Promotional Guidelines Overview
In order to better serve our sellers and affiliates, ClickBank has developed these Promotional Guidelines to help clarify what kinds of advertising (messaging, claims, imagery, testimonials, etc.) are and are not allowed to be used on ClickBank seller pitch pages, all product-related copy and collateral, and all other promotional materials. These are general guidelines only and are intended to supplement the information provided in our ClickBank Client Contract.
We at ClickBank value our customers, so we take Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations on advertising very seriously, and require that our products, sellers, and affiliates do too.
Please note that promotional advertising, sales copy, product messaging and materials, express or implied, are always subject to ClickBank approval. Please note that ClickBank reserves the exclusive right to update and amend these guidelines at any time, without prior notice, and reserves the right to approve or reject products, marketing, copy, labels, and any other sales related collateral, at its sole discretion.
If you do not meet the requirements documented here, you may be asked to update new or existing products or marketing, your products may be denied, or your accounts may be suspended or terminated.
The following subjects are covered in this article:
- Truth in Advertising
- Promotional Channels
- Promotional Techniques
- Claims About the Product
- Additional Resources & Related Guidelines
Truth in Advertising
The FTC Act declares unfair or deceptive acts or practices unlawful. When consumers see or hear an advertisement, whether it’s on the Internet, radio or television, or anywhere else, FTC truth-in-advertising laws, says the ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence. In addition to these guiding principles and specific regulations, ClickBank will take into account the overall “net impression” of the advertising message, which includes, marketing, copy, labels, and any other sales-related collateral.
Deceptive advertising, advertising that is likely to mislead consumers in any way, likely to affect consumers’ conduct or decision with respect to a product at issue, or could cause consumer injury, are all potential FTC violations, and we may require immediate changes to new or existing products or marketing, deny new or existing products or marketing, or even suspend or terminate accounts.
Find out more by consulting our What is the FTC? article.
Some promotional channels have additional restrictions to keep in mind. If you do not follow the guidelines listed here for each promotional channel, you may be asked to update new or existing products or marketing, your products may be denied, or your accounts may be suspended or terminated.
The following subjects are covered in this section:
We do not allow “call to activate” products, or products that require a customer to call in and purchase another product in order to make their initial purchase through ClickBank work. Do not call customers who are on “do not call” lists, and please respect if they opt out being contacted. Do not attempt to coerce customers on the phone.
It’s your obligation to understand how you can, and cannot, use email to contact customers. The CAN-SPAM Act establishes requirements for those who send unsolicited commercial email. The Act bans false or misleading header information and prohibits deceptive subject lines. It also requires that unsolicited commercial email provide recipients with a method for opting out of receiving such email and must be identified as an advertisement.
Sellers must submit a full video script prior to shooting the video. Videos will not be accepted without a script pre-review.
- Videos and testimonials containing actors who portray consumers and describe their success using the product are only allowed if the video accurately portrays a typical customer experience, and includes disclaimer appearing with the actor making such a disclosure (ex: “Actor Portraying Real Purchaser”).
- Clearly and conspicuously disclose the generally expected performance in the circumstances shown in the ad.
- Videos and testimonials containing actors telling the seller's actual experience/story (either 1st or 3rd person) are allowed, but must include a clear and conspicuous disclaimer identifying the fact that it is an actor portrayal. Please also see the section below entitled Disclosures & Disclaimers for more information. A text disclaimer alone is not adequate.
- Videos and testimonials containing a spokesperson describing the product’s actual attributes (must use a disclaimer).
- Videos and testimonials containing an actual customer telling their actual story (does not require a disclaimer, but seller must have signed documentation from the customer on hand in the event a regulatory agency would want proof that the story is a customer’s actual experience).
- Videos and testimonials containing the actual seller telling their actual story (does not require a disclaimer).
- Videos that portray or reference a fictionalized individual or life story, where a seller makes false claims as part of the product pitch, are prohibited.
- Videos that portray or reference the seller, where the seller makes false claims about their earnings, are prohibited.
- Videos that don’t allow viewers to exit or pause are prohibited.
- Endorsements without substantiation are prohibited.
- Videos (including images and voice overs) that utilizes or replaces one’s likeness are prohibited.
Any claims contained in the video must be capable of substantiation. Sellers must understand that if the FTC, private litigant or other agency asks for substantiation, the seller must have proof to back up any claim made in the seller's video.
Some promotional techniques can only be used with certain restrictions, or cannot be used at all, when promoting ClickBank products.
If you do not follow the guidelines listed here in your promotional techniques, you may be asked to update new or existing products or marketing, your products may be denied, or your accounts may be suspended or terminated.
