Marketing Madness

Clickback Changes Guidelines Under FTC Pressure

This week ClickBank announced new guidelines that would significantly change the way that many affiliate marketers and “JV Partner” programs would be allowed to be promoted. While the new guidelines did not specifically address JV Programs that targeted affiliates, it had been known that there was a growing amount of consumer complaints and charge backs from the “make money” programs. According to an FTC insider, Clickbank had received some initial inquiries regarding specific products from the consumer protection agency.

The guidelines mainly specifically deal with Testimonials and Endorsements and could put a huge cramp in the marketing efforts of many of the “JV Partner” programs that are promoted over Clickbank, WarriorForum, Digital Point and many affiliate marketing websites.

The requirements that will have the biggest effect are:
– All videos must be preapproved before being put up on a website (script approval by Clickbank)
– All “limited amount”, “offer almost done” and “will be closing” type opportunity messages will be banned.
– Cannot promote that products were at a higher price, unless verified by Clickbank
– Upsells will be limited on initial orders and must include a way to immediately optout (and not have to watch more promotions)
– Will not allow products to be promoted as being easy to use, “one-button”
– As Seen on TV will be banned, unless there is documentation specifically to that product that it was seen on TV.

While most in the industry feel that these are positive requirements, many people point that they will delay launches of products significantly and not allow many JV Marketers to change their landing pages as necessary or provide new content and videos to customers frequently.

What do you think of the changes?

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Pesach Lattin

Pesach "Pace" Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pace Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

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59 Comments

  1. I think these changes are very much needed to stop all of the fraudulent claims made by so called “super affiliates” that promote these Clickbank launches. To the regular affiliate out there who is struggling to make a buck online, its very discouraging when half or more of Clickbank sales are ultimately lost to refunds because of misleading claims that are made on the sales pages of these products.

  2. I think it is about time someone did something about all the BS and Scams out there. All these One Button Wonders that we have been seeing popping up every week that do nothing but fill the seller’s pockets.
    We need to do something to restore faith in online marketing and this may be just the ticket to get us started down that path. Make it a bit more difficult to post those lies and over-hyped product launches and then we will start to see online marketers reverting to what has worked for years and will continue to work – personal integrity!
    Yes we are working with a global marketplace, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid contact with our customers and clients. One of the major problems with affiliate marketing right now is there is no way to ‘Marshall’ control over affiliates with respect to spamming until the damage has already been done. One or two disreputable affiliates can kill a promotion in the first day by spamming.

  3. I agree with Steve’s comments.

    The thing that bothers me the most is the way our government continues to restrict the average person from make a living, whether that be on or off line.

    I hope that changes like these benefit the average internet marketer by leveling the playing field a bit.

  4. I think that the FTC needs to STAY OUT of our lives UNLESS people are being scammed! If I purchase something, I have the ability to say no thanks to the upsell offer, and I DON’T want some government agency telling me otherwise.

    Get the government OUT OF OUR LIVES!!!!! They only need to be there when somebody is getting ripped-off, not offered other products!

    1. Rich —

      I tend to agree with you to a certain degree about government meddling too much in our lives, but something had to happen. There is no self regulation in the IM industry so what else can be done to protect the consumer? Saying buyer beware is not fair when people are desperate and looking for something to save their home or being on the street, etc.

      I hope they also go after all of these “gurus” that telemarket you to death with those over priced and over hyped “coaching” scams too.

      Buff

    2. One thing that got me was that Clickbank offers 100% money back guarantee. meaning that if you were upsold and the product sucks, you can get a full refund. I’m all for compliance but this one definitely is curious.

    3. Rich, I empathize with you. And isn’t it odd that they are so “concerned” about
      misleading advertisements, etc., yet NO ONE ever mentions the BIGGEST
      SCAM OPERATION in our history: The “Federal” <= 😉 Reserve? These parasites
      have been RIPPING OFF America since 1913. Indeed, the government SHOULD
      get out of our lives, but that's like expecting a leech to become a vegetarian.

