's endorsement.
      So if we sell a product through affiliates, we are responsible for their testimonials? Ouch.
      I don't see this as an issue. If you have somebody promoting your "Affiliate Marketing" package and you find you're getting an abnormally high refund rate from that affiliate, and you go to their site and see that they're promoting it as an effective tool for "Membership Subscriber List Building", are you going to shrug that off and say, "Ah, well, that's an example of 'Freedom of Speech', and I have no control over that".

      Besides, the example above doesn't state explicitly that there's any kind of financial arrangement between the manufacturer and the blogger. It states there's a service that "matches up advertisers with bloggers", so we're to infer that the blogger is earning something somehow, directly or indirectly, from the vendor. It leaves it to the reader to draw their own conclusions.

      When it comes to AFFILIATES, well, that is an EXPLICIT financial arrangement, and you are darn well within your rights to tell them exactly what they can and cannot say in order to earn commissions.

      If you think it's a problem "policing" these guys, then just be more selective on who you decide to allow being an affiliate for you!

      I suspect this will have a far greater impact on outfits like Commission Junction and Clickbank than folks who have scripts that allow us to control access to our affiliate signup process, and who KNOW who's promoting our stuff and can easily contact them.

      Look forward to new procedures where they require every "affiliate" to be approved directly by the vendor, so the vendor knows who they are and can decline to allow "serial liars" to become their affiliates.

      And we're also likely to see increased use of "affiliate tools" pages that contain pre-written content and ads for affiliates to use, and even REQUIRE affiliates to use ONLY these materials.

      The bloggers in question are not generally what we'd consider "affiliates". In general, bloggers have developed a reputation of being blunt, tell-it-like-it-is folks. The problem is, they're also "creative writers", and they feel like their writings are subject more to "artistic interpretation" and "First Amendment protection" than any need to be "honest and truthful" in the eyes of the FTC.

      The FTC might have trouble getting around any First Amendment claims with these folks, but they can certainly have a big impact on vendors who, knowingly or unknowingly, allow bloggers to say stuff that they themselves are prohibited from saying.

      I'd also like to point out that there are two different sets of laws that come into play in this respect: First Amendment court rulings historically draw distinctions between "private speech" and "commercial speech". If there's money involved, however indirect, the actions can be interpreted by the courts under the "commercial speech" provisions, which are not nearly as protective as the "private speech" provisions.

      So this isn't the kind of "First Amendment" issue that many folks might think.
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  • Profile picture of the author jasondinner
    Do these new "disclaimers" have to be on the sales page itself or can it be on a TOS or Dislcaimer page which has a link to it from the sales page?

    Tim Franklin - I agree with you about 1st amendment being raped here, but at the same time, we (marketers) brought it upon ourselves.

    - Jason
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  • Profile picture of the author designfuschion
    disclaimers on a separate page would be great for salesletter sites.
    So long as on each page of the site(be it salesletter or otherwise) basically at the bottom informing the visitor of the link...but it probably won't end up that way..
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  • Profile picture of the author bobsedge
    It all comes down to conflicts of interest.

    Trying to sell something is fine, but trying to sell something under the guise of an unbiased viewpoint is probably a violation as per the FTC.

    In other words, it has to be transparent to the consumer as to what is going on.

    If you read a review article in the newspaper, it is likely truly a review article. The author is viewed as having no vested interest as to what you do with his information.

    But if you are writing a review blog where you earn money by steering the consumer, it has to be disclosed.

    The more I think about it, these rules make sense. The question is, how far will they go?
    There are so many conflicts of interest in marketing that these rules are being violated routinely.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tim Franklin
    Interesting thoughts but it is really not about right or wrong here,

    What this is about is should the government be attempting to control our lives through the internet, because if we allow them this power, where will they stop, policing our lives, will the fat police show up next, because unless I am mistaken there are a fair few of us that would have to pay the fat tax.

    Do you smoke, well how about a $20.00 pack of cigarettes.

