View Poll Results: Do you like the attached new policy? (Public poll)

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  • Yes.

    31 34.07%
  • No.

    49 53.85%
  • Undecided - I posted my concerns.

    7 7.69%
  • I don't care.

    4 4.40%
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  1. #1
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Proposed Toolbar Policy
    Hey Everyone, sorry this is almost a week later than I really wanted it to be, but I've had a number of really good conversations and input from folks and that took some time.

    Keep in mind that the attached is a proposed policy. If you have any ideas as to how to modify it to meet our goals, feel free to post them.

    As a summary, Merchants generally found my earlier "Levels" of allowance to be confusing so instead of attacking it from that angle (what would be allowed), I ended up attacking it from the other angle (what would not be allowed). For anyone who was on the call it basically ended up in a "Allow Level 1" and disallow 2 and 3.

    Also - would like to thank all of the people who helped me craft this - your help was instrumental and I never would have thought of so many different angles had you not pointed them out. Special thanks to Haiko for not only helping me but also providing the forum for a public discussion on this. We aren't quite done and welcome any further input obviously, but the beginning is the hardest part.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador VampireSkunk's Avatar
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    I have a problem already with the first line.

    "A 'User' or 'Customer' is determined as a person or persons utilizing a computer or other device."

    Why user or customer? Why not simply 'user'? Why do you need to complicate the matter right at the beginning? This is obfuscation where clarity is called for.

    Maybe so you can use the 'customer service' angle to sell it to merchants further down the line?

  3. #3
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Because I used the word "User" and "Customer" later in the document to talk about the same person. It was just for the purpose of definition.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador VampireSkunk's Avatar
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    Yes, quite. That's the point. Why?

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador SunshineTricia's Avatar
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    So for clarification, this would be allowed:

    I own a coupon site. I have a toolbar that notifies users when they are on X merchant that I have a coupon for X merchant. I can stay in Shareasale and run my toolbar as long as I only list Shareasale coupons ON my site but not as part of the notification function of the toolbar.

    Then it would just be up to the merchants in Shareasale if they want to allow me to post their coupons on my site but not be a part of my toolbar.
    --Tricia Meyer-- I love being the exception to the rule.

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

  6. #6
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Did you intend for this to be a public poll?
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  7. #7
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Helpingmoms,

    I think I understand, and yes - we can't stop you from having a toolbar, that isn't our place. However, all ShareASale merchants would have to be removed from any activity on your toolbar such as what you described a "notification that you have a coupon for X merchant".

    If you need further clarification on your exact application, feel free to contact me, etc...
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  8. #8
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    Did you intend for this to be a public poll?
    MichaelColey,

    Yes - I prefer public polls always as it makes for better results in my opinion.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  9. #9
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    MichaelColey,

    I added the words "Public Poll" next to the title so that people know, etc...
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador VampireSkunk's Avatar
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    What exactly are we being asked in the poll? Does yes accept this as a new policy? Or does yes mean we'd like a new policy because we don't like this one?

  11. #11
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    VampireSkunk,

    Yes means that you approve of the policy as it is written and attached to this thread...

    No means that you don't approve of the policy. I'll edit it for clarity.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  12. #12
    Member Teesed's Avatar
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    Still digesting it, but I do like the "what cannot be done" angle much better already.

  13. #13
    15 years and counting
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    I read it a few times, it's a pretty good policy. Most of my concerns are covered. I still think a no download policy would have be easier on Shareasale shoulders. I like the part about testing fees, I hope they will be high enough to oblige some affiliates to think twice about using a toolbar.

  14. #14
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Brian, here are a few changes that I feel would make this a stronger policy. Please don't take my comments as an acceptance of toolbars. I am still vehemently against affiliates that utilize this type of technology in that it just lends itself to abuse. But since it appears inevitable that SaS is going to take this step I would like to see a much stronger stand on non-compliance.

    GLOBAL RULES

    At no time should a Toolbar attempt to mislead a Customer regarding actions directly related to revenue generation such as deceptive prompting, or other behavior.
    Brian, in regards to this paragraph, with many toolbars their very nature is misleading. Full disclosure of the relationship and the gains for the toolbar owner should be required and should be very prominent on the download page. If it is a toolbar that is tied to a charity the toolbar owner needs to disclose what percentage of the commission goes to charity and what percentage they are keeping. The same for a cash back site or any other arrangement, but most importantly for charitable toolbars as they are more of an emotional issue. Without full disclosure, the toolbar affiliate is ALWAYS misleading the consumer.

