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  1. #1
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    American Express - Ugly Game
    Did you know that when you sign with Linkshare for the American Express program you do not have the same rights than other affiliates?

    Did you know that Linkshare have some "beloved" affiliates and they have the right to do anything.

    Example: As an American Express affiliate, you do not have the right to bid on American Express trademarks. But did you know that some affiliates do? They are allowed to bid on these terms and make a LOT of money but you, if you do, you will get removed from the program.

    This is just ugly and this is how Linkshare operates, they have "favorites" and they allow them to use and abuse the Amex terms and in the same time, they will track your every move to make sure that YOU will not use the terms and if you do, they won't even pay the commission that they owe you.

    I think Linkshare is evil. I used to be one of their affiliates and they didn't report 3 sales. Not a lot of people will suspect them but trust me, do not work with them or you will end up regretting it.

    I hope more and more people can expose them, affiliates need to know the truth.

  2. #2
    Antisocial Media Expert ProWebAddict's Avatar
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  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Do you have proof that LS is allowing these affiliates to bid on the American Express TM name? We all have problems with people doing it when we have rules they are not allowed to. Is this a case of some bad affiliates bidding improperly or is it LS allowing and encouraging this. I just think if such a broad claim is made it should be justified with some kind of proof.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
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  4. #4
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    Yes I do have proof. Creditcards.com and creditcardsearchengine.com are the "protege" who are allowed to bid on the American Express trademark.

    We had few emails from Linkshare confirming that these sites are allowed to do so but they do not want to let other affilates in the mix.

    See for yourself:

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=amex

    I think you will see at least creditcards.com

    And here Yahoo:

    http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=ame...p=mss&ei=UTF-8

    I will ask the forum moderator about the legality of posting a private email on the forum. If this is legal, I will come and post my correspondance with Linshare Senior account manager so that everyone can see the truth.

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador delsol's Avatar
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    I personally did experience with LS that certain "old timer" affiliate were able to offer custom deals. This is not as grave but still "sucks" since it's hard to compete with older timers having lower PPC bids + better offer (+ probably higher commission).


  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador Daniel M. Clark's Avatar
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    Lots of networks and merchants offer better terms and deals to their highest performing affiliates. That's why it's called "performance marketing".
    Daniel M. Clark
    Tech Manager
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  7. #7
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    I think merchants are entitled to set different rules for different affiliates.

    I won't comment on the PPC issue (have never done it, never will), but in the past, I have negotiated higher commissions with some merchants. There is nothing in writing that says you can't negotiate your own terms in business, affiliate marketing or otherwise.

    If the major issue here is the PPC yes/no, I'll step aside, as it isn't something I'm familiar with..

    Edit: I'm definitely *not* an old-timer, or big name affiliate, just a niche with a bit of attitude

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador delsol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HecticDMC
    Lots of networks and merchants offer better terms and deals to their highest performing affiliates. That's why it's called "performance marketing".

    But when asked what level of sales, I needed to make, I was told that it was a custom deal, just for them....


    That's is not "performance marketing", it's "corrupt favoritism marketing". For all I know (and don't really care) that affiliate site is just another asset of LS...


    I don't really have a problem with even "corrupt favoritism marketing", since I can promote the products/stores I wish. But the goal of this forum is also to share experiences with others. Together we can get a better picture of their practices then alone.


  9. #9
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    I agree, this is corruption. This means that if you are a small marketer, you will stay small and they will make sure that they will keep you like this and give us hell before you can make it.

    It's truly ugly. The high performance networks are already making money, why making it so hard for the small ones?

    I left Linkshare before I do not support this kind of politics.

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador kaizen's Avatar
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    That's just business. In a brick n' mortar business, a large retailer or a chain will get better pricing from manufacturers or wholesalers. I suppose it sucks from a small independent retailer's perspective, but again, it's just business.
    We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.
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  11. #11
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    It's what Daniel said:

    "That's why it's called "performance marketing".

    It's not corruption or evil. There are some merchants that allow certain affiliates to do things like TM bid, while not letting others. That's part of this business, being able to work your own deals out. Some affiliates have proven track records, have built up relationships with their affiliate managers over the years, are easy to get a hold of etc. So they're more likely to get those kind of deals.

  12. #12
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    In order to position yourself with the Amex credit cards, you will have to make a lot of sales and you will only make a lot of sales if you use the trademark.

    Knowing that you are fighting with others who are allowed to bid on the terms and you are not, just forget it! It's an evil game, make no mistake about it, you won't be able to compete, no matter how good you are.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Truth
    But when asked what level of sales, I needed to make, I was told that it was a custom deal, just for them.... That's is not "performance marketing", it's "corrupt favoritism marketing".
    I disagree with this statement. I negotiate special deals with merchants, where I can - they are NOT based on a level of sales, and it is my custom deal. Why? Because they want to be aligned with my site & branding, and it's up to me to capitalize on that.

    It's not corrupt, it's business.

    I'm not a super affiliate, but also not as small as when I started in this business (and it IS a business, not easy money).

  14. #14
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    Me too Teezone, I agree with that but when it comes to American Express through Linkshare, you will find out that it's impossible.

    Therefore, it's way better and more rewarding to promote merchants such as Discover who gives everybody a chance to make it, no favoritism.

    We are looking for honesty here and I personaly don't think that Linkshare attittude is honest, once again it's my opinion.

  15. #15
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    As an affilate, you vote with your web real estate. Or your PPC budget.

    Don't like American Express's "favoritism"? Easy enough not to promote them.

