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  1. #1
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    Message to merchants participating in toolbars
    This is actually a message to merchants participating in toolbars, points and cashback.

    I run a group of sites that is (finally!) starting to pay off - a combination of content, datafeeds, coupons, etc. It all came together in 2008, and I can proudly say that my affiliate marketing income matches my (former) full-time employment. I'm a little guy, who continues to grow.

    Updating my site just now, I run a VERY popular series of reports on a specific topic. I needed to profile an EXACT product - something that will receive thousands of views in the coming week(s).

    It was a choice between a merchant who participates (majorly) in cashback, or a clean merchant. Guess who got the spot..?? The clean merchant - who gives credit where credit is due!

    Why don't I drop you? Well, your datafeed contains good products, you fit my niche, and readers can find you if they like (important to show all suppliers if I am to be a "specialist"). But there is no place for you on my high-conversion pages.

    There is no way I will spotlight your products on my site, just to lose the sale to another affiliate. So no, you won't be ranked along side with me, readers will NOT know this in-demand product is available from you, and yes, I will earn the commission I deserve for the hundreds of hours spent on my site.

    Hey, I know there (seems to be) a place for the points/rewards/cashback model, but keep in mind a big part of their sales come from affiliates who know how to close the sale. And if those affiliates stop promoting you, what will you be left with..?

    (Update: I just realized what you will be left with - shoppers who would have come directly to you, but opted to get points/rewards, which means you paid an affiliate for nothing. Where's the added value there?)
    Last edited by teezone; December 20th, 2008 at 02:49 PM.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    ... RE the parasites,...

    Merchants, take note. There will soon be a place where affiliates can check quickly for parasite laden merchants that will help them make partner decisions. If you are listed as allowing parasites in your program, you may begin seeing a reduction in your profitable affiliate partner numbers.

    AffiliateTrust.org (In development and opening soon)
    Last edited by Ed Byerly; December 20th, 2008 at 05:26 PM.



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  3. #3
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    Are you lumping all loyalty sites into the toolbar pie? There are loyalty/cashback sites that do things right and add value via their memberships. I am NOT talking about *any* that have toolbars or reminder software.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  4. #4
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    For me as a content affiliate, in terms of which merchants I will show, yes I lump them all together.

    BUT (before I get jumped on!), I absolutely agree there are varying degrees of implementation - some good, some questionable, some unethical. I realize there are points/rewards that do it right, and sure, they may add value with membership. I haven't analyzed them, and don't plan to, it's not my business model.

    The point I'm trying make is that, where possible, the hot product will ALWAYS be listed from the clean merchant. I have to minimize my potential losses.

    If I lose a sale, I lose a sale... and I'm not talking about questionable cases of conversion. These are specific cases where I am the original source - without my site, they wouldn't know what to look for (sorry to be vague, but it's specific to my niche!). Why would I run the risk of losing the sale to a rewards affiliate..? If my visitor wants to buy the product based on my report, they will buy from the clean merchant. And I am definitely seeing that happen.

    I'm performing very well for clean merchants - have no clue how many other affiliates may have received credit for my hard work - so this will continue to be my primary decision-making tool.

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador purplebear's Avatar
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    I'm considered by some of my affiliate managers as kinda a hybrid. (blend of coupons, etc. and content) I agree with ya. My clean merchants or those I at least think to be are (from AvantLink, Shareasale and Buyat) get featuerd at the top of my pages and on the home page, then the merchants go down in placement according to who they associate themselves with. Some are flat out banished to the bottom of the pages til I can figure out what to do with em.

    I honestly at this point don't know if it's possible to have a coupon type site and limit completely who is on it just to the "clean merchants" but am gonna do some experimenting come the first of the year. Have done so already with a smaller site of mine and hasn't quite worked out too well cos I just can't find enough clean merchants for it, but am gonna do some serious thinking regarding this.