      Yes, I’m mad as hell, but I’m gonna take it some more! Unfortunately, we are
      going to receive more and more “help” from these “regulators” (socialists) who
      despise free enterprise, and bite the hand that feeds them.

      That’s my opinion as an historian. (Hey…is history repeating itself?) 😉

  5. These types of ‘JV’ and ‘information services’ scams have been running for years, with a big majority of them knowingly walking consumers down the path of misinformation and out of their hard-earned money. I am glad the FTC is clarifying their position on this issue, too bad the FTC virtually has no teeth when it comes to early enforcement actions against the biggest abuse.

  6. I, for one will be happy with fewer upsells. Given all the “bad” products out there, I suppose this was just a matter of time.

  7. I’m a spammer, so I got my comment changed. Why? Because I’m too stupid to realize that spamming a marketing blog is a bad idea.

    I just paid $22.87 for an iPad2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $675 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, PennyJump.com

  8. This was about time!

    @ Rich: You are right in one way but who is protecting all the new guys coming online, trying to find a way to make money and walking straight into a 1-2-3 It’s Easy To Make A Million trap?

    I know too many people selling any kind of crap just to make some money not thinking of the mid-and long term biz aspect.

    I believe it is a good move as it gives people with “real marketing” a cool advantage 🙂

  9. It about time! So many marketers will do anything to make a buck. Fake OTO…fake timers…fake screen shots…fake empathy….fake limited quantities and on and on.
    I would much rather make $10K and honestly, ethically and morally sell products to people than to con, rip-off, and manipulate with subliminal persuasion and claim to be a millionaire.
    These people think that if they can make millions, they must be doing it right. WRONG….It just means they have found a way to reach the masses and con many more people.
    Much more needs to be done.

  10. Hmm, I hope this can reduce the number of fraudster that using clickbank, with their one push button programs, and false claim, that they use on their salespage.

  11. I’m ok with the “limited number” or “closing soon” pitches. That’s just marketing. It’s the fake screenshots, shoddy customer support and failure to sell what you hype that gets to me.

  12. They only have themselves to blame, recently they have been approving blatantly fraudulent products. Took most of my products off there as I don’t want to be associated with the rubbish they approve.

    1. Hi Mark,
      I am also one of those that removed my products from CB. Not just due to the junk they are allowing, but also due to their own ‘suspect’ practice of not paying sales if you didn’t have enough different credit cards types (Since most of my sales were bought by people with a Paypal account, those did not count even though they may have used their VISA, MC or Discover to make the actual payment.
      While I think the option to ‘Opt Out’ of multiple upsells is a great idea! I have seen some marketers use the upsell process for nothing more than cookie dropping of products that are not even related to the original sales item.

      1. Mark, from someone who used to promote CB offers, I can tell you that I’m no longer going to work with them. I would send out a mailing, make $3,000 and be really happy. Then 30 days later get $1800 in chargebacks, refunds. The problem with the chargebacks, a lot was coming from the same people even as much as 90 days later. Clickbank won’t share their information of who did the chargeback, or even give me contact info on the merchant to see why this happened.

        I just bought a clickbank product from a “famous” marketer. It was never delivered. I emailed, called. No response. Eventually had to do a refund.

        1. Pacelattin, you are doing it the RIGHT way: Simply stop doing business with them. That’s the only way to “fix” the problem. Every time Free Enterprise asks the bureaucrats for an inch of help, they take a mile. Socialists do not
          accept the law of averages or the fact that water naturally rises to its own level. Just look at what they’ve done to our economy.

  13. It is about time the FTC stepped in. The refunds from all the latest clickbank scammers had to be hurting Clickbank. There are fees associated with refunds and chargebacks! So I welcome the compliance. I can’t wait to see what kind of fallout occurs! It should open some opportunities somewhere!

