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  1. #1
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    Newbie Aff. Mgr. -- How to handle suspicious traffic in Aff. acct?
    Hi all,

    I am brand new to the forums here (have been browsing for a week or so), and very new to the world of affiliate marketing. I've been trying to bone up by researching online, reading ABW, etc., but there's a LOT to learn. Thanks for all your help so far.

    I'm stepping into the Aff Mgr role at a new company that is set to revamp their program along with an all-new product line. I want to get all my ducks in a row before launching the new program. I've come across something that (to my untrained eye) seems odd, in the traffic stream of one of my affiliates. Without knowing the in's and out's of this world, or how to decode some of the aspects of the software we're using (iDev), my immediate suspicion is there might be some unsavory techniques employed to drive this level of traffic to our domain.

    Basically, for as far back as I can look, one affiliate is responsible for about 98% of all traffic, registering 5-10 links in per hour. There's only been one commission out of all this action. Each instance is tagged as a "possible bookmark or email link", so I can't track it back to a banner on a reputable site. My novice instinct says there might be some spam bot or other distasteful activity afoot here. An email to the affiliate, politely worded but searching, got no reply.

    How can I get to the bottom of this? Should I think about suspending the affiliate in the meantime? My dilemma is, of course, i don't want to punish a hard-working ally for their efforts -- but I also need to halt any unwelcome activity ASAP.

    Your thoughts and advice are hugely appreciated!

    Cheers,
    st

  2. #2
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    This (immense amounts of traffic with no referring URL) is definitely a warning sign of potential misconduct.

    Normally, the first place I'd look is the raw log files, picking a short interval (an hour, a day, maybe a week, depending on traffic levels) and looking at the referring URLs, browser identifiers, and especially the IP addresses.

    I can immediately think of several potential causes of this kind of data -- none of them legitimate.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the quick response, Mark. Maybe I'm missing some of the sleuthing tools available in iDev, but the only other log data I seem to have be able to see is IP addys. From what I can tell, each new visit is from a unique IP. Still, seems too good to be true...

    I'm considering disabling this account, as suspensions in iDev appear only to limit access to new marketing materials... was hoping for hard "proof", but some expert opinions will probably be just as convincing.

    -st

  4. #4
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    It certainly sounds suspicious, however suspicion isn't proof of wrongdoing. I'm not sure what you included in your first e-mail to this affiliate, but I would send another message asking for clarification of their traffic source. State in no uncertain terms that a failure to respond within X days will be cause for termination of their account.

    If you receive a plausible explanation for the traffic, great. If not, cut 'em loose and move on.

    And welcome aboard.

    -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

  5. #5
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    st: when I say "raw log files," I do not mean anything that iDev creates; I am referring to the raw web-server log files.

  6. #6
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    It sounds like your "spidey-sense" is working well (but you'll need more than just a gut feeling to find some of the bad players). Likely, that's an affiliate cookie-stuffing. But as others said, the high traffic and low conversions isn't proof. It's just an indicator.

    You probably need to consider a professional OPM who has the resources and experience to properly police your affiliates, as well as recruit new affiliates and motivate the existing ones. There are many here on ABW who would likely welcome the opportunity to give you a quote on their services, and who might even be willing to check out this affiliate's activity for you.
    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
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    Thanks for the tips and insights, everyone. The company I am working for is basically handing the program to me, and there's not a budget right now for any outsourced consulting assistance. I'll continue reading all I can find, lurking on these forums, and hopefully pinging the crowd here if I have any burning questions I can't figure out on my own.

    Cheers,
    st

  8. #8
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    July 21st, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by stfrequency
    the software we're using (iDev)
    There is your problem. We use it on our old in-house program and it is killing me. It is so antiquated.

    A few questions first and I may be able to help:

    What kind of a relationship do you have with your IT team?

    Are you open to moving to another platform or network?

    Would you mind sharing together some ways to work with iDev? Maybe we have something you don't and vice versa.

    Welcome to ABW by the way!
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager guinness618's Avatar
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    You can ask Haiko to join the Affiliate Managers only forum and ask one of us if we know the guy and have any problems in the past.
    Or, start at the beginning and just search for the affiliate name here. If they are that bad, someone has probably noticed them before.
    Dyan Carlson
    ["My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."- The Dalai Lama

  10. #10
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    The way I handle it is to send them a notice that they need to disclose their advertising tactics within two business days otherwise I will have to terminate their relationship. Termination means denial of commissions but in this case its not going to mean much. Then I usually give them an extra day. I have found that PPC affiliates will respond quickly as they have ongoing costs. Always leave the door open to them to discuss and rectify. If you have a president of a merchant breathing down your neck due to trademark poaching its better to cut off the affiliate first and make amends later. Feel free to contact me at chuck@hamrick.biz if you want to discuss personally.

  11. #11
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    Great stuff, thanks all. Another email is out to the affiliate with a timeline for reply, so we will see how it goes.

    Matt -- I'd love a rapport with another iDev user. Hit me up at stfrequency@gmail.com and let's chat.

    -st

  12. #12
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Email sent. Talk to you soon!
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

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