I was just alerted to a fairly new ruling by the FTC (US Federal Trade Commission) against Google and iHeartRadio where Google had paid influencers on iHeartRadio to endorse the Pixel phone without ever even seeing it outside of photos and video, let alone using it, owning it, or anything else.
Basically the FTC states that if you make a public endorsement of something as yourself and make it sound as if you have used whatever you are endorsing, that you darn well better have actually used it at some point!
This is a harsh wake-up call to influencers, compensated reviewers, and likely even affiliate marketers who may sometimes endorse a product that they’ve never used.
Now, I am positive that you can be an affiliate marketer having not actually used the product, so long as you don’t SAY you used the product. Just be careful because there could be a fine line there. Make it clear that you haven’t actually used, experienced, or whatever the product when you endorse it.
And of course, it must also be made clear that you are endorsing the product for some kind of compensation.
I have done affiliate marketing for various products and sometimes they are brand new things that I’ve not personally used yet, but most of the time they are products or services that either I myself use and love or my clients use (and I use by default through the course of my work for them). When it’s something new, it’s usually “put out there” by someone I respect or is related to a product I like. In these affiliate situations you either talk about how the product or service works for you OR you just tell people about it and how you think it would be good for them, and in exchange, if someone follows your unique link and purchases it, the seller will pay you what is essentially a commission. Sometimes, instead, you might get the product for free if you sell “X number” of them. Or something along those lines.
I’m also an Amazon Vine Voice and receive free items in exchange for using and reviewing them. Sometimes it’s kind of hard to actually use the item, especially when it’s something for a different season or it’s a child’s toy, etc. But I do my due diligence to use it as much as possible, or watch it being used or thoroughly question my husband or son about their experience with it, before I write my review. Like the other day I passed up on a free garden hose, because there’s no way during a Kansas winter that I’m going to test it out!
So, basically, this new ruling from the FTC is likely going to create a much stricter environment for any and all kinds of reviews and endorsements that are super common in the online marketing space. So please proceed with caution!