Adhering to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) Guidelines is an extremely important part of being an influencer and of creating sponsored content. Podcasters and brands must make clear to their audiences that there is a relationship between them and the brands they are promoting. You should never hide that you are working with a brand or being sponsored to feature a product. You should also never say that you purchased a product with your own money when it was sent to you by a brand. If there is a “material connection” between a podcaster and the product or service – in other words, a connection that might affect the weight or credibility that consumers give the endorsement – that connection should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed. Material connections could consist of a business or family relationship, monetary payment, or the provision of free products to the endorser. Hiding sponsorships won't make your sponsorship more authentic or organic and having proper audio, visual and written disclosures for sponsored content is required by law! These guidelines are intended to help you do just that.
The FTC requires that all paid sponsorships be clearly and conspicuously disclosed. In other words, if a brand is paying you to mention, feature or review a product through Podcorn, you are required by law to be clear and transparent about that sponsorship and the fact that you are working with the brand.
At Podcorn, we take disclosures very seriously. We also understand that the guidelines can be confusing so we’ve put together some best practices along with a direct link to the most up-to-date FTC materials to help.
To make a disclosure “clear and conspicuous,” podcasters should use plain and unambiguous language and make the disclosure stand out. Consumers should be able to notice the disclosure easily. They should not have to look for it. In general, disclosures must be:
Disclosures should not be hidden or buried in footnotes, in blocks of text people are not likely to read, or in hyperlinks. If disclosures are hard to find, tough to understand, fleeting, or buried in unrelated details, or if other elements in the ad or message obscure or distract from the disclosures, they don’t meet the “clear and conspicuous” standard.
We recommend being upfront and using clear statements. That can be a bit challenging since the FTC has some preferences about wording. As a result, we’ve come up with some suggestions to use. For example:
In addition to including a verbal disclosure, we recommend that you disclose the sponsorship clearly in the podcast show notes so that your listeners can easily see it. We recommend that you place the disclosure in the show notes as close to the product/brand link as possible and within the first three lines of the notes.
On the VIP platform, we take one additional step. Before sharing your content with a brand for final approval, we will look for a disclosure like the ones above. Using one of the suggested disclosures we will facilitate review on our end; varying disclosures may involve delay, and we can’t guarantee approval. If a podcast disclosure is missing or inadequate, we will require re-editing to incorporate a clear and conspicuous disclosure before passing it to the brand. A clear and conspicuous disclosure is one that consumers can’t miss.
The FTC disclosure requirements not only apply to Podcast sponsorships but also to other sponsored social media content, such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram posts. You are responsible for ensuring proper disclosures when creating content for these social media channels as well. We recommend making the disclosure clear and conspicuous at the beginning of the post using the word “AD” or “Sponsored.” Abbreviations of the word “sponsored” are not appropriate.
On platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, when using tags such as #ad, #sponsored, or #promotion, we recommend that you not only ask podcasters to place them at the beginning of the post but also separate them from other tags so that the FTC disclosure is clearly identifiable and distinguishable from other tags. Disclosures shouldn’t be buried in the middle of a posting or at the end. You should consider how it will appear on mobile devices without scrolling down.
Don’t use vague or confusing terms like “sp,” “spon,” or “collab,” or stand-alone terms like “thanks” or “ambassador,” and stay away from other abbreviations and shorthand when possible.
Even if the campaign that you were hired for is for a Podcast sponsorship only, in the event that you decide to share any of your brand links or repurpose the content associated with the campaign on other social media channels, we recommend that you include a proper FTC disclosure at the beginning of the post.
If a brand asks for you to either not include a disclosure or to remove your disclosure once you submitted your sponsorship for review, please notify the brand that the FTC mandates that all paid endorsements be clearly and conspicuously disclosed. Inform the brand that you are required by law to comply with the FTC guidelines. If the brand insists, notify firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
Failure to include a disclosure is not only a violation of FTC rules, but a violation of Podcorn’s Platform policies. If you produce content that otherwise meets brand requirements but fails to include a recommended disclosure, we will not approve the content and will not release payment. We may also suspend or even terminate your account, making you ineligible to participate in future Podcorn campaigns.
As guidelines often change please be sure to visit the official FTC website for the most up to date information.