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  1. #1
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    RobinHoodPartners trade mark bidding
    I have an affiliate Robin hood partners that is bidding on my trademark terms in my share a sale program. They are listed in my TOC and is doing Geo Targeting because they don't show up in the state where my business is located.

    I searched the forums and didn't see anything mentioned on him/her.

    Wondering if anyone else has had problems with Robinhoodpartners.

    I'm sending an email to see what he/she has to say.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    Have you contacted the Sheriff of Nottingham to report the problem?

    This is what these guys say on their web site:
    OUR METHODOLOGY:
    We have mastered some tools of the art, namely keyword generation tools, and have figured out how to tie them in with paid search marketing engines, namely Google AdWords. Our methodology is simple - we join an affiliate program, set to work scouring their site for suitable keywords, build out a list of hundreds or thousands of keywords, put them all up on Google, run them all for several days, see that we are getting a positive ROI on our money, and then move on to the next one. Because of our methods, we work very hard and very quickly. You will often see a rapid jump in traffic and sales to your site in just a few days, and then we'll pull back after a week or so as we begin to optimize. Hopefully we'll keep all the keywords that are driving sales and cut back on all those that are just wasting money.



  3. #3
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Hopefully we'll keep all the keywords that are driving sales and cut back on all those that are just wasting money.
    Apparently the trademarked terms are the keywords that are "driving sales".

    -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

  4. #4
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    I got an answer from the affiliate.

    He apologized and told me he took off all teh trademark terms.

    He is still in the program but I'll keep a close eye on him moving forward.

    Thanks for the responses.

    Mike

  5. #5
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Did they address the issue of why they were geo-targeting to block you from seeing their ads? I mean, if it wasn't to hide the fact they were breaking the rules of your program then why? I can't believe that they thought customers in your state would be less likely to buy from you...
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  6. #6
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    They simply said that they had overlooked it and would get it fixed. I told them thanks and said they could remain in the program. They ended up removing themselves from my program because I had posted here in this tread about them and they thought it was negative...

    I really didn't think that what I had posted was negative in anyway... simply looking for information and people's experience with them.

    Was I out of line to post to AbestWeb to ask about this affiliate? I didn't slander or talk negatively about the affiliate, I simply stated the facts of what was happening.

    Let me know your thoughts.

    Mike

  7. #7
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    I think you're ok, Mike, on posting this here.

    It's unlikely (he said in his best positive spin voice) that anyone geo targetting TM terms did it on accident.

    While there is some merit in geo-targetting a campaign so that the merchant can't discover the full range of keywords an affiliate is having success with, it's a very, very, very thin argument.

    If an affiliate is expecting to shield those keywords from a merchant (the good ones, not the TMs), they should realize that if we're seeing those ads, we're looking at those keywords as possibilities anyhow.

    So generally, a geo targetter knows EXACTLY what they are doing in bidding on TMs.
    Kevin Webster
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  8. #8
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    As long as what you posted about them was accurate, whether it was negative or not was completely a result of their behavior. I doubt that is why they left your program, more than likely they couldn't make money by playing by the rules and now that you've discovered them there was no point in staying.

    -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
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    If they were geo-targeting to keep you from seeing it, and dropped your program when they could no longer trademark poach (don't believe for a minute it had anything to do with your post), and now they're trying to make you out to be the bad guy and them the victim, they've shown their true colors.
    Michael Coley
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  10. #10
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    Thanks for your thoughts.

    I encouraged Robin Hood Partners to post to this thread a couple of days ago and join the discussion.

    We can speculate as to what the intentions are but I hate to speculate and call him something he is not.

    As far as I know what I posted in my original post was correct. I was in California and decided to check my trademark term on google. An ad that wasn't mine showed up.

    Then I used a technique I found on a blog where you add &gl=us&gr=us-ST&gcs=CITY to the end of the google search string and then change city and ST to the city and state you want to see results for. After I found the ad in California I checked for Salt lake city UT and the ad didn't display.

    I made the assumption then that GE0-targeting was what was going on.

    Mike

  11. #11
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Merchant provided Terms of Agreement:
    We do not accept affiliates who engage in spamming practices or operate adult-oriented websites. Affiliates are not allowed to do PPC bidding on the following keywords: (Keywords ommitted by rematt) You may not bid on any derivatives or variations of these keywords. You may do PPC bidding on PPC networkds like Google, Yahoo, or MSN as long as it is not using keywords targeting the trademarked term signing time. Affiliates engaging in CPC bidding on these terms will be warned and then if they continue will be asked to discontinue the relationship. Any commissions resulting from a sale that came from bidding on these key words will not be given.
    Based on your published terms you were perfectly justified to ask Robinhoodpartners to be accountable for their actions. You are absolutely right when you say that they are trying to make you look like the bad guy. It is every affiliates responsibility to know and understand a merchants TOS before they agree to it by signing up for the program. It is especially important that affiliates review the TOS when they are engaging in controversial tactics like domain name or trade mark bidding. Not knowing the rules is simply not an excuse.

