Terms and conditions are a critical element in any affiliate program. When established, they create a legal agreement between your company and the publishers within your affiliate program outlining what’s acceptable behavior, what’s not, and other useful rules and guidelines.
Although your terms and conditions should be customized for your brand and reviewed by internal legal teams, below are four important components that we recommend including in your affiliate agreement.
1. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Guidelines
PPC guidelines apply to what an affiliate is allowed/not allowed to do on PPC platforms (Google AdWords, BingAds, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) List PPC guidelines that align with your brand’s internal strategy and how you want affiliates to comply with PPC campaigns. Depending on your internal strategy for working with PPC partners, we often recommend including language around not allowing trademarks in a sequence with any other keywords and not including trademarks in titles, ad copy, display names or display URLs. It’s also important to include trademarked terms that you do not want affiliates bidding on.
Sample Language from PPC Guidelines: You may not bid on any of our trademarked terms including any variations or misspellings thereof for search or content-based campaigns on Google, MSN, Yahoo, Facebook or any other network.
2. Coupon Code Guidelines
Provide clear guidelines for coupon code promotion through your affiliate program. When creating this section of your agreement a few questions to ask yourself are: Do you want affiliates covering a coupon code (which could potentially force a click)? Are affiliates only allowed to promote coupon codes available through the channel?
Sample Language from Coupon Guidelines: You may NOT advertise coupon codes obtained from any non-affiliate marketing channel, including coupon codes from our email, paid search or any other non-affiliate advertising campaigns.
3. Nexus Restrictions
As a result of state tax laws, some brands are not able to accept partners residing in: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington. If your brand has any Nexus restrictions, it’s important to list those restrictions in your Affiliate agreement, along with language communicating that partners will become ineligible to participate in the program if they establish residency in that Nexus state at any time.
4. FTC Disclosure Requirements
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has made it very clear that affiliate programs must ensure that each individual publisher within their program promotes a brand within guidelines set by the FTC, namely with regard to disclosing that they are being compensated by the brand. Therefore, it’s important to include information requiring affiliates to include disclosure statements within any and all pages, blog/posts, or social media posts where they post an endorsement or review. However your publishers promote your brand, it must be clear that they are getting compensated.
Additional Tips for Maintaining your Terms and Conditions Agreement
- Customize your agreement to fit your business (i.e. promotional methods, employee policy, internal referral programs, etc.).
- Add a date to the agreement so that you can reference when it was last updated.
- When making changes, be sure to communicate all changes to the agreement with your affiliate partners. Since agreements can be lengthy, it is a best practice to highlight the areas of the agreement that have been added or modified.
- Agreements should be reviewed yearly and updated when needed.
For more tips and strategies for what to include in your affiliate program terms and conditions, reach out to our experienced affiliate program management team.
Ready to chat with our affiliate marketing experts? Contact us today.
Emily Ersbak is a Training & Knowledge Manager at Acceleration Partners.