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Out On a Limb: Legal Pitfalls for Affiliate Marketers

Out on a limb

Regular readers of this blog know that I will be speaking at Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas on Tuesday, January 14th.  In advance of my presentation, I thought I would give you a sneak preview.  There are some good lessons for all companies – whether Internet based or not.

The affiliate marketing space lives precariously out on a limb.  The next e-mail a marketer sends, the next marketer a network signs up, the next policy a merchant creates, or the next advertisement an affiliate drafts could result in a lawsuit or an inquiry from the FTC.  In order to help make sure the proverbial limb does not break, keep in mind these handy tips:

  1. When drafting an advertisement, step back and give it the “smell test.”  Does it smell deceptive?  Does it appear to be something (a news story) that it is not?  If the answer is “yes,” go back to the drawing board.
  2. Do you have a contract with your affiliate/network/merchant?  You’d be surprised how many people say “no” or have one and do not know the terms of the contract.  Review the contract and write an easy “do not do” list to keep handy to ensure you stay within the bounds of the agreement.
  3. Make sure IP is adequately protected (or not wrongly exploited).  Sometimes there are “snooze and lose” situations.
  4. Vanity search.  Always.  Google alerts are good, but not foolproof.  Ensure your name/company/product are not being unceremoniously criticized on the web.

If you’re at Affiliate Summit, stop by our booth and say hello.  If you come to our presentation (2PM on Tuesday), I promise there will be much more of interest.  It should be fun.

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