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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager guinness618's Avatar
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    RKG Blog Post-Did He Go Too Far?
    If you've not read it, here's latest entry from George Michie of RKG:

    On Monday, 6/9, I participated in a Panel at the Internet Retailer Conference in Chicago titled: “Affiliate Marketing — Why you can’t set it and forget it”. The panel description went on to talk about all the cool things people were doing to create incentives for affiliates to sell more. Talking with the panelists during the planning phase, it became clear that all of us saw that the real issues have to do with policing rogues who violate the Terms and Conditions and whether these programs are driving incremental business to begin with. We chose to focus on those issues.

    Naturally, I didn’t make too many friends with the affiliates in the room. I stand by the content of my presentation, but I do regret some of the language I chose to use.

    To the extent that I highlighted ways to catch folks who violate the Terms and Conditions of their affiliate agreements, I have no problem calling those folks thieves, rascals, criminals, skunks and any other epithet that might have popped into my head on Monday.

    However, the other part of my talk, focusing on the extent to which retailers should rethink their terms and conditions, the use of coupons and discount codes, etc should have been spun differently. A number of coupon affiliates were rightly upset with me referring to them also as thieves, robbers and bad guys. If they’re complying with the terms and conditions of the retailer’s affiliate program they’re obviously doing nothing wrong.

    My point was simply that retailers, on careful review of the source of affiliate traffic, should decide whether or not these types of affiliates add value, or if in fact they simply cannibalize sales and charge a commission for doing so. Here, instead of blaming the affiliates for taking advantage of retailers, I should have challenged retailers to take a more active role in defining what affiliates should and should not be allowed to do.

    The coupon affiliates who comply with the Ts & Cs aren’t bad people and they’re not thieves. I do think that careful examination by retailers will reveal that these deals do more harm than good, but it’s not up to the affiliates to protect the retailer’s interests, that’s the retailer’s responsibility.

    Finally, I implied in my talk that most affiliates were “bad guys”. That was wrong. I apologize to those I offended. However, I do believe that the vast majority of the $3 Billion in affiliate commissions that will be paid out this year will go to cheaters, and other programs that add no value for retailers.

    There is a screaming need in the industry for someone to put together a network of clean affiliates, that will do the hard work necessary to drive incremental business, and that will police itself instead of requiring the retailers to play “cop”. The folks who can pull this off will eat the existing Network’s lunches.

    So, did he go too far?

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    I think he overgeneralized which unfortunately crossed a lot of people's lines.

    That last paragraph really grabbed my attention though. We've been discussing at length here at ABW about affiliate marketing associations/organizations recently. Perhaps a new FULL SERVICE network is indeed the answer to many of the problems faced by the industry. A network that highlights and emphasizes the proper methods of affiliate marketing resulting in the best value for the merchant(AND the affiliate). One that will eliminate the need for the merchant to have to worry about policing OR being ripped off by black/gray hatters. One that utilizes a stringent application/membership policy and in-place monitoring techniques. This may be a utopian pie in the sky idea but it's nice to dream. Being new to affiliate marketing, I may be totally whacked out with these thoughts, but perhaps a re-tooling of a sympathetic network, such as SAS would fit the bill. This could be the catalyst to propel such a network to the top!

    [Ok, this may be a really stupid post. Hit submit or hold? Hit or hold? Hit...]



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  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador
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    "There is a screaming need in the industry for someone to put together a network of clean affiliates, that will do the hard work necessary to drive incremental business, and that will police itself instead of requiring the retailers to play “cop”. The folks who can pull this off will eat the existing Network’s lunches."

    The problem is his definition of a clean affiliate apparently is adware and the programs they manage are filled with it. So he's really not the one to be giving advice to anybody, more in need of education himself.

    I mean just read - http://www.rimmkaufman.com/rkgblog/2...es-thief-hero/

  4. #4
    Member DougNY's Avatar
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    I am admittedly new to the affiliate marketing scene. What this guy is saying is that most affiliate commissions go to unethical affiliates.

    I am doing everything by the book and am not out to hurt anyone, but if what he is saying is true then people who market ethically aren't making much money.

    Is that what most of you think? I want to be ethical AND I want to make money! Is it possible?

    That is one of the reasons I like this forum so much - it seems like almost everyone here is on the up and up. I wouldn't even know how to be unethical.

    Are the unethical ones stealing links and commissions from people like me?
    Are they using company keywords?
    What makes them unethical?

    Maybe I'm just naive, but I really don't know.

    What this guy (I don't even know who he is or what RKG is) is saying is discouraging to me - should I be discouraged?

    Sorry if I sound like an idiot. I respect many of you and will look forward to some comments on the above.

  5. #5
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    "There is a screaming need in the industry for someone to put together a network of clean affiliates, that will do the hard work necessary to drive incremental business, and that will police itself instead of requiring the retailers to play “cop”. The folks who can pull this off will eat the existing Network’s lunches."

