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Who Is The FTC After?

by PotPieGirl on October 20, 2009 · 67 comments

Could It Be YOU?


Since the announcement from the FTC that they had updated their advertising and endorsement guidelines, there sure has been a lot of talk and speculation over what all this means for those of us who work online. While the new FTC guidelines are not aimed solely at the blogging community, the internet is a new advertising medium that until these changes was not included in their policies. What does all this mean for us – especially for those of us that are affiliate marketers and online vendors? Who is the FTC after?



It’s Only Been 29 Years


The last time the FTC revised their guidelines was in 1980. This silly little thing called ‘the internet’ happened since then so I would think it’s about time they did some updating.

Here is an excerpt from the FTC announcement that was released on October 5, 2009 –



The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it has approved final revisions to the guidance it gives to advertisers on how to keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in line with the FTC Act.

The notice incorporates several changes to the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which address endorsements by consumers, experts, organizations, and celebrities, as well as the disclosure of important connections between advertisers and endorsers. The Guides were last updated in 1980.



As I said previously, these revisions are not ONLY for the online marketing community – they are for ALL advertisers be it print, radio, television, etc. After reading and re-reading the 81-page revision guide from the FTC, I have to admit that I have been paying more attention to commercials than I ever have in my life! I am very curious to see how these commercials change to try and comply once everything takes effect on December 1, 2009.

I have this vision that a normal 30 second commercial will suddenly become 10 seconds of content and 20 seconds of disclaimers…lol!

That FTC document is full of ALLLLL kinds of hypothetical scenarios in an attempt to explain who should comply in all kinds of situations, but all it really does is confuse most folks. It also can make for a good chuckle here and there as well.

Now, I’m not a lawyer, I don’t play one on TV either. I have no legal knowledge nor am I offering advice or anything that should be construed as advice (enough of a disclaimer? lol). All that said, I do have some thoughts on all this now that I have read more, learned more, and really thought about it.



Thoughts About The FTC Revisions


First off, I think it is a really good idea that we comply. No, not because of some rumor of an $11,000 fine for not complying with the FTC, but because there is nothing wrong with being transparent.

Also, as Frank Kern pointed out, when it’s you vs the FTC – it won’t be you that wins. He also shared his story of how being sued by the FTC is no fun at all.

I do also admit some shock that there are still people in this world that don’t realize that the celebrity raving about that latest diet is a PAID endorsement. Or that those pharmaceutical commercials that depict these “real life” people with certain medical conditions that were solved by some pill are actually paid actors.

But the fact remains, that there are MANY people out there who do NOT know this. There are also plenty out there that really believe that if they take that diet pill and do nothing else to change their lifestyle habits, that they will lose 500 pounds overnight. If they buy that how to make money ebook and DO nothing – maybe not even READ it – that they will get rich overnight.

Yes, its sad….. sad, but true.

Those are extreme examples, but the fact remains that people all around us are being sucked in to deceptive advertising every minute of every day and I think that is what the FTC is wanting to get a handle on.

Most likely, if you are reading this little blog of mine, you work online or have some knowledge of internet marketing. Folks, the Wild, Wild Web is a haven for those that are out to deceive others for profit. I am sure that is not a news flash for any of you.

Those of us that understand internet marketing may have built up a bit of immunity to a lot of the things going on around us. We are more aware of how things can be online – how a simple script can do something to a page…. how a seemingly innocent link in your email could rob you blind…. how clicking a link on a site could generate revenue for that site owner…and so on.

However, I think those that truly understand that and are aware of it make up MAYBE 1% of the population.

The good news is….



As of December 1, 2009 – EVERYTHING On The Internet Will Be TRUE


A local friend of mine asked me about these new FTC guidelines the other day and that is how I responded. Yep, all advertisements on TV, radio, print, the internet….they will all be TRUE after December 1st. (please see the humor in that statement).

I think we all realize that it won’t work that way in reality, but these FTC revisions just might put a little more faith into the average consumer when it comes to buying online. That can only help us. Knowing that our family, friends, and loved ones that fall into the “other 99%” will be a little more protected is only a good thing, too.

I bet we all know of at least ONE person who got taken by some deceptive advertising or online scam. It would be nice if that happened a little less and it would be even better if consumers were more aware.

However, I am afraid that all these compliance guidelines will do is increase the amount of fine print in advertising to the point where no one reads it at ALL. The FTC says that relationships etc must be disclosed, but I don’t recall them saying HOW to disclose it.

To me, this is a fascinating time to be involved with internet marketing as we watch all this evolve….see who gets made the “example”….see how many bail because it all gets too hard.



Who Does The FTC Want?


Last night, as I was doing some market research, I didn’t notice it, but a pop-up window opened in my task bar. I wish I could remember what site I was on when it happened, but I simply can’t recall. BUT, I CAN recall the little site that I saw in that pop-up.

As soon as I looked at it I thought, “THAT is exactly who the FTC wants to nail!” I kept the window open with plans to blog about it today, but my computer re-booted itself last night and I lost it. Go figure.

Crazy how things work tho. Today, in my email, I got an email from Harlan Kilstein who made a video he wanted to share with everyone. It was a video about a flog CPA scam site…

The exact same site I saw last night. Thank you, Harlan!

For the record, a flog is a fake blog….and I personally think these types of sites will be directly in the cross-hairs of the FTC come December 1st (if they aren’t already).

Take a moment and watch this video from Harlan – see if it shocks you, too.



Flog CPA Scam Video







Think back to when you were first looking into making money online – wouldn’t you have really looked at this site? Doesn’t the setup give the perception of credibility where it is totally NOT deserving? Do you feel that maybe some of the folks in your “other 99%” might fall for this?

I think so and personally, I am ok with that kind of advertising being monitored. To me, it’s not about free speech – it’s about flat-out deception.



So, How Do We Comply?


That’s a good question and one that I am not exactly sure of yet. We are all gonna have to be accountable for our own businesses and do our due diligence with this. These guidelines are new – not even being enforced yet – so I KNOW there will be tons of backlash and hysteria and all that other fun stuff that comes when something this major happens in our community. Just don’t forget, this extends wayyyyy beyond our internet marketing community – it applies to ALL advertisers. I imagine there are corporate lawyers scrambling all over the world to either fight this or figure out how the heck to comply.

Andrew Hansen has a great post about his thoughts in how to comply here >> My Take On the New FTC Changes

This could all prove to be very interesting….very interesting, indeed.

Oh, and by the way, if anyone comes up with (or knows of) a FTC compliant privacy policy/terms of service plugin for WordPress, let me know please. I have a sneaky feeling that there will be a few released in the very near future.

So, your thoughts? Have you been following all this? How do you feel this will impact your business? What are your plans to comply…or to NOT comply?





{ 66 comments }

Tom - StandOutBlogger.com October 20, 2009 at 8:38 pm

This is the first I have heard of this! Since you say “federal Trade Commission” I am guessing that means America? So if I am from Australia will it still affect me?

