To Aff Or Not To Aff

Since I started this blog, I have been putting (aff) after every link that are affiliate links. I did this not for disclosure, but because I thought that was the proper blogging etiquette. However, today I read a post from Net Business Blog questioning whether the (aff) is needed.

I’ve heard a lot of mixed opinion on the question of affiliate link disclosure. What I’m talking about here is what should a blogger do to inform the reader that a link they post on their page is an affiliate link rather than your normal run of the mill hyperlink? Many of the blogs I read put a little (aff) next to their affiliate links – (aff) meaning affiliate link. Does this count as disclosure? And possibly an even better question, is affiliate link disclosure even needed especially in this form?

I actually have received emails from readers asking what (aff) means. This does bring up the question of whether using (aff) is the best method of disclosing an affiliate link. There is also the question of whether disclosure is even needed. At the The TechZone Hot Deals page, we don’t tell anyone that every single link on that page is an affiliate link. Yet, no one seems to care (I think they’re more interested in the money we’re saving them).

John Chow dot Com is a blog about making money on the Internet and as such, it should be reasonable for readers to expect that there will be affiliate links. So my question to you – do you care/want/feel/need affiliate links to be tagged with (aff)? Personally, I rather not have it because it looks ugly and spoils the flow of an article. It’s also pretty easy to tell when a link is an affiliate link and some would say having (aff) next to it just insults the reader’s intelligences. What do you think?


89 thoughts on “To Aff Or Not To Aff”

  1. Gary Lee says:

    Personally . . i don’t care! You’re already indirectly making money by our visit with your reviewme posts! On the other hand, I understand your need to disclose everything as I was accused of being an affiliate of apartmenttherapy.com last night . . they don’t even have an affiliate program! So, I thought i would have to disclose which links were affiliates or not. I’m still on the fence.

    1. Walter Vos says:

      Why do they ‘accuse’ you of that? It wouldn’t be a crime if you were…

      1. Gary Lee says:

        my friends know that my site has some ads on it, so they think all links are ad-related . . . it’s hard to explain when they’re not internet-savvy

        1. Affiliate disclosure on your OWN site is not needed in my opinion.

          Now that you are using the johnchow.com/go/ links, your affiliate links are even more masked.

          Thank you,
          Wesley…
          http://DVDRentalForums.com

    2. I don’t care either, that’s why I don’t disclose it on my site – but I have been wondering about this!

    3. Why would you care about someone “accusing” you of being an affiliate?

  2. Walter Vos says:

    I personally don’t care for affiliate link disclosure. It’s not like it’s going to stop me buying something I wanted to buy anyway. It’s not going to stop me from clicking the link either. It just annoys me that there are actually people out there who feel so strongly about it. Like they feel deceived if they buy because of your post and find that you got a piece. Come on, you’re responsible for your own actions rigth?

    1. It doesn’t stop me either – actually, if I like the site, I have no problem helping out the owner!

  3. Yeah, I say lose the (aff). I can understand how you’d want to be polite but it can make the posts look messy. I personally mouse over embedded links anyhow to see if there’s anything sneaky there.

    You could however add a small small image next to your affiliate links to identify this to the reader.

    ~Dave

    1. David says:

      I agree…lose it..I don’t like it…

    2. You could however add a small small image next to your affiliate links to identify this to the reader.

      An asterisk would suffice. Then, in the template’s footer, just put “*Affiliate Link” or something like that. I think that would work.

    3. Adding an image would be too much work – if it’s not an issue, don’t worry about it!

  4. Mark Spencer says:

    I go either way on my blog posts. I think you just have to decide on a link by link basis. For example, if I’m reviewing some service, and I include my affiliate link several times, I will usually only include the (aff) note after the first link.

  5. Gareth says:

    If it isn’t part of a paid advertisement then get rid of it.

    If you link to something and I think it’s good enough and buy it, I really don’t care that you made money out of it.

    1. If it was a paid ad, then you wouldn’t provide an affiliate link….

  6. I agree with David. An image in replacement is fine. Or, include it in the link description if you want to. It looks better.

    1. I disagree, that would be to much work to place an image after every link – and what’s the difference?! It would still be disclosing it.

  7. kenny says:

    I have been contemplating removing aff links from my blog as well after reading NBB. My blog is quite new so the effect wont be noticable either way.

