The FTC released a new disclosures guide for influencers. While the intent behind the FTC's rule on disclosures remains the same -- influencers must disclose any time there is any type of relationship with the brand and that disclosure must be clear and conspicuous -- this new 101 Guide to FTC Disclosures for Influencers provides new information on how that direction should be interpreted.
New Clarifications on Influencer Disclosures from the FTC
- Disclosures in bios or general disclosures are not enough.
- Written disclosures like "thanks to brand X for sending me product Y" are okay if product was all the influencer received.
- Specific examples of appropriate short-form disclosures have been expanded to include #AcmePartner and #AcmeAmbassador.
- Influencers must disclose even when they were not asked to post.
What Hasn't Changed
- Disclosures must be made when there is a financial, employment, family or other personal relationship at play.
- Influencers must disclose if they've been provided anything of value, including free or discounted product or affiliate payouts.
- Disclosures must be clear and conspicuous to a typical user consuming the post in the most natural way.
What Impact These Updates Will Have on Brands
I. FTC Updates - Impact on Carusele Clients
These updates actually loosen the conservative approach we've always taken to ensure our campaigns comply with FTC guidelines. We will be updating our FTC requirements for influencers to give them more flexibility in how they disclose while still complying with the latest guidance.
II. FTC Requirements Impact on Affiliate Programs
Going forward, influencers will have to clearly disclose their relationship with you. To-date, affiliate programs have been appealing to brands not only for the pay-for-performance model but also because anyone could promote the brand with low brand risk or oversight. Going forward, the required disclosures that clearly tie influencers to the brand should make brands more cautious about which influencers are accepted into affiliate programs and what those participating influencers are saying about your brand and products. It's not uncommon for influencers (unknowingly) to make unsubstantiated claims or deliver misinformation about products when the brand isn't looking over their shoulder.
III. Detailed Implications of the Latest FTC Guide for Influencer Marketing
When An Influencer Must Disclose
- Influencers must disclose even when they were not asked to post. It has been a common practice for brands to simply send free product with no blatant request for quid pro quo in hopes of an influencer posting. Similarly, influencers rarely ever disclose when they have an affiliate relationship with specific brands. Going forward, influencers must clearly disclose their relationship with the brand even if they are posting on their own accord without any request from the brand to do so.
- Disclosures are required any time there is any type of relationship between the creator and the brand. The definition of relationship includes but also extends far beyond just monetary payment. Disclosures must be made when there is a financial, employment, family or other personal relationship at play.
- The definition of financial extends beyond just monetary payment for "sponsored posts". Influencers must disclose if they've been provided anything of value, including free or discounted product or affiliate payouts.
- The disclosure must be in close proximity to the promoted product and clear about the relationship. It's common practice for influencers participating in affiliate programs to include statements in an about me section or bottom of a blog post that discloses their participation. The FTC clarifies these general statements like "I may receive a kick-back if you purchase certain products in this article" are no longer good enough.
- Disclosures in post copy must appear BEFORE a user has to click "read more". On Instagram and Facebook, this is within the first 100 characters. In a blog post, this is at the top of the post. In a social story, this is in the first frame. In a video, this is in the first few seconds.
- Disclosures in video or social stories must be large enough and on screen long enough for the average user to recognize them clearly.
Acceptable Disclosure Copy
- Written disclosures like "thanks to brand X for sending me product Y" are okay if product was all the influencer received. However, more vague approaches like simply saying "Thanks brand!" are not okay.
- Examples of appropriate short-form disclosures have been expanded to include #AcmePartner and #AcmeAmbassador (where Acme is the brand name), in addition to #Ad and #Sponsored. However, simply using words like "partner" or "ambassador" are not okay.
If you have any questions about the latest updates to the FTC guidelines and how they might impact current or future campaigns, feel free to contact us using the form below.. We strive to stay ahead of the game and only run programs that are compliant and measurable for our clients.