@ Tom – It looks like we will all have to do our research and see how this will effect each of us individually. I’d love to have a simple answer for you, but I just don’t. ~Jennifer

Andrew Hansen October 20, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Hey Jenn,

Killer article, thanks for sharing.

I particularly liked the distinction that as these new changes come into play, over time it will cut down on scams and make consumers more confident about purchasing online… I don’t think I’ve heard anyone mention that yet!

FYI I also made a post today with my thoughts on the situation here:

http://andrewhansen.name/online-business/my-take-on-the-new-ftc-changes/

Thanks again!

Andrew

@Andrew – Great minds think alike! Great post…. thank you for letting me know. I’ve edited the post above to link to yours. I think others will find it very helpful! ~Jennifer

Melody October 20, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Love your post. I can’t help but wonder, though…why can’t there be at least a little bit of responsibility placed on the consumer to do their due diligence. A bit more “caveat emptor” or similar.

I’m all for being transparent, but we shouldn’t have to hold people’s hands. They’re adults and responsible for their choices and actions.

@Melody – It’s a fine line, isn’t it? On one hand, it is frustrating see folks get awarded tons of money for not being accountable for their own actions, BUT it is heartbreaking when someone we love is deceived. I am all for every individual being just a little bit more accountable for their own actions (ie, if the coffee is hot, don’t put the cup between your legs while you’re driving. And if you DO drive with the hot coffee between your legs and you get burnt, don’t go suing the fast food company!). However, when it comes to advertising, the majority of the public doesn’t really know how it works. It’s not common knowledge. But…. it looks like common sense isn’t that common, either…haha! Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Steven b October 20, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Thanks for the heads up PPG… I look forward to this “better world” the FTC will create for us poor mindless citizens and the lawyers lick their chops.
Once again they get to spring into action making everything “true” as you mentioned.

@Steven – Yup, a brave new internet – full of honesty and transparency =)

Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Kim October 20, 2009 at 8:58 pm

I have actually started making a slight change in all of my online writing and putting that I am affiliated with this site so I am basically coming out and telling people that I am an affiliate. So my signature line or link will look like this for more information you will want to visit this site that I am affiliated with for more great information.
I think that is revealing that if you do purchase the product I will get a commission from it. However, the articles I do write are mainly tips to help people out. If I do a review article it is only on a product that I have purchased with my own hard earned cash (not given to me, sent out to me, or anything else). Even on those I put that I am affiliated with the product that I review because of the chance of getting a payment if they buy the product.

@ Kim – Sounds like a good idea! Thanks for your comment! ~Jennifer

Angie October 20, 2009 at 9:05 pm

I just received today in my inbox a message about buying a course on CPA marketing. Not knowing what CPA even was, I read this email and even watched a video on how it works. Sounds very familiar to what you’re talking about and the above video I just watched. He’s selling the course for $1400.00. Maybe he’s trying to making all his money this way before he finds out he may have trouble with all of his own CPA marketing he’s talking about.

@Angie – Not all CPA marketing is “bad” so please don’t think that is what we are saying here. It’s not about the WHAT is marketed as much as it is about the HOW it is marketed.

Marketing CPA offers can be quite lucrative, but there is no need to market them in the manner shown in the video.

Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Courtney Ramirez October 20, 2009 at 9:08 pm

I hope that this affects those who are trying to scam people….and not people who are honest affiliates just trying to do their due diligence! If they throw the baby out with the bath water, this whole industry is dead.

@Courtney – I’m hoping that is what the FTC is trying to deter (the scam stuff), but there isn’t a realistic way for them to police the internet – nor will they in the way folks are afraid of. While I do see SOME marketers leaving the industry, I don’t see anything happening to the industry as a whole for a long time. Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

JohnTheJock October 20, 2009 at 9:09 pm

Total transparency …… hmmmm

Does that mean if you use Google adsense you can have a headline above the ads saying ……

“Click on these ads and I get paid?”

Hell will freeze over first :-)

@John – LOL! I hear ya! But not sure if you’ve noticed, but AdSense ads usually say “sponsored links” above them (perhaps that is enough disclosure?) Thanks for the comment! ~Jennifer

chuck October 20, 2009 at 9:09 pm

The gentleman from Australia brings an interesting point and a revolving question that I haven’t seen answered yet. How is the FTC going to enforce international based sites? They can’t !! How many agents of the FTC are going to be dedicated to the internet portion of enforcement? Can the US government honestly afford that much staffing right now? This is going to be another pointless guideline/ law created by the government that is impossible to enforce and will only drive the bad guys into deeper ways of deceptive practices. I see both sides of this issue but I think it is going to hurt honest vendors who try and comply more than it is going to cease shady e-tailers.

@Chuck – From my understanding, the FTC is “complaint-driven” and I don’t believe there are plans to “police” the internet. If you read the link in the post to the 11k Rumor, you will hear from an FTC official how all this will be handled (ie, pretty much a “three strikes” type thing). I think the honest vendors will be fine. I can absolutely say that if I get any type of a warning letter from the FTC, you can bet your last dollar that I will fix whatever they see as a problem in a New York minute! lol! I’m sure other honest marketers feel the same way.

Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Chuck October 20, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Melody
I can’t believe you said that. Haven’t you got taken before?
If this were a perfect world we wouldn’t need the FTC to step in and police the advertisers.
Will we be able to flag the offenders? Like we can with spam?

@ Chuck – I suddenly had a vision of a “Report to the FTC” button on every single web page in the world ::rolling eyes::

Jeff October 20, 2009 at 9:39 pm

I wish the FTC would clarify this more regarding online ads. Like John said, do we need a disclaimer above any adsense ads? What about affiliate banners? The FTC has said they’re really only going after the worst offenders, so why not put more clarification directly in the language of the new guidelines.

@Jeff – Andrew Hansen had some great insight and tips on this in his post today –

http://andrewhansen.name/online-business/my-take-on-the-new-ftc-changes/

Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Arlene October 20, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Comply, tell the truth. My web site is based on true experiences and in some cases clinical studies of the products I sell. I to have tested the products, or my husband has.

I wondered about ClickBank but they offer a refund if the product doesn’t live up to your expectations, so i believe that will pass muster.

@Arlene – You brought up a topic I meant to mention in my post (imagine that, ME forgetting something? haha!).

The 81-page guide from the FTC (link is in the post above) talks about having “control” over our affiliates (for vendors). Clickbank doesn’t give its merchants any control over the allowing affiliates part. Anyone who has a Clickbank account can promote my products – how can I be held accountable for their (the affiliates) actions? Oh well, maybe I’ll ramble about that in another post =)

Thanks for reading!

~Jennifer

Tony October 20, 2009 at 9:55 pm

As you say there are already ad’s out there asking you to purchase their FTC compliancy policies to put on your site. Not heard of a plug in yet though.

