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  1. #1
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Question: IS PJ an aff of programs they manage?
    Do you participate (as an affiliate) in the programs you manage?

    Do you also do PPC for them?

    *Note: Questions borrowed from a shy poster
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    I heard this very thing talked about during Affiliate Summit. As an OPM looking at networks to manage our programs, a flag went up when I heard that possibility. If it is not true, then their certainly is the impression that this is what is going on from what is being said.

    Good questions, I'm anxious to follow this thread.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  3. #3
    Affiliate Network Rep
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    Haiko,

    Thanks for your question.

    As you know, Pepperjam is a full-service internet marketing agency.

    We are located in Pennsylvania and have about 110 employees.

    Pepperjam offers pay-per-click, search-engine optimization, affiliate program management, and online media planning and buying.

    Since 1999 Pepperjam has also been an affiliate. Currently, our primary Web site for affiliate marketing is a shopping comparison engine called Shogging.com.

    Pepperjam recently launched Pepperjam Network, which is a next generation affiliate network.

    Your first question was whether or not Pepperjam participates as an affiliate in some of the programs we manage.

    ANSWER: Yes.

    Your second question was whether or not Pepperjam also does PPC for them.

    ANSWER: We do PPC for some, but not all of our affiliate program management clients.

    ___________________________________

    The implied concern here on your (and others) part is that because Pepperjam is a marketing services agency, affiliate, and affiliate network there is an apparent conflict of interest.

    Let me address your (and others) concern.

    First, Pepperjam has gone to great lengths to address real (not perceived) conflicts of interest between the multiple divisions of our company.

    For instance, as I outlined in great detail yesterday on this ABW thread - http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=102347 - Pepperjam has created a chinese wall between Shogging and all Pepperjam-owned affiliate sites - these Web sites are given no special treatment and are not given access to any information from other divisions of Pepperjam that would be considered a conflict of interest to Pepperjam Network advertisers or publishers. My guess and hope is that other major Networks that own affiliate Web sites, including Commission Junction and Linkshare, set-up similar Chinese walls to protect advertisers and affiliates.

    As it relates to Pepperjam Network, Pepperjam or any of its entities does not and will never use sensitive publisher information in any way that would be detrimental to the publisher. We make this guarantee in writing as part of our publisher services agreement and we have put in place multiple security measures to protect sensitive, proprietary publisher data.

    For instance, sensitive, proprietary publisher data is restricted from access by any and all Pepperjam employees that should not have access to this information. In short, the ONLY Peppejam employees with access to sensitive, proprietary publisher data include our head of IT / Network Quality and our head of Software Development - the reason these guys have access to publisher information is to maintain the quality and integrity of Pepperjam Nework and maintain the data for publisher access; however, these guys are restricted from using the information to profit from, or in any way harm Pepperjam Network publishers. In addition, these guys are not authorized to give me or any member of the Pepperjam team access to the data for any reason that would harm the publisher.

    The bottom line here is that Pepperjam realizes and acknowledges the concerns that many publishers have about protecting their confidential, proprietary data from access by merchants or by any member of the Pepperjam staff that would use that data to their personal benefit or the benefit of Pepperjam.

    We are absolutely committed to providing publishers with assurance and confidence that Pepperjam / Pepperjam Network will protect confidential, proprietary publisher data with the absolute highest regard. At the same time, Pepperjam is not asking, nor do we get, special treatment by our marketing services clients. To the contrary, since we manage aspects of a client's marketing services business, we are intimately familiar with the client's terms and conditions and must adhere to them like any other affiliate marketer.

    I believe the above process should address your above questions. However, I will also mention that Pepperjam has dedicated employees (there is absolutely no overlap) between divisions of your company, which helps to ensure no sharing of sensitive, confidential data between divisions.

    BTW - we've talked about this in the past, but your ABW members might be for it, there is an open invitation for you to visit Pepperjam. Haiko lives in nearby New Jersey so this is a very realistic offer. Bring your video camera, tape recorder, and anything else you want. We'd love to have you visit so that you can share your experience with ABW members. I think this will help to demonstrate to ABW members (through your voice, not mine) how seriously Pepperjam takes minimizing conflicts of interest.

  4. #4
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    Well, changing over to a full-service network is not an overnight decision. Personally, if I were in that situation, I would have sold off the affiliate end of the biz before moving forward with the OPM and the new network. You had to know that many would have objections to this "We do it all" mentality.

    Consider Home Depot or Lowe's. What if tomorrow they started in the home-building biz? Do you think that some builders would likely no longer purchase materials from them? I know for sure that would be the case.

