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  1. #1
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    Problem with Running Multiple Affiliate Programs
    Need some advice on this one ...

    As a merchant, I run 1 program at Google and 1 program at Shareasale.

    I have about 800 publishers on each, with about 100 active on each also.

    The problem I'm running into is paying double commissions from shoppers who visit multiple affiliate websites and click on my links -- this is happening mostly with coupon sites, of course, as customers do searches in Google for "Apples of Gold Coupon", for example, and then go to multiple coupon sites ...

    Any suggestions? Should I just one of the programs down? I'm concerned about losing some good publishers in the transition.

    I'm sure someone else has gone through this before ... any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

    Afshin
    Apples of Gold

  2. #2
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    You need to set up a system [java script maybe] to identify all from a default affiliate platform and all the rest would go to platform #2

  3. #3
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    Hi, I'm not sure if I understand. Can you clarify? So the script would go into my shopping cart pages? And what would it do exactly? Would it reject one of the cookies or something? or what happens?

    Clearly I would need to hire someone for something like that if that is the route to take.

  4. #4
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    >>Clearly I would need to hire someone for something like that if that is the route to take.

    YES

    I had a merchant, years ago, that ran an in-house program + SAS.
    They had their programmers deal with the issue.
    All those folks are gone now so I can't explain exactly how they did it.

  5. #5
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    Thank you. I'll have to hire someone. Thanks!

  6. #6
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    Or just move to one program. That is the better long term solution.

  7. #7
    Influencer Marketing GravityFed's Avatar
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    For our merchants we actually provide a suggested course of action, and script to use. It's up the merchant whether or not they use what we have to offer. Some do, and some have their own scripts for handling this.

    The way our suggested script works is that it identifies (based on a passed parameter) which network the traffic came from, then only fires the appropriate pixel on the confirmation page. So there can be no confusion or double paying of commissions.

  8. #8
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Gary and All,

    I actually think this is a poor solution to the problem. While it may solve the technical problem, it does not give the affiliate any insight into what has happened, and can hide further problems.

    The reason is that not all networks behave the same when it comes to "rules of the game" which include adware, compliance with things like cookie stuffing, overwrites, and a number of other things. Enforcement of these rules is also very different across the board.

    An affiliate who is banned on network #1 can earn commission on top of an unbanned affiliate by operating on network #2.

    This is unfortunately a common scenario.

    We believe that the sale needs to be reported in both network platforms all the way to the end affiliates involved. If one of the commissions needs to be voided then it can be voided just as any other non-commissionable sale would be.

    This at least allows the affiliate (whose commission was voided) to see what is happening and understand that they have other competitive factors in the program to deal with.

    Only firing one pixel essentially hides this problem but does not solve it.
    Thanks,

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

  9. #9
    Affiliate Network Rep Ryan Gilbert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian - ShareASale
    We believe that the sale needs to be reported in both network platforms all the way to the end affiliates involved. If one of the commissions needs to be voided then it can be voided just as any other non-commissionable sale would be.

    This at least allows the affiliate (whose commission was voided) to see what is happening and understand that they have other competitive factors in the program to deal with.

    Only firing one pixel essentially hides this problem but does not solve it.
    I completely disagree with Brian. Multiple commissions for the same sale is the wrong approach and is not common practice across the global affiliate marketing community. It ends up with several declines and this has several kick on effects:
    1. The affiliates with declines are put off and may indeed stop promoting which hiders the growth of the program. There's nothing worse for an affiliate that see's "declined: another affiliate has your commission!"
    2. Most of the top networks will provide program statistics back to the affiliates about the programs performance. If unnecessary declines are present, the stats are incorrect and misleading which again hinders the growth of the program. applesofgoldjewelry: I am sure you don't want a program that has e.g. 20% decline rate due to duplicate sale issue.

    Its the networks responsibility to ensure that no malware or cookie stuffing affiliates are on their network and are stealing transactions. Networks should have good practices in place to ensure that this doesn't occur. If it's the 'other' network that is harboring these types of affiliates, then the merchant needs to be educated on what is going on and drop that network to stop their program being cannibalized. If they have a good account manager on the 'legit' affiliate network, they will advise the merchant about what is going on with the spyware/cookie stuffers out there.

    The last referrer solution that Gary-AvantLink offers is the best one and most widely used in the industry.
    Ryan Gilbert
    Webgains USA
    www.webgains.com
    AIM: WGrgilbert
    MSN/e: ryan{at}webgains.com
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  10. #10
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Ryan,

    I didn't say that multiple commissions should be awarded. I said that multiple commissions should be reported so that affiliates are aware what is going on.