I’ve no doub’t that the FTC have good intentions. However, as the FTC only has real teeth in the USA I can see these scamsters benfiting greatly by operating from other countries. This could mean your 99% now firmly belive that they will be safe from scams because the FTC has made the world safer for them. While in reality all the FTC has done is made it easier for the scamsters to operate. Just not from US soil. What are the FTC going to do, ban all incoming server communication from countries outside the US? I’ve no doubt legislation in other countries will catch up. Same as I’ve no doubt that some governments will welcome the scamsters to have servers in their small impoverished countries. For a small (undisclosed) consideration of course.

Strange isn’t it that in an offline business it’s taken for granted that the shopkeeper doesn’t manufacture what he sells. If a manufacturer does open a shop it’s always stated it is a ‘factory outlet’. Pretty much the reverse of what the FTC are asking anyone online to comply with.

The governments of the world may wait to see how the first court case goes in America. If it’s seen to be profitable for them then it could become law everywhere because it will be another source of revenue for the tax coffers.

Good luck all

Tony


@Tony – Interesting insight….definitely food for thought! Thanks for taking the time to comment! ~Jennifer

Cindy October 20, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Hi there, Jennifer!

Boy I wish I would have seen this video before this past Saturday because I was busy doing my work and my hubby forwarded me a hockey site. (We both LOVE hockey!) On this site it had a story of this out of work hockey fan who struck it rich on the internet. I read it and it totally seemed legit so I clicked on the link. The link took me to a similar site as the one portrayed in this video. When I got to the site, the first thing that hit me was it had to do with GOOGLE! You can’t go wrong being paid by Google, right? Wrong! I put in my sign up info including my “real” phone number as I thought it was totally legit until I started reading the fine print. In this fine print, I saw there was an 80 buck fee for something (not too sure what it was they were gonna charge me for). So, as soon as I saw that I exited out of the site and didn’t give it a second thought until the phone calls started.

You guessed, they had my “real” phone number! For the past week, I have been getting calls from this scumbag company at all hours of the day and night! It really is annoying! Thank Goodness, I saw that fine print or else I would have probably been a little more than annoyed at their phone calls!

Thus, does anyone know how to block calls with Time Warner Service? I would be most appreciative!

Thanks!

Cindy

@Cindy – Oh bless your heart – that’s awful!!! You hit the nail on the head tho – “you can’t go wrong being paid by Google, right?”

Google is a household name now – people trust it. Those marketers are playing on that trust and really taking folks for a ride. had no idea about the phone calls tho – I think I would answer once, tell them to stop calling me or I WILL report them (and I really WOULD report them). Thanks for sharing!!! ~Jennifer

Jay Gumbs October 20, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Thanks for that video Jennifer. I’ve been warning people about those things.

I like what Michel Fortin did on his blog. Just scroll down to the end of the sidebar to his disclosure policy – very creative. I wonder if he would let us use it.

@Jay – Oh that’s good… It’s direct and very transparent. Thanks for sharing!!! ~Jennifer

Simon October 20, 2009 at 10:47 pm

ALL advertising spins the truth a little bit. Every advert on or off-line highlights advantages while being less generous with details about the disadvantages.

How many of the big drug companies make a fuss about side-effects ?

How many politicians tell the truth ?

How many people say “I love you” and really mean it ?

This sounds to me like good ol’ political ass-covering. You put out a grand document – catch a few of the worst culprits in a blaze of publicity and then claim your political points from the safety of the moral high-ground. Whatever happens, the politicians can say “Not our fault – we did our best”.

I’m from England and stopped believing politicians a loooong time ago.

@Simon – I hear ya… loud and clear. I think it comes down to whether there is perception of deception….or just not telling the whole truth. This all should be very interesting. Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Vince Squires October 20, 2009 at 10:55 pm

Hi Jennifer

I’ve only been following you for a few weeks but thanks for all the good info.

You had mentioned about trying to find a resource for info on how to comply with the new FTC rules. I

I came accross a website http://www.disclosurepolicy.org that provide a quick way to put together a disclosure page for your website for free. Only thing is I’m not sure if it’ creates a disclosure that would be compliant with the FTC. You actually customize your own disclosure so you can probably create something that is close. Might work until something better crops up!

Hope that helps

Best
Vince

@Vince – Thank you – I’ll check it out! And welcome to PotPieGirl.com! ~Jennifer

Laurie J. Brenner October 20, 2009 at 11:04 pm

I see no problem at all with being transparent, and I’ve already started to put text on my websites that promote affiliate products that identifies:

1. Affiliate Websites
2. Results may not be typical
3. Affiliate or owner will not be held liable for your success or failure with the products.

Bottom line, I operate mostly from the point of view of the law of attraction — which in essence means — what you put out you get back. If you’re honest, and open and transparent with what you’re doing — you can’t help but attract those kinds of customers.

We all know that there are scummy scammers out there, and unfortunately honest folks that are taken in, but there are as many scummy scammer wanna be’s as well.

And frankly honesty, and openess is great. Everyone knows that if they go to buy a car, more than likely the salesman will get a commission. This is the nature of affiliate marketing.

Prices for products don’t go down because we make commissions from affiliate sales, they are the same with or without the commission – so I actually don’t think this is going to hurt one bit and it’s high time that some of these scammers go bye bye!

@Laurie – Very well said!! Thank you!

Terry October 20, 2009 at 11:13 pm

Pot-Pie Girl – the art of deceiving the public in advertising has been around for every. I used to teach advertising at major colleges and universities in my younger years and I would use some of the following to demonstrate how powerful the different tricks in advertising worked, regardless of the truth. Here are some examples:

• My wife has a poster that was generated in the 50s which includes a picture of Lucy and Desi, lighting up one of their sponsors’ brand of cigarette, with an inserted picture of a doctor, and a caption that read something like: “Doctors agree – [brand] cigarettes CAN lower your stress level and make smoking fun, making it HEALTHY for you”, or something to that effect.

Notice the word CAN, meaning it may or may not lower your stress, but implying that it does. Also, with a picture of a doctor and a statement NOT A QUOTE, gives the thought validity. Here’s another one that’s been around for ever:

• “[INSERT ANY BRAND NAME OF ASPIRIN OR SIMILAR HEADACHE MEDICINE, AND SAY IT WITH AUTHORITY]! – You can’t buy a more effective pain reliever”.

This one is really great because it’s lying with out lying – here’s why: If the FDA regulates all drugs and mandates that a manufacturer is limited to a maximum of “x” amount of one ingredient, and “x” amount of another ingredient, then no matter the brand – they ALL put in the maximum of the same amounts of those ingredients for a competitive drug – hence: the reason you can’t buy a MORE effective product is because they ALL have the same effectiveness since they ALL have the same levels of the same ingredients – pretty clever, huh?

When it comes to psychology in advertising, it’s ramped – take the case of Chevy many years ago when promoting their newest version of the Camaro:

Announcer: “You can get your Camaro in RACY RED or BAD ATTITUDE BLACK”, obviously appealing to all the “A-Hole Wannabees” – but still, hitting a psycho-button for those consumers.

