I've been reworking the FTC disclosures for affiliate links on my web sites. This has me feeling extremely depressed.
The FTC disclaimer is a contrivance of the Obama Administration. The FTC Warning is supposed to be a big bold design element that goes at the top of any page with an affiliate link. The purpose of the FTC disclaimer discourage readers from reading the page or clicking link. The FTC site says the disclaimer must be in bold type with a yellow background to make it stand out.
The fact that my government requires crap like this makes me sick. The FTC treats small merchants and independent web designers like criminals for trying to figure out ways to make independent web design profitable.
Personally, I think that the affiliate paradigm has the potential to be the most honest form of advertising. This can be proven by looking at numbers.
In 2009 there were tens of thousands of merchants offering a variety of products. One could find millions of things to sell in this market. People authentically engaged in this market look for the best bargains from the most reliable partners.
In contrast lets look at an employee of a firm or an advertiser hired directly by a merchant. A person who is dependent on a single source is actually more likely to lie for that source.
Don't you see the math? A person who is choosing between thousands of products from hundreds of sources is more likely to be honest when writing reviews than people who are hired directly to write ad copy for a single product.
There is a great deal of dishonesty in the affiliate world. This dishonesty takes place a systemic level. For example, AdWare companies make programs which switch affiliate ids. SEO companies work to manipulate search engine results. Some affiliate networks engage in underhanded practices.
The FTC requirements only affect the people who are engaged in above board affiliate marketing. The FTC regulations are treating the honest people in the industry like crooks while letting those engaged in systematic manipulation of the market run rampant with no checks.
Anyway, since I am engaged in white hat marketing, I've been trying to follow the stupid FTC guidelines even though the guidelines dramatically undermine my business.
So, the FTC guidelines say that I am supposed to put a huge FTC Warning on any page with an affiliate link. The code for my site would place an FTC warning in plain text. The problem with this design is that it has me repeating the same words on every page. To keep from repeating the same content, I decided to put the warning in an iframe. The problem with an iframe is that the iframe tag does scale correctly in all web browser. Below is my FTC warning in an iframe.
I decided to break the rules. I am making the text of the warning one step smaller than the main page.
The disclaimer warns people that the page has dangerous affiliate links that they should avoid using. It also tells them how to visit the site without triggering an affiliate id.
A lot of people think that using a search engine engine instead of a link is safe. This just means that Google is credited with any sales while small sites get cut out.
When I first first placed the FTC warning on my site, I saw an immediate 40% drop in income and I lost a huge portion of my web traffic because people felt that any web site bearing such a stern warning must be evil.
The progressives I know would agree with FTC. Progressive hold that any attempt to fund web development through ecommerce is an act of evil. That I saw a forty percent drop in sales because of the FTC requirements just proves that I was misleading the public by making a web site with affiliate ads.