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Disclosing Affiliate Links on Blogs [POLL RESULTS]

A couple of weeks back I asked readers to respond to a Poll with the question – ‘Do You Disclose Affiliate Links?

Over 800 readers responded. 19% said that they didn’t use affiliate links – but of those that do use them the break down was as follows:

Disclose-Affiliate-Links

It’s a fairly even breakdown isn’t it?

The discussion on the post was fascinating also with a real range of opinion shared.

Below I’ve included a few quotes that highlight some of the threads of conversation, diverse opinions and practices. My hope in sharing them is that the conversation will continue to develop.

What do you think?

Those that Don’t Disclose:

“I mask them using a php redirect. I find it’s better to hide the URL, because people who don’t want to give me the affiliate sale could just mouse over the link and see the actual domain and go straight there on their own. If it’s hidden, they’re almost always forced to click.” – Chris Jacobson

“I don’t for the simple fact that I think that people assume that they are anyways. And just because I have an affiliate link to the place doesn’t mean my opinion is biased…. I do php redirects, but not for the reason of masking, but for the ease of changing those links that it affords.” – thatedeguy

“I don’t hide affiliate links. I also don’t publicly broadcast them either. In all honestly most people don’t realize they’re affiliate links (or don’t care) and I can’t be bothered with the effort to hide them.” – Staphane Grenier

“When you go to a bookstore, employees don’t run around to all the customers, “I should let you know that we’re going to make a profit if you buy that magazine.”” – Dave C

Those that Do Disclose:

“All my aff links are clearly marked. If your neighbor suggested you buy a certain type of insurance and you later found out that he received a commission for suggesting it, how would you feel? Deceived? Used?” – Michael

“I have a disclosure policy that I link to from within every article, but in general I don’t disclose each individual link. I am more inclined to disclose whether I purchased the product or received a free sample, which I think makes more of a difference, or even whether I am writing about something I haven’t purchased.” – Andy Beard

“People who try to hide affiliate links are scum, IMO. It is absolutely unethical to go around accepting money and trying to hide that fact. As far as disclosure goes – I think it is a bit foolish to not inform your readers you’re getting paid (a simple “this post contains affiliate links” is enough for me) – but it isn’t as bad as purposely hiding them.” – Jeremy Steele

“I disclose affiliate links, but I only really think this is an issue if you are recommending the product being linked to. The reason is twofold. One, if I’ve said anything positive about the product, I feel like I am ethically obliged to disclose this to readers, because the disclosure gives them the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they feel their was any sense of bias. Second reason – to me, it almost makes me more inclined to buy if I see that the affiliate link has been disclosed, because it makes me feel that the recommender is so comfortable with the integrity of his advice that disclosing his economic interest would not negatively dissuade me from buying. It’s a weird bit of reverse psychology, but it actually works for me, at least as a consumer.” – Jonathan Fields

Those that Sometimes Do and Sometimes Don’t:

“I don’t always explicitly label affiliate links as such at the actual link, but I don’t go out of my way to hide that they are affiliate links either and I try to make clear on my sites that I do have affiliate or referral links….. I suppose a real internet newbie might be surprised to find out that when I link to a book on Amazon, I get a nickel if they buy it, but I think most people recognize an Amazon affiliate ad by now and most readers are more than happy to use one when they want to buy something at Amazon.” – Tom Hanna

“Yes, if I write a review of a program, product or service and it’s obvious that I am promoting it. Then I mention that the links are affiliate links. No, if I just write an article about a topic of internet marketing or blogging; then I include affiliate links to products and don’t mention them.” - Tomaz Mencinger

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Amit says:

    Thats a almost equally resulted poll with each option getting similar amount of votes. Though i would personally sometimes hide the affiliate links and some times disclose because it all depends on the website, niche and kind of visitors you get.

  2. Sangesh says:

    Actually there is no point to hide the affiliate links. The ones who really wants to know the source of the links is going to know is by whatever means and the ones who do not want to know no matter what is not going to be bothered.

    So, I don’t have any problem is disclosing my affiliate links.