I could go into a ton of other tricks from subliminal advertising to how what you THINK you see may not be WHAT you ACTUALLY see on a TV commercial – very interesting stuff.

Anyway – I agree with you that the approach that the FTC is taking to force all advertising to be more truthful is good for all of us – and helps legitimize all offers, including those from us on the Internet.

But, here’s a question: What ever happened to that “TRUTH IN ADVERTISING” rule we adopted years ago – how will this differ? Why didn’t it cover all advertising? How actually will affiliate marketing be affected? If I have a site that only offers products sold at another site (I don’t inventory – I’m just a “click-through” site) how will it effect me? Some many question – (and, who knows) how little time – before they actually get around to enforcing this!

Terry – http://www.dumbtoyz.com – “da dumer da beder”

@ Tony – Wow, what a great comment! Thank you! And you’re right, there are so many questions that appear to be unanswered at the moment. ~Jennifer

Mary Castner-Comer October 20, 2009 at 11:27 pm

All kinds of people today have discovered the interent – some for following honest, reliable business practices some for using shadey, scam filled ways of doing business. I think that the FTC will help rather than hinder honest businesses. I must admit when I first heard about the new regulations I was concerned on how a new on-line marketer, like myself, would ever deal with it? But after thinking about it, I decided that so what if we have to acknowledge that we, as affiliates, get compensated. Most people won’t begruge a commission as long as a product or service that’s talked about or recommended is what it says it is.

@ Mary – Very good points! I think that most of us by now (as in most of us reading this) have acknowledged that if we click and buy something, someone probably made a commission. However, I think the most concern is coming from the marketers that work OUTSIDE the internet marketing market. For example, if I am an affiliate for a cookbook, the odds are good that my readers don’t have a clue that there is referral money paid to someone based on what link they click. I’m wondering if these type marketers have a fear of disclosing that fact when the consumer would never even worry about it. Sorry, not quite enough coffee yet today so my wording is bad, but perhaps you get my drift?

Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Sunshine October 20, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Get paid by Google type radio ads are popping up in some areas of the US. I had a conversation with a friend in Ohio, who swore me down that he could get a job with Google by simply doing some data entry work on Google.

I asked him to tell me more about the service as I felt strongly it was a torrid cpa offer.

When I told him that he would probably be billed monthly and that he would have to do far more than just data entry.

You know like keyword research, write content, send traffic to other merchant companies…His response was classic–I’m not interested in all of that. I just want to make 10 to 20 dollars an hour doing a little something. That’s too much work.

At lease I saved his credit card from major charges.

@Sunshine – Hey girl! You wouldn’t believe the things that “regular” people think and believe about the internet. I love getting people talking about online stuff when I am out in the “real” world – and I am shocked at some of the things they say. With all the economic strains on folks these days, it scares me to death what they will believe (or hope to be true).

At least your friend was spared – good job! ~Jennifer

Jody October 20, 2009 at 11:28 pm

There was a long Warrior Forum discussion on this that I can’t find now, but the thread quoted some pertinent FTC paragraphs, and I have just about concluded that it’s a tempest in a teapot. Why? Because all the screaming is mostly about ‘average’ results, and that’s not what FTC said at all. They used references like ‘what are the typical results a person can expect to achieve.’ That’s not the same thing; ‘average’ demands a definite figure, but ‘typical’ does not.

What does worry me, and again I can’t recall where I read it, is that an affiliate will be responsible for what the vendor’s sales page says! If the vendor makes outrageous or improperly supported statements, in effect, the affiliate is supporting them.

What

@ Jody – In my market – internet marketing – defining the “typical users results” is not hard at all. the “typical” reader does nothing and earns nothing – a sad but true statistic of our industry. No, that doesn’t make for a sexy sales pitch, but then again, I’m not targeting “typical” people, ya know?

I didn’t read that an affiliate could be responsible for a vendor (unless the affiliate KNOWS it’s BS), but I did read how vendors could be held accountable for their affiliates (which, of course, is a concern for me).

Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Taylor October 20, 2009 at 11:52 pm

I never really got into affiliate marketing. Yes. I used your program, and gave it a shot… a few times. Yes. It worked. I made some good money.

However, I didn’t feel it was just to lead someone to purchase a product in which I had never even tried. Maybe if I heard it was a good product… but still, leading someone to purchase something in which I haven’t tried is kinda mess up. Especially if I don’t know whether or not that product even works.

Furthermore, I think that promoting your own site / blog will do you better in the long run. Because again, YOUR BLOG / BUSINESS is what YOU BELIEVE IN. Chances are, if you have a blog or business, OTHERS will also be INTERESTED in it.

Not 1 or 2 or even 40 sales and then the product DIES… But TRAFFIC FOREVER… That’s what promoting your own site / business can do for you, and that’s why I never really got into affiliate marketing.

It’s okay occasionally, and I love what you’re doing. Heck, your tactics can still be used to promote blogs / businesses, and they’re still GREAT for BACKLINKS!

But affiliate marketing when you can PROMOTE your OWN Business…. I choose promoting my owns business. :)

By the way, your book is awesome, and I did make all my money back and more. I even use your strategy for linking squidoo articles together within my own site. It works extremely well, and builds really HIGH RANKED PAGES!

Thank you, PPG.
Taylor Thompson


@ Taylor – Hey, thanks for the great feedback on One Week Marketing! I love to hear of people having success with it (tho that would not be the typical reader…or whatever I am supposed to say there…lol). ~Jennifer

feyaia October 21, 2009 at 12:02 am

I agree with most of the posters here so nobody get me wrong about my questions:
The internet is a world entity. Isn’t it a bit foolish to make rules for a segment of the world (The USA) that’s quickly becoming a minority on it’s internet stage?

Also, where does the FTC (other than having the power to get the cops to bust down your door) get it’s authority?

Again, PLEASE don’t get me wrong but I feel that a water hose is being applied to a house fire. The World ‘tant gonna play nice just because the American FTC says so. How many of you have read an Advert Email where the English was Horrible but the ‘add’ was simulative to our adds. Be warned folks: The Barbarians are at the Gates and I would happily predict that sites like Wealthy Affiliate could become the Touchstones of the internet; a place where you get the Straight Stuff.

As our good host might say: The Times ahead are going to be interesting!

@ Feyaia – Good points…very good points! No, the USA does not own or control the internet, that’s for sure. It certainly will be interesting to see how all this pans out over time. The internet is still so young in comparison to other regulated advertising platforms – and the internet has no “parents”. ~Jennifer

Elizabeth Adams October 21, 2009 at 1:32 am

A couple of centuries ago, an ad appeared in a newspaper for a “Potato Bug Killer” for $1.00. People who ordered it received two wooden blocks and instructions which read, “Place potato bug on Block A and squash it with Block B.”

Another ad offered a cigarette roller for $1.00. Those who ordered it received a large nail and a set of instructions which read, “Place cigarette on table and roll it with point of nail.”

