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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    Voluntary Downloads
    I have seen a lot of discussion about coupon and reward site downloads. I know that a lot of them siphon off transactions that we should get credit for. And I am talking about some of my own sites.

    But I wonder which part of the download bothers people the most.

    For example if rewards site A has a download and, before their member downloads their code, they are clearly told that the download will watch for cookies being set and overwrite them so that the shopper gets the reward for the sale no matter how the shopper arrives at a merchant, are they not simply providing a software tool that the shopper has chosen to voluntarily use?

    On the one hand I suppose that's a lot like selling someone a tool to circumnavigate paying for a service like downloading music. But is it the shopper who is taking the commission away from the affiliate and therefore the thief or is it the company that is providing them with the software?
    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die
    to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there
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  2. #2
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    I'll tell you where I see the problem... voluntary doesn't necessarily mean well-informed.

    The consumer usually has NO idea that this download tool is redirecting commission BACK to the originator of the software, regardless of what prompted their decision to buy. In conversations I've had with real people, they are amazed this side of the business even exists. Most average surfers have no clue.

    In a perfect world, I would like to ask my reader.. do you think MY site deserves the commission for your purchase, or the software that you installed 6 months ago? I would like to hear what they have to say.... the software makes that decision for them, every time.

  3. #3
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    But the question I have asked is whether the download is acceptable if the reward site CLEARLY states the purpose and functionality of the download.
    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die
    to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there
    isn't and die to find out there is.

  4. #4
    Antisocial Media Expert ProWebAddict's Avatar
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    Like teezone said, just because it's clearly stated, it doesn't mean the average person downloading it understands what it means. Most people don't know anything about affiliates, commissions, etc.

    Eyes glaze over like , "ok, whatever, give me my cash back" and even if they take the time to read it, it doesn't mean they fully grasp the concept. Especially if they are like the average person who has no idea what affiliate marketing is.

    Sure it's acceptable, legal, and all that. It doesn't make it ethical. I'm sure you can come up with several things in life that are clearly stated before people agree to it, yet it's still taking advantage of people.

  5. #5
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    "they are clearly told that the download will watch for cookies being set and overwrite them so that the shopper gets the reward for the sale no matter how the shopper arrives at a merchant,"

    "I know that a lot of them siphon off transactions that we should get credit for."

    Dumb, dumb merchant. I'm sure networks love it. Yeah, you have that problem with affiliates but even more of an affect on the dumb merchant. Since you'll be turning a lot of free traffic the merchant already gets into commissionable traffic and a lot of traffic they pay for such as PPC, into commissionable traffic.

    Wonder if I'll see the day when they smarten up.

  6. #6
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    But this is the issue... the purpose & functionality is not clearly stated in its entirety...

    I have no problem if a user chooses to download what they perceive is helpful software, I do it all the time. And I have an airline points card too - same idea, earn points with purchases that I can use later to redeem/save.

    But the fact that many of these programs generate sales commission to the software company is never clearly stated... or if it is, any explanation is mired in technical jargon, or misleading. Most average surfers have no clue how cookies on their PC are even used.

    I had a well-meaning friend who suggested I join an online rewards program, so I had to explain the process to him. He shops online all the time, and had no clue that HIS cookies may have been generating commissions to his visited sites.

    The wording is usually deceptively complicated. If it WAS clear.. and the user decided to download, then I would support their decision.

  7. #7
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teezone
    I'll tell you where I see the problem... voluntary doesn't necessarily mean well-informed.

    The consumer usually has NO idea that this download tool is redirecting commission BACK to the originator of the software, regardless of what prompted their decision to buy. In conversations I've had with real people, they are amazed this side of the business even exists. Most average surfers have no clue.

    In a perfect world, I would like to ask my reader.. do you think MY site deserves the commission for your purchase, or the software that you installed 6 months ago? I would like to hear what they have to say.... the software makes that decision for them, every time.
    That is absolutely what goes on. The average consumer/computer user has no idea what affiliate marketing is or how it works.

    We (collectively) are so used to using and working with computers that we tend to forget about the "average" consumer/computer user. I recently (2 years ago) took an eduction course online through the University of Phoenix (2 reasons: to renew my teaching license in Maryland and to "experience" the rigors, or lack thereof, of an online graduate level course). The course had 21 technology teachers involved. I was aghast at what little some of them knew about the basics of the Internet.

    None of them, even the professor, had much knowledge of Internet marketing. They could all read, and they could all write fairly well to participate in the course requirements. However, I would be willing to bet a week's pay that less than half of them would understand the "disclosures" that go along with the download software. They wouldn't have a clue. And these were people who teach our children how to use a computer online.

    So, the "legal" requirements may be met, but the ethics are left lagging far behind.
    </RANT>
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  8. #8
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by visitourmall
    But the question I have asked is whether the download is acceptable if the reward site CLEARLY states the purpose and functionality of the download.
    If by clearly states the purpose and functionality it says something like this:

    DEAR CONSUMER, BY DOWNLOADING AND INSTALLING THIS PIECE OF SOFTWARE YOU WILL BE PARTICIPATING IN AND AIDING A PROGRAM THAT STEALS LEGITIMATE COMMISSIONS FROM INDIVIDUALS KNOWN AS AFFILIATE MARKETERS. AFFILIATES ARE OFTEN THE INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS THAT PROVIDE YOU WITH THE USEFUL INFORMATION THAT YOU FREQUENTLY USE IN MAKING PURCHASING DECISIONS. BY USURPING THEIR COMMISSIONS AND REDIRECTING THEM TO THE ORGANIZATION THAT DISTRIBUTED THIS SOFTWARE YOU WILL LIKELY ALSO BE AIDING IN THE DEMISE OF THE LEGITIMATE AFFILIATE.

    FOR FUTURE PURCHASES YOU WILL NOT HAVE AFFILIATE RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO HELP AND TO GUIDE YOU THROUGH THE PURCHASING PROCESS AND WILL LIKELY SPEND MUCH MORE ON FUTURE PRODUCT PURCHASES THAN THIS SOFTWARE COULD EVER DREAM OF SAVING YOU.

    SO IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTINUE INSTALLING THIS SOFTWARE AND BE AN ACCOMPLICE TO THE THEFT OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN AFFILIATE COMMISSIONS FOR NO APPRECIABLE GAIN FOR YOUR SELF, PLEASE CLICK OK. IF YOU ARE INDEED MORE HONEST AND INTELLIGENT THAN WE WOULD LIKE TO GIVE YOU CREDIT FOR BEING, PLEASE SELECT CANCEL.
    I'd be OK with it.

    -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

  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    BTW, let me be clear: We do not use any downloads. I am just trying to figure out where the blame goes, why its tolerable for Upromise and Ebates and how the playing field can be leveled.
    Last edited by visitourmall; March 12th, 2008 at 05:11 PM.
    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die
    to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there
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  10. #10
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    It's not tolerable to me at all... but I don't think adopting "if you can't beat em join 'em" approach is the answer either...

    It was a fair question to ask.. but the ethics issue, to me, far outweigh the user culpability issue. I know for a fact (even just chatting to my friend, who is a derivatives analyst & pretty smart!) the average user just isn't knowledegable enough to be blamed.

    My view..? Maybe it's optimistic, but these programs are losing their lustre on the web. Bad publicity (within our industry) is making merchants stop & think.. I recently joined an exclusive program that doesn't allow incentive sites. Full stop.

    And increased efforts to eliminate spyware will continue to impact user PCs. Try installing the Alexa toolbar on your PC, and see what your anti-virus program does...

    I just continue to work on innovative strategies that fit my niche through site expansion, and building a loyal readership.

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