    Why did you decide to keep the affiliate biz if you wanted to move into having your own network?

    -sfcom


  5. #5
    Affiliate Network Rep
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    sfcom,

    Thanks for your question.

    Pepperjam has been an affiliate since 1999 - it's our oldest business line.

    As an OPM Pepperjam launched its first program in 2000 - we've managed over 100 affiliate programs since then, while still remaining an affiliate with the safeguards in place I outline above.

    Launching an affiliate network was a logical outgrowth of our marketing services business. The Network took over two years to create and included the collective input from over 100 affiliates and advertisers. By many looking for professional services offered by Pepperjam our experience is seen as an advantage to working with Pepperjam over our competitors, not a detriment. Also, in the eight years of our existence we've never had an issue, and we've never lost a client because of a conflict of interest.

    I don't mean to minimize the perceived conflict of interest. I understand the concern and I'm here to address any concerns that come from it.

    However, I will reaffirm that both Commission Junction (Coupon Mountain, among others) and Linkshare (Traffic Strategies, among others) are affiliates and both offer OPM services.

    Moreover, as I outlined above Pepperjam has gone to great lengths to minimize any conflicts of interest.

    BTW - Home Depot is in the home building business - http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...atalogId=10053

  6. #6
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pepperjam
    BTW - Home Depot is in the home building business - http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...atalogId=10053
    BTW, they are not...

    "professional installation by our hand-picked, licensed*, independent installers."

    They professionally partner with contractors who use Home Depot items as part of their available sales product inventory.

    I'm talking building homes from top to bottom. Not installing components via independent contractors.

    -sfcom


  7. #7
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Kris,

    Do you SEE the conflict of interest in asking us to be an affiliate - if you yourself are an affiliate? Meaning, my direct competitor... but with deeper pockets and 120 employees to do things I want to do.

    Not that my marketing is "top secret", but if it were, do you SEE the conflict of you knowing my keyword strategy when that is also a key part of your business?

    Obviously, all CPA networks are affiliates themselves, and my CPA links are in reallity just sub-aff links, but they don't advertise they do everything a network does - and more.

    As an example, if I had a site called nothing-but-shoe-stores. com, and it was successful, and I planned to make nothing-but-pet-stores, nothing-but-bridal-stores, etc... you could beat me to all the other sites simply by accessing my PJ stats.

    I see your logic of making an all-in-one convenient place for merchants and affiliates, but it will be real tuff trusting that kind of model with my propriety information.

  8. #8
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    For the record... I know several AMs and several OPMs that actually have websites in the same vertical as their job. I'm against it for the same reasons as my above post.

    Puts me in the akward position of NOT outing them here on ABW without it damaging my commission rate.

    But PJ came here to voluntarily go under the microscope, so I can ask without repercussions.

  9. #9
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    Billy Kay,

    I appreciate and understand your concerns.

    I have a question for you - in light of your concerns regarding conflict of interest, what you you think (1) about Google as a company and (2) the announcement today that Google closed its acquisition of DoubleClick Performics?

    I realize and appreciate that conflicts of interest exist in almost all businesses.

    In my opinion, the real issue is not the conflict, but what the company does to minimize the conflict, and protect its clients.

    In the case of Google, I'm really interested to learn more about how they intend to allow Performics to operate as a business unit of Google.

    We will still work will Performics, but it is important to me to know that my information won't be shared among divisions of Google to my detriment.

    I think this same analysis applies to Commission Junction, Linkshare, Yahoo, and hundreds if not thousands of other companies with conflicts of interest.

    How do they protect their clients / partners?

  10. #10
    Antisocial Media Expert ProWebAddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pepperjam

    I think this same analysis applies to Commission Junction, Linkshare, Yahoo, and hundreds if not thousands of other companies with conflicts of interest.

    How do they protect their clients / partners?
    But I thought you all were branding yourselves as being different than those other networks...better. So what they are doing really isn't relevant to the issue of what you choose to do with your business.

    It's as if you are saying, "they do it to, so it's obviously not a problem". That still doesn't make it right and it doesn't erase the conflict of interest.

    So if you are just like the other companies, then why should I join? You don't have to answer that. I'm just throwing it out there.

  11. #11
    Affiliate Network Rep
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    ProWebAddict,

    Thanks for the follow-up.

    In reponse to a post from Haiko about "What's makes Pepperjam Network different than the others" I went into detail here - http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=102346

    Regardless of who the company in question is, Pepperjam or anyone else, I strongly believe that conflicts of interest can be a problem if active steps aren't taken to minimize the conflict, and protect clients.