    TESTING

    The stipulation should be made that the same requirements are for any new or updated release of the toolbar. Failure to supply the software PRIOR to a re-release should be immediate grounds for removal of the affiliate.

    COMPLIANCE

    Why pussyfoot? It should read "Affiliates found with active Toolbars that are not properly registered with the ShareASale Network will be subject to immediate termination.", Period.

    There should be no wiggle room. One strike, you're out. If toolbar affiliates can't take it upon themselves to familiarize themselves with the rules, then they should not be allowed. Without a strong stand, there are those that will look for holes that can exploited until they're caught and then move on to the next exploit.

    -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

  15. #15
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I think the policy is reasonable, but would still prefer a simple "no toolbars" policy. It's a whole lot easier to extoll the virtues of ShareASale when there aren't straw men like this. I'm not sure whether my vote should be "Yes" or "Unknown".
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    I think this policy shows that a lot of work and thoughtfulness has gone into the process, I do have a few questions still:
    Will affiliates with qualifying toolbars be identified as such to merchants they apply to? Will merchants that decide to accept toolbar affiliates into their programs be identified so that other affiliates are aware of toolbar affiliates in that program?
    Will the specific Levels definitions be a part of the policy so that they can be easily referenced by merchants and affiliates?
    Thank you Brian for addressing this tough topic.

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador Adarsh's Avatar
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    Good day Brian,

    I read the proposed policy. A few questions that I would like to ask:

    1). "At no time should a Toolbar serve any ShareASale ad directly from the Toolbar."
    I'm not getting the 'direct' and 'indirect' ways of serving a SAS ad. Would appreciate if you can provide an example of what this statement means.

    2). "At no time should a Toolbar serve a ShareASale tracking cookie".
    So, is it ok to serve a CJ, LS, GAN, etc. tracking cookie?
    Lets say, as a user with a toolbar/add-on installed on my browser, I'm on Baghaus.com website and interested in buying apparel, I initiate an action on the toolbar to find coupons. Toolbar may interact with me and mention that there are some good coupons available for XYZ store (a merchant on CJ, LS, GAN or other networks). So, the toolbar is not going against SAS proposed policy?

    3). "At no time should a Toolbar serve a ShareASale link or a automated link redirect which results in a ShareASale link".
    Once again, it means that a toolbar is fine if it serves other network's link or redirects automatically to some other network's merchant link?

    4). "Toolbars directly related to Affiliate Marketing which change state, color, size or include any other notification designed to entice a User to click, and based upon the current URL being visited by the User or the content of the web page being served, will be required to remove all ShareASale merchants from the actions of the Toolbar to the satisfaction of ShareASale".
    It means that such toolbars can still live within the SAS network and without any objection, change state, color, size or include other notification (like, popup, dropdown, flash indicators, etc) designed to entice a user to click based upon the current URL being visited 'if they have no affiliation with any SAS merchant'. But they are free to advertise merchants on other networks?

    I will wait for your views before I provide mine.

    Regards,
    Andy.
    Last edited by toptenservices; February 16th, 2009 at 12:23 PM.

  18. #18
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    I think the policy is reasonable, but would still prefer a simple "no toolbars" policy. It's a whole lot easier to extoll the virtues of ShareASale when there aren't straw men like this. I'm not sure whether my vote should be "Yes" or "Unknown".
    It probably would have been easier, yes. However, I'm not sure "no toolbars" is a good policy.

    There are a lot of bad things done by PPC affiliates, as well as Coupon affiliates ... We addressed the PPC issue last year with policy, and will likely address coupon affiliates soon. Saying "no ppc", or "no coupons" wouldn't be very good policy either (in my opinion).
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  19. #19
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2busy
    I think this policy shows that a lot of work and thoughtfulness has gone into the process, I do have a few questions still:
    Will affiliates with qualifying toolbars be identified as such to merchants they apply to? Will merchants that decide to accept toolbar affiliates into their programs be identified so that other affiliates are aware of toolbar affiliates in that program?
    Will the specific Levels definitions be a part of the policy so that they can be easily referenced by merchants and affiliates?
    Thank you Brian for addressing this tough topic.
    2busy,

    I had not considered putting the "Levels" into the policy because from the feedback I got, it was confusing to read. It ended up cleaner by defining what wasn't allowed (I think).