    Also, am not sure anymore how much it matters having "clean merchants" when they're at other networks that aren't? There seems to be more of that happening now.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador SunshineTricia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teezone
    It was a choice between a merchant who participates (majorly) in cashback, or a clean merchant. Guess who got the spot..?? The clean merchant - who gives credit where credit is due!
    I really take offense to this. In your words, it's either 1) a merchant who participates in cashback or 2) a clean merchant. That means that a merchant who doesn't participate in cash back is not a "clean" merchant and that is absolutely, 100% inaccurate.

    It's fine to explain to merchants why you promote one over another. But when you trash someone else's business model by saying that it isn't "clean," you are showing a lack of knowledge about affiliate marketing. Cash back does NOT equal dirty. And I resent that you would make such a sweeping, condesending post.

    Your post indicates that you don't believe that cash back sites earn their money like you do. I can bet you that I work as many hours as week as you do, probably more. When I earn a credit, it is because I have worked hard to build a membership base, sustain that membership base, and convince those members to visit my site.
    --Tricia Meyer-- I love being the exception to the rule.

    Tricia Meyer | Helping Moms Connect | Wine Club Reviews and Ratings | Hunger Games Fan

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador purplebear's Avatar
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    helpingmoms
    I can't speak for teezone but I don't think he would include you in there. Guess maybe it sounds stupid to say but you're not gonna be appearing on Kellie's list of parasites or somebody else's list. Least me as an affiliate would never even be able to judge a merchant for working with you cos I'd have no way of knowing that. We can only make a determination of merchants who associate themselves with the so called known bad guys or whatever ya wanna refer to them as. (the ones that Kellie or others always refer to)

    Not sure I'm saying what I mean to say the right way. Please don't think I'm thinking of you as one of the bad guys, tho. Bad guy, non-clean or whatever ya wanna refer to them as are the sites that Kellie or those here refer to in the Parasite forum.

    You're definitely not in that category, so definitely please don't misunderstand anything that I posted. Definitely wasn't including you in with the other bad guys.

  8. #8
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    Thanks purplebear, you read my post the way it was intended...

    I'm in NO way trashing the rewards business model, and believe I clarified my point that there are a number of ways these can be offered. The focus has been on the unethical ones lately, so I understand anyone who will be defensive.

    My post is far from condescending, I have to protect MY business model. Helpingmoms, would you send your readers over to my site if you saw I had listed the must-have item of the season, and would cost you the commission..? I don't think so.. nor would I trash you for that decision.

    you are showing a lack of knowledge about affiliate marketing
    Far from it - I'm here to make a living, as you are. We just happen to be competitors.

    "Clean" was the wrong choice of word - "non-participating in incentive programs" would be more accurate. I meant "clean of a reward after purchase" (I'm hosting a christmas party tonight, have been pre-occupied).

    Some background: I have a merchant who doesn't allow incentive programs - when I saw them listed on a cashback site, and questioned this, I was told it was an "experiment" for the holidays & they had the right to change their program at any time. I replied of course they did, but for me, that changes the way I will promote them. Their decision - and now mine. I'm not sure why that makes me condescending, I'm trying to take control of my income stream.

    At the end of the day, I love everyone here (as much as I can love strangers!), I'm a she (not a he), and in no way mean to offend anyone. I was stating my case as a content affiliate - I am listing hot products that readers look for. And the non-incentive merchant gets the placement.

    And I NEVER said that others types of site owners (cashback) don't work as hard as me.

    With all due respect, I don't think you should be making a sweeping statement about how many hours you work compared to me... I'm trying to get compensated for my work, and believe you should get paid for yours too.

    I was specifically talking about my own site & the conversions I can directly attribute to that work.

    Im signing off as I have guests arriving soon - no offense intended, not condescending, just a content affiliate putting in my two-cents worth.

  9. #9
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    OK, I said I wasn't going to post, I'll make this quick before the doorbell rings!