    I believe that Pepperjam has taken the steps necessary to minimize conflict and protect the interests of publishers and advertisers.

  12. #12
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Guess it all comes down to a matter of trust.

    There's been lots of posts in this forum, and I don't see them doing anything the other networks don't do

    It's clear they USED to do something bad, otherwise we wouldn't all be interested in Kris' responses here

    But so far, all I see is they allow parasites (as does every other network and cpa)

    and they have access to my information that they can use to benefit themselves - again, as does every other network.

    Unless someone says something concrete soon, I'm willing to give 'em a shot

    My only personal frame of reference is the 3 programs I've belonged to for a long time: WB, MGM and Cartoon Network. Since they took over, I actually get "What can we do to help?" emails.

  13. #13
    Online Marketing Consultant
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    Do you do PPC marketing in the programs you manage?

    I'd like to also point out and thank you for your honesty in answering the questions in this thread.
    Adam Riemer Marketing, LLC. Online Marketing Blog and Affiliate Management Company
    Do you need help with your Marketing or Sales funneling, write me at adamr (at) adamriemer (dot) me

  14. #14
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    So if you are just like the other companies, then why should I join? You don't have to answer that. I'm just throwing it out there.
    For the same reason I promote Nutrisystem thru a CPA rather then a major network. In theory, you have a rep - a human - you can talk to, rather then using Ask a Question in the CJ interface. (OK, actually NS is a Linkshare program, but couldn't think of the name of their contact us system

  15. #15
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pepperjam
    ...(1) about Google as a company and (2) the announcement today that Google closed its acquisition of DoubleClick Performics?...
    The concept is generally the same, but the entity is not. Google is a publicly traded company. I know PJ speaks of transparency...but in the case of Google (DoubleClick Performics), Linkshare (Rakuten), and CJ (Valueclick)---these are companies with forced transparancy due to them being on the stock exchange. Their perceived value is traded in dollars and cents daily.

    This perceived value is tied directly to benefits (employee stock options and profit sharing programs) that these companies offer. In order to keep the value of the company stock high, one of the things they must avoid is the sharing of third party propriatary information regardless of the potential short-term financial benefit to the company. All because they know for short-term gain via this prop information, there will be an affiliate who comes forward showing how their info was used for the company's financial gain. A lawsuit could drive the stock into the ground. I would say that is a pretty big mousetrap to deter EVER using propriatary info for benefit w/ a publicly traded company.

    I do not see the same financial threat in the case of PJ. I'm not saying that prop info would be used...but the financial risk doesn't seem as great as it does in the case of Google w/ Performics or ValueClick w/ CJ. In the case of PJ, if they were to have this happen, they just could just settle with the aff. and move on. Not so in the case of the public companies. They would have people voting with their dollars and cents daily to decide how that use of propriatary info was wrong and to what degree it was.

    I think the only way to be and become a respected affiliate network for PJ is to sell off and cut ties with your affiliate biz. This would mean dropping what PJ started out as and moving on to what is seemingly bigger and better things. No more PJ affs in the same building and on the same payroll. Managers and network only. Once you focus on this, you will have affiliates flocking to you from CJ and the others. High quality affs = increased sales = increased drive for merchants to join with PJ = bigger slice of the pie as a network. Dropping the affiliate biz will lead to good things, but holding onto it will not help your management and network grow as fast as it otherwise should due to the concerns with the aforementioned propriatary information issues.

    -sfcom


  16. #16
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    sfcom,

    Outstanding feedback.

    I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to articulately voice your opinion.

    I agree that the regulation and open financial implications of a publicly traded company set the bar higher than for a private company, but there are dozens upon dozens of publicly traded companies (MCI WorldCom, Enron, Tyco, etc.) that got away with conflict of interest and corruption for years.

    To me it's all the same.

    In my opinion, putting protections in place is what matters most, not the risk involved in breaching the trust.

    Pepperjam has protections in place to minimize conflicts.

    No matter how you look at it, the company unwilling to abide by a set of active safeguards to minimize conflict will eventually be outed and will likely go out of business.

    Pepperjam will not be one of those companies.

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador delsol's Avatar
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    cfcom is making some good points. Elaborating on his ideas (no real question for PJ):

    The right solution would be to split PJ in two separate legal entities with different offices and locations.

    The DClick/Google deal was scrutinized by many lawyers in both the USA and in Europe. Publicly traded company can "cheat" but it is often illegal for then to do so and they eventually get caught and suffer grave consequences. Ebber (MCI-Worldcom), K Lay(Enron) received serious prison sentences and fines.