The following subjects are covered in this section:
- Prohibited Techniques
- Testimonials and Endorsements
- Disclosures and Disclaimers
- One-Time Offers, Upsells, and Down-sells
- ClickBank does not permit marketing tactics that incite or otherwise evoke in any way, fear, panic or chaos, etc.
- ClickBank does not permit marketing tactics that discriminate on the basis of religion, culture, nationality, race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age, etc.
- Major brand/corporate logos on seller any marketing collateral, including Pitch Pages and Thank You Pages, except credit card logos next to payment links, are prohibited unless the seller has documented permission, by said brand or corporation, to use their intellectual property.
- Unauthorized use of the ClickBank logo is prohibited. For authorized usage, see our Trademark Use Guidelines article.
- Qualifying criteria when no qualifiers are truly necessary to purchase the product, are prohibited. Qualifying criteria must have a demonstrated disqualifying criteria.
- Statements that infer that the product is significantly easier to use than it really is (for example, “one push button to make money” or “three simple words will provide you income") are prohibited. ClickBank requires that pitches make reasonable attempts to reflect the actual or typical effort required to achieve typical results. Salesmanship is encouraged, but do not over-embellish; it’s generally unreasonable to assume that someone with little or no experience in Internet marketing can achieve a 6-figure income with an hour or less of effort per day. It is more reasonable to assume that with attention, effort, and spare time, the average person with little or no Internet marketing experience can achieve a supplemental income.
- “As Seen On… “statements without documentation showing that the product was seen on the stations, TV shows and/or magazines that are listed (not required for the product approval, but will be asked if they have it to provide if requested).
- "Blind offers," which are defined as sales pitches that make promises about what the customer can earn or achieve without any specific details about how the product accomplishes these claims. ClickBank Pitch Pages, particularly in the Internet marketing/make money online niche, must be clear about what techniques or tactics the product teaches or utilizes to achieve results for the customer.
- Promotional techniques that do not follow all relevant laws and regulations are prohibited.
Testimonials and Endorsements
All use of testimonials and endorsements must comply with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines. This means that sellers cannot use false or deceptive statements in their written copy or video promotions. All specific advertising claims about a product’s performance or quality must be capable of substantiation— they must be real examples based on actual experiences. A statement that not all consumers will get the same results is not enough to qualify a claim. Testimonials and endorsements can't be used to make a claim that the advertiser itself cannot substantiate.
Connections between an endorser and the seller that are unclear or unexpected to a customer also must be disclosed, whether they have to do with a financial arrangement for a favorable endorsement, a position with the seller, or stock ownership. Expert endorsements must be based on appropriate tests or evaluations performed by people that have mastered the subject matter.
Also, affiliates cannot pose as neutral third parties evaluating two products so they make a commission on selling one of them.
Disclosures and Disclaimers
Any and all product disclosures and disclaimers must be clear and conspicuous, and not likely to cause consumer confusion. This relates to any kind of disclosure, disclaimer, terms of sale, etc., related to any product or advertising activity on or otherwise related to ClickBank.
Related: What does “clear and conspicuous" mean according to the FTC?
To make a disclosure “clear and conspicuous,” advertisers should use clear 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 should be:
- Close to the claims to which they relate;
- In a font that is easy to read;
- In a shade that stands out against the background;
- For video ads, on the screen long enough to be noticed, read, and understood;
- For audio disclosures, read at a cadence that is easy for consumers to follow and in words consumers will understand.
A disclosure that is made in both audio and video is more likely to be noticed by consumers. 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.
Please also reference FTC Guidance: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising.
Scarcity & Urgency
ClickBank, in accordance with the FTC, expressly prohibits promoting false scarcity or urgency ploys. False scarcity messaging is when there is no actual scarcity of the product. For example, “Only 300 copies” when there are actually unlimited copies, time tickers running down to incentivize a purchase, or listing products as a “one-time” or “today only” opportunity, when they are, in fact, not.
- Scarcity messaging is allowed only when actual quantity/time limitations exist, and must be communicated to ClickBank during the Product Approval Process.
- If sellers confirm the scarcity messaging is true, ClickBank will monitor and limit sales at the appropriate unit or time limit. The offer then cannot be used again for 7 days.
- False low stock messaging - creating pressure to buy immediately by saying inventory is low when it isn’t.
- Baseless countdown timers - showing a fake countdown clock that just goes away or resets when it times out.
- False limited time messaging - creating pressure without a deadline or with a meaningless deadline.
- False high demand messaging - creating pressure to buy immediately by saying demand is high when it isn’t.
