Rethinking transparent affiliate link disclosure as required by the FCC

OQO Transparent Desktop

I am an affiliate. When I review a book here that is available on Amazon, I normally link to it using an affiliate link that will earn me a few cents if readers buy the book using that link. I wrote about several suggestions for disclosing affiliate links per FCC requirements in Tips for Disclosing Affiliate Links back in 2010.

In the past, I’ve used a title attribute in the link to announce that the link is an affiliate link. I’ve been rethinking that practice since I read Using the HTML title attribute – updated at The Paciello Group Blog. Here are the findings the article discusses:

Situations in which the the title attribute is not useful due to lack of support:

  • Displaying information for web content viewed on mobile phone browsers. Typically in desktop browsers title attribute content is displayed as a tooltip. From what I could find, tooltip display is not supported in any mobile browser and alternative visual methods of accessing title attribute content are not supported.
  • Providing information for people who cannot use a mouse. Typically in desktop browsers, title attribute content is displayed as a tooltip. Although the tooltip behaviour has been supported for 10+ years, no browser as yet has implemented a practical method to display title attribute content using the keyboard.
  • Using it on most HTML elements to provide information for users of a variety of assistive technologies. Access to title attribute information is not supported uniformly by screen readers

It seems clear now that affiliate links must be disclosed in plain sight within the content of a post. There are two ways that can be done.

  1. A sentence at the beginning or end of a product review stating that the link to the product is an affiliate link.
  2. A notice in parentheses following the link that simply says affiliate link.

I may play with these two methods in the next few book reviews I write to see which feels most effective and transparent to me. I normally include a sentence at the end of a review disclosing that books were provided to me by publishers for review. An affiliate link statement could be included in that disclosure statement.

I have a book sitting on my desk waiting for a review, so I’ll get a chance to test this out very soon. Do you have other ideas about how this in-the-content disclosure could most effectively be accomplished?


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