    A $10 dollar coke because everyone knows cokes are bad for you and since you cant do it yourself then we have to do it for you.

    Or hey how about we just ban anything that might offend someone, like internet market marketing offends a lot of people lets ban it so that it never happens again,

    Does this sound extreme? Sure it does,

    But folks it all starts out as something simple like this issue right here and it is a slippery place to trod.

    Freedom is what we have on the internet, I have the freedom to offend someone online, you may not like my opinion, but for the time being I am free to do that, but if we allow these people to take on this kind of power over our lives then it will just make them want more.

    People like that are just evil, personally I like coffee and a nice sugar laced donut in the morning.

    Hope this makes it a little clearer.
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  • Profile picture of the author designfuschion
    Tim,
    I have to agree 100%. That's why i'm outraged at the sidewiki debacle.
    sites are sold,ergo has value. Often referred as 'web properties'. etc etc. It astounds me that people don't care that a corporate entity is violating copy'rights',and ownership rights to their web properties.
    Now with the testamonial FTC 'guidelines'..it's an edge closer to a more tightly controlled internet.

    Political correctness is just annoying. People need to start taking responsibility back into their lives,instead of letting someone else takeover.

    oh and btw, you mentioned 20 buck cigs,fat tax and 10 dollar coke.
    Well here in aus the gov keeping rising so called tobacco taxes up and up(i don't smoke but my mother does),i'm not sure on current prices but they are seriously looking into raising the price to about $20 a packet. (30 cigs) Ok,smoking is harmful. Everyone gets that. But gee..long term smokers aren't going to quit smoking if the price rises. Stop selling tobacco..or cigs. natural tobaccy without the chemicals should be a darn bit more healthier.

    As for the fat tax..They are thinking of bringing it in here.Where will that end? Who is going to determine what is fat? There is huge debate here over the BMI scale. It's totally wrong. (dogpile/Bing it to see why). People are fat becuase of the crap pumped into our foods. and are not educated in healthy eating. The biggest loser contestants lose out,becuase they go back to bad habits. Teach kids healthy eating in schools (Go jamie oliver!) ..but we also need to re-look at how our food is created. (go local) i think 80% or so of our food here in aus,is now imported from overseas(namely china).

    If this becomes law,i guess we all go on as best as possible. I'm just waiting now to see what's gonna happen next. It happens in 3's..we've had 2..something else is on the horizon..
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  • Profile picture of the author bobsedge
    The interesting thing is that these rules are really redundant. As Robert Puddy mentioned earlier, the FTC already had the power to hammer anyone using deceptive practices. That is such a broad stroke that these actions they are outlining would have certainly applied. All they are doing is clarifying their position to take away any possible arguments. Like that is really needed because it is virtually impossible to fight and beat the FTC.

    If you want to see where this is going, look at franchise law. Testimonials have become extinct in selling franchises. Not only that, franchises have to disclose all franchisees that have ever bought from them, any that have failed, etc. There is total transparency.
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  • Profile picture of the author Anup Mahajan
    I think Frank Kern has covered this very well in his blog post..

    He suggests not to use any testimonials that mention measurable results such as

    Lost X lbs in Y Days
    Made $X in Y Days
    Lost X inches in Y Days

    and so on

    The reason we should not use such testimonials from now on is that we would need to append a section on what results a typical person can expect after using your product. Needless to say that this whole sentence leads to a gray area..

    How do you decide what results a typical person would expect after using your product? If you are selling a weight loss product then does a typical use lose 50 Lbs, 75 lbs or 100 lbs after using your product? And BTW how do you define who is a typical user? Does he/she weigh 250 lbs, 350 lbs or even more.

    You see this whole thing is open to misinterpretations and can be used twisted by FTC to suit their needs. And some people have mentioned that they are understaffed, or won't go after small affiliates. Think again!! If they decide to come after your website then they can destroy years of reputation and your business.