- False activity messaging - claims about others’ activity on a site or interest in a product.
Prices must be presented clearly and conspicuously. ClickBank, in accordance with the FTC, expressly prohibits deceptive pricing in any fashion, and reserves the right to require sellers to prove the validity of MSRP/ or “pre-sale” prices.
Pricing for a standard, one-time fee product must be displayed near the first payment link on the Pitch Page in a clear and conspicuous manner.
Pricing for a recurring billing product must contain the initial price, frequency of rebill as well as the duration of the subscription near EACH payment link that is presented on the Pitch Page.
- Real and genuine discounts from the normal price.
- Clear and conspicuous pricing, billing options and terms. Product pricing and purchase options must be clearly intelligible “at a glance”.
- Supplements - Individual bottle pricing times the number offered. MUST have the total purchase price displayed.
- Supplements - Discounted prices highlighted for bundles versus single bottles. MUST have the total purchase price displayed.
- Offering a fake 'discounted' or 'sale' price is prohibited. Pricing that suggests a product previously sold at a higher price, when it really never was, or does not currently, is prohibited.
- Deceptively presenting your pricing, total cost of purchase, and options to purchase, is prohibited. Again, product pricing and purchase options must be clearly intelligible “at a glance”. Any pricing presentation that is confusing to customers, at our sole discretion, is prohibited.
- You cannot invent a higher MSRP or “pre-sale” price. For example, a seller cannot invent the $99 price, just to claim $79 is a sale price when it has always been sold for $79.
- Recurring billing products (included trials), that do not clearly and conspicuously present the terms of that sale and recurring billing, directly near the initial price, are prohibited. If it is at all unclear that your product is a recurring billing product, or if it takes any extra effort for a consumer to reasonably understand this about your product, ClickBank will require changes to the pricing presentation or reject the product.
- Using fake or inflated bonus values is prohibited. Any bonus value claims must be able to be substantiated
- Preselection/Precheck boxes - Selecting a default that is good on behalf of the company and not the consumer.
Please also reference FTC Guidance: Bringing Dark Patterns to Light.
You can see an acceptable rebilling pricing presentation below. The initial product is $9.95, and then $37 for four (4) subsequent months. Note the minimum 12 point font size and contrasting color or pricing to background color(s). For example:
If ClickBank learns that a product violates these or any related regulations, or causes significant customer issues, based on our discretion, then we’ll require immediate changes to new or existing products or marketing, deny new or existing products or marketing, or even suspend or terminate account(s).
One-Time Offers, Upsells, and Down-sells
Your initial product sold must be a standalone product of value to your customer. Loss leaders are acceptable, but “bait” products are unacceptable and considered deceptive. Upsells and down-sells products must be either an enhancement to the initial product, or a complementary product to the initial product. Requiring an upsell and/or down-sell product purchase to make an initial product work is unacceptable and will result in suspension or termination of your account.
Upsell or down-sell decline links and buttons (“No Thank You” links) must be displayed clearly and conspicuously on the page according to these standards:
- A minimum of size 12 font, but larger if needed to be conspicuous with other text or images. Be conspicuous. The decline or “no thank you” button or link must be clear, obvious, and difficult to miss. Customers should not have to read the page top to bottom to see this button.
- Font in contrasting color to background color.
- Decline link must be on the same page view as on a standard 1024 x 768 display, or on any mobile device screen, as the link/button to accept the offer. In other words, no scrolling should be required to see the “Yes” and “No Thank You” links/buttons.
Related: Upsell Flows
Claims About the Product
If your marketing, pitch page, or other materials make certain claims about the nature of the product itself, those claims must be verified as described in this section.
The following subjects are covered in this section:
- Environmentally Friendly Products
- Consumables and Cosmetics
- Advertising Substantiation
- Story Based Selling
- Product Made in the USA
- FDA Approved Facility
- No Side Effects of 100% Safe Claims
Environmentally Friendly Products
Companies are offering consumers an ever-growing assortment of “green" options. But whether your environmental claims are about the product or the packaging, you'll need competent and reliable scientific evidence to support what you say. Find out more by consulting our Environmental, Green, and Homemade Energy Product guidelines.
Consumables and Cosmetics
In addition to the FTC’s regulations regarding health claims, foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics, ingestible products, etc., ClickBank takes the regulations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seriously. As the product owner, it is your responsibility to understand every regulation that may affect the production, manufacturing, and marketing of your products.
Among the types of claims that are defined by statute and/or FDA regulations: disease claims, health claims, nutrient content claims, structure/function claims, and cosmetic claims. You must have competent and reliable scientific evidence in support of any claims.
