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Further, I’ve always thought that FTC regulations in the United States required bloggers to disclose affiliate links. If you’re a Canadian blogger, it seems to make sense to follow these rules, as much of your audience is likely to be in the U.S.
Recently, I heard a speaker at an association meeting here in the Toronto area say that it is ethical to include affiliate links in his blog posts and LinkedIn updates, without disclosing that they are affiliate links that will earn him money.
That just doesn’t sit right with me. And this issue is now swirling around a prominent curator and blogger who is also using affiliate links – quite successfully – to pay the bills.
Maria Popova publishes the wildly popular Brain Pickings. I started following her on Twitter last year and sometimes click through to read her blog. Her content is always interesting and beautifully presented, although sometimes too long for the time I set aside for recreational reading.
Popova refers to her site as “ad free,” even though it is supported by affiliate links. According to this post in On Advertising, Popova rakes in substantial revenue from the links while soliciting donations for her “ad free” site. I was disappointed to read this. (By the way, you can often tell when a link is affiliated; just look at the code, where you’ll often see the referrer’s name. Sometimes it’s just a number, though.)
What do you think? Is an affiliate link an ad? Would you use affiliate links without disclosing them?