The Federal Trade Commission has approved final revisions to the guidelines it offers to advertisers on how to keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in line with the FTC Act.
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. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial, as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical” – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.
The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long-standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. 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 or website owner who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, those who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.
Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.
You can read the complete FTC article at
Broadly speaking, what all this means is: In general, when you receive any type of compensation for endorsing, recommending or advertising another company’s products or services that you receive some type of compensation for, you are required to post a “Disclosure of Material Connection Notice” on your website or blog in a conspicuous spot. This also includes any affiliate programs you belong to and are promoting.
The obvious advice from the Federal Trade Commission is: “When in doubt, post a Disclosure of Material Connection Notice on your website or blog.”
In addition to Federal Trade Commission requirements, posting such notices sends a professional image to your website visitors and customers whom you are being upfront and honest with them.
Free Disclosure of Material Connection
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: You should assume the owner of this website and/or blog has an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection, to any suppliers of goods and services that may be discussed here, and may be compensated for showing ads or recommending products or services, or linking to the supplier’s website.