Feb 27

Pinterest and Affiliate Links: The Need to Disclose

Pinterest and Affiliate Links: The Need to Disclose

Since Pinterest’s initial launch back in March of 2010, the site has really taken off since September of 2011. It now drives as much web traffic as Twitter and more than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined – and the site still remains invitation-only.

But what happens with those links? There have been small mentions of affiliate links from Pinterest images starting back in January and have gained more traction in the past few days. Compete Pulse wrote about Pinterest’s relationship with SkimLinks who’s tagline simply is “Unlock cash with your content.” A post on BlogWorld tells us “Why I Don’t Mind Pinterest Hijacking My Links” while a third mentions how “Pinterest is quietly generating revenue by modifying user submitted pins.”

Simply put, part of Pinterest’s profits come from consumers who click on links to specific products and then proceed to buy those products. Relatively few people have a problem with this practice – the site is free to join, so they need to make money from somewhere, right?

The problem that we’re having is the fact that they haven’t disclosed this relationship. Legally, their terms of use allows them to use content posted to their site in any way they choose:

By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.

Although it is not a part of their business model and they aren’t yet making revenue, it still raises a red flag. Disclosure is vital – don’t hide what your consumers or users need to see. For any sites or bloggers making money on consumer action, ensure that this policy is placed in a visible spot so consumers won’t have to find out later. We might not mind, but we’d like to know in advance. Finding out from an outside source makes it somehow seem somewhat underhanded, whether or not that’s actually the case. Being more upfront in the beginning makes you seem much more credible than if someone “outs” you later.

For more information, read more about Becoming Recommended with Pinterest.