    It is reasonable for one of those commissions to then be voided (this can be done automatically so as to remove manual labour from the process).

    At least then the affiliate knows that they are up against something on another network... transparency is good.

    Remember, an affiliate on one network is making an agreement with a merchant on that network. If there is something else in play that is causing commissions not to be earned I feel it is fair to all affiliates to make sure they have that information.
    Thanks,

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

  11. #11
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Adding: I think you underestimate affiliates by suggesting that simply by seeing a 20% reversal rate they would avoid a program.

    Affiliates are smart marketers who, given the appropriate information, will make the best decision for themselves. As a group, they appreciate as much information as can be given them - whether that is good or bad info.

    In this specific case, they would be able to see an exact number of reversals, with the reason for the reversal, in their stats on ShareASale. They could then make their informed decision as to whether or not this was acceptable to them.

    I don't see the benefit in hiding the information from an affiliate.
    Thanks,

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

  12. #12
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    If Shareasale had 20% reversal rate, but the other network had 0% reversal, would that still be a good thing to show?

  13. #13
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    From an affiliate perspective, yes - I believe it would be a good thing to know.

    You would have more information with which to base your business decision on.
    Thanks,

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

  14. #14
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    Not so long ago, I had a commission reversed in Shareasale by a merchant on a dual platform, SAS and AvantLink.
    In the Shareasale interface, I had the reason for the reversal, duplicate order. I contacted the merchant and asked them to check closely the order. A few hours later, my commission was reinstated.
    I'm glad the merchant had no script and that Shareasale can record all the transactions, valid or not. It's our task to interpret the stats.

  15. #15
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    Is there some logical reason that when an affiliate gets an order, the network cannot inform them by email of that order, who ordered it, what they ordered and how much the order was for?

    Say I get an order from Widgetville - Is there some reason to not report,

    Joe Plummer bought a Stanley tool box Sku#1234 for $34.95 at 9:30 PM - Order #12345 by Visa.

    Something like that.

  16. #16
    Affiliate Network Rep Ryan Gilbert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus
    Not so long ago, I had a commission reversed in Shareasale by a merchant on a dual platform, SAS and AvantLink.
    In the Shareasale interface, I had the reason for the reversal, duplicate order. I contacted the merchant and asked them to check closely the order. A few hours later, my commission was reinstated.
    So the merchant canceled the real last referrer and then rewarded you, the second to last referrer, because you queried it? Or was it a goodwill gesture? OR are you saying that Avantlink had an affiliate less worthy than you in the eyes of the merchant? No offense, but your argument doesn't make sense unless you clarify why you got the transaction.

    take your scenario to the extreme.. all your affiliate transactions are canceled due to 'duplicate order'. First of all, I am sure you'd be pissed off. Is this now your responsibility to take each case to the merchant to have them validated? Then you'd spend all your time chasing dead money that may get 1 our of 1000 transactions reversed instead of generating new revenue streams. Is this what you think is the best way forward?

    In support of your argument, if the merchant's local tracking does not pick up the last referring network, then they should show all tracking codes. That should be the only circumstances that all codes should be displayed. Only then should the merchant choose the real last referrer. Furthermore, if the merchant's local tracking is cookie based, the networks more advanced cookie-less tracking will be rendered obsolete. There may be a circumstance where no network picked it up except the one with the cookie-less tracking because the user deleted or blocked their cookies.

    De-Duplicating is not perfect, but its the best solution to continue to reward the last referrer whilst cleaning up the merchants administration to decline all other referrals.
    Ryan Gilbert
    Webgains USA
    www.webgains.com
    AIM: WGrgilbert
    MSN/e: ryan{at}webgains.com
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Gilbert
    So the merchant canceled the real last referrer and then rewarded you, the second to last referrer, because you queried it? Or was it a goodwill gesture? OR are you saying that Avantlink had an affiliate less worthy than you in the eyes of the merchant? No offense, but your argument doesn't make sense unless you clarify why you got the transaction.
    I know one thing for sure, it was not a goodwill gesture. The AM told me something was wrong with the transaction on the other network. I don't have further details.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Gilbert
    take your scenario to the extreme.. all your affiliate transactions are canceled due to 'duplicate order'. First of all, I am sure you'd be pissed off. Is this now your responsibility to take each case to the merchant to have them validated? Then you'd spend all your time chasing dead money that may get 1 our of 1000 transactions reversed instead of generating new revenue streams. Is this what you think is the best way forward?
    I'm for clarity in affiliate marketing. If all my transactions were reversed for 'duplicate order' you bet I'll be asking a few questions. I've my own tracking system and even if I don't have access to the final tracking pixel, I've enough data to back up my claims with the merchant.
    There's no reason why I should not be paid for ALL my sales.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Gilbert
    De-Duplicating is not perfect, but its the best solution to continue to reward the last referrer whilst cleaning up the merchants administration to decline all other referrals.
    Unfortunately, dual or multi networks are just bringing a screen of smoke hiding bad activities and I avoid as much as I can merchants working with several networks.

