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  1. #1
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    I think I've had my head buried in the sand about coupon code shoppers.

    Aren't coupon code sites another form of hijacking a legitimate affiliate's commissions? By this I mean sites that do nothing other than promote coupons and coupon codes being offered by many merchants.

    For example, a buyer is led to a merchant via a regular affiliate's content site. The buyer finds what they want but before making a purchase takes a side tour to Google to search for coupon codes for that merchant. The coupon code site convinces the buyer to click through on a valid, or even invalid, coupon link and that affiliate's cookie replaces that of the affiliate who initiated the sale.

    Asking a few surfers if they coupon code shop when buying on the web, I was surprised to learn that the people in my small sample do it regularly.

    I'd appreciate some insight into coupon code shopping from both affiliates and merchants.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador flamingoworld's Avatar
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    So you are saying coupon sites aren't "legitimate" affiliates?
    Then how come so many merchants offer coupons?
    Just what makes a "legitimate" affiliate?

    I am just as much a legitimate affiliate as anyone else. Heck, I probably work harder keeping my site up to date than some affiliates.
    Lots of changes every month, new coupons to add daily...I can't just put up a site and forget about it and move on to making new sites or pages. I have to keep the one I have updated.

    Maybe start lising coupons that merchants offer yourself? Or don't promote merchants that offer coupons?

    Coupons are one tool that merchants give you to help you make sales. Use the tools given to you.

    In my case, I end up with lots of visitors already at the merchant site and they don't even click on my links but just copy and paste the coupon code from mine. I gave them the coupon but get no credit for the sale.

    So, it could be that people click thru your link and when they need a coupon and just come to a coupon site and copy and paste the code and never click the link.

    Unless they run across one of those sites that automatically open the merchant sites in a new window or an iframe and auto set their cookie and overwrite yours.

  3. #3
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    This has been talked to death already but one more time.

    Your visitors will only look for a coupon if you work with a merchant that has a coupon box at checkout, and if they do, you should post the coupon so they don't go looking for it. If you work with merchants that don't use coupons, then your visitors won't go looking for it since they won't see any kind of coupon box on the merchants site.

    "By this I mean sites that do nothing other than promote coupons and coupon codes being offered by many merchants."

    A lot of shoppers just want that and don't want to read a bunch of content. Your competition is not coupon sites but other content site like yours. Since people find coupon sites by looking for coupons and find content/sale sites by looking for products.

    Coupon sites are legitimate affiliates.

    I work in lounge pants

  4. #4
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    Connie, and Trust, I don't really know you personally but I get the impression you do run a legitimate site.

    I went looking around a bit and found lots of major abuse going on at coupon sites. Like "click here for an ABCMerchant.com coupon" when there was no coupon to be had ... just an affiliate link to set their cookie ... just for one simple example.

    I've been sending full fare customers to my merchants. Looks like I'm going to be forced to start offering those coupons. It's a slippery slope if you ask me. Merchants will be selling more and more at a discount forcing them to somehow cut the payout to affiliates. The Internet makes clicking coupons too simple.

    My first thought is that merchants offering discounts that don't track with my cookie and require a code entry can kiss off from here out! My second thought is to set up my own coupon site with links from my content sites where all my visitors can go to bag a discount on their way to the merchants' sites.

  5. #5
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    What of the problems with coupons in general. Merchant XYZ offers a coupon, I put it on my site. Google picks it up a few weeks later, even though it is expired, and brings in traffic based on me having a coupon for merchant XYZ.

    What am I supposed to do? I remove any links from my main pages once the coupon expires, I remove the coupon info from the merchant pages if it is expired.

    But what am I supposed to do about google?

    Not have it index my site?

    This is where my Mike likes to jump in with some diarrhea about dupers scoopers and poopers not adding value to the click (i dare you to get him to define what he means by adding value to the click after you see his site), but seriously. Ignore his comments, how are you supposed to link to coupons, and not have their be some residual traffic from that coupon?

    For some merchants it doesn't matter, they are always running a coupon, but others do it on and off, so it becomes an issue.