    I’m curious to see what else people say regarding this because you are now hiding your affiliate links as well with redirects.

  8. I agree, you should lose the aff, or at least use something a bit more palletable to the eye such as an images. It would really clean the look up a bit. But information is there to be processed by the user regardless of whether they are clicking an affiliate link or not, it’s the information that is important. Although I guess it could be argued that often the affiliate links have less viable information for the general user than the usual links you would normally apply, just by the sheer nature of it. If you link something because you want to, and get no return it is probably more relevant in most cases than a link that you are making a return from. But this is not the case in every situation.So in the end I feel it should be the user’s own discretion to understand the links properly and if they don’t appreciate the content, there is always the back button.

  9. Ted says:

    I have no issue with affiliate links in a blog, I’m smart enough to see them coming most of the time.

    What irritates me is when people give rave reviews over another junky ebook just trying to get some sales through their affiliate code.

    John’s far to honest evil to try that on us 😈

  10. I’d prefer it if a page redirect for aff links would not be used.

  11. Hawaii SEO says:

    You should keep it because you have a unique audience and method of operation.

    You have always been up front about what’s paid and not. If you stopped using it, people like me would ask questions about every link you post.

    Again… This situation is unique. You don’t want to loose the trust you have earned with your audience.

    In many other situations, I don’t believe it would make a difference.

  12. Mat says:

    When you don’t see the (aff) it feels as if the blogger is being dodgy or sneaky, being happy to fill a page with a recommendation but not to put 5 characters in there declaring their financial interest.

    The fact is, in media in general – that’s Google with their ‘ads by Google’ disclaimer, that’s all newspapers with ‘this is a paid advertistement – it is considered ethical to declare any monetary interest in an article published.

    For mine that extends to bloggers, they’re meant to be the ‘new media’ right?

    1. Marc says:

      “they’re meant to be the β€˜new media’ right?”

      No, not really. A blog is a blog. To stretch the analogy to say that all blogs will be the new media is to say that all written work is old media. Just because I scribble something down on paper and show it to people doesn’t suddenly put me under the ethical guidelines that a newspaper is allegedly supposed to follow.

      Blogs are the same. Those that are out there pushing themselves as a news source may need to adhere to a higher ethical standard, but 99% of blogs out there are just blogs. A personal website that happens to follow a chronological publishing order.

      I find people paint blogs with an extremely wide brush very often.

  13. Timen says:

    I think it’s important solely for the reason that blogs are being seen more and more as viable information resources, and to further that cause, we as bloggers must continue to show responsibility.

    A magazine in my niche ran an article last month about how some bloggers in my niche accepted free goods in exchange for reviews. They argued that the service providers (those giving the stuff away) could make the free experience exceptionally good because it could be targeted (like a VIP’s experience can be made better because it, too, can be targeted). This would result in better reviews.

  14. rob stgeorge says:

    I personally think it is a good idea to somehow mark a link as an affiliate link. And as the saying goes “if it aint broke – don’t fix it”!

  15. kwandom says:

    Transparency is also good for business, but you don’t have to litter your site with (affs). Maybe add it into your Disclaimer notice or something.

  16. Dan says:

    Complete OT:
    John I noticed you are now finishing all your recent articles with a question? Is that coincidence (I doubt that πŸ™‚ )or a part of new strategy on increasing feedback?

    Cheers
    Dan

    1. Kenny says:

      Taking a page from Darren’s book πŸ™‚ Asking questions usually results in more comments (not that this blog needs anymore) which leads to more ideas to post new articles. Clever? Nah… more evil than clever 😈

      1. It’s not evil at all! It got you to comment didn’t it?!

  17. Matthew says:

    There is a popular site in the UK which does specify which links are affiliate links by a * and then at the bottom explains that links with a * are affiliate links and help monetize the site and those with out do not.

    The owner of the site then goes to explain how he writes his very comprehensive articles and says that he researches the subject and links to various sites regardless of if they offer an affiliate program and then once he has created the article he has a staff member see if each link has the potential of being an affiliate link… if so then they put a * next to it and code the link.

    He says by doing this that you get the best information as he is not swayed by a product that will get him the most sales… he just wants to get the message across regardless of what affiliate links are available.

    I am on the fence still but to be honest, I dont think it matters either way as long as your readers know you are not trying to push a rubbish product on to them because it will get you some nice sales.