    So how is the workaround? As per Frank, from now on you should not use testimonials at all or omit measurable details. A sample testimonial would be

    "Thanks for your product. I really liked it and I am confident that I can lose weight by using the techniques mentioned in your course."
    Short, simple, vague but FTC proof. I agree that it doesn't have the same kind of impact as "Lost 100 pounds in 90 Days" but at least your business will be safe. And I'm sure that the genius copywriters and marketers present here will come up with methods on how to write great testimonials that comply with FTC guidelines and yet leave an impact...

    BTW I'm not a lawyer, so not treat this post as a legal advice... Consult your lawyer

    Cheers,
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  • Profile picture of the author Caragui
    Just wondering, would these guidelines be applicable to IMs outside the U.S.?
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  • Profile picture of the author StewieG
    Welcome to the Obama nation. This is just the beginning....

    How can the goverment tell me how I can write about on a blog I own.
    Money or no money involved.
    This is the crux of this entire thing. This touches on so many issues I don't even no where to start.

    The american GOV has wanted to police the web for a long time, look like it's starting.
    Heres the funny thing, notice we did not hear a thing about this until it was Passed.
    We have no say here we have no right, this is not the country I signed up for.

    *Spit*
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    • Profile picture of the author SageSound
      Originally Posted by StewieG View Post

      Welcome to the Obama nation. This is just the beginning....
      Are you aware that the FTC started developing these guidelines a couple of years ago under the BUSH administration, and have been relatively quiet about them since Obama was elected?

      Why is it that people seem to think that the wheels in Government, and specifically in humonguous politically-driven and complex Government Agencies like the FTC, move at break-neck speed?

      The FTC could not publish a simple memo with a mandatory series of public hearings and review deadlines in less time than Obama has been in office! Read the historical record.
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    • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
      Originally Posted by StewieG View Post

      Heres the funny thing, notice we did not hear a thing about this until it was Passed.
      Um... we've been talking about this HERE for months, and I've heard about it several times over the past couple years. Here's a discussion about it from May of this year, when I first showed up on the forum:

      http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...-solution.html

      Here's another mention from April, which turned up in a simple search:

      http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...ord-mouth.html

      Here's an official statement weeks after Obama was elected, but before he took office:

      FTC Approves Federal Register Notice on Advertising Endorsements and Testimonials

      Note in particular this sentence:

      "In a Federal Register notice published in January 2007, the FTC sought public comment on the overall costs, benefits, and regulatory and economic impact of the Guides, which were last updated in 1980."

      If you actually give a toss what the FTC regulations are and how they're changing, this is not and was never going to be a surprise.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dan Briffa
    Yeah.. this all seems a bit freaky for me.. sounds like a slowly but deadly New World Order takeover ;-)

    Let's face it.. how far will our governments go before they are completly taking the shizzle ..

    Not sure if anybodys heard about alex jones.. but listen to some of his videos on youtube about the governments nwo plans..

    laters
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  • Profile picture of the author pcpupil
    What peolpe should do as i did was download the PDF as posted by [5staraffiliateprograms] and read it first before posting.

    Also,read some posts before just jumping in.I read the PDF,im not the smartest person on the jobsite,but it is understandable.

    You can use numbers,testimonials,ect,but they have to be worded right.Below is one instance i took from the PDF in my quick words.

    You have a weight loss product called [weightaway shake].
    You have2 pics of a person on the sales page.Fat,and Slim.
    Underneath it says:
    "Lose 150 LBS In 10 Days With Weightaway Shakes".

    You cant say this Legally now.This is to general and not "expected results for everyone".What you must say is below and this example came from the PDF example.All of it.

    "Lose 150 Lbs In 10 Days With Weightaway Shakes.The person above also only ate raw vegetables,and jogged 2 miles a day, to achieve these results".