    As for running coupons, while parrot boy will say nasty things, if a merchant has a lower price than anyone else, wouldn't you promote that? If they have a coupon that makes their price lower - shouldn't you promote that?

    Chet

  6. #6
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> If they have a coupon that makes their price lower - shouldn't you promote that?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    No. Those merchants lower our commissions and are too high maintenance. There is the opportunity cost of not getting pages and sites made while you fiddle faddle with them.

    Mr.Merchant, if you do business in any way what-so-ever with parasites, your products will not be sold on my sites!!
    Affiliates, before you use CJ merchants, Read This! Comments are to be interpreted as opinion unless otherwise noted.

  7. #7
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    I have no problem with many coupon sites
    I DO have problems with the ones that automatically pop up a cookie setting pop up the second you enter their site, basically providing no service. Many of these don't have an up to date coupon or ever had one in the first place.
    There are places all over the web that use these same sort of deception tactics though While the coupon sites seem to be the majority of what gets talked about in here I don't know if they are the worst type or not. There are also many who provide a clean legit site offering coupons, who seem to get caught up grouped in with all the disreputable sites.

    ...............
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  8. #8
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    Well, since the same people are back defending all coupon sites again, here is my experience from yesterday:

    Shopping at GameStop.com. I placed $29.99 merchandise in cart. There is a BIG box on the checkout page for a coupon code (can't ignore if you tried).

    I searched Google for Gamestop coupons. The first three sites did a GameStop.com pop-under setting the cookie. The coupons were worthless.

    Then I found a site, which did not do a pop-under, offering free Overnight shipping on in-stock orders over $50. I added another $40 merchandise to my cart, entered the coupon code, and it did not work.

    I removed the extra $40 item, used the free ground shipping coupon code already given on the GameStop site and got the hell out of there.

    I don't know who got credit for the sale, but I fail to see how the coupn sites provided GameStop with any value for the commission.

    In fact the one site cost them $40 because the code was not working (the merchadise was in-stock as required by the supposedly valid coupon, and it shipped yesterday). But it was also Gamestop's fault because I called and could not talk to a real person.

  9. #9
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    I never used coupons when shopping online - I just get the merchant's discount if they have a sale at that time.
    I am not going to chase down coupons just to come across websites with drive-by installs and an avalanche of popunders...

  10. #10
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    Let's hear it from the merchants who promote these coupons through affiliates, or would they rather not talk about it?

    What are they doing to protect content sites from having their earned commissions handed over to coupon code sites?

  11. #11
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    OK I've been hooked into this conversation. Since inception networks were nothing more then DoubleClick -Valueclick Ad servers with a sales reportings feature thrown in to hook site owners into pushing network merchants. Another layered Ad Whore operation throwing up the smoke and mirrors spin...called paid for performace advertising.

    Merchants & Dupers are spun this is the cheapest form of advertising and getting traffic and were told/coached initially they didn't have to pay out a dime for 9-10 months (except network fees) if they have quarterly payouts and 100.00 minimums. Add in diversion tactics like zero cookie days, toll free #'s, buggy reporting or even on/off switches on reporting tags and all affiliate networks were born as cheap or free traffic Ad Whore operations. They lived off the merchant signup -Ad server and reporting fees, plus addons like check cutting, e-mail marketing & AM services and treated affiliates like cannon fodder.
    A pure play Ad network catering to the the members of the DMA/IAB.

    A few like me have taken every opportunity to shove their abusive advertising mindset antics up their collective managements butts and OUT them all as pimps for the Ad Whores for years. A ZERO RISK factor operation run like every greed driven Ad agency without any ethics or accountability. Like all Ad Whore operations the merchant AM's and the networks embraced INCENT marketing as the easiest/laziest way to drive mass traffic...The EyeBall Wars began.

    Along the way the networks were FORCED to adapt some ethics due to DOT COM bombs, non-payment, Ponzi schemes, Duper spammers, info peddlers, click cheats and the con men pushing get paid to surf programs. Affiliate marketing immediately attracted every cyber criminal and "tricks for clicks" sleezeball who had a internet connection seeking to drain that commission pool with little or no work.