    1. I guess it is a nice alternative to putting (aff). Actually, if your readers already has trust in you being open and abroad, there is no need to openly say this. It depends on personnel preferences in the end though. Don’t let readers sway your thoughts!

      1. Very true, if your readers think you are honest in your review, then it shouldn’t matter if you are an affiliate.

  18. abdulla says:

    I would rather have no ‘aff’ mentioned as it looks way better without it.

  19. Chris says:

    hey john,
    aren’t you evil anyway πŸ˜‰
    i must say i dont really care about the affiliate links. most of the people that visit your blog will recognize them anyway when they hover over the links. so i say “get rid of them”.

    cheers from germany.
    chris

  20. Hmmm good post John. I was thinking about the same thing yesterday. I don’t really think it matters that much to be honest. Like most people are saying – if you are recommending a high quality product they will buy it regardless if you’re going to make a small commission on it.

    Instead, think of your affiliate commission as your “finders fee” – just like real estate agents do bird dogging πŸ™‚

  21. Menguzar says:

    maybe you can make them a different color?
    a darker blue maybe?

    this way we will still know where you’re making money from and it will still look good πŸ™‚

    1. Hmm… interesting idea – John could probably pull that off with some CSS. But then he would need to add class=”afflink” to all affiliate links – I guess that’s not a whole lot more work than writing (aff).

      1. Colin Dean says:

        Mmm, microformats. You’re right, this would be a perfect place for them.

    2. But then people would ask “What’s the deal with the different color links?” – or worse: they don’t ask and brush it off as poor design! 😯

  22. Indi Scoop says:

    i feel respected when you put an (aff) next to a link. it says that you are honest in saying that you are making money from the link

  23. Rajuthan says:

    If you do Disclose that the links are from an aff then you will lose money 😈

  24. feve says:

    why is there a need to distinguish between a run of the mill hyperlink and an affiliate link on your blog or webpage? it’s your page, how you design it and the way you display your links is your own business. just have your “terms of use”

    if i don’t like it, i can leave.

    personally, i believe it originated from search engine marketing, to identify that the ad was written by an affiliate and not the company proper.

    i believe it entered into the blogosphere, by some love festing bloggers who feel “corporations are bad” *bong hit* and then felt a little guilty, so they added the (aff). you know the ones, “god forbid there should be an affiliate link on my blog”… commercialism is out to ruin the… blah blah blogosphere blah

  25. Rhys says:

    Get rid of it, it loses the flow of the readability of the posts. It should be interesting to see the results of a recent experiment on johntp.com, where he practically begged people to click on the links.

    I do something similar from time to time 😈

  26. HMTKSteve says:

    I think it depends on the context.

    The Tech Zone is a place to go to find stuff to buy. We expect those links to benefit you in some manner.

  27. Mike Panic says:

    Ditch the (aff). If I have to deal with the double underlined IntelliTXT ads not having (aff) after them, regular affiliates shouldn’t matter either. If a user isn’t smart enough to hover a link and look at their browsers’ status bar, then they should be welcome to click whatever they want.

  28. Tracy says:

    I agree with most of the posted comments on this one…lose the (aff).

  29. Kwotem says:

    ditch the aff, everyone knows this is a heavily monetized blog, the aff mark was a nice gesture as you started up,and gauged your community, but now seem unnecessary.

  30. Personally I can usually spot an affiliate link when I see one – so it doesn’t really matter for me.

    It would probably be better to drop the (aff) – the posts would be “cleaner”.

    I don’t think blogs that are about making money/internet marketing/affiliate marketing should have to disclose that they are making money online πŸ˜‰

    But then again, blogs like ProBlogger use the (aff) trick – and blogs like that are often directed at people new to making money online, but do newbies know what (aff) stands for?

    Maybe you should have a dedicated disclosure page – and link to it at the top in the navigation or in the sidebar – or even at the end of each post that contains affiliate link…

  31. Joe says:

    Ditch the (aff). As a reader it’s more annoying to come across it, because it stops the sentence dead.

    For me when I hit the (aff), it’s like the blog is saying – “hey, this is an aff link – click on it to help support this blog.”

  32. Most of the time I just hover over it and look at what shows in the bottom of my browser for some reason…I still will check it out if I think it is something im interested in. I think disclosing affiliate links on a blog all the depends on your type of audience. With yours I believe it is just fine. Mine on the other hand πŸ˜•

    1. Me too, I always look at the link’s destination before I click!

  33. Personally, I know what your site is about and don’t feel the need to be warned. While I appreciate and think its a “nicety”, I don’t think it’s required.