    No sh!t
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager sunnypi's Avatar
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    Personally I think it's crappy that you get up at a place like the Internet Retailer Conference and get to say all that stuff, just to come back after the fact and clarify on your blog. I can't but help about all the people who heard him say everything but that won't take the time after the conference to read his blog.

    There are a lot of high-level management that attend these conferences and they are getting wrong information. It just makes everyone's lives difficult, including the account managers that have to fight for the affiliates.

    It just seems really irresponsible...

    my 2 cents anyway.
    [B][COLOR=Navy]Nadia Levine (van Rooyen)[/COLOR][/B]
    Senior Manager, Affiliate Practice at Vantage Media
    nlevine(at)VantageMedia.com

  7. #7
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rexanne
    "There is a screaming need in the industry for someone to put together a network of clean affiliates, that will do the hard work necessary to drive incremental business, and that will police itself instead of requiring the retailers to play “cop”. The folks who can pull this off will eat the existing Network’s lunches."

    No sh!t
    I clued him in Rexanne as he reads over the http://www.ecomcity.com/safehaven-network.htm

    No one anywhere can refute that all trust issues begins and ends with the person controlling the shopping cart. Until the network controls the shopping cart there can be no real trust in the value-added sales reporting process.... period
    Last edited by ecomcity; June 12th, 2008 at 09:36 PM.
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  8. #8
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunnypi
    Personally I think it's crappy that you get up at a place like the Internet Retailer Conference and get to say all that stuff, just to come back after the fact and clarify on your blog. I can't but help about all the people who heard him say everything but that won't take the time after the conference to read his blog.

    There are a lot of high-level management that attend these conferences and they are getting wrong information. It just makes everyone's lives difficult, including the account managers that have to fight for the affiliates.

    It just seems really irresponsible...

    my 2 cents anyway.
    Good point Sunnypi - gotcha loud and clear on the irresponsible part although what he's saying is so right on the money that it needs to be digested and understood by those who can actually turn things (perception?) around and make this the well-perceived industry it should be.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  9. #9
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecomcity
    I clued him in Rexanne as he reads over the http://www.ecomcity.com/safehaven-network.htm

    No one anywhere can refute that all trust issues begins and ends with the person controlling the shopping cart. Until the network controls the shopping cart there can be no real trust in the value-added sales reporting process.... period
    Mike, everytime you post about this safe haven network, it gets me all excited and nothing ever comes of it (I SO hate a tease! LOL). I'd love to know the reason. It sounded brilliant to me 2 years ago and still does, yet it seems to never happen. So, is something inherently flawed in the idea and I'm not seeing it or is something else holding everyone back from implementing this as a standard?
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougNY
    Is that what most of you think? I want to be ethical AND I want to make money! Is it possible?
    Yes, it's absolutely possible. And the great thing about making money this way is that it's a long-term strategy that will give you even more success as affiliate programs get clean up. On the other hand, those that are skirting the rules will last only until they are caught.

    There are plenty of unethical players in the industry...but there are also plenty of successful "good guys" that play by the rules and add value to merchants. Just stay focused on what you're doing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    The problem is his definition of a clean affiliate apparently is adware and the programs they manage are filled with it. So he's really not the one to be giving advice to anybody, more in need of education himself.

    I mean just read - http://www.rimmkaufman.com/rkgblog/2...es-thief-hero/
    To be fair, he did include this in the blog post:
    Beware of “loyalty affiliates” who use downloaded applications to ensure that all future orders from those customers also pay the piper.
    ...but obviously he doesn't realize (or ignores) the fact that Ebates and UPromise have loyaltyware that would put them on the "bad guys" list.
    --

  11. #11
    http and a telephoto
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    Networks control the shopping cart? I don't see that as a viable option... ever.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  12. #12
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guinness618
    So, did he go too far?
    It sounds like he crossed a few lines in speaking, but a lot of what you posted is about right. A hell of a lot of money in this industry is going to affiliates who don't add value. Many cross ethical lines, but many others aren't even aware that they aren't adding value equal to the checks they're cashing.

    I would never say that most affiliates fall into either category, but I would say that a lot of the money spent on affiliate marketing does, and that affects all of us. The strength of the industry is in the value of the relationships, and if that value deteriorates too far, so does the industry.

    I don't believe blame can conveniently be placed on anyone's shoulders though, not the affiliates, not the networks and not the merchants and/or AMs. All sides share in responsibility, and everyone in the industry could do with taking an honest look at their own role and the value they bring to their relationships.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  13. #13
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Affiliate marketing for many large companies is adversarial to their SEO and PPC departments. They want it to drive incremental sales as long as it doesn't compete with them. When white hat PPC affiliate beat their pants off they want them removed. Better not mess with their brand. What galls me is why do they even have an affiliate program when they obviously don't want to take the time to manage it and develop relationships with their affiliates?

