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  1. #1
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    This may not be widespread in the affiliate industry, but there's been a buzz lately regarding some vendors requesting exclusivity from their affiliates. In other words, an "if you want to run our offers, you can't run anyone else's" mentality.

    I hope that everyone sees the detriment in these types of agreements. If a merchant, advertiser or network is asking affiliates to refuse business from someone else, they are very much limiting that publisher's potential. Additionally, unless they are also agreeing to locked rates that are well above market value in these arrangements, affiliates make themselves vulnerable to quick and drastic rate changes and have put themselves in a tough position to do anything about it. Even with locked rates, the market can shift and leave you stuck at a price point that is no longer competitive!

    Furthermore, as these agreements begin to reduce the business conducted by competing suppliers, slowly but surely, companies with a vested interest in providing fair compensation in a competitive market will be driven from the market space giving these vendors even more leverage to abuse their "loyal" affiliates.

    One should ask themself why a business partner would want to limit their partner's options. Is this because they cannot compete in a fair market? Is it because they have an interest in limiting your options? What advantage does the affiliate have in signing such an agreement? If that vendor's offers are not available anywhere else, which would seem a good reason to work with them, then why would they be worried that partners might choose to promote through another vendor? If they are available elsewhere, then do they really have anything to offer that is worth limiting your options?

    These and other questions should be posed when considering any request for exclusivity by a merchant or sponsor. Always ask yourself what they are offering you in exchange for your commitment to them. And remember, our forefathers knew that competition was important when they established a capitalist economy and that, in the long run, contributing to monopolization of your industry can only limit your options and place the fate of the market in the hands of people who would rather tie you down with legalities than earn your business by offering legitimate value.

    Just Say No!

    Joe Flores
    "Profitman"
    Affiliate Manager
    www.affiliatefuel.com

    [This message was edited by Profitman on July 10, 2003 at 02:10 PM.]

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador phillyburbs's Avatar
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    The only way we offer exclusivity is on some fairly expensive sponsored channels, and even then it is only to lock down the ad positions. Exclusivity for an affiliate program? Not likely. As is often the case, I agree with you 100%, Joey. Bring on the competition - both for advertisers, affiliates and traffic. Bring it on!


    Karl Smith
    phillyBurbs - Your Internet Starts Here

  3. #3
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    Some good points Joe and I am sure a topic that will bring up lots of comments. For me to do such a thing it would have to be a two sided street. I can not put my eggs all in one basket. Even with a great relationship things can go sour, new management and stradgedies could come into play, and countless other reasons. All of which that could terminate your ability to run income generating sites with some serious repercussions if it was gone very abrubtly.
    Hate for it to sound like a "what about me" post but reality is exactly why it is such a post.
    I can speak with experience on this from an outside of the online world as I face a dilemma of losing a business because of illness. Sometimes far too many situations may occur that we have no control of, and this is where being diversified is the key. In my situation affilate marketing which I accidently stumbled across 18 months or so ago will be my new career. Things are no different just because it is the WWW.

    However there are instances where SOME exclusivity is beneficial but not totally restraining in how products can be marketed. An example of this is where the merchant is offering a better rate or providing a free template for examples. Asking us to not use it to promote other merchants on THAT particular site is attainable, but just don't ask me to stop promoting different merchants on other sites, because, for the above reasons it won't happen.
    It ends up being a you scratch my back I'll scratch yours. Anything further to the merchant dictating exclusivity is going to have be scrutinized with a fine tooth comb to make sure it is a win win situation for all long term.

    ...............
    WW

    Make a difference! Support your local Cancer Care providers.

  4. #4
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    LOL ....the exclusivity, no-competing merchant, guy probaly is running WhenU and Gator ads on the side and not telling the affiliate about this.

    Mike & Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! BBQ some Gator and remember to flush WhenU..

  5. #5
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    I will agree to exclusivity cause if and only if:
    "Merchants agree to have me and only me as their affiliate"

    If I only provide one merchant, there is a higher chance that next time your visitors just bypass you and go directly to the merchant.



    Regards,

    =xo=

  6. #6
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    I would consider one if the merchant gave me a fantastic offer. I wouldn't get stuck into a contract I couldn't leave so when the started to screw me I'd find a replacement.

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador Sam Bay's Avatar
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    As long as requesting exclusivity comes with additional rewards that I'm happy as an affiliate, I'd be into it.

    But, if what you're implying is Google-AdSense like restriction, I think that's ok, and it only make sense to both sides. "If you're running our AdSense, don't run any other contextual ads". Fair and square.

    It's still fair market because you have option to refuse it and run their competetor's ads.

  8. #8
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Even though I like to have only one merchant on a page because it seems to convert better that way, I wouldn't e-sign an exclusivity agreement for an affiliate program. There may be other pages on the same site which promote the competition. Plus, I like to keep my options open.

    If they provide a pageful of c*ntent, that's the exception--and only for the page in question. And I was just cussing out a page with exclusivity-encumbered c*ntent yesterday--next time I want to update that c*ntent site without doing the writing, I'll just buy an article outright! There was no AdSense when I agreed to only advertise MerchantX on that page...

    As for templates, I think it's totally reasonable that a merchant would not want their competition being promoted on their template. But I still haven't been able to bring myself to actually use a merchant-provided template, precisely because then I couldn't just add other merchants to the site at will. I don't want to be stuck doing an entire site redesign if I decide that offering a second choice is in order!

    There is no way I'd agree to a site-wide or multi-site exclusivity clause, either. That'd be way too restrictive.

    So I agree with Joe. I think if a merchant provides a substantial amount of creative, that creative shouldn't be used "against them"--that is, to promote a competitor. But I also think that an affiliate should think long and hard about whether it's worth it to use the exclusivity-encumbered creative rather than writing or buying their own and having full rights.

    ~Revenue is King

  9. #9
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    I suspect some (many?) of you are in programs which specify this in the terms.

    ----
    -JM

  10. #10
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    Thanks to everyone for your feedback and participation in this discussion. This is an important topic that has many hidden factors which can drastically effect the market.

    Certainly, as many of you stated, if a partner invests considerable resources in helping their partners to promote their products, it is reasonable to ask that their resources not be used for the promotion of a competitor. Also, there are plenty of cases where a strong partnership warrants an exclusive contract.

    Lately, we've received feedback from affiliates that describes relatively hostile approaches to attaining this kind of arrangement. Rather than offering an incentive to partners for their exclusive promotion, publishers have, instead, described being penalized for not signing such an agreement. It's important to note that, if you are already being poorly handled by a business partner before making them your sole provider, you can imagine the treatment you should expect to receive after legally binding yourself to them.

    As always, we recommend careful consideration of any agreement and you should always have an attorney who specializes in your field review your contracts. Poorly written agreements and bad terms have been the demise of many a great dot coms. If you feel that an agreement might not be in your best interest, you should always explore your options and make the decision that least limits your possibilities for future business.

    Now, get out there and market some stuff!!!

    Joe Flores
    "Profitman"
    Affiliate Manager
    www.affiliatefuel.com

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