If you were face to face with the guy selling potato-bug killers, you could ask him to show you how they worked before you spent your hard-earned money on one.

Same with the cigarette rollers.

But when you see an ad in a newspaper or magazine about them, you can’t do that. If you’re super cautious, you simply don’t buy it. If you’re semi cautious, you figure that surely the newspaper or magazine wouldn’t publish the ad in the first place if it wasn’t on the up and up.

This gets into “captive audience” territory, and the presumption is that, if you are engendering public trust in your publication, then you had better look sharp and make sure you don’t publish any article that isn’t true or any advertisement that doesn’t fairly represent the item offered.

Is it easier to make sales of potato-bug killers if you’re not obliged to mention that the buyer has to go out and hunt for his own potato bugs?

Sure.

Is it easier to make sales of cigarette rollers if you don’t have to reveal that they don’t actually make cigarettes?

Sure.

Will there always be marketers who try to get away with stunts like these?

Probably.

So what do we do about it?

We make laws with penalties attached to discourage such behavior.

Will such laws catch every crook?

Probably not.

Will they catch you?

Maybe.

Do you want to risk it and see?

Or would you rather draw a line in the sand and decide to do nothing but honest business from this day forward?

P.S.

Time heals all wounds and wounds all heels!

:)

@Elizabeth – Personally, I’ve worked too hard to “risk it and see” – however, it is super hard to comply when it seems no one knows HOW to comply….just a bunch of speculation. Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Lis Jakub October 21, 2009 at 1:38 am

Jennifer, I have learned more from you for free – or almost free – than from online marketing coaches, who charged me plenty.
I am a complete newbie, generally pretty bright, but I did get sucked into this marketing program because I trusted the wrong people. In addition, while doing keyword research, I got into something else, very much like the scam discussed in the video by Harlan.
I’ve created a squidoo lens on it, but how do I get the word out, if only 5 people see it?
I cannot tell you how tempted I am to take my losses while I am still somewhat certain that not every one who works online is a crook.
I have yet to make a penny; I am tempted to hang in there, but everything I do now reminds me how vulnerable I am, and what a jungle this online marketing business is.
If you care to check my lens on the Acai Detox Consumer Trap, it’s
squidoo.com/AcaiDetoxTrap

Lis

@ Lis – Ah, I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a rough time. There are lots of ways for you to get the word out, but I don’t think Squidoo will end up being your best option. Acai is on their list of “no-no” topics. Thank you for reading! ~Jennifer

Sylviane Nuccio October 21, 2009 at 1:50 am

Great post and great links here. I had been so busy I didn’t have much time to look into this very deep thus far.

Anything that will help the world get rid of those shameful lies whether on line or on TV would be a good thing.

Can’t wait to see how it all turn out!

@ Sylviane – Same here… can’t wait to see how this all goes. Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Larry Bauge October 21, 2009 at 2:10 am

I have to think about Tom’s question, is this only in North America that the FTC is controling.
Am I still going to get all those $1,000,000,00 lottery winning emails from Uganda.
Are other countries going to fall in line or are the North Americans the only ones that have to be honest.
Larry

@Larry – Guess it’s only us Americans that will have to be honest….lol

And hey, I thought *I* was the locky lottery winner!?!?

As always, thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Laura October 21, 2009 at 2:45 am

I’ve seen that exact same flog CPA scam site a bunch of times. It always seems to pop up on its own – never from clicking on anything. Of course I know better now and would never get suckered in from a site like – I knew it was fake the first time I saw it- but I might have fallen prey to it when I started online. I’ll be really glad to see those sites disappear because I’m sure alot of folks have been taken by them.

@ Laura – I agree and that’s what hit me when I first saw it. So many people in desperate financial situations these days…and then they see that flog. It breaks my heart. Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Anthony October 21, 2009 at 3:59 am

I have seen a flog like the one in the video before, but never realized it was a scam. If I wasn’t already doing my own thing with google adsense, I probably would have been taken. I have been online for a while a can’t believe that I didn’t realize that these were scams. Imagine all of the people that are new to the internet.

I personally will follow the new FTC guidelines with no problems letting everyone know what my intentions are. Honesty is the best policy! I have bought products many times from people that have told me that they recommend the product so much that they also put a non-affiliate link next to their affiliate link as well to prove that it is an honest recommendation.

I am really only interested in selling things that I believe in. I guess I have a bit of a conscience.

@ Anthony – Ya know, I think that’s what it all comes down to – what we are each comfortable doing. I have seen plenty of marketing techniques that I KNOW are effective, but I personally won’t do them or teach them. But that’s ME and my personal boundaries – not that there is anything illegal about the techniques. It’s up to each of us as marketers to know our “limits” and to know the legal limits, too – and as consumers, it is up to each of us to get smarter abut the internet.

Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Eli October 21, 2009 at 4:17 am

FTC sees dollar signs more than a sudden urge to protect the American consumer. Besides, as someone else mentioned, unless they are going to enforce internationally, it is very hard to do. The internet is obviously very different from ads on television as most US citizens are not watching global shows and commercials via tv. But, it’s not a bad thing to police the net a bit. Did they get the p0rn site off of Whitehouse.com? It was there for years. That’s a good place to start. I would go look but I have work to do. lol

@Eli – Let’s look at it all from another angle regarding dollar signs. IF these FTC guideline revisions force advertisers to be more transparent with their product and advertising claims, perhaps this MIGHT give less weight to a consumer in a courtroom who claims to be scammed. MAYBE those cases won’t even make it to court anymore. Couldn’t that, perhaps, SAVE some money in the US court system?

I haven’t researched a lot into how many court cases end up awarding a consumer based on allegations of internet fraud, but I’ve read some. If complying with these new FTC guidelines could help protect ME (the internet advertiser) from a case like that….well, I’m ok with that. Just thinking out loud.

Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Laura October 21, 2009 at 4:51 am

Harlan should call those numbers and see what he gets on the other end.

If he actually gets a human (doubtful), start asking questions. That would make great video.

@Laura – Agreed!

Mike October 21, 2009 at 5:19 am

Great blog PPG,
I’ve landed on that flog page before, glad I turned away. Some people will do anything for a buck…
I too, hope the people running it get caught…

@ Mike – Thanks! I have a funny feeling we will see less of these type of flogs after December 1st. Problem is – what will they do NEXT ? Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Zulma October 21, 2009 at 7:21 am

I had a peek at the video because I had a strange feeling I had seen that pop-up too. I was right. I saw this scam about two days ago. After a quick scan, I realised it was bogus. But you’ve made a good point. Before joining Wealthy Affiliates and really learning about Internet Marketing, I wouldn’t have been so dismissive. It really does look authentic and I could imagine some desperate, naive soul being taken in by this.

When it comes to writing articles and lenses, I find the Golden Rule, ‘Do unto others…’ is a good guideline. I don’t appreciate being conned or misled, so I don’t knowingly do it to someone else. It’s bad for business and worse for the reputation. I’m looking to hang around for awhile and I don’t want to do anything to ruin my chances of developing a nice little earner.