    I applaud you for having the foresight to very clearly state the terms of your program and for having the stones to enforce them.

    -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

  12. #12
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    Here is a question,

    I posted this thread originally in the Shareasale forum because I am a shareasale merchant and robin hood is a share a sale affiliate.

    Why did this thread get moved to Unethical Affilates sub forum? Isn't it a little early to be calling an affiliate unethical without determining the reasons behind what happened? I had simply asked if anyone knew or had experience with Robin Hood

    It's like the jury is out on this issue about Robin hood and other then the brief look that I did from California we don't know the details of what Robin Hood was trying to do. Although it appears that what was going on was unethical I could have made it all up, I could simply be mad at Robin Hood and be trying to do him in...

    Are all affiliates that are suspected of unethical behavior automatically moved to this forum when a thread is posted about them? If so is that really wise? It immediately labels them as unethical regardless of whether they are or are not unethical.

    The same would go for a merchant. Can an affiliate post a thread on a merchant accusing them of unethical behavior and then they are in the Unethical Merchants forum. That could be harmful to affiliates and merchants if someone tries to do a smear campaign.

    Just trying to understand

    Mike

  13. #13
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Mike, good catch, I like you. You are absolutely right, just because a question has been raised or an accusation has been made does not make the affiliate unethical. Normally when a thread is moved there is some notation as to who moved it, when and why. I don't see that in this case, so I assumed that the thread started here.

    As an affiliate, I agree, merchants sometimes make mistakes, motives and tactics are sometimes mis-understood and questions sometimes arise. As it turned out in this case, this is the correct place, however it could have turned our very different so it really isn't fair to assume that the affiliate is unethical or engaging in unethical behavior.

    You just won 2 more points for fairness.

    -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

  14. #14
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    So who moved the post? Did I post it in this forum when I thought I was in another? I'm pretty sure that was in the Share-a-sale forum.

    I'm assuming it is the moderator that controls the threads in a forum so I imagine that a moderator moved it.

    Anyways,

    like you mentioned rematt it should have a note of where the thread came from to help people know and understand the context of the post.

    As it turns out Robin Hood was a little angry that I posted a thread about him on the unethical affiliate forum without even communicating with him and trying to understand what was going on. For that reason he says he unsubscribed from our program.

    I can see his point. If someone posted something about my merchant program in the unethical merchant forum without contacting me to see what was going on I'd be a little upset. However, if it was a question posted in a forum like share-a-sale asking about some questionable activity and people's experience with my program I wouldn't be as upset and I'd be very willing to talk about it.

    I will simply state for public record that I do not know for sure whether robin hood was being unethical or not. It was/is suspicious and raises a few red flags but the fact that he contacted me and told me he would stop is a + in his favor. I've had other affiliates that simply will not communicate with me at all when I discover something against TOC.

    My apologies to robin hood for this thread being posted in the unethical affiliates forum. I'm not sure how to get it removed or if it needs to be removed. As rematt pointed out it is the affiliates job to read and comply with TOC... However, if it was a mistake so be it. I think we've moved on...

    In the famous words of good ole' George W. Bush

    "There's an old saying in Tennessee I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says, fool me once, shame on shame on you. Fool me you can't get fooled again."

    In my own words... If an affiliate says it was a mistake that they were trademark bidding on keywords in my TOC with Geo targeting and they communicate with me and say they won't do it again and they fix it great. If it happens again I think I'd be inclined to set commissions to zero and or remove them from the program.

    mike

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    Course it's water under the bridge now, but perhaps you should have thoroughly discussed this with the affiliate before naming them in a very public forum.
    {IMHO}
    Last edited by Boomers; March 18th, 2008 at 03:38 PM. Reason: Spelling...



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  16. #16
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    It was me who moved it. No harm intended. This just seemed like the best place for it (and it still does to me). We move threads (and update titles, merge threads, split threads, etc.) whenever we think it'll make the thread more useful, easier to find, etc. I seldom respond saying what I've done because it's usually not pertinent to the thread.

    If you're going to publicly out an affiliate for questional behavior, I don't see that it makes much difference whether it's in the SAS forum or the Unethical Affiliates forum. They're still being outed. You just have to make sure you have a pretty compelling case (which you do).