    I certainly think it’s important to disclose if you’re blogging about a company that you work for, invest in or have other ties to. But other than that, I think you’re just being polite…just my 2 cents.

  34. derrich says:

    To pu tit bluntly, it’s a nice gesture…but completely unnecessary IMHO. As you alluded to in your post, I’m sure 99.9% of the people could care less. Make dat money, John!!! 😈

  35. I will probably just start adding a default message at the bottom of each post if I’m adding an Aff Link

  36. caplondon says:

    I don’t think the “aff’ is needed. You put links on for people to use. Its their choice which links they try. Most people on here try to make a litte money. We all know whats going on!!

  37. Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s certainly a nice gesture but not as necessary if, say for example, you’re blogging about a company you invest in, work with, or have some other non-obvious connection to.

    Also, given your blog is about making money from the web, it’s not surprising you’d have links to affiliates.

    Again, overall nice gesture but not necessary.

  38. Dave says:

    I don’t think the (aff) is needed, per se, but you have to be careful that you’re using the affiliate links in a beneficial context and not just to stuff your content with the links.

    I don’t care at all if I click through an affiliate link to something that benefits me. If someone turns me on to a good product through their blog, they deserve to be rewarded.

    On the other hand, I nearly unsubscribed from Steve Pavlina’s blog due to this post that was absolutely littered with affiliate links: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2007/03/the-science-of-success/

  39. Britt Malka says:

    I think it depends on which country you are writing for.

    When writing for the Danes you better excuse before and after bringing an affiliate link as it is looked upon as outrageous that you make money online.

    Reasontly in a Danish MySpace-look-alike-site about making money online, I promoted an ebook from a famous author, normally selling this ebook for $97, now it was only $20. It’s an ebook that has made me lots of money myself. Somebody there commented upon it saying if it wasn’t quite crazy to promote a book I myself made bucks on (followed by four exclamation marks) and told me that he didn’t find my recommendation believable.

    So if you write for the Danish people, you can never underestimate their intelligens. I know – I was born there, but I got evil too and moved away 😈

    1. I think it depends on which country you are writing for.” You can’t think that way – I get visitor from all over the world! It’s an all-or-nothing decision!

  40. rayray says:

    I agree. The (aff) does ruin flow and think it’s unnecessary. You can also put a disclaimer in your about page (or anywhere in the site) that all links are affiliate likes unless otherwise noted.

    So ditch the (aff)

    -rayray

  41. Tobsy says:

    Just get rid of it. It doesn’t really look good and you shouldn’t have to use it anyway. You don’t go to a hardware store, ask for advice and then get angry about the guy not telling you that he is gonna make some money if you follow his advice.

    1. But wouldn’t it be nice to know how much money the hardware store was making for buying a hammer. For example if someone at the hardware store says: “I will make $20 dollars if you buy hammer A. I will make $1 dollar if you buy Hammer B. I highly recommend hammer A!”. Full disclosure is always best for the user/consumer.

  42. glitter says:

    I don’t think its neccessary to always disclose who gives you a piece of the action…I know if I trust you as a blogger, and I am following your advice anyway…then why do i even need to know if your an aff or not?

  43. Aris says:

    Just get rid of it, John.

  44. I also was wandering if I should put the (aff) or not, and although I only have one link that is an affiliate so far, I decided not to for the reasons you already mentioned.

  45. Ultimately I don’t care all that much. I do like that you and a few others do put the aff afterwards. I appreciate it and put it on my blogs.

  46. Latimer Williams says:

    All in all, I dont care, if you are a person who browses the net frequently, you can tell the difference between Aff links and links pertaining to the blogs or websites. To me it comes down to the audience chosing to click on the link or not.

  47. Markk says:

    High time we don’t get to feel guilty about this silly (aff) thing. At the height of debate when the word “disclosure” was bandied around like it was the plague, I’d thought maybe it was proper to add (aff) on my affiliate links.

    But after a while it began to dawn on me that this is really stupid. Do I have to put (aff) after Text Link Ads or Bidvertiser, etc? If you know your Internet business, then you don’t need to be insulted by the (aff). Thumbs down for those “disclosure” charlatans. Oh yes, I chopped off the (aff) and everything looks nicer now!

