Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing where an affiliate is rewarded, usually with a pre-agreed percentage of each sale, by a business for each new customer attracted by their marketing efforts. Because of the nature of affiliate advertisers, problematic advertising claims can spread to a large number of affiliates in a relatively short space of time.
Here is a list of 4 things that marketers should do to avoid breaching UK advertising requirements:
Make clear that your content is an ad.
This may sound obvious but previously numerous marketers have fallen foul of the UK Advertising watchdog by blurring the line, intentionally or not, between independent editorial content written about a product and advertising copy making efficacy claims. The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code 2.1 requires that “Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such” so, if you’re in any doubt as to whether people will consider your affiliate piece to be editorial or marketing, it would be advisable to head it with “Advertisement feature” or similar to make the commercial intent of the piece clear.
Ensure editorial control over your affiliates’ content.
Brands can make the mistake of believing that because their affiliate has written the advertising content relating to their product, and are promoting it themselves, the brand is not responsible for that content or promotion. The Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) take a different view. Advertisers should bear in mind that allowing their affiliate marketers free rein over the content of ads does not excuse them from the responsibility. As the brand is actively inciting the affiliate marketer to promote products or services, and benefit from each sale made by the affiliate, and are paying the marketer on the basis of sales, both the brand and the marketer are held responsible for the advertising.
Relying on affiliates to correctly target ads does not mean that the brand itself relinquishes responsibility for the promotion of its product. For example, in 2014, a gambling ad that was mistakenly sent by an affiliate marketer to a child was complained about and investigated. Although the brand contended that the affiliate marketer was responsible for the administrative error that caused the child to receive a gambling promotion the ASA upheld the complaint and the brand was named in the adjudication at that time.
Ensure the significant conditions of promotions are communicated.
As in all advertising regardless of the medium, all significant terms and conditions likely to affect a consumers’ understanding of a promotion must be communicated to them clearly. The ”one click rule” is a myth, and all advertising need to be compliant in its own right. Being one click away from the information does not necessarily make it compliant.
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