  3. CompuWorld says:

    unfortunately I couldn’t vote for this one.

    I do not hide them. If people think that I do not deserve to earn from there click than it is there opinion and I respect them. I have setup my blog to share the best information and I cannot fool my readers. If they think my content is good than they will help me earn some money side by side.

  4. JMorris says:

    If I had to pick a classification, it would be “Sometimes Do and Sometimes Don’t”. I don’t hide affiliate links, but I don’t go out of my way to disclose a link as an affiliate link.

    My thinking is go to the major media sites. How are they listing products they are reviewing/promoting? Are they telling you that they are getting a kickback? No. However, they don’t hide the tracking link either.

  5. Amit says:

    @ Sangesh – If you read my comment, it always depends on the niche, if you run a website targetting kids, 99.99% kids won know that the link is not a affiliate link.

  6. Michael Woo says:

    Hmm.. I disclose it. But then again, sometimes psychologically people tend to remove your referral or rather browse to the opp and skipping your link.

    I think that it’s fair to refer someone for their hardwork.. I do use referral links that the person has embedded into the article..

  7. I think people expect your links to be affiliates, I just use a html redirect – if people want to get around it and use their own affiliate link they can.

  8. Mike Panic says:

    Why bother disclosing them. Your average reader doesn’t know what an affiliate program is anyway – unless you are blogging to that target reader, i.e. a blog about making money or a blog about affiliates.

    Nearly everyone who I know who has asked me if I make money online asks me how, I tell them through affiliate links and cost per click campaigns. No one to this date has said, “well duh, that’s how people make money online, tell me how.” Nearly every one I’ve had to explain that if I link to something on Amazon and you buy it, i get a % of the sale.

    Your average reader doesn’t understand nor should they need to know what an affiliate is or if you are profiting off your site or not.

  9. Blog Opinion says:

    I use tinyurl to hide affiliate link. So when users visit the actual link, it will creates a cookie and better chance for conversion.

  10. I’m like Thomas above, HTML redirect. In my situation, anyone can obviously see it’s a plain and simple advertisement. There is no need or reason to disclose anything.

    What difference does it make if I receive money if they buy something? Would it change their decision?

    If my affiliate link did not look like an obvious advertisement, that might change my mind.

  11. I just assume that when I see somebody recommending a product or service that they will be getting some kind of kickback. It could be affiliate links, pay per post, or just some free samples. If you are putting all the time into your site, you deserve to be rewarded. If somebody clicks through and affiliate link it is still up to them to decide if they want to purchase the product. If they decide it is a quality product, why shouldn’t I get a kick back? Non-disclosure FTW!

  12. Thanks for the mention Darren and great work compiling all these stats together!

    It sure gives all of us different perspectives on affiliate links and how to approach this topic.

  13. I have been rethinking my position on affiliate links within the last week or so. I still don’t think I will be disclosing them, but I’m not going to give the site I’m talking about a link at all if I don’t recommend them.

    If a reader is that interested to the point where they are going to click, why shouldn’t the blogger get the benefit of a commission? To be honest, I think I’m less inclined to click if the blogger discloses the link; it looks like a shameless plug then.

  14. I think it depends on the type of blog you have. If you’re doing internet related stuff, your readers are savvy to aff links. But if your blog is consumer oriented, you’re just going to confuse them with issues that aren’t important to this market. I think that less is more in this case.

  15. Dave C. says:

    Just realized I got linked to here. Thanks for that and I’m hoping that my paraphrased quote makes sense. Essentially, this is the only environment I’ve ever seen where people that are trying to make money have to profess that to their customers as if it’s not a forgone conclusion.

  16. Even thought I post in my privacy policy that I don’t stock the merchandise, I receive questions about items. As you say Dave, it is strange that somehow the notion that affiliate marketers are supposed to specify how they earn money is supposed to be revealed to their customers.

    Commission Junction requires you to have a privacy policy that indicates that third party cookies are being used and at one point, I even heard the absurdity (not from CJ of course) that webmasters should inform their readers how to disable cookies. Does anyone have an idea where this originated?