ClickBank has posted a new set of rules for vendors to rein in some of the unethical practices that their marketplace is famous for. Given that it's been nearly 4 months since they started talking tough about certain practices that are still rampant, it may not be time to declare victory yet. But we can hope.
Yesterday, Ryan Healy posted some comments about the new guidelines. One that he hilighted was this:
We will NOT allow: Videos which will not allow you to exit or pause.
This one is near to my heart. It won't necessarily spell the end of "eternal videos", but as videos get pause and stop buttons (which I presume is what they mean by "exit"), I'd imagine a lot will start showing their lengths and get "scrubbers" too.
Another section Ryan points out could shake the Marketplace to it's foundation (if it gets enforced):
We will NOT allow: False scarcity messaging when there is no actual scarcity of the product (for example, “Only 300 copies” when there are unlimited copies...
False scarcity is used on many of their top sellers' sales pages. It'll be interesting to see whether they'll actively monitor this kind of thing and take quick action against violators. It'd be easy enough for them to do, so my opinion on whether ClickBank is serious about these rules or not will largely be based on whether I still see a lot of this kind of thing next month.
If they wait a week or two to take action (till after the launch surge is over), no teeth -- no faith.
I find the next item in ClickBank's guidelines a little disturbing (this is a "will" allow, not a "will not" allow):
We Will Allow:
• Messaging that states that the offer is available for the next “xx” amount of time (such as, “If you order in the next ten minutes, you will get …” or “Order today for this amazing opportunity”), as long as there is no messaging that states that the offer is ONLY available for that short time, or that it is a one-time opportunity or chance to purchase when there will be other opportunities available.
So, not only are they okay with obvious attempts to deceive without technically lying, but they're describing how to do it in their official guidelines. The "order today..." style message doesn't bother me, since it basically just says, "you want it, so why wait till tomorrow?" "If you order in the next ten minutes..." on the other hand is clearly deceptive.
Here's another good rule:
We Will NOT Allow:
• More than 3 upsells (one time offers) and two exit offers for each sales flow.
Lower numbers would be better, but it's better than no limits at all!
Here's another one that's going to rock the Marketplace if they quickly and proactively enforce it (I'll believe it when I see it):
We Will NOT Allow:
• 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”). ClickBank requires that pitches make reasonable attempts to reflect the actual effort required to achieve typical results. It is 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.
Will ClickBank enforce the new rules and clean up their marketplace, or drag their feet and mind their own bottom line? According to Ryan's post, the rules are due to go into full force on August 31, 2011. So we'll find out then.