    Nothing has changed as honest hardworking site owners, who bought into the pay per performance promise, are trapped between sleezebag incent minded affiliates & BHO's and Merchant's employing AM's who practice diversion tactics and play ball with spammers and traffic/commission hijackers.

    Except for a few incent/coupon marketers who post here ...ALL THE OTHERS ARE LOW LIFE TRICKS FOR CLICKS SCHEMERS WHO COULD GIVE A RATS ASS ABOUT ETHICS -THEIR MERCHANTS OR DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING METHODS.

    No poo pooing or spin can remove this fact of life. This industry will never mature beyond a den of thieves till all forms of incent offerings are removed from the networks creatives and commission payouts. You eliminate coupons/rewards/points and force the damn lazy merchant AM's to work on creatives and high conversion landing pages and over night the industry receives an exorcism. The cockroaches will have to migrate to porn or flip burgers for a living.

    Mike & Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! BBQ some Gator and remember to flush WhenU..

  12. #12
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Many coupon sites are legitimate and send a substantial amount of business to their merchants.

    The ones that spam the search engines and just pop up their affiliate links or trick the user into clicking through to set an affiliate cookie are slimy and give coupon sites a bad name. Similar to affiliates who use BHO's, those types of sites don't provide real value to the merchants. The merchant already had the customer. Any volume in sales that they appear to be generating is deceiving. I would recommend that merchants NOT work with those types of coupon sites.

    If you want to keep from losing customers to coupon sites, Connie has the right suggestion. Keep track of the coupons and provide them to your customers on your content site. You should see considerably higher conversion ratios with coupons. If you don't want to keep track of them yourself, you might want to make a commission-sharing deal with a coupon site.

    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com

  13. #13
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    Ok, my two points of view on this.

    Before I became interested in affiliate marketing, I was an internet shopper. EVERY time I would be preparing to make an online purchase of any sort, I would first go see if I could find a coupon for a site that carried what I wanted for a reasonable before coupon price. I would find the absolute best deal I could, then I would purchase the item using that code.

    If there was something I wanted/needed say from Amazon, and I couldn't find a coupon code or didn't have a free gift certificate to cut down the cost, but buy.com had the same thing, AND a coupon code, I would hightail it over there.

    Finding a 'good' code can be a lot of work. There are a lot of sites out there with outdated codes. Since that is how I always shopped though, I came to know which sites were up to date in their codes and almost always used those sites.


    Now from an affiliate stand point. One of my sites is a coupon site. As Connie said, I too put in many hours a day working to make sure the content is fresh. If the merchant provides and expiration date for the coupon, I include that information with the coupon. Not only does it let my visitors know if the coupon is still good or not, but it helps me remember when to pull the code.

    Now, there are many merchants that send codes, but don't include and expiration date. Once or twice a month, I go through my site and find those codes, then email the merchant to ask if they are still good.

    People also email me codes for sites. Before placing them on my site, I contact the merchant to make sure that I can put that specific code on my site and find out the other details for it.

    As Chez said, some people get all knotted up because the SE's may have a link to a page where I had a coupon code for xyz merchant, but when you get there, maybe it isn't there anymore. That is only because that code has expired and been removed.

    I have hundreds of merchants on my coupon site. Some run coupons all the time, some once a month, some once in awhile. I do not take the merchant off if they do not have a coupon running at said time, but I do try to link to other parts of the merchants site that will save my visitor money - bargains, clearance, etc.

    Out of all the merchants on my site, I would say that currently 50% or 60% of them have an active coupon.

    I agree that auto cookie overwriting, pop ups, pop unders, etc. are sneaky and deceptive. I prefer to make my sale though good old fashion hard work.

    AND, one more agreement with Connie. Many shoppers may go to xyz.com and prepare to place an order, then open another window and go find a code and just copy and paste that code into the window at xyz.com and complete the sale. Do the coupon sites get thanks from xyz.com for sealing the sale? Heck no.

    So for those who group all coupon sites into one batch of evil doers, it just simply isn't so. If you are bent because someone wanders away from your site to find a coupon, then you are obviously not offering what the particular customer wanted (or was important to them) in the first place.