    This lets the consumer know that in order to achieve these results you have to do more than drink the shakes in order to achieve the results depicted.If you dont,you wont recieve the same results.
    Hope this helps,
    After i read the PDF it did me.But in order to achieve these same results you must read the PDF.I am not endorsed by this is any way.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sylonious
    Originally Posted by FTC: Endorsements And Testimonials

    Example 4: An advertisement for a weight-loss product features a formerly obese woman. She says in the ad, "Every day, I drank 2 WeightAway shakes, ate only raw vegetables, and exercised vigorously for six hours at the gym. By the end of six months, I had gone from 250 pounds to 140 pounds." The advertisement accurately describes the woman's experience, and such a result is within the range that would be generally experienced by an extremely overweight individual who consumed WeightAway shakes, only ate raw vegetables, and exercised as the endorser did.

    Because the endorser clearly describes the limited and truly exceptional circumstances under which she achieved her results, the ad is not likely to convey that consumers who weigh substantially less or use WeightAway under less extreme circumstances will lose 110 pounds in six months.

    (If the advertisement simply says that the endorser lost 110 pounds in six months using WeightAway together with diet and exercise, however, this description would not adequately alert consumers to the truly remarkable circumstances leading to her weight loss.) The advertiser must have substantiation, however, for any performance claims conveyed by the endorsement (e.g., that WeightAway is an effective weight loss product).
    It's kind of a loophole. Because you could say well I ran 3-miles, did 500 jumping jacks a day and I used Acaiforce to help me lose 80 pounds in 6-months. That's not a huge change, imo.

    It also talks about movie reviews. Just recently a movie decided to have their movie screening in Hawaii and they give the reviewers free plain tickets and accommodations.

    Anyway, it's strange because this PDF covers a lot of topics that have nothing to do with the internet. Pharmaceutical companies, movie reviews, hidden camera reactions (for product commericials) etc. etc..
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  • Profile picture of the author Sylonious
    Edit: Glenn Beck has made this a partisan issue now. The FCC is trying to force conservative raidio programs/stations to diversify it's workforce by including special interest groups (homosexuals) and minorities. If they don't comply they will be fined a ton of money and that money will be given to public radio.

    So basically Glenn Back has combined the FTC WOMM regulations and FCC radio regulation together as one big conspiracy to destroy conservative news sources.



    I don't care what you think of Beck (or Limbaugh). They are a much bigger and more powerful lobbying group than Internet marketers and bloggers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Anna Johnson
    Wow, what a vigorous discussion!

    I've written my take on the FTC's changes to its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising here:

    Special Report: FTC Revises Its Guidelines On Advertising Endorsements and Testimonials ? How Does This Affect Internet Marketers? | Kikabink News - Internet Marketing News

    A few points:

    -- the law hasn't changed; what has changed is the FTC's interpretation of the FTC Act. Having said that, for all practical purposes (unless you want to mount a test case) you're probably wise to treat the FTC's interpretation of the FTC Act and the FTC Act as one in the same.

    -- anyone who promotes to people inside the U.S. is likely to be subject to the new 'interpretation' of the law. Just because you live in another country doesn't make you immune. And the U.S. authorities are probably quite able to take various measures to make it difficult for you to do business in the U.S. if they decide to go after you.

    -- the impact of these changes is likely to be VERY costly for some marketers (think of all those behind expensive, testimonial driven infomercials) but it doesn't have to be costly for you. Sure, the game has changed, but these changes may just work to your advantage. Think positive!

    These are my thoughts and, of course, not legal advice. If you're worried about the impact of these changes on your business I sincerely suggest getting legal advice from a qualified attorney.
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  • Profile picture of the author nimcus38318
    The thing that makes me happy about this is the possibility that there will be fewer "testimonials" on sales pages. I've always thought that they are totally fake and really a waste of valuable space. I scroll past them as fast as my little scrollwheel will allow!

    I think, though, in all seriousness, that the FTC will do what it wants against who it wants. There won't be any real rhyme nor reason to their approach (it is a government agency, after all). At least 1 or 2 people who really don't deserve to be punished will be and many who do deserve it won't be.