    Regarding identification - that was considered as well and I took it out but would consider putting it back in. I took it out as I felt it was a lot of effort for little benefit in the long run, and that we would need to also add in things such as "Merchant works with coupon affiliates", etc...
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador VampireSkunk's Avatar
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    "Toolbars directly related to Affiliate Marketing which change state, color, size or include any other notification designed to entice a User to click, and based upon the current URL being visited by the User or the content of the web page being served, will be required to remove all ShareASale merchants from the actions of the Toolbar to the satisfaction of ShareASale."

    What if a user clicks on my affiliate link, lands at an SAS merchant, and the toolbar changes color to indicate that another, non SAS merchant has an offer, which the user takes, so the sale is lost to the SAS merchant and the commission is lost to me? I guess that would happen whether or not the toolbar affiliate is a member of SAS. But, your policy has the effect of making this acceptable, of legitimising it, by virtue of the fact that it isn't forbidden. Why not extend it to say it is forbidden to flash reminders that ANY merchant, whether SAS or not, has alternative offers.

  21. #21
    Visual Artist & ABW Ambassador lostdeviant's Avatar
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    I'll only agree with the policy if it is rewritten to require toolbars to be completely passive.
    Action should come from the user not "encouraged" by the toolbar. I didn't see an exclusion for "movement" so I'd imagine they'd change the color change to a moving alert or something else not specifically excluded.

  22. #22
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toptenservices
    Good day Brian,

    I read the proposed policy. A few questions that I would like to ask:

    1). "At no time should a Toolbar serve any ShareASale ad directly from the Toolbar."
    I'm not getting the 'direct' and 'indirect' ways of serving a SAS ad. Would appreciate if you can provide an example of what this statement means.
    This means that the toolbar initiates or simulates a "click" action. Such as a popup window (or hidden window).

    Quote Originally Posted by toptenservices
    2). "At no time should a Toolbar serve a ShareASale tracking cookie".
    So, is it ok to serve a CJ, LS, GAN, etc. tracking cookie?
    Lets say, as a user with a toolbar/add-on installed on my browser, I'm on Baghaus.com website and interested in buying apparel, I initiate an action on the toolbar to find coupons. Toolbar may interact with me and mention that there are some good coupons available for XYZ store (a merchant on CJ, LS, GAN or other networks). So, the toolbar is not going against SAS proposed policy?
    Unfortunately, we cannot shape policy on other networks. That essentially becomes the choice of the Merchant and Affiliate to determine what is acceptable outside of the ShareASale portion.

    Quote Originally Posted by toptenservices
    3). "At no time should a Toolbar serve a ShareASale link or a automated link redirect which results in a ShareASale link".
    Once again, it means that a toolbar is fine if it serves other network's link or redirects automatically to some other network's merchant link?
    Same.

    Quote Originally Posted by toptenservices
    4). "Toolbars directly related to Affiliate Marketing which change state, color, size or include any other notification designed to entice a User to click, and based upon the current URL being visited by the User or the content of the web page being served, will be required to remove all ShareASale merchants from the actions of the Toolbar to the satisfaction of ShareASale".
    It means that such toolbars can still live within the SAS network and without any objection, change state, color, size or include other notification (like, popup, dropdown, flash indicators, etc) designed to entice a user to click based upon the current URL being visited 'if they have removed all SAS merchants from their affiliation'. But they are free to advertise merchants on other networks?

    Same.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  23. #23
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lostdeviant
    I'll only agree with the policy if it is rewritten to require toolbars to be completely passive.
    Action should come from the user not "encouraged" by the toolbar. I didn't see an exclusion for "movement" so I'd imagine they'd change the color change to a moving alert or something else not specifically excluded.
    I would consider "movement" the same as a "change of state"...
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  24. #24
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VampireSkunk
    What if a user clicks on my affiliate link, lands at an SAS merchant, and the toolbar changes color to indicate that another, non SAS merchant has an offer, which the user takes, so the sale is lost to the SAS merchant and the commission is lost to me? I guess that would happen whether or not the toolbar affiliate is a member of SAS. But, your policy has the effect of making this acceptable, of legitimising it, by virtue of the fact that it isn't forbidden. Why not extend it to say it is forbidden to flash reminders that ANY merchant, whether SAS or not, has alternative offers.
    I think that no matter whether or not we wrote down "no toolbars", or "all toolbars allowed" - this same behaviour could happen.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  25. #25
    Visual Artist & ABW Ambassador lostdeviant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian - ShareASale
    I would consider "movement" the same as a "change of state"...
    Better safe than sorry.

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