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An Empirical Study of Affiliate Marketing Disclosures on YouTube and Pinterest

by   Arunesh Mathur, et al.
Princeton University

While disclosures relating to various forms of Internet advertising are well established and follow specific formats, endorsement marketing disclosures are often open-ended in nature and written by individual publishers. Because such marketing often appears as part of publishers' actual content, ensuring that it is adequately disclosed is critical so that end-users can identify it as such. In this paper, we characterize disclosures relating to affiliate marketing---a type of endorsement based marketing---on two popular social media platforms: YouTube & Pinterest. We find that only roughly one-tenth of affiliate content on both platforms contains disclosures. Based on our findings, we make policy recommendations geared towards various stakeholders in the affiliate marketing industry, highlighting how both social media platforms and affiliate companies can enable better disclosure practices.


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