The type of evidence necessary to substantiate claims depends upon the nature of the claims. The relevant standard for truthful and not misleading health-related claims for dietary supplements is “competent and reliable scientific evidence.”
The FTC defines Competent and Reliable Scientific Evidence as “tests, analyses, research, studies, or other evidence based upon the expertise of professionals in the relevant area, that has been conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by persons qualified to do so, using procedures generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results”
See the Selling Physical Products article for more information about selling physical products.
The following subjects are covered in this section:
Any claim, whether direct or implied, that states your product is going to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent a disease or symptoms of a disease would fall into this category. The only products that are typically allowed to make these types of claims are prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs (OTCs).
The FDA defines disease as “damage to an organ, part, structure, or system of the body such that it does not function properly (e.g., cardiovascular disease), or a state of health leading to such dysfunctioning (e.g., hypertension); except that diseases resulting from essential nutrient deficiencies (e.g., scurvy, pellagra) are not included in this definition.” (21 CFR 101.93(g)).
Related: What is the FDA?
The FDA provides 10 criteria that are useful in determining if a statement is a Disease Claim:
- Claims an effect on a disease.
- Claims an effect on a characteristic sign or symptom of a disease (i.e., “reduces cholesterol” or “reduces inflammation”).
- Claims an effect on a condition associated with a natural state or process.
- Examples of acceptable structure/function claims are "mild memory loss associated with aging," "non cystic acne," or "mild mood changes, cramps, and edema associated with the menstrual cycle."
- Examples of disease claims are "Alzheimer's disease or senile dementias in the elderly," "cystic acne," or "severe depression associated with the menstrual cycle."
- Implied disease claim because of product name, formulation, use of pictures such as medical symbols, or other factors.
- Product names such as “Cholest-off,” “CarpalHealth” or “CircuCure” are considered disease claims.
- Claims that a product belongs to a class of products intended to treat diseases (anti-inflammatory, laxative).
- Claims to be a substitute for a product that is a therapy for a disease or has fewer side effects than a therapy for disease.
- Claims to augment a therapy or drug intended to treat a disease.
- Has a role in the body’s response to a disease (“supports the body's ability to resist infection”).
- Claims to treat, prevent, or mitigate adverse events associated with a therapy for a disease (“maintains intestinal flora in people taking antibiotics”).
- Otherwise suggests an effect on a disease or diseases.
You can find more information on the above criteria can be found in the FDA's Guidance for Industry: Structure/Function Claims, Small Entity Compliance Guide document.
The following are examples of disease claims:
- Lowers LDL cholesterol.
- Fights inflammation.
- Cures cancer.
- Are you struggling with anxiety?
- Improved blood pressure.
- Greater insulin sensitivity.
- Supports blood sugar in diabetics.
- Let food be thy medicine.
- Reduce joint and muscle pain.
Health Claims are claims that associate a food or nutrient with an effect on a disease. All health claims:
- Must be approved by the FDA. See the FDA's Health Claims document for more information about what health claims are permitted.
- Must meet the FDA's significant scientific agreement standard. See the Evidence-Based Review System for the Scientific Evaluation of Health Claims and the Significant Scientific Agreement in the Review of Health Claims for Conventional Foods and Dietary Supplements documents for more information.
The following is an example of a health claim:
- “Low fat diets rich in fruits and vegetables (foods that may contain dietary fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C) may reduce the risk of some types of cancer, a disease associated with many factors. Broccoli is high in vitamins A and C, and it is a good source of dietary fiber.”
The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA) permits the use of label claims that characterize the level of a nutrient in a food (i.e., nutrient content claims) if they have been authorized by FDA and are made in accordance with FDA's authorizing regulations. Nutrient claims are reserved for recognized nutrients.
The following are examples of nutrient claims:
- Excellent source of calcium
- Low fat
- Loaded with antioxidants
- Full of nutrients
Structure/Function claims describe the association between a food or nutrient and a normal structure or function in humans. Dietary supplements and food products may carry claims in their labeling that describe the effect of a substance in maintaining the body's normal structure or function, as long as the claims don't imply the product diagnoses, treats, cures or prevents a disease. The following requirements must be met to qualify a structure/function claim:
- The claim must be truthful and substantiated.
- The seller must submit a 30-day premarket notification to the FDA (supplements only).
- The seller must use the FDA disclaimer (supplements only).
The following are examples of structure/function claims:
- Helps build muscle
- Fat burner
- Antioxidant support
- Calcium helps support bone health
- Fights free radicals to support the cardiovascular system
Cosmetics are defined as articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance.