    (excuse the typo's - only one cup of coffee under the belt so far this morning! )

    ~Michelle
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."
    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  14. #14
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    Why do you spend all the time, energy and effort doing that when you could be making more pages and new sites for more merchants? Wouldn't the latter give you a better return for your time investment?

    Mr.Merchant, if you do business in any way what-so-ever with parasites, your products will not be sold on my sites!!
    Affiliates, before you use CJ merchants, Read This! Comments are to be interpreted as opinion unless otherwise noted.

  15. #15
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> If you are bent because someone wanders away from your site to find a coupon, then you are obviously not offering what the customer wanted in the first place. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    So the coupon site that does a pop-under but has no coupon is what the customer really wanted?

    If I referred the sale, then that is what the customer wanted.

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador Sam Bay's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SSanf:
    Why do you spend all the time, energy and effort doing that when you could be making more pages and new sites for more merchants? Wouldn't the latter give you a better return for your time investment?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    No, it wouldn't. Just ask Connie what she thinks about Google updates. I'd venture guess not much. There is no right or better way to run any type affiliate sites. Ever kind its advantages and disadvantages, you just gotta do what gotta do, and what you want to, which could be limited with resources avalable to you. (Example: WebMerge doesn't update your site with the latest coupon, it just helps you copy another merchant's site)

    Yes, there is abuse going on by many coupon sites, but also as much abuse is going with non-coupon sites.

    The affiliates who copy another merchant's product catalog only re-publish, and the AFFILIATE MANAGERS who let them, ARE DOING MUCH MORE DAMAGE to the affiliate industry than couponers who're owerwriting cookies with invalid coupon codes.

    I try to my affiliate business out of the "stream", though.

    _________________________________________
    "Only dead fish swim with the stream all the time"

  17. #17
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by jimbo2002:
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> If you are bent because someone wanders away from your site to find a coupon, then you are obviously not offering what the customer wanted in the first place. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    So the coupon site that does a pop-under but has no coupon is what the customer really wanted?

    If I referred the sale, then that is what the customer wanted.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    If you will read what I said, you will find that I don't agree with pop-ups, pop-unders and all the tricks like that out there.

    What I was saying in that particular statement was if the shopper wanders off elsewhere in search of a coupon code to save them some money, then you obviously are not offering them one on your site.

    Simple solution. If the merchants you work with offer a code, place it on your site. Those who prefer to use them will, and those who don't want to bother with them won't. You will get the best of both worlds.

    ~Michelle
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."
    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  18. #18
    ABW Adviser Panel Dynamoo's Avatar
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    I think jimbo2002's story is a good one.

    I think coupons are fairly naff to be honest - the nicest idea I've seen is the Generic Gifts one (they gave a forum here) where you can choose to give up some of your commission to give a discount to customers.

    However, surely fake coupons are a violation of the merchant's trademark, assuming they have one. A few C&D notices might prove to be sobering.

    ________
    "All your commission are belong to us." - Slimeware Corporation

  19. #19
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    Coupons are evil and so are the 95% of shoppers who like them.

    I work in lounge pants

  20. #20
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Interesting thread and comments. The AM's know the incent tricksters and the datafeed spammers outnumber legit value-add affiliate marketers, and like crack drug addicts, they can be manipulated to do all the spamming without a bit of encouragement. The only reason some of the hero AM's here toss out datafeeds and coupons like drug samples is they get to play on both sides of the fence and keep their prestine rep intact.

    I got a hint for you all. Any real product merchant not smart enough to disable that "place coupon code here" screen in their carts with an auto credit feature is dumb as a bag of nails. That goes for any and all merchants. By catering to the BHO browser spammers and the SE and e-mail spammers your AM's are robbing you blind. All loyality shopping programs are the direct responsibility of the merchants own staff and outsourcing this high conversion function is an open invitation to have sleezeballs rape your bank account. Advertise your incents in private e-mails and/or on your merchant site.

    Overstock took a portion of this advice and in both the 3 & 4th quarters of 2003 they more then doubled total sales figures. We ain't talking small numbers here. Published sales went from 23 Million to 57 Million by just this one move. Without this piece of advice they couldn't even afford a 20 million $ TV Ad campaign.