    They would be better off spending money on media, PPC and acquisition emails. Its called advertising, the other sort where you pay up front rather then after the sale is closed.

    If their almighty brand is so great then they don't need affiliate marketing and need to stay out of our channel. Then they can ***** about the cost of media buys and how hard it is to extend their brand.

  14. #14
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick
    If their almighty brand is so great then they don't need affiliate marketing and need to stay out of our channel. Then they can ***** about the cost of media buys and how hard it is to extend their brand.
    Well said Chuck!

    The idea of having a "global" sales force would make my skin tingle if I was a merchant. Besides the branding benefit their affiliates will earn them, they couldn't possibly make as many "new" customers without affilite marketing. If they don't want more sales or better branding, they shouldn't be in business, especially on the Internet, IMO.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
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    Wow, C. Hamricks last post sums up what I've been thinking for quite a while now.

    Merchants b1+ching about their affiliate program:

    Some merchants do fine not even having an affiliate program.

    Some merchants do great having an affiliate program and taking responsibility for it. (It is your brand and the affiliates are your 'business partners', right?)

    So choose what you want to do.

  16. #16
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    "Affiliate marketing for many large companies is adversarial to their SEO and PPC departments. "

    Well said, Chuck! There lies much of the difficulty for these companies. There is no separation when it comes to associating with affiliate marketing. Merchants can either do affiliate marketing or not, there is no middle ground being offered by a network.

    In my mind, affiliate marketing has grown to such a large conglomeration of marketing efforts, perhaps the networks are letting the merchants down by not offering them more options in order to feel more assured that their affiliate marketing efforts are not competing. Perhaps it is time to divide affiliate marketing into the types of marketing we do by channel and have it declared up front to save all a headache and move past the complaining.

    While we as affiliates are asked to declare the type of marketing that we do, the channels are not clearly defined, nor are there lines drawn between them, as far as I can tell.

    Wouldn't it be a plus for a network to have separate channels within Affiliate Marketing to allow them to choose up front? Whether it is PPC, email, loyalty, etc. ? Wouldn't it be great for us to be able to declare "this is what we do", "this is what we don't do" and avoid many of these issues right up front. I would love to be able to separate myself and what we do.

    This would help us as affiliates, you as the managers and most of all, the merchants who can decide for themselves who they want to work with.

    Each merchant has a different mindset, as you note. There should be alternatives. Each channel has it's place and each channel can be the right thing for different merchants.

    For those with a dedicated PPC department, why shouldn't they be able to say "Hey, we are already spending a boatload on this, let's unclick this channel to work with." Those that want to augment their PPC efforts can just click the box.

    For those who understand they may be giving up incremental sales due to the presence of toolbars or the such, but just want to increase sales numbers, they can go in with their eyes wide open. Those that do not want to work with this channel, just unclick the box.

    And on it goes with each channel. For affiliates, we can see who this merchant likes to work with and make our choice to work with them or not. For managers, you can easily present the advantages and disadvantages of each channel. For merchants, they now know what they are getting into from the start.

    If they want to push the envelope, let them, if they want to run it clean let them. To date, the networks have not been forced to offer these choices as affiliate marketing was just one method of advertising. But, this industry has grown much larger and it's time, in my mind, for a network to give more choices to all. There no longer is just one type of advertising going on in affiliate marketing. The complaining only comes from not having the differences in what we do defined in a way that a merchant, or an affiliate, can make a choice.

  17. #17
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
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    > Affiliate marketing for many large companies is adversarial to their SEO and PPC departments. They want it to drive incremental sales as long as it doesn't compete with them.

    Very true Chuck, some sadly are in it just for that purpose only.

    > While we as affiliates are asked to declare the type of marketing that we do, the channels are not clearly defined, nor are there lines drawn between them
    > and Perhaps it is time to divide affiliate marketing into the types of marketing we do by channel and have it declared up front to save all a headache and move past the complaining
    > and There no longer is just one type of advertising going on in affiliate marketing' and lots of other questions you posted.

    Totally agree Scott

    I think too this is one of the issues we face and some merchants even though they know how affiliate marketing may work for them, they hear from other sources and the power advertisers that tell them affiliates are bad and hurting their brand. There is allot of pull back and forth between mainstream advertisers online trying to get paid upfront and what affiliates are saying is the best option for merchant in not having to pay untill the sale. I hear it from a few merchants and local business friends in the What is really affiliate marketing, advertising or sales?

    > The complaining only comes from not having the differences in what we do defined in a way that a merchant, or an affiliate, can make a choice.

    Right, we need to work on making those differences so we can better help others and properly educate everyone and merchants and like that person from IRC in that affiliate marketing is the best option when done properly and not going away any time soon.

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