@ Zulma – My late Grandmother preached the Golden Rule to me from the moment I was born…..and I quietly thank her for that every single day. To me, it’s a good way to live. Thing is, NOT living that way is not illegal, ya know?

Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Simon October 21, 2009 at 8:39 am

Of course – the answer that might keep tax hungry politicians out of affiliates collective faces could be “Self Regulation”.

Imagine the kudos and respect generated by the Internet Marketing community if a not-for-profit website was hoisted that blacklisted all the truly dodgy URLs we find as we move around the Internet. Potential customers could go there first to reassure themselves as part of their buying process.

There would have to be an unbiased panel of moderators to stop affiliates ‘reporting’ their competitors URLs (of course they wouldn’t) but this might be the backlinks from Hell scenario that corrupt marketers would want to avoid whether they were based in the US or some far flung corner of the planet.

Just a thought . . .

@ Simon – Interesting concept. Question tho – who will regulate the self-regulators? ;)

Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Tom Vergeyle October 21, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Thanks for your thoughts, My concern is as a newbie, I am just starting to set up some Squidoo lenses, write some articles, etc. Should I wait to see what will be required? Any feedback would be helpfull.

@ Tom – Yep, I would say to just keep your ear to the ground and keep up with industry news. To me, the best rule of thumb is to market TO someone that way YOU would want to be marketed to. Make sense? (and no, that is not legal advice, etc etc….lol)

Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Rudy October 21, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Interesting post I just hope this does not turn into the classic lawyer chasing after the ambulance/affiliate marketer so to speak.

We all know there will be certain folks out there just waiting and searching for the slightest deviation from the new FTC rules and ready to pounce at a moments notice with lawsuits.

This could turn into a internet nightmare down the road for many many folks honest and dishonest.

@ Rudy – I hear ya. I’d LIKE to think that in this case what can hurt me could also PROTECT me (as a marketer). If I play within the rules and comply however it is that I am supposed to comply, then a consumer should have less ‘weight’ in a case against me. I also think I understood that these FTC guidelines are more of a “three strikes” type thing. If I’m not mistaken, it’s not like one complaint filed will get your world taken from you… you’ll get warnings and stuff before hand. Not sure on all that tho…. guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Top Gamble World October 21, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Nice one.I love your blog.If you want we can make link exchange.Just let me know.
Cheers!

@ Top – Thanks!

Brad October 22, 2009 at 2:10 am

Interesting flog video by Harlan. All those surcharges in the fine print……….good grief. I never sign up for anything with a credit card that “gives you” that free one week or one month trial. Something tells me that call back number to cancel is routed to some igloo in Nome, Alaska…..maybe a soup can connected to a string. If the FTC chases these snakes, all the better.

My concern is more based on my three blogs and dozen lenses that promote affiliates that i believe in and have used with success. Hopefully there will be some sort of boiler plate disclaimer that many of us bloggers can adopt without having to hire out a lawyer to spell out he details.

@ Brad – LOL at the “soup can” comment! Hopefully all this will become more clear as time goes by. Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer

Ravi@How to make quick money October 22, 2009 at 11:11 am

Hi,

FTC is taking the right steps in making the things to go in a legit manner.

I have seen those pop up windows too that comes when I visit some sites. They are not a fair mean of getting acknowledge and I am sure that FTC will stop such things in the coming future.

carolyn October 22, 2009 at 12:51 pm

What I’ve been reading tells me testimonials need truth; no more 18 lbs in 4 days, handled with “results not typical”.

And, if you are remunerated for speaking positively about a product, admit it.

On my sites I make this statement:
“My websites include links to products. If you purchase some of these products as a result of this website, I will receive a commission. With other products I have no affiliate relationship and include them because they satisfy my goal of providing useful information to my readers. None of the product manufacturers nor their distributors have compensated me in anyway for the inclusion of their product on this site.” (not verbatim)

I’ve no idea how good that is. It is simply an attempt to be open. When the FTC tells me what should be changed it will be.

I make no recommendation to anyone about what to do or not do. I have no legal training, nor any idea what compliance will look like!

But, I do see the alarmists already at their trade!

Mark Wilson October 22, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Personally I think that these guidelines will be handled in the same way as most other new guidelines or restrictions.

80% of people will either comply or attempt to comply.
10% will never comply, and…
10% will still be saying “comply with what?” this time next year.

In the absence of an approved statement of affiliate relationship, I decided to write some of my own. Be warned, some of them are tongue-in-cheek! http://www.therealmarkwilson.com

I would imaging that, even if your statement isn’t exactly as the FTC would like, the fact that you included one on your site shows good faith and an intention to comply. You can always update it once there is an approved version available.

-Mark.

IMarketMan October 22, 2009 at 2:37 pm

PPG,

My mother was taken by that same website! And to be honest I was too. And I know about how internet marketing works!!

My mother needed to make a small income to make ends meet since my father died and I’d been telling her about my attempt at internet marketing so she started looking into it. She bought into that scam before asking me about it. When she did I went through the whole shebang to check it out and I knew I had to cancel before the 7 days were up but forgot to in the process of getting articles out. Well, it cost me $97 and they were going to charge me for the first month subscription but I talked them out of that.

Expensive lesson but one I’ll never forget nor use in my marketing attempts. I sent my mother the money back telling her that they had it sent back to me first so she wouldn’t know it came from my pocket. (she wouldn’t have accepted it ) For some a loss like that is irritating but to some it can be devastating.

Lis Jakub October 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Jennifer, this is with regards to the Acai Detox consumer Trap once again. Just now discovered that my comment was accepted by you.
The lens squidoo.com/AcaiDetoxtrap exists and outlines clearly how they operate. I have a disclaimer right at the start stating that this lens is not about the product but about the method employed in selling the product.
I was out over $ 500.00 long before I ever had a hard copy of my credit card statement.
I explain in an update that I have been fighting this charge and have been able to obtain half of it back. Still, this was extremely upsetting. The hardest thing for me is learning how hard it is to warn others. I’m beginning to think the credit card companies themselves are to blame. They know every single name these people operate under. Why don’t they go public with that information? Could it be because they make money on the outstanding balance? You think???
Lis

Sarah October 23, 2009 at 6:18 am

Hey PPG!
There were so many things I liked about this post, but I think my favorite was:
As of December 1st, everything on the internet will be true.

I laughed and laughed.

My gut feel on the FTC thing is not to worry overmuch if you are an honest marketer. These changes are not the end of the world, nor should they cause undue fright.

My personal plan is to first get rid of testimonials. I don’t like to have them on my pages and I don’t like to read them on other people’s pages. Personally, I think a lot of things will sell better without them. I don’t believe they add any credibility.

Second, there are many ways to say “I’m an affiliate of this company and I get paid if you buy the product.” Use some creativity and/or humor and it could work to your advantage, PLUS bring you the credibility you desire.