    There are many great thoughts in this discussion, but it drives me nuts (NUTS, I tell you!) when people blame the new administration for laws that were enacted 30 years ago. Get a grip! Obama is no more to blame for this than George W. Bush is intelligent.
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    • Profile picture of the author bobsedge
      Originally Posted by nimcus38318 View Post

      The thing that makes me happy about this is the possibility that there will be fewer "testimonials" on sales pages. I've always thought that they are totally fake and really a waste of valuable space. I scroll past them as fast as my little scrollwheel will allow!

      I think, though, in all seriousness, that the FTC will do what it wants against who it wants. There won't be any real rhyme nor reason to their approach (it is a government agency, after all). At least 1 or 2 people who really don't deserve to be punished will be and many who do deserve it won't be.

      There are many great thoughts in this discussion, but it drives me nuts (NUTS, I tell you!) when people blame the new administration for laws that were enacted 30 years ago. Get a grip! Obama is no more to blame for this than George W. Bush is intelligent.
      These are spot on points.

      First, if you look at the history of the FTC actions, the sway of the President and Congress only have an impact of whom they go after.

      When Republicans are in power, the FTC goes after businesses that threaten big businesses interests. When Dems are in power, the FTC mainly becomes consumer oriented.

      We can moan and groan about these rules all we want, but if we take a step back and be honest, they really do protect consumers. In reality, they weren't need though because it all falls under deceptive marketing and the FTC always has the ability to act in that area.

      In my opinion, 90 percent of marketing today has elements designed to deceive consumers. It may testimonials that appear to be unbiased but are not. Perhaps it's a celebrity endorsement who is actually a hired gun. Or maybe it's a review site that appears to be journalism but is actually selling.

      Let's stop trying to trick consumers into giving us their money and instead, let's lay out the facts and use our skills to convince them that what we have to offer is in their best interest.
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      • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
        Originally Posted by bobsedge View Post

        When Republicans are in power, the FTC goes after businesses that threaten big businesses interests. When Dems are in power, the FTC mainly becomes consumer oriented.
        So if we don't have reasonably frequent turnover in power... it doesn't work so well.

        Another way to look at it is that the FTC is primarily concerned about who is losing money, but prevailing party lines define what matters more: the amount of money lost, or the number of parties losing money. When you start worrying about the quantity of money, you get big business (and wealthy consumer) defense. When you start worrying about the number of losses, you get consumer (and small business) defense.
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        • Profile picture of the author bobsedge
          Originally Posted by CDarklock View Post

          So if we don't have reasonably frequent turnover in power... it doesn't work so well.

          Another way to look at it is that the FTC is primarily concerned about who is losing money, but prevailing party lines define what matters more: the amount of money lost, or the number of parties losing money. When you start worrying about the quantity of money, you get big business (and wealthy consumer) defense. When you start worrying about the number of losses, you get consumer (and small business) defense.
          It's all done under the guise of protecting consumers.

          But look what transpired under the Bush administration.

          The Bankruptcy laws were dramatically changed (protecting banks)

          The FTC main targets were credit repair companies and debt resolution companies (protecting banks and wall street)

          And they didn't go after banks, wall street, real estate, etc. and we know how that turned out.
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          • Profile picture of the author marlon
            Hi,

            1. There ARE new requirements in this law

            You must state what the average results of buyers actually ARE. Before you could just say results weren't indicative.

            2. If you use testimonials that make claims of specific results, you have to also publish
            the results the average buyer got. Which is almost always next to zero.

            If EVERYONE does this, consumers will get used to seeing: "Average earnings $1 per customer. Average weight loss 1 lb."

            3. Affiliates

            If you are comped a product and endorse it, you have to disclose it

            Here are 2 I'm not sure about:

            4. From what Declan Dunn said at JV Alert, affiliates are now liable for unsubstantiated claims of the products they promote.

            I'm unclear if this is a new law that has gone into effect or will in the future.