  48. Kenny says:

    I’ve been thinking about this a bit more and I feel it really comes down to the context of the link. If its in a paid review, and there is an affiliate link perhaps an (aff) tag would be appropriate.

    But on the other hand, its a given that any links to products are affiliate links on a blog such as this one…

  49. Gary Lee says:

    fyi – you know this is a totally biased sample of people you’re asking, right?

    1. Very true. Regular visitor might not care, but what about someone researching said product?

      1. Gary Lee says:

        i really don’t think a regular person is going to care much . . my friends don’t know the difference and just assume they’re ALL affiliate links πŸ˜•

  50. Kubiac says:

    It doesnt matter, most know the difference between aff links and normal text links. Its always ones choice to click or not to click!

  51. Aris says:

    I thought it over and wonder, what if instead of (Aff), you color coded, underline or whatever you want, then put an Alt text on it. In that way, when people scroll their mouse over the text they will see that it’s an affiliate link. It causes extra steps when writing your post, but hey, someone may come up with a plugin and the only thing you need to do is to click the highlighted text, push the button and you get the (Aff) substitution display.

  52. Bes Z says:

    You should not lose the (aff) or explain it somewhere on your About page. It’s good to have a disclosure, and it shows that you are not using my clicks and time without my knowledge to make money. We work at offices dedicating time, and we dedicate time on blogs, time we could instead be making money with. We respect you, and you should respect us.

    I like the way you have been using [aff] text. Maybe you can add an acronym or something somewhere.

    Also, thinking that most of your readers already have trust in you and thus you should not use the aff text means you do not respect the minority of the readers who do not know you and are visiting for the first few times or seeing a post with such links for the first time.

    Disclosure on blogs has nothing to do with business disclosures; blog disclosures are all s about trust!

  53. Bonnie says:

    I agree with the masses — lose the (aff). A simple Disclosure page that covers everything (affiliate links, paid reviews, etc.) is the easiest way to go, don’t you think? I stuck one up on my blog here: http://www.best-earning-strategies.com/disclosure/.

  54. Erik says:

    If the offer or product sparks my interest, I don’t really care if you make money from it or not, I just want it!

  55. I personally like the (aff) disclosure. It helps build trust in the blogger. I use them all the time on my own blogs and appreciate it when other do. I also like to find out about affiliate programs I may not be familiar with!

  56. Matt608 says:

    I personally don’t mind at all if you don’t put ‘aff link’.

    After all, why wouldnt you use an affiliate link? If you are thorough reviewing a site that you get credit for making refferrals you should (and you always do) mention that you have something to gain for referring people; if not out of honesty but simple to give a thorough review.

    How can you make a good in-depth post without mention wether or not that site has an affilaite program?

    – You see my point. In these posts it is fine to NOT include (aff).

    However, if you are just mentioning a program in a post about something else it is a different matter. I personally dont mind at all if you use an affiliate link, but others may feel differently. It is part of the business and being able to bring other programs into a post is half the beauty of it, so you should go for it and leave out the (aff) whatever the situation.

    Matt

  57. Jane May says:

    I say leave it out. As a reader and a blogger, I am big on the flow of the post. Having something that many people don’t know what it means can hurt the percception of the post and your blog. Doubt it will discourage anyone, but why confuse people.

  58. Chris says:

    Doesn’t bother me either way, maybe you can put some sort of disclosure somewhere else on your site. Like you said, your web page is about making money on the internet so an aff. link should not be a surprise.

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  60. Marc says:

    I say no to the (aff) or any other indication. There’s simply no need. The alleged need for disclosure comes from the fear that some bloggers will start to lie like crazy and sucker people into something unfairly. The way I see it so long as you’re still writing honestly, there’s no need to disclose affiliate links.

  61. Aris says:

    So what is your last word, John?

  62. IndoDX says:

    I think if there are AFF option, doing AFF is good reason πŸ˜‰

  63. Lose the aff! Looks cheap (and annoying!)

    And no disclosures either. We’re all big boys here – no need to explain that *gosh – oh no!* you’re making money! lol

  64. I like the aff tag – it’s good to disclose this stuff.

  65. Not to Aff. If they are going to click on the link out of curiosity for the word, then why should they care if it is an affiliate link. After all it is showing them content relevant to the word they clicked on.

    Adam
    TheAdambox.com

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