I would also like to thank you for the link to Harlan Kilstein. I didn’t know about him before, but I really appreciated the video, especially the “shame on you” ending. We should be shaming the pretenders out of business whenever we get a chance. More power to him! I signed up to his list just because of the exposure here on your blog.

Andrew Hansen always has good thoughts on whatever is going on currently, so I will pop over there next to see what he’s got to say.

Honestly, to all the worried marketers out there: sit back, make your initial changes, then wait to see how the situation clarifies itself. You should get the credit for attempting to comply (I don’t think that most people who read this blog are going to be in the crosshairs of the FTC anyway), and when the rules get enforced, which they will, learn and make more changes if necessary.

Change happens. This one is a good one long-term. Hang in there!

indyainfo October 23, 2009 at 6:03 pm

I know about how internet marketing works!!

Chad Wilson October 24, 2009 at 9:49 pm

Hey potpiegirl love your articles. I just want you to know that your comments a while back is don’t give up and just keep going forward this business takes time and I like the fact that you explined the strugles and time that you had to go through to be where you are now and also the bum marketer way of starting out. It has helped me go forward.
Thanks again Chad Wilson http://www.getsupplementalincome.com
http://www.tantrumtoddlers.blogspot.com

Jane October 27, 2009 at 4:47 am

I have 170 lenes in squidoo but today, they blocked all my lenes for review. I made money before but now, what should I do?

reiki healing October 27, 2009 at 9:49 pm

How is the FTC going to enforce international based sites? They can’t !! How many agents of the FTC are going to be dedicated to the internet portion of enforcement? Can the US government honestly afford that much staffing right now? This is going to be another pointless guideline/ law created by the government that is impossible to enforce and will only drive the bad guys into deeper ways of deceptive practices

Pamela Rainey (Pam) October 28, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Hello. I am writing this post because you said you monitor the posts and I don’t know how else to get in touch with you. I opened a ticket through your help desk a month ago and still haven’t had a response. I understand that may be because the question is too stupid to answer. Until this week I have not been able to spend much time on learning or doing. I am devoting most of my time to this now. Don’t worry about the help desk question because I can’t even remember why I was going to use AdWords.
My new question is a serious request for help. I have purchased or joined the following based on your recommendations or links (I put a lot of trust in you for some reason) – Wealthy Affilliate, Jackie Lee’ s Christmas, two domains from GoDaddy, HostGator, One Week Marketing, Clickbank, and Instant Article Wizard. Instant Article Wizard is not working and I am wondering is this is a product that you still use or recommend.
I think I may have gone about something wrong. I was trying to catch up with my reading and started with your earlier posts from 2007 and 2008. I am wondering if much has changed and if I should start at the present and work my way back.
Also, I am boggled down right now trying to learn how to use FTP and get a Website going. I noticed somewhere that you said you did not do that. Do you use the File Manager on Host Gator or do you do that through Word Press? My goal for today to get through most of your 6stepniche course.
Thanks for all you do. I think just hearing from you would restore my faith that you are real people and good people and not just in it for the affliliate dollars I have contributed.
Sincerely,
Pam
p.rainey@mchsi.com
251-928-8442

Robin Rowe October 28, 2009 at 5:08 pm

After reading the actual FTC documents, I feel these new guidelines can only benefit those who are responsible and legitimate marketers.
As you mentioned, after December 1st ALL advertising will be true! That would mean we no longer have to fight so much skepticism in our prospective customers.
The consumer benefits as well. After all, we are not only marketers, but also consumers ourselves!
I feel it’s about time the Scammers and Spammers were dealt with.
In the end, it will make all of our jobs easier.

Elizabeth October 29, 2009 at 5:41 am

“@Elizabeth – Personally, I’ve worked too hard to “risk it and see” – however, it is super hard to comply when it seems no one knows HOW to comply….just a bunch of speculation. Thanks for reading! ~Jennifer”

Actually, I didn’t mean “you” personally, but rather “you” generally. I apologize for not making that clear.

As to the “how” of compliance … it’s actually very simple. For clues, grab any well-known magazine or newspaper. All that’s really going on, here, is regulations that have been in effect in the print world for decades are now being applied to content on the internet, as well as to content in magazines and newspapers, and on radio and TV.

The type of advertisement known as a “display” ad is something we all recognize as an ad. But the type of advertisement known as a “reader ad” now has to be clearly identified as an advertisement or “advertorial” because, when somebody first thought it up as a way of getting around the FTC regulations, people were misled into thinking it was an opinion piece or editorial, and they wound up spending their money based on that misrepresentation. This, in turn, led to complaints filed with the magazines and newspapers and radio stations and TV stations and states’ attorneys general and, yes, even unto the FTC itself.

Here is all you need to know in order to comply with the new regulations:

All powers that be hate complaints!

In fact, they hate complaints so much that a way will very likely be found to nail your hide to a barn door whether you are “guilty” of wrongdoing or not!

Remember, you’re in Regulatory Territory, now, where the principles of Admiralty Law prevail: “Shoot first and ask questions later!”

The whole “guilty-until-proven-innocent” thing is out the window.

And the name of the game is: “Avoid Complaints Like The Plague!”

If somebody asks for their money back, give it to them. With a smile!

If somebody says, “I would never have bought this product, if I’d known you were getting paid to promote it,” apologize profusely and profoundly and refund their money and promise that you will never again recommend a product without making it crystal clear that you are getting paid to do so, and then *keep* that promise as if your financial life depended upon it … because it does.

If somebody says, “I would never have bought this product, if I’d known that the results those people in the testimonials got with it weren’t the kind of results that an average person like me could get,” apologize profusely and profoundly and refund their money and promise that you will never again publish a testimonial without making it crystal clear that the person who got those great results is extra-ordinary in some way that most people aren’t, and then *keep* that promise as if your financial life depended upon it … because it does.

*You* (and other other marketers like you) are on the *inside* … you are *privy* to inside information … you *know* an affiliate pitch when you see one … you *know* — or probably rightly assume — that 99 out of 100 testimonials are “embroidered” to some extent … and you make your purchasing decisions accordingly.

But someone who is *not* on the inside — who takes these things at face value — these are the people the FTC regulations are seeking to protect.

Look at the SEC:

There is one set of rules for people with less than $100,000 to invest, because the law presumes that they are “unsophisticated” investors, so it requires you to *thoroughly* spell things out for them.

And then there is another set of rules for people with more than $100,000 to invest, because the law presumes that they are “sophisticated” investors, so it gives you a little more leeway.

Meaning …

If you have a mailing list of 5,000 “inner circle” coaching clients, let’s say, who are very well up to speed on all your tactics, then the law is going to allow you to take certain liberties with them that it wouldn’t allow you to take with the man on the street — with the “newbie” — because they are *already* in the know, whereas the newbie isn’t.

It all comes down to making an effort to get to know your prospect, so that you can offer him something that he needs, wants and can afford to buy.

The days when “anything goes” in an effort to transfer money from his pocket to yours are long gone.

And so they should be.