    I'll say again, the more affiliates play the "I need this merchant" card, the more it will come back to haunt them.
    Kevin Webster
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  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador Daniel M. Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Truth
    In order to position yourself with the Amex credit cards, you will have to make a lot of sales and you will only make a lot of sales if you use the trademark.
    It's that kind of thinking that guarantees that you will fail. You will not succeed if you think that the only way to do something is one particular way. There are many ways to accomplish the same goal, and if you're running into a wall, find a way around it, over it, or through it.

    This is not corruption. This is the business we are in.
    Daniel M. Clark
    Tech Manager
    Greg Hoffman Consulting

  17. #17
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    I strongly dissagree, I think everyone should have the same advantage and there should be no favoritism.

    You cannot compete with someone who is bidding on terms that bring tones of traffic, knowing that you are forbidden to bid on these terms.

    I am not saying that you cannot make sales but the way Linkshare does it makes hard for the small and medium companies and I do not appreciate that kind of "favoritism".

    This is why I have more respect for the Discover program than the American Express and Linkshare in general.

    Also, I think it makes no sense to try to promote products like American Express, knowing that some are privileged and you are not. No thank you.
    Last edited by The_Truth; March 20th, 2008 at 11:09 PM.

  18. #18
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    I don't understand what you mean by "favoritism"..

    You're missing the point of building business relationships. The "favoritism" shown to my site from merchants has nothing to do with the size of my company, it's small.. but I built a site that some merchants like. And I've worked more hours than you can imagine to earn this "advantage".

    Also, it's not Linkshare making the decision, it's the merchant.

  19. #19
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    Teezone, are you working at Linkshare?

    My point is this: a policy should be the same for ALL affiliates, just like Discover and other companies do. I think it's more honest in regard to all the other affiliates.

    I know that American Express has put everything into Linkshare's hands and I believe this is a huge mistake. Linkshare decide everything for this particular merchant.

    When they email you it's americanexpress@linkshare.com . We know the game and to me, honestly, I believe that Linkshare is over rated and do not behave like a professional company.

    An account representative is here today and replaced the next day, we know it happens often @ Linkshare.

    Even their customer service is screwed up, they reply when they want. Trust me I could write a book about them...And I might who knows

  20. #20
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    "My point is this: a policy should be the same for ALL affiliates,"

    Not to sound drastic, but we don't live in a communist society. In this business you can make your own deals. Since you're talking about TM bidding, there are some I partner with that I'm one of only a handful that's allowed to do it and there are reasons for it. There are other merchants where affiliates can, I can't. That's just business.

  21. #21
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    Do I work at Linkshare..?? I'm sorry, but that's just a silly question.

    I'm a professional affiliate who deals with all of the major networks, and would make the exact same point about CJ, Performics, etc.

    You may be dealing with an email address at Linkshare, but the program terms & conditions are set by the merchant. And it's the merchant who can create special deals, not the network on their behalf.

    A policy should not be the same for all affiilates, some of them have earned the right to negotiate their own deals. That should be your objective.

  22. #22
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    Well, let's agree to disagree then.

    I understand your position but I have my reason to expose this situation. Everyone will have an opinion, I have mine.

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador delsol's Avatar
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    Let's keep our cool hunny bunnies.

    I don't think that because we raise these questions, it warrants us to receive lessons like "what business is...." or "how important it is to building business relationships...", it besides the point.

    The fact that sometimes when dealing with certain AM, the reasons for reaching a certain goal is kept secret ("not, reach this metric and you're good" or "we prefer sites like this and not like that"...etc...: No Reason) is suspect.

    I'm not saying that each instance of such, is corruption, but that such behavior does open the door to corruption. If you haven't encounter corruption yet, you must not have been around very long. Either in the affiliate marketing field or corporate America in general, corrupt is relatively easy to encounter, at least in my personal experience of both. Even when you are on the receiving end of the corrupt proposition, it's still a corrupt act.

    In my book, corruption is ok as long as it's legal. Doesn't mean, you can't point it out once in a while and share with you friends here at ABW your experience.

    Knowing that corruption does exist and that most of these firms (LS,CJ..etc..) and some of their AMs also play the affiliate game with many assets (i.e web sites), it should be easy to understand why, when an AM does not tell you the reasons for favors, it should raise a red flag.

    The Questions are:
    *) Could the Linkshare AM for Amex be favoring certain affiliates?
    I'm not 100% sure this has been established yet. Do we know if those doing TM bidding are even LinkShare affiliates?

    *) And if yes, our the parties involved (AMEX + LS Manager) aware of this?

    A time consuming but interesting approach to this might be to directly contact the marketing department of AMEX and present the situation and see what they think about it.

    Cheers,

  24. #24
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
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    I think $ incentives (for certain affiliates) is all well and good.
    But when some affiliates are allowed different methods of promotion than others, it moves into a gray area.

    For example: If some affiliates are allowed to use parasiteware (just because they are 'big' affiliates, for instance), even if it's supposedly not allowed by the merchant or network...I'm not going to say, 'it's just business'.

    Someone will no-doubt say that trademark bidding ppc is a completely different thing than parasiteware, but I don't think so in the context of this argument.

  25. #25
    ABW Ambassador Sam Bay's Avatar
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    All affiliates should allowed to compete in a fair playing field.

    "Performance marketing" does not mean one party is favored over another in regards to what set of tools and techniques they can utilize. It means those who put in the more effort and drive the better results are compensated and recognized for their success (better commissions, bonuses, etc.)

    Those who say "it's just business" should remember that the same logic can be applied to software-based affiliates.
    SomethingStore.com - Surprise and Delight!

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