  14. No doubt there are good products to be found on Clickbank, but many are at best unethical and worthless.

    Clickbank claims “All ClickBank products and vendors go through a review process before being accepted within our Marketplace”. I have to wonder who’s carrying out this review. Perhaps offering a 100% refund is easier than incorporating some form of quality control and, who knows, perhaps it allows them to sleep better at night.

    Left to its own devices, and while lining its own pockets, Clickbank will never change. Someone else must do something about it.

    1. I dunno, should you credit card processor be involved with checking the offers? Paypal doesn’t go through your page and tell you if you are following the law. I agree that clickbank has a lot of crap, but again, they do refund if its crap.

      1. Apples to oranges comparison.

        Clickbank is a retailer. A store.

        PayPal is a 3rd party merchant account.

        AND… PayPal is much bigger (CB has only 13,000+ merchants). But PayPal can be incredibly anal too and has rigorous rules about what is and isn’t permitted.

  15. I’d be really interested in what Dan Kennedy, John Carlton, Joe Sugarman or even the late Gary Halbert would have to say about this. These legendary masters of copywriting, sales and persuasion have built entire industries with their copy – in direct mail, print ads, infomercials and online. Sure it’s 100% unethical and unacceptable to use false claims and doctored testimonials but scarcity techniques such as limited time offers, limited quantity available etc. are staples of all forms of marketing and have been for eons. Many products use the initial offering as a lost leader to make the real profits on the upsells and OTO’s, this isn’t new, nor was it invented by the IM community – it’s just one possible time tested business model to consider. Having a bold risk reversal refund is also good marketing. The FTC doesn’t need to meddle in the specifics of good marketing and persuasion the bottom line is if your product is crap the marketplace will quickly let you know with refunds!! And if affiliates were really concerned about chargebacks and the products they were peddling maybe they should actually purchase it and determine for themselves if it’s crap or not.

  16. I’m happy that someone is doing something about this Clickbank junk clogging up our mailboxes. I can’t even remember how many time i have asked for refunds. Lost my faith in Clickbank.
    Yes their clickbank accounts looks awesome, but what many people don’t know is, the refunds are not yet calculated, so what you see on the sales pages are fake.

  17. Absolutely fabulous, sweetie darling — this was long overdue. Vendor A gives Vendor B’s product a mention on his e-mail list in exchange for a flat fee, affiliate commissions, and of course returning the favor. That takes you to a Web site touting Product A for next to nothing, but it doesn’t really work unless you buy Product B — which just happens to cost five times more!

  18. With these changes there will be a lot less sales. A lot of people will go out of business, because they rely on these “tricks”. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing I don’t know, but I’m glad they are moving into a more genuine direction.

  19. Love it! I’ve been annoyed way too many times by a “Only 3 copies left at this price!” warning. Sure, IMers will have to come up with new ways to create a sense of urgency, social proof, and authority, but that will make us better marketers. I think it will also lead to increasing the integrity of a lot of products and their creators. There’s been just too much junk promoted, and consumers are getting sick of it… it was just a matter of time for these junk peddlers. If you create real products with real value, these changes will shouldn’t even phase you, nor effect your business.

  20. I’m ecstatic that people are doing something about this… i’m hoping that the so-called pajama millionaires are finally thrown off their heels and the “self-promoting” yahoos are a bust… i’m so amazed (equally so) at people’s high desire to wanna believe it and soak all their countless monies into these types of programs…

    I personally feel that most of these guys spend more on their sales pages and systems than they make in income… again, am I rich? nope… do I lie flat out on a salespage!? NEVA! 😉

    thanks, and great find/ and article… Pace!

  21. As a website marketer myself I would say this is all good but it would be better if such improvements would have taken into account that a lot of website marketers are not going to be able to implement this to their existing websites within a short period. I myself do not have sites that use those types of marketing merthods that are now “governed” and in the long run this is for the best.

  22. Well, I would say that its better if these kinds of advancements would have taken into account that a whole lot of internet marketers.

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