    If you would like the thread moved somewhere else, you might want to discuss it with Haiko. I think this is the best place for it. Perhaps moving it to the private Affiliate Manager forum might be good, but it's pretty rare that we move stuff private if it starts public.
    Michael Coley
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  17. #17
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    In the end it sounds like the unethical board was the correct place for the thread, but I agree the jury was still out when you posted, right up until the affiliate's reply and subsequent actions.

    I don't know when the thread was moved, but the affiliate's reply is what would've decided ethical vs. unethical for me. As Noth already mentioned, it's hard to make an argument that holds water in favor of geo-targeting to block a merchant from seeing PPC advertising and this affiliate doesn't seemed to have made an attempt. An answer saying only "Sorry, I'll remove the links now" without an explanation of how they justified preventing you from seeing how your brand was being used and represented, sounds more like "Yeah, you caught me. I'll go bid on someone else's TMs..."

    The reply is really the crux of it for me.

    The affiliate violated your agreement. On top of that they took an active role in preventing you from seeing the violation. Their reply, in my opinion, needed to address both of those issues and explain how and why.

    Instead it sounds like they gave you a lame duck form-apology. It's like they couldn't be bothered to even try to clear up the policy violation or their attempt to hide it. At that point I think you were being generous to allow the affiliate to remain in your program.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  18. #18
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    but perhaps you should have thoroughly discussed this with the affiliate before naming them in a very public forum.
    I would agree at this point that this would have been better to do in this situation.

    I still think that it is ok to ask for opinions or experience from other merchants on a given affiliate if something is a little off, as was the case with Robin hood. I've lurked on the forums for over a year and I have found that the advise and comments of the members are very valuable. Being newer to the affiliate marketing arena I turn to abestweb when I have questions about a given issue or affiliate.
    I did contact this affiliate before I posted (if you count 30 minutes earlier) but obviously didn't give him any time to respond before I posted my question.

    My intention wasn't to out him/her but get a third party opinion on him. I still would have posted the question but it probably would have been worded a little different based on his response. So the question is:

    1. Should an affiliate manager always contact an affiliate (and give ample time to respond) before posting a question about an affiliate to a forum? My opinion is that it's ok to ask questions about an affiliate and others experience with them, not ok to post negatively about them...

    2. If an affiliate manager should contact an affiliate first, how much time is ample time before you should feel ok to make a post? 1 day, 3 days, a week? As I've gone through checking compliance I have emailed some affiliates and never received a response. Some have taken a couple of days... Just wondering what others do in these instances?

  19. #19
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Mike I don't doubt your sincerity or your desire to be fair and see no malicious intent in the way you handled this. Throughout this thread you showed a considerable amount of concern about whether this was the right way to address the issue or not and concern over potential damage to the affiliates reputation.

    In re-reading your initial post, you made no accusations and simply outlined the situation. The fact that it had a negative impact on the affiliate in this case was not your fault. The 2 things that caused the negative impact were the moving of the post, which you had no control over and the behavior of the affiliate, which the affiliate did have control over. Whether their behavior was intentional or not, it was still a violation and the fact that you were still willing to work with them says a lot about your character.

    The things that you could have done differently would have been to describe the situation without initially providing the affiliates name. And as others have previously stated, giving the affiliate ample time to respond prior to posting the site name.

    This forum is still relatively new and there is still some question as to what information should be shared and how that information will be shared. But make no mistake, this forum is here so that information CAN be shared. As many have stated in other threads, it's up to us to clean up this industry.

    -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

  20. #20
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Mike, you can also look into getting access to the "Big 4 Network Managers Only" board, a place where program managers can discuss questions like this without public exposure.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  21. #21
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    To close up my comments on this thread, robin hood and I exchanged several emails and he provided me with an amble explanation for what he was doing with geo targeting. The fact that he was bidding on trademarked terms in the TOC was an oversight on his part.

    I have to trust that what he says is valid (and I do) and although he is no longer in our program (his choice to move on not mine) I wish him the best of luck.

    This has been a great discussion and I thank all those who participated as it has been an excellent discussion for me!

    Mike

  22. #22
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    getting access to the "Big 4 Network Managers Only" board
    I looked for this forum and didn't see it...

    It's not public so I'm assuming that is why.

    How would I go about getting access to this board?

  23. #23
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mblyman
    I looked for this forum and didn't see it...

    It's not public so I'm assuming that is why.

    How would I go about getting access to this board?
    Ahh sorry, I wasn't aware it was invisible. You may need to contact Haiko or one of the Mods to get access.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  24. #24
    Affiliate Manager guinness618's Avatar
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    Quick note: I removed Robin Hood Partners a while ago. They just reapplied under the site name "Nottingham Mall" or something like that (sorry, it was a few weeks ago).

  25. #25
    ABW Ambassador
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    Nottingham is also home to Experian Limited

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