  18. #18
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    While I understand Brian's position, and agree that it would be ideal for merchants to provide "full reporting," I don't agree that it's appropriate to report a non-commissionable transaction and then reverse it, if you could simply prevent the "erroneous" report from occuring. The kind of script that Gary suggests is the best solution, in most situations.

    If the agreement between merchant and affiliate is that the "last referrer gets credit," then it isn't necessary to trigger TWO "conversion reporting" events, one for the last referrer with network A, and the other for the second-to-last referrer with network B.

    As an affiliate, I'd certainly like to know which merchants are allowing my commisions to be poached by unethical parasitic affiliates. And I'm going to monitor my bottom line: I'm going to shift my efforts to those merchants who reward me best, and I'm going to de-emphasize or drop merchants with low conversion rates and low commission rates.

    But I'm not going to trust any merchant more if I see 20 transactions and 2 reversals (or 20 transactions and 19 reversals), instead of seeing only the number of commissionable transactions. Reversals are bad, period.

  19. #19
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Mark,

    In a perfect world I might agree with you here... but I get reports every month specifically relating to adware that show me the world isn't perfect.

    If you see 20 transactions and 19 reversals, and those reversal show that they are all from another network - I would think that you would want to know that information as opposed to just being shown 1 commissioned sale and thinking it might just be slow, etc...

    Attached is a graphic of what it looks like - showing the reversals as well as the percentages ... I grabbed a random merchant but hopefully it will show the idea...
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Thanks,

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

  20. #20
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    so Brian you rely to the publisher to check out with the merchant as to what is going wrong instead of you having "flags' on your system auditing the merchant and the whole process?

    i know the world is not perfect but duplicate sales is one of the easiest things to encounter and react proactively ...

  21. #21
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    KGP,

    I'm not sure what you mean. With regards to the merchant we are asking them to report sales to us just as they should. If that sale is not-qualified due to another network being involved we are displaying that to the affiliate automatically in that case.

    We do leave it up to the affiliate to decide which merchants to work with after providing them as much information as we possibly can.

    If something is going wrong, and lots of sales are being voided - you'll have the info as to why that is happening.
    Thanks,

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

  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador Joshua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian - ShareASale
    I didn't say that multiple commissions should be awarded. I said that multiple commissions should be reported so that affiliates are aware what is going on.
    Brian, multiple commissions aren't reported in the case where a surfer first clicks on one affiliate's link in SAS, and then clicks on another affiliate's link and finishes the sale. It's the same scenario, just with the same network. Affiliates don't get notified when that happens...

    In my opinion, this should all be done by setting a cookie on the merchant's site based on the channel the click came in from, and pulling that cookie when determining what pixels should be thrown. It's a really simple process to program. Having to de-dupe the transactions can be messy, especially if correct and exhaustive reports are not available on the merchant's end to figure out which was actually the last click.

    As an affiliate, I'd rather see nothing happen, than to see reversed transactions that were because another network got the credit. After seeing a few of those, I'd be suspicious, and start demanding proof for each and every one.

  23. #23
    Outsourced Program Manager John Jupp's Avatar
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    Local cookie is an absolute must to avoid de-dupe. For larger merchants with significant numbers of transactions, a lack of local cookie can be seriously time consuming. That adds costs. Someone has to pay. Lower commissions? Can all be avoided if the merchant sets things up properly.
    Flambi Media Limited - USA/UK/EU Affiliate Management Expertise

  24. #24
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua
    Brian, multiple commissions aren't reported in the case where a surfer first clicks on one affiliate's link in SAS, and then clicks on another affiliate's link and finishes the sale. It's the same scenario, just with the same network. Affiliates don't get notified when that happens...
    Agreed - but in your scenario everyone is on the same playing field. I believe that the introduction of a second network which has different rules dictates that we treat the situation differently.
    Thanks,

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

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