Update 18 October 2019:

Amazon has emailed Associate members to clarify your disclosure requirements as Amazon affiliates. They seem to be placing particular emphasis on FTC compliance. The email stated …

…  To meet the Associate Program’s requirements, you must (1) include a legally compliant disclosure with your links and (2) identify yourself on your Site as an Amazon Associate with the language required by the Operating Agreement.
To comply with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, your link-level disclosure must be:
  1. Clear.  A clear disclosure could be as simple as “(paid link)”, “#ad”, or “#CommissionsEarned”.
  2. Conspicuous.  It should be placed near any affiliate link or product review in a location that customers will notice easily.  They shouldn’t have to hunt for it.

In addition, the Operating Agreement requires that the following statement clearly and conspicuously appears on your Site:  “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

The second part regarding declaring your affiliation with Amazon is not new. But the first part is suggesting that each affiliate link that goes to Amazon needs to be identified as a paid link. This is to meet FTC disclosure rules. These same FTC disclosures have been in place for some time now. Many marketers have interpreted them to mean that you should have the warning “above-the-fold” so readers are informed in advance that links may be paid.

To put a paid link identifier (paid link, #ad, etc.) with each Amazon text, graphic or other links would likely impact conversions. It would also make for a poorer user experience.

The questions that are not answered yet:

1) Do you need a link for each affiliate link or just above the fold?
2) Is Amazon going to enforce this?
3) Will big sites like Wirecutter have to comply?
4) Will new sites getting final review be denied if they do not identify individual links as being affiliate/paid.?

For now, most affiliates seem to be taking a wait and see approach. I have not seen any changes at the big affiliate sites. Perhaps Amazon is ensuring its compliance with any potential FTC future issue with this act of notification. A disclosure inoculation.

Stay tuned. Things change quickly with Amazon. For now we have updated the recommendations section to reflect the latest Amazon notics.

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure Requirements

A properly formatted and placed Amazon Affiliate Disclosure is required to be in compliance with your Amazon Associates Terms of Service agreement (TOS) A missing or incomplete disclosure statement is a common item that will get your account closed.

Visit our updated compliance post for more items that could get you banned from Amazon Associates.

Go to our Amazon Affiliate Marketing Guide for additional Amazon Associate information..

Why Do You Need a Special Amazon Affiliate Disclosure

Amazon is very consumer focused. There should be 100% transparency in all transactions. As an affiliate for Amazon, you must let your visitors know that …

  • You are an Amazon Associate
  • You are compensated when someone purchases using a link from your content
  • You can not embellish your relationship with Amazon.

About disclaimers and disclosures, the TOS specifically says …

“5. Identifying Yourself as an Associate

You must clearly state the following, or any substantially similar statement previously allowed under this Agreement, on your Site or any other location where Amazon may authorize your display or other use of Program Content: “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

Be careful to not add any additional information that may imply you have a special deal etc. with Amazon. You can’t claim exclusivity or any other type of relationship beyond the Amazon Associate program such as they are sponsoring your fund-raising efforts etc. You can’t piggyback off the Amazon brand in that way. this is the rule from the policy document:

You will not misrepresent or embellish our relationship with you (including by expressing or implying that we support, sponsor, or endorse you), or express or imply any affiliation between us and you or any other person or entity except as expressly permitted by this Agreement.

Example Amazon disclosure

Here is a typical disclosure that an Amazon affiliate would use …

[Insert your name] is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com].

 

Where to place the affiliate disclosure

Amazon’s language for where to put the disclaimer is ” … on your Site or any other location where Amazon may authorize your display or other use of Program Content”

Not exactly a clear directive. In my experience, this should be interpreted as … put a disclaimer in clear view on any page that has Amazon products or content linked. I also have a general disclaimer and privacy page where this information is placed. I would not just put the disclaimer in the footer as a link. The actual disclaimer should be present in the body, footer or sidebar of any page with an affiliate link.

FTC Disclosure Requirements

FTC – It is a good idea to also stay in compliance with FTC affiliate regulations. Again it is about transparency. 

With the latest Amazon notice regarding FTC compliance it is now best practice to include an FTC compliant affiliate notice on any page with Amazon products.

I also use an FTC disclosure on pages that have no Amazon products but other affiliate links. To be in FTC compliance the disclosure should be near the offer. The underlying principle is that the fact that it is an affiliate product should be obvious by the disclosure. You could have a link with a descriptive anchor like “affiliate product” that goes to your affiliate disclosure page or a popup. We have a seperate post on automating the FTC compliance process with more detail.

Transparency and disclosures are good for business. The affiliate business is all about trust. The trust that you have with your audience is what the affiliate networks are banking on. Honesty, transparency and valuable information are what build this.

Recommendations

If you want to avoid all the minutia above, here are the recommendations. At this time I would NOT place an FTC disclaimer beside every link as others have suggested. This will impact your click-through rate and Amazon has not explicitly asked for this. The best practice is to place the FTC notice just below your header and the Amazon disclaimer just above your footer …

Amazon Disclosure

Place an Amazon affiliate disclosure at the bottom of each page with any Amazon affiliate products. Do not make this extra small, extra light, etc. I go with a normal weight italic and 1-2 points below my paragraph font. Here is an example …

[Insert company name] is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

You may also want to place a “full disclosure” link to your privacy and affiliate disclosure page.

FTC Diclosure

Place an FTC affiliate disclosure at the top of each page with any Amazon affiliate products. Do not make this extra small, extra light, etc. I go with a normal weight italic and 1-2 points below my paragraph font. Here is an example …

“Some links may be affiliate links. We may get paid if you buy something or take an action after clicking one of these”

You may also want to place a “full disclosure” link to your privacy and affiliate disclosure page.

Social and Advertising Affiliate Disclosures

For all social posts and other ads that contain direct affiliate links place#ad before the link. I rarely link directly to an affiliate offer. I find that linking back to a landing page or info page is a better option. You then have the opportunity to pixel them for retargeting ads and try to get the visitor to subscribe to an email list. 

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