    The reality is many affiliates are also entrepreneurs and CEOs of their own Corporations. We know that a privately held company could "cheat" (use network stats for the affiliate group) and it would not even be illegal. I'm certainly not saying PJ would do this, but if it did, it would be 100% legal.

    A CEO has the fiduciary duty to maximize the ROI of his enterprise. If legal, maximizing the synergies from both network and affiliate activities, from a strict ROI perspective, would make sense. Because of this, the concerns about the "conflict of interests" is obviously stronger with a private smaller company.

    This conundrum will probably not be fixed in the short term. So most of the future for PJ-Network will depend on the reputation it develops during its first months/years of operation...


    Thanks pepperjam, for being a good sport and answer peoples concerns here.

  18. #18
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pepperjam
    To me it's all the same.

    In my opinion, putting protections in place is what matters most, not the risk involved in breaching the trust.
    Kris, did you really say that?

    So you'll take that risk, that would mean that you'll say anything to acheive your goals.
    Bob Pets Warehouse
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  19. #19
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Kris:

    Thanks for your candor in this thread, and others.

    As a merchant, it's these threads, however, as well as many in CJ's and Performics forums, that always push me right back to Shareasale, even on days when I think "there have to be more affiliates out there.".

    I believe it's important that there is full transparency, but at the end of the day, it's the people AT SAS that drive me there. And I'm using them as an example, not trying to pump them up in the PJ ABW forum.

    Those people are the ones that I know won't violate that trust, regardless of what protection are or aren't in place.

    I'll let you know the next time I'm going to be down that way. I'm planning on June. I'd like to see the operation, and get to know some people there so I have a frame of reference.

    I mention this only because I think it highlights the challenge you will have down the road. If many of the affiliates don't know you, it is in fact the "possibility that that trust can be breached" that will stop them short of using the network.

    At the same time, there are a group that won't, period, in light of the fact that you are affiliates of programs that you manage.
    Kevin Webster
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  20. #20
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    You don't often get a second chance at a first impression.
    Chris, I would also like to commend you for answering the questions put to you here and would like to also make a couple of observations. The first would be that most of the questions that have been asked are the same questions that were asked when you made your initial announcement here on ABW. A lot could have been avoided by just answering the questions then and not stomping off in disgust at our lack of professionalism.

    I also mentioned somewhere in that initial post that I couldn't believe that you didn't anticipate most of the questions that had been asked. Frankly, you were very unprepared and YOU are the PRIMARY cause of the air of mistrust that still surrounds your program here at ABW.

    I'd like o think that I am fairly open minded. I'm certainly not one to "cut off his nose to spite his face", so if there are legitimate opportunities to be had, I'll typically take a look at them. This was the attitude that I initially had when you made your announcement here at ABW. My first thoughts were "wow, this is great, a new network and they were affiliates like us". Apparently you've forgotten what it's like to be affiliates like us. Realize that in an industry where there is almost a total lack of transparency, the affiliate is really the low man on the totem pole. We MUST trust the merchants that we work with, we MUST trust the networks that we work with and we MUST trust the AMs and OPM's that we work with. When there are so many things stacked against you, you start to become somewhat jaded and certainly become more selective.

    Using CJ and LS as examples of how we already work with less than affiliate friendly networks will not endear you to us. That's like saying that since I've already shot myself in one foot than the additional pain of another bullet shouldn't be too bad. If you want to make a comparison that WE want to hear, compare yourself to SaS. Just by using CJ and LS as examples sets off a red flag for me.

    I also have to agree with someone that posted "answer the question, don't spin it". A straight answer is much more preferred than something that sounds like it was written for a press release. And certainly more believable. Whenever someone starts to spin a response I start thinking politician and credibility goes out the window.

    And last, (I know this has been long) I would like to comment that I am glad that you have obviously abandoned your requirements for how we were to put questions to PJ. I did initially support your demand because to me it seemed more important that our questions were answered, regardless of how we got those answers. At the same time though it put further dents in your credibility (and mine for supporting it).

    You may have noticed that a lot of this pretty long winded post talks about credibility and trust. Has it been so long since you were in the trenches like we are that you don't remember what it's like? If you want our trust, you can't be "as good as..." you have to be "better than...". There are enough bad players out there, prove to us that you're one of the good guys and give us real reasons to want to work with you. We won't give you our trust, but we'll give you ample opportunities to earn it.

    Welcome back to ABW.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

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