Attention online marketers: top affiliate network cracks down on bad practice

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August 4, 2011

The number one affiliate network in America, Clickbank, reacting to pressure from credit card processors and regulatory agencies, has made an announcement that will affect the sales materials and marketing strategies of internet marketers worldwide. Although the changes to its Terms & Conditions are specific to Clickbank, it has clearly come about due to the increasing unease that regulatory bodies, especially in the US, are feeling about some online marketing practices. Therefore, all internet marketers should take note of the guidelines below.

Testimonials
Advertisers on Clickbank have been warned that they must be able to substantiate any claims made in testimonials or videos. Arguments that each customer will experience things differently are not acceptable. If a testimonial can’t be endorsed by the advertiser it is not permitted.
Although actors can be used to portray real customer experiences with a product, they cannot be used to make false claims.
Any statement that claims expert endorsement (e.g. a doctor’s endorsement) must be capable of being supported by proof.
Depictions of earnings and lifestyle benefits (cars, large cheques, etc.) must be substantiated and the use of actors to portray vendors must be stated in any video materials.

Limited numbers
Vendors on Clickbank will no longer be allowed to advise potential customers that a product is limited to a certain number if there are unlimited products (e.g. only 300 eBooks available).
Vendors can stipulate a time restriction but can’t state that an offer is ‘one-time only’ if this is not really the case.

False discounts
It will no longer be possible for advertisers on Clickbank to claim there is a product discount if the product has never previously been offered for sale at the higher price.
For example, previously you may have come across a product with a crossed out $70 price tag alongside a current $50 tag, with the note $20 discount.
This is now only permissible if the vendor had actually offered the product for $70 at an earlier time.

Other restrictions
Other changes announced by Clickbank include the restriction of using major brand logos without written permission, the necessity of clear and conspicuous pricing plans and the ability for visitors to pause and close videos. Vendors will no longer be allowed to mislead consumers about the ease of a product to generate wealth or provide essential product components under the guise of up sells.
Although these changes only presently apply to Clickbank, it is a major sign of the desire for the government and credit card companies to crack down on unethical practices in the internet marketing industry. As such, it is a warning for all internet marketers to examine their existing sales materials and current and future strategies.