May 8, 2017
Affiliate Managers, Agencies, Education, Finance & Insurance, Marketing Teams, Retail, Telecom, Travel
Did you know that online marketers in certain industries are regulated by government organizations like the FTC and CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)? These organizations have published hundreds of pages of regulations that advertisers and their partners must comply with.
Let me pause for a second to drive this last point home: An advertiser’s marketing partners are regulated just as thoroughly as their direct advertising efforts, and the advertiser is responsible for their partner’s actions!
Now that I’ve got your attention, here is the regulatory environment that advertisers are up against:
Advertisers Face A Daunting Environment for Federal Ad Regulations
The challenges facing advertisers in regulated industries are daunting to say the least, mostly because advertisers are not staffed or skilled to handle them. Some of those challenges include:
- Complex Rules: Government regulations are rarely simple and succinct. Regulations apply to all of your online marketing activities, no matter what channel you use, and can change without you knowing.
- Partner Activities Are Your Responsibility: Regulations treat partners’ activities as if they were conducted directly by the advertiser. That means it’s up to you to educate, monitor and halt a partner’s bad behavior. This applies to any affiliate, re-seller, manufacturer or designated broker or agent.
- Reviews Require Disclosures: The FTC requires that partners who recommend an advertiser’s product must disclose this relationship. Partners need to know when, where and how to provide these disclosures.
- Lawsuits: The penalty for rule-breaking is much higher in regulated industries. Repercussions range from cease-and-desist orders and small fines to multi-million-dollar lawsuits and negative publicity.
3 Simple Ways To Make Partner Advertising Comply with Federal Ad Regulations
1. Educate partners
Share the knowledge discussed in this article with your partners and repeat often. Make it abundantly clear how serious their compliance is and what the repercussions are for violations.
From our experience at The Search Monitor, many advertisers are simply unaware that they need to devote time and resources to partner education. And partners are 100% focused on driving revenue for their advertisers, so they appreciate learning the do’s and don’ts of federal ad regulations.
2. Monitor partners
There can be thousands of locations where content is published, such as email, landing pages, blogs, social media, mobile and video. Monitoring all of these marketing channels is tricky to do manually, but it becomes quite efficient if you deploy an automated rules-based monitoring solution. Make sure your monitoring covers:
- Claims: Make sure your affiliates’ claims are factual. The CFPB and FTC pay especially close attention to financial, health, high-performance and environmental claims.
- Disclosure: Make sure your affiliates’ offers properly disclose all key fees and product claims. Disclosures relating to claims or offers must be clear and conspicuous.
- Endorsements: Make sure affiliate endorsements are honest and transparent about their connection with the advertiser.
3. Optimize and enforce partner relationships
If you’ve found partner violations of federal rules and have given sufficient warning, it’s time to remove these partners from your program and identify new partners. An affiliate network can help with this.
Or, get access to a database of affiliates scored by their compliance history, offered by some content monitoring platforms. Don’t stand for repeat violations. Remove affiliates who break your rules and terminate contracts with partners who violate rules.
It is your responsibility to learn your industry’s federal ad regulations backward and forward, and understand how to quickly catch any violations. Being proactive will make you better equipped to avoid and handle any situations that arise, and give you an advantage over your competitors, avoid costly lawsuits, protect your brand, optimize your ad partners and improve your own ad performance.
Tags: Affiliate Monitoring, Compliance, FTC Compliance, Paid Ad Monitoring (SEM), Trademark Monitoring