            I'm unsure about whether you have to endorse affiliate links in general.

            Affiliate link: http://www.xxxx.com

            5. Specific claims in subject lines and headlines

            I think as a matter of policy it'd be good to reveal what average results are. Again, they'll be pathetic but if everyone does this, consumers will become numb to it.

            If only some do it, then the good guys will be penalized.

            I plan to survey customers on results and link to the survey or quote the results in ads.

            Marlon
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  • Profile picture of the author TimothyW
    Here's something I have NOT seen discussed!...

    Does this apply to ALL google adsense or adwords ads?!? Must google put a BOLD, CLEARLY VISIBLE DISCLAIMER under EVERY adsense ad and EVERY adwords ad, saying: "By clicking on this link, Google, inc. will be paid $X.XX"

    I don't see why not!

    -- TW
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    • Profile picture of the author Steven Carl Kelly
      Originally Posted by -- TW View Post

      Here's something I have NOT seen discussed!...

      Does this apply to ALL google adsense or adwords ads?!? Must google put a BOLD, CLEARLY VISIBLE DISCLAIMER under EVERY adsense ad and EVERY adwords ad, saying: "By clicking on this link, Google, inc. will be paid .XX"

      I don't see why not!
      It does not apply in that instance. Google is not endorsing your product, they are providing a paid advertising medium.
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    • Profile picture of the author bobsedge
      Originally Posted by -- TW View Post

      Here's something I have NOT seen discussed!...

      Does this apply to ALL google adsense or adwords ads?!? Must google put a BOLD, CLEARLY VISIBLE DISCLAIMER under EVERY adsense ad and EVERY adwords ad, saying: "By clicking on this link, Google, inc. will be paid .XX"

      I don't see why not!

      -- TW
      You actually make the point here as to why these rules were put in play.

      First, the consumer doesn't pay Google, the business does. Google is the same as a newspaper or magazine.

      But that being said, Everyone understands what an ad is. It is still unlawful to be deceptive in an ad, but the ad itself is understood to be a selling tool.

      What these rules are addressing is elements of marketing that appear to be journalism but are actually advertising. There are two issues. One is whether or not the content is deceptive or misleading and the other is whether the delivery of the content itself is misleading.

      Here is a better question. It is routine for magazines and publications to provide article space in exchange for ad dollars spent. These articles appear to be journalism but in reality they are just ads that appear to be journalism. This practice should fall under these new rules.

      This really provides the FTC with a broad brush for attacking. We will see how they use it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steven Carl Kelly
    A lot of this would be more clear if folks would take the time to read all of the examples in the FTC document.
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  • Profile picture of the author TimothyW
    I'm no lawyer either -- but it seems to me, they cannot fault your testimonials IF they (only) contain OPINIONS!

    Ex: "I'm really happy I purchased XXXX -- It exceeded all my expectations!"

    "I used XXXX for 6 weeks, and I think it's worth every penny I paid and MORE!"

    "I used it, and I strongly recommend you get one too!"

    in other words -- all OPINION + no *specific*, *measurable* results promised or implied.

    People's OPINIONS are covered under freedom of speech -- yes?

    -- TW
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  • Profile picture of the author Steven Carl Kelly
    Too much overreaction. I view these FTC guides as very positive for serious, legitimate, non-deceptive marketers.

    Average results statements are not always required. Please read all of the examples and you'll see exactly how to properly handle your marketing. It isn't difficult, IMO.
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  • Profile picture of the author TimothyW
    Hi SCK -- yes, I read your other thread -- and I agree with it. That thread talks about the use of testimonials.

    What I'm talking about here is the need to disclose one's status as an affiliate who stands to profit from a sale.

    If one changes one's model from selling stuff to selling ad space, the need to disclose financial gain is avoided (seemingly).

    You don't address that aspect in your other thread.

    -- TW

    PS: Oops -- I posted this on the wrong thread. sorry.
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