    There are hundreds of affiliate business models, and it's tough to make a sweeping statement about one group or another, without offending someone who is classified as similar. Everyone who reads this, and has seen my posts, should know I have never meant any disrespect to anyone here who is hard-working, and building their own business model. I've dealt with plagiarism, scraping, theft of photos (that cost me thousands!), toolbars, leaky merchants .. and finally I'm starting to make a living.

    For the first time in years, I have more of a voice with merchants, and I'm not afraid to use it. I stand by my original statement (when it comes to showing a product, which merchant do I choose) - and in no way was it intended to offend anyone here.

    Merchants need to understand all of the business models (good, bad & ugly), and what it means to their program. Just as we need to know all of the merchant practices.

    OK, guests arriving now..

  10. #10
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    teezone, sites like helpingmoms is what MY post was referring too and you stated that you wouldn't work with merchants that worked with sites with her business model. That was what *I* was trying to clarify as well. To call those merchants not clean and lump them with the toolbar/software loyalty sites is doing the "clean" loyalty sites a disservice.

    I was surprised you took that stand.

    You can choose not to work with merchants affiliated with sites like hers, but you should not call them not clean.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador SunshineTricia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly
    teezone, sites like helpingmoms is what MY post was referring too and you stated that you wouldn't work with merchants that worked with sites with her business model. That was what *I* was trying to clarify as well. To call those merchants not clean and lump them with the toolbar/software loyalty sites is doing the "clean" loyalty sites a disservice.

    I was surprised you took that stand.

    You can choose not to work with merchants affiliated with sites like hers, but you should not call them not clean.
    Thanks, Loxly. This is exactly what I was trying to say as well. I'm glad to see one of my affiliate managers speaking up.

    It's perfectly reasonable to choose to put up links for merchants that do not work with cash back sites so that there is no way that you could lose a sale for that particular merchant to a cash back site. But all of your other comments about merchants who work with us not being clean is what bothers me. There are thousands of merchants who work with cash back sites and many of them are parasite free, free of leaks, etc. They choose to work with us because they get a different value from us than they do from content sites.

    I own content sites, too, so I know the mindset that you are coming from, teezone. But tossing around the word "clean" to lump together all incentive sites when all of affiliate marketing is dealing with true "dirt" like OneCause is dangerous and confusing to affiliate managers who are trying to separate the good players from the bad.
    --Tricia Meyer-- I love being the exception to the rule.

    Tricia Meyer | Helping Moms Connect | Wine Club Reviews and Ratings | Hunger Games Fan

  12. #12
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    I've already said:
    "Clean" was the wrong choice of word - "non-participating in incentive programs" would be more accurate. I meant "clean of a reward after purchase" (I'm hosting a christmas party tonight, have been pre-occupied)
    Loxly, I answered your post with this comment
    BUT (before I get jumped on!), I absolutely agree there are varying degrees of implementation
    Being as active a participant as I have been recently, and always on the side of the honest affiliate, I'm not going to continue explaining how no offense was meant to hard-working fellow affiliates who add value. I think my explanation was pretty thorough, in two follow-up posts.

    I'm finally beginning to understand this business, and I no longer feel I have to accept how a merchant handles their program (as a single site owner, it has been a long road).

    Right now I have high converting content, and will do everything I can to protect it. That was the main point I was trying to make.

  13. #13
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    teezone, I know exactly where you are coming from here, and the feelings you have are what drove me to start a coupon site. Of late I have also tried adding a loyalty component which has met with only limited success. Doing it honestly is tough with the competition like OneCause out there.

    My point here is that I think you will find it harder and harder to find merchants that won't allow any loyalty affiliates at all. Sure you can identify the ones that are with the OneCause types, but there are many little known loyalty sites.

    You may have covered that here,
    Quote Originally Posted by teezone
    It was a choice between a merchant who participates (majorly) in cashback,
    using the term "majorly".


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