Selling things is actually very easy. You don’t need to try all your high-pressure, neuro-linguistic tricks on people. Just give them something for free that delights them … and then follow it up with something for pay that delights them even more.

Simple!

:)

Angela October 30, 2009 at 8:21 pm

Hey Jennifer,
I agree with Melody’s comment. It’s a “Buyer Beware” world out there and we all need to be accountable for our own actions.
The first thing I noticed in Harlan’s video was the almost transparent text at the top of the gazette page which reads, “ADVERTISEMENT”. If you flip through any magazine these days, you will also see this type of advertising and people should pay attention to this for their own safety.
Perhaps being part of the internet marketing business has made me more aware than the average John Doe, but it shouldn’t mean he should not do as Melody stated and conduct his own due diligence when it comes to buying online.
You would think in this poor economic climate that people would be more wary of this, but perhaps it’s the lure of “quick money” that gets the public duped. Desperate times, I guess…

Karen November 2, 2009 at 7:19 pm

Has there been any talk about how this will affect sites like squidoo? I don’t believe it says anywhere on the lens that the lens owner and squidoo owner makes commissions from ebay, cafepress, or amazon sales.

Debbie November 4, 2009 at 1:56 pm

I am trying to figure out how to work this. I was all set to use pictures of ( not me) on a couple of niche sites in my bio and a pseudo first name in order to make it all fit with my products. Now , unless I understand it wrong, I will have to use my own picture, my real name, or clearly spell out that it is an add. Or leave out the photo and bio which does not usually convert as well. Otherwise, I feel I am pretty truthful and and I have been putting the disclosures page up now even on my blogs which I had not before.
Jennifer, if you read this I would love your view on how you see we can work things like making our bio fit our niche? To not have using own picture is deceptive and probably won’t fly unless we disclose it correct?

Des November 5, 2009 at 10:58 am

Thanks for a really informative post. I tend to agree with the majority of your readers who have responded, in that I don’t think there is any harm in being open and transparent. It will only help improve the standing of the internet, which people often rightly view with distrust.

Examples as shown in Harlan’s video are truly shameful, and the sooner things like this are exposed and punished the better.

Hopefully these moves by the FTC will leave the internet a better place for us all to prosper. But I won’t be holding my breath!

Alex November 13, 2009 at 1:39 pm

You know, I just read another post today on the FTC rules. The thing is, the only people who have to worry is those who lie, and if you have the testimonial on your site, you just need a proof and a little disclaimer. However, testimonials are NOT the only “sales” process, as there are many products you can sell where you do not have to have testimonial.

Jodie November 15, 2009 at 1:10 am

Did anyone roll out a plugin yet? That would be jim dandy. =)

Robert Troch November 18, 2009 at 6:16 pm

You take this kind of lightly. Yes, there are some bad apples that spoil it for the rest of us, but adding more and more regulations, therefore further confusing people only makes it more and more difficult for the entrepreneur. You know…..the American Dream?

I personally dislike government further sticking their noses into people’s business. It could completely (and with great confusion) turn how I would use testimonials upside down. Can they still be used at all? What format? How much will it all cost to get all the necessary information on how to do it within the guidelines? Who’s to say some schmuck won’t report me (or anyone) because they didn’t bother to lift a finger and therefore never got any results? Extra headaches dealing with BS and less time to doing what needs to be done. This sounds like a huge ball of yarn that is only going to become more and more tangled.

Zokson November 18, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Robert, you are right…I think this just opens more doors for lawsuits, but it is what it is…I am personally thinking of registering my business overseas. There are countries where you don’t even have to pay taxes.

But that is not the main reason. I’ve read that if you host your site on non US server, and if you have business registered outside of US, you don’t have to obey by these rules.

So the rest of the world has privileges, while we have to obey the rules!

Gustav@ Medical Manager Software November 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm

I found your post as well as many of the comments very interesting. However, as one of the posters said, just be honest! If you are doing an honest review of a product (not rewriting someone else’s review) and express your opinion, simply disclose if you are an affiliate, if you were paid to do the review, or if you got the product free for doing the review, etc. I have a site where I do this and am not concerned in the least.
I had an attorney who is familiar with this new ruling and he said that if you have a site that violates the new regulation, the FTC is not going to slap that $11,000 fine against you immediately. You will get a notice stating that you are in violation and a certain number of days to correct it. If you don’t correct it, then you asked for it! This makes perfect sense to me and if you don’t get the first notice of violation, no need to sweat it. But again, I emphasize, BE HONEST and this will go a long way with the FTC as well as your customers.

Shane November 29, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Wow, what a detailed report!

Thanks a lot for clarifying all of these details about the new FTC regulations.
I don’t think I’ve seen such a detailed report on this anywhere else.

Oh, and I was completely shocked to learn that there are people who actually LIE. And in MARKETING, of all places!!
I think I have to go lie down. ;)

Cheers,
Shane

Gustav@ Medical Manager Software November 29, 2009 at 10:22 pm

An update to my prior post on the FTC. After digging a little deeper and picking the brain of an attorney familiar with the FTC, the FTC has no power or authorization to impose fines. The procedure is if they discover a site in violation & it appears it’s not “serious”, they will send a letter advising you of the violation. You are permitted to call them and ask what you need to do, & they will tell you the sections that need to be changed. When you do it, all’s well. If they discover a site that is in flagrant violation, the FTC has the option of sending you a letter or they can go to court and get an injunction against you to cease and then serious correspondence begins, and the court has the power to impose fines. They will begin these inquiries looking for the marketers that fib (not than any of them would do that). No wild claims, earnings testimonies, and other BS is allowed. What they want basically is for the buying customer to be aware if an affiliate is being paid in any way when promoting a product or a service. I’m waiting for some standard language to become available that should go on my affiliate sites. I’ll keep you advised if you would like to see it.

Penny @ Online High School Classs November 30, 2009 at 6:26 am

I see an angle here… I don’t have a “make money online with Adsense” blog because the competition is too tough. Why don’t you create one Jennifer, and we can all have links to it, saying “Disclaimer, we are affiliates that make money online” and then have the disclaimer link click over to you! YOU track the clicks to you, and YOU split the income. You could OWN our central compliant disclaimer site and we could all get our golden click crumbs from YOU! No more crud with Mr. eBay and Madame Squidoo for you!!!

Glenn Whitten November 30, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Tomorrow’s the “Big Day” when all advertisers come clean. I found you because I received an email from someone hawking online legal forms for “only” $197

“THE FTC RULING, if you haven’t heard, levies a $13,000
fine on you if you don’t adhere to their rules… and it starts
on December 1st… just hours away.”

Hurry you wouldn’t want to be out of compliance.

All I want is some common sense explanation of the rules. Thanks to you, Harlan and Andrew I got it.

Signs of heart failure December 12, 2009 at 1:32 pm

I have looked at many sites on this subject and not come across a site such as yours which tells everyone everything that they need to know. I have bookmarked your site. Can anyone else suggest any other related topics that I can look for to find out further information?

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