Cosmetics may not be ingested. Cosmetic claims can only apply to the look, feel, appearance, and surface of the skin. Products that market to change the structure or function of skin are considered drug claims.
Per the FDA, if a product is marketed with claims for purposes such as treating or preventing disease or affecting the structure or function of the body—including the skin—it’s a drug according to the law, and it must meet the requirements for drugs, even if it affects the appearance.
The following are examples of claims that make a cosmetic a drug:
- Removes wrinkles instantly.
- Aids in stimulating collagen production.
- Promotes skin repair and cell regeneration.
- Eliminates age spots and boosts collagen synthesis.
- An excellent alternative to medically administered treatments.
NOTE: By law, cosmetics cannot claim to alter the structure or function of the skin.
The Federal Trade Commission requires advertisers to possess a reasonable basis for advertising and marketing product claims. The process of demonstrating that reasonable basis is called claim substantiation. Substantiation of express and implied claims is a key enforcement priority that affects advertisers and marketers.
What is advertising substantiation?
- Tests, studies, or other scientific research
- Based on expertise of professionals in field
- Objectively conducted by qualified people
- Using procedures accepted as accurate
What ISN'T advertising substantiation?
- Anecdotal evidence from customers
- Newspaper or magazine articles
- Sales materials from the manufacturer
Expressed claims are the most direct form and are explicitly stated through copy. While implied claims are more indirect and include claims that are not specifically stated through copy, but rather through inference.
When it comes to marketing material, the basic principles of advertising law apply:
1. Advertising must be truthful and not misleading.
2. Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims.
3. Advertisements cannot be unfair.
NOTE: If a claim cannot be substantiated, advertisers should revise the claim or conduct additional research.
“Under FTC law, companies must back up claims about what their product can do with reliable evidence. If a company makes a claim about the health or safety benefits of a product, that claim must be based on scientific evidence.
While the FTC has long history of providing guidance on advertising substantiation, through both litigated cases and policy statements, many sellers continue to make unsubstantiated claims about their products and false claims about the proof they have. Consequently, the FTC is now using its penalty offense authority to remind advertisers of the legal requirement to have a reasonable basis to support objective product claims and to deter them from making deceptive claims in the future.”
Story Based Selling
Story based selling may be used in your marketing as long as it starts from a place of health and the overall net impression isn't one of disease treatment or prevention. Additionally, if all claims within the story can be substantiated; meaning the story itself is based on a true story, can be substantiated as such, although it may include some “puffery”.
Puffery claims -- like "this is the best coffee in the world," are usually extravagant or immeasurable by nature. Meaning that the claim is so unrealistic that a reasonable consumer would be able to depict this separation therefore not requiring substantiation.
The seller must confirm that they have substantiation that can be provided if audited or required for any reason by ClickBank’s compliance team.
Examples of story lines that are prohibited by ClickBank:
- Magical / miracle / mystical breakthroughs or findings
- Diet offers claiming no need for diet or exercise, achieve permanent weight loss
- Overnight success
- Rare, hard to find ingredients, when in fact they aren’t
- Guru or mysterious person they met provided information
- Prevent death or treat a disease that may lead to death
Per the FTC, words like scientific breakthrough, miraculous cure, exclusive product, secret ingredient, or ancient remedy could imply a cure and therefore should not be used in the Pitch.
NOTE: ClickBank will take into account the overall “net impression” of the advertising message. Meaning, any storyline in the copy must be that of an already healthy person to help assist in supplementing their diet.
Products Made in the USA
A product has to be "all or virtually all made in the United States" for it to be advertised or labeled as "Made in the U.S.A." See the FTC guidelines for more detail.
FDA Approved Facility
The FDA does not approve or certify manufacturers for dietary supplements. If the company is registered, you can state FDA Registered Facility.
No Side Effects or 100% Safe Claims
Under Federal law, dietary supplements can't be promoted as "safe" or "free from side-effects". Dietary supplements aren't always safe or harmless. Even "natural" supplements can be risky for people on certain medicines or with certain medical conditions because they aren't proven to be safe and effective.
It is also recommended that consumers check with a medical professional before including any dietary supplement into their diet routine, especially when taking other medications. However, most consumers don't do this. There is a possibility that a consumer will ingest your supplement and have an adverse event, this is a risk the consumer takes. Stating that the product is "safe" or "free from side-effects" is misleading to the consumer.
Additional Resources & Related Articles
- KNOWLEDGEBASE: Promotional Guidelines
- KNOWLEDGE BASE: Sell Physical Products
- KNOWLEDGE BASE: Creating Your First Product