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The Death Of Affiliate Marketing? Declare Your Relationsahip or Go To Jail?

Oh don't you love regulation? But I feel this is probably for the better given the gullibility of much of the general public!

So how many of you know about the "Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading 2008" regulation recently mentioned in Marketing Week?

Its aim may to bring us in line with "Europe" but it could have far reaching consequences to both social media geeks like me and PR companies that run stunts on behalf of their clients - if we're not clever we could end up time behind bars!

Thankfully I try and avoid things like stupid (but successful) linkbait. I always try and keep the brand under control by keeping things factual. Linkbait can be that you know!!

The important bit to note is "The new rules are designed to clamp down on sharp practice and aggressive selling tactics, but experts say it will have a significant impact on reputable businesses and buzz marketing firms." (Marketing Week 28th May 2008).

To quote more:

Osborne Clarke head of marketing and privacy law Stephen Groom thinks the new regulations are the “biggest shake-up in the UK laws affecting marketing and advertising ever.”

“For the first time, all the rules are being... pooled into an umbrella of rules focusing on unfair commercial practice,” he says. He adds that the regulations could create more complex issues for marketers: “Not just fringe merchants, but mainstream legitimate marketers. They might get caught offside if they do not pay attention to this. This will have quite an impact on a very hot, popular and growing area of the market.”

If you wanted a quick summary here it is:

The new regulations will make seeding positive messages about a brand in a blog – without making it clear that the message has been created by or on behalf of a brand – illegal.

Bugger!

What about affiliates being all gooey about their merchants to get sales?? Do we have to say we're "official affiliates of merchant xyz" just as Sky's brand bidding clique have to?

Next to every link do I have to declare my relationship with the merchant?

Reading this bit I feel better:

However, Hyperlaunch head of buzz marketing Simon Quanse says the new regulations will only have the potential to affect those using “underhand” buzz marketing techniques.

“There are some agencies that do not have the maturity, openness and respectfulness to engage with people in the right way,” says Quanse. “As a result, the whole industry suffers.”

Can the network bigwigs and suited legal counsel please give advice?

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