    Cut the coupons & incents and you cut the trashy affiliates, BHO plug-ins and the SERP spammers from your programs. If your network balks at eliminating their Duper spammers then go in-house and bring all your steady earners with you. Time to put the couponers & AM's into rehab and eliminate the term coupon -rebate -Freebie from all the SERPs. Incents are all just Ad Whore tactics to steal shoppers from your competitors. LOL ...the auto industry got whacked for 47 billion dollars of profit in 2003 from their incent driven Ad agencies and currently are firing or retiring marketing executives who allowed their agencies to make this SOP with their hooked customer base. Harder part is to wean their customers.

    Mike & Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! BBQ some Gator and remember to flush WhenU..

    [This message was edited by EcomCity.com on February 03, 2004 at 01:20 PM.]

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador Radegast's Avatar
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    I wonder how many check-outs are abandoned because the shopper sees a coupon code box, goes away to try and find a code somewhere, and never completes the purchase for one reason or another.

    You don't want anything to distract a shopper from completing a purchase once he has reached check-out.

  22. #22
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    Overstock have always and still use coupons. There sales went up not from taking any of your advice but probably from all the TV commercials that aired during that time. it's called advertising Mike.

    You yourself with the program you run use incents to get sales, free shipping being the biggest incent.

    You can cut out all the coupons you want, then sites that offer part of their commissions as rebates would flourish, you would still have the same problems.

    "Incents are all just Ad Whore tactics to steal shoppers from your competitors."

    Isn't that what competition is about? Trying to get customers and trying to get your competition's customers. Welcome to America Mike.

    Speaking of ad whores, what do you think you're doing with your affiliate site? You're advertising merchant to your site visitors, we're all ad whores too, except most of us still don't have expired Christmas creative leading to dead pages. Maybe a little less posting and more updating your site? Put some value into a click?

    I work in lounge pants

  23. #23
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    If Mike would just lump the coupon (exploitation) crowd into his argument (only), he would be on the right side of this argument, IMO.

    Conceptually, and separating the technology issue(s), coupons are just as legitimate online, as they are in a Supermarket.

    It's the dupers and clickster tricksters, who are not, IMO

    Jonathon Palbicke
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  24. #24
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    I am newbie in affiliate marketing, but I am an experienced online shopper!

    I have used several coupon sites in the past and 90% of the time I was pretty happy with the deals and coupons provided.

    Why is a coupon site a trashy affiliate?
    Why is your site valuable for a merchant?

    Excuse me, but when was the last time you had a look on your own site (EcomCity.com)?
    Obviously not in the past 6 weeks! It is February and you still have "season greetings", "happy holidays" and Christmas merchandise on your site ?!?!

    What is the "Value" of your site compared to a coupon site - even a bad one with invalid coupons?
    Maybe I missed something ...

    Leave those coupon sites alone!

    There might be bad coupon sites , but there are certainly a lot of good ones.

    The bad ones wont survive ...
    neither non-updated coupon sites nor non-updated other sites.

  25. #25
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Overstock always will have seasonal coupons and shipping specials. Only thing different from all their competitors is no OS shopper will ever have to place a stupid code somewhere to get the credit. Their TV campaign didn't even kick in til December 10th and those increases came from eliminating cart abandonment by eliminating 4 checkout pages tied to datamining and incent offer codes.

    Any merchant not using free freight as their main incentive for all visitors and trashing public coupons is dumber than a bag of nails. Overstock learned real quick you can e-mail a loyal repeat shopper a notice they just got an automatic 20.00 account credit on their next purchase over $50 brings them a 55% conversion ratio within one week.

    Wean those coupon clippers from your daily sales by offering only free freight over a certain $order total will eliminate 80% of your cart abandonment. Just ask Shop.org. Don't expect Overstock and the others to give this info out to their dumb as nails competitors.

    Consider this Charlies "Parrot Poop" tip of the week.

    PS; Ecomcity (my test bed site) has hosting server problems. Seems their IT wanks can't get any MS Frontpage HTTA access into their FP server setups. Soon as they do I'll update. Till then let the merchants suffer for doing so poorly at Christmas.

    Mike & Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! BBQ some Gator and remember to flush WhenU..

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