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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager
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    Affiliate approvals
    Hi,

    I was just wondering what other tools do AMs use to help decided whether they should approve an affiliate. I'm using Alexa and google page rank but is there anything else?


    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Affiliate Manager emphimy's Avatar
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    your god-feeling is another important factor
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  3. #3
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nsalman
    Hi,

    I was just wondering what other tools do AMs use to help decided whether they should approve an affiliate. I'm using Alexa and google page rank but is there anything else?


    Thanks!
    Ask ANY experienced AM or OPM and they will tell you that those are both totally worthless, and that by looking at them as your litmus test, you are eliminating the people that would have become your best-producing affiliates.

    You would be more likely to get responses from AMs and OPMs if this were moved to the Affiliate Manager Forum.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
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  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager bs0101's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AffiliateHound
    Ask ANY experienced AM or OPM and they will tell you that those are both totally worthless
    Confirmed. Totally worthless, especially when an affiliate is just getting started in your vertical. I always start by reaching out to engage a dialogue.

    One thing I'd caution against is taking the stance that you as the AM are the one vetting the affiliate. They are sizing up your program as well.

    I may be able to suggest some actual 'tools' with a little more info on what you're looking to accomplish.

  5. #5
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    imho
    Good feel is a start.
    Publishing our tools just tells the spammers what to avoid.
    Most affiliates that apply are good folks.
    The BAD guys will stand out in no time.

  6. #6
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    You talk (phone, skype, e-mail) to your prospect affiliate, and as was mentioned earlier, they are checking you out as well.

    Sometimes you will find the "bad" affiliate later on, in which case you unqualify him/her from your program.

    Most are good, doing the job - getting you sales - as best as they can.

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    It is scary for an affiliate to think that their application approval or denial could be based on Alexa which is a useless number that only measures how many people with the Alexa toolbar have visited your site, an easily manipulated number.

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador writerguy's Avatar
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    Alexa?? OMG. Speaking as an affiliate, I have seen or heard NOTHING EVER to make me think Alexa was in any way useful.

    As a result, I probably haven't used Alexa for anything in at least 8-10 years, so I assume Alexa has done nothing good for me.

    Which reinforces the advice by AMs above -- Alexa probably isn't a useful tool for evaluating affiliates.

    And, of course, this gets us into all the related threads here at ABW about why someone denies an affiliate's application and/or boots an affiliate from their program.

    You might find it useful, nsalman, to search ABW for those threads (sorry I don't have one right off hand to post). They will give you insight as to how affiliates regard various programs, various affiliate managers, and how they (we) see things from their standpoint when considering an affiliate program.

    The best to you!
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  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager
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    Thanks. I appreciate all of the advice. Don't worry guys I only used Alexa as a tool to get some kind of idea, I never used it as a basis for my decision.
    BS0101: I'm managing an affiliate program that was left idle for awhile. I'm just trying to get our program out there and on websites. Some that we have now are not generating much sales. I'm still working on getting to know the affiliates, newsletters, etc. I'm a little afraid to tell you what our site is about because I don't want it to be interpeted as a promotion and get myself suspended.

    Everything all of you said made a lot of sense and I really appreciate it!

  10. #10
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    nsalman, as an OPM who manages 25 programs I absolutely use Alexa/Google Page Rank as a first round indicator. We screen over 500 applications a week and there is no way to prove the worth of every single site.

    Two factors that trump any index is niche and quality of site. The top networks also give EPC which is another part of the equation.

    Factors that will get you declined immediately are not domain email address for a high PR or low Alexa site. If it smells funny its ain't getting accepted.

    For Alexa I never accepted a site over 250k years ago or a PR of less than 3. Now will accept well designed sites with Alexa of over a million and PR's of 2. Also use SEOBook toolbar to look at backlinks and Compete rankings.

    We also go back and check sites in our decline daily to see if someone increased in network rank and EPC. My decline emails offer a second review upon request and I have a 99% acceptance rate. If you show interest I am always happy to work with you.

  11. #11
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    Hope this is the right thread. I noticed you guys are talking about approving affiliates. I designed a program for my affiliate website and I'm currently accepting everyone who signs up and I do not screen them or check their website. My program allows people to sell online and offline as I also have a way to track telephone sales.
    My question is:
    Why would I want to screen affiliates and decline some of them? I am new to affiliate marketing and the website I designed was only to increase my business.
    Can affiliates harm my business if I do not screen them?

    Thanks

  12. #12
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dish2003
    Hope this is the right thread. I noticed you guys are talking about approving affiliates. I designed a program for my affiliate website and I'm currently accepting everyone who signs up and I do not screen them or check their website. My program allows people to sell online and offline as I also have a way to track telephone sales.
    My question is:
    Why would I want to screen affiliates and decline some of them? I am new to affiliate marketing and the website I designed was only to increase my business.
    Can affiliates harm my business if I do not screen them?

    Thanks
    You could end up with some blackhat affiliates who use toolbars and cookie stuffing to steal the sales from the affiliate who really made the sale.

    More information here. http://www.benedelman.org/cookiestuffing/

    Vietnam Veteran 1966-1970 USASA
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  13. #13
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    How would they do that if they do not know the affiliate ID of other affiliates? They would also have to know how my program is designed right? I do not use any third party software to track sales and my affiliate tracking system was built from scratch by my developers. Is it still possible?
    And even if it is possible, how would I know which affiliate can be approved and which one should be declined?

  14. #14
    Newbie dave302's Avatar
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    when i first started my program i would check out all the affiliates and then decide whether or not to allow them to join my program.

    over time, though, i realized it wasn't worth my time to check out everyone that applied. that, coupled, with the fact that you never know if an affiliate is working on a brand new site just to target your program. so, looking at their website does no good if they've got a bunch of different sites that may/may not be listed in the profile.

    my rule of thumb is I auto-accept everyone and then when traffic starts coming my way i pay close attention to the site they're promoting me. then i can decide whether or not I approve of their methods.

    david

  15. #15
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    Exactly. My commissions start at $100 up to $125 per customer and since I just started I would hate to lose potential affiliates because the more they sell the more I make. It's been a week since I launched my website and I already have 10 people that signed up. Only 3 of them provided their website address. Like I mentioned earlier, my affiliates can also sell offline by printing flyers, doing classified ads etc.
    My main idea of the affiliate business is to approve everyone automatically and that's what I do. My affiliates can start selling my product as soon as they click "Submit" on my website when they sign up and confirm their email address.

    I think that many affiliates do not like the idea of waiting 2 weeks for approval process and wait for their application to be screened. Also how can we judge the website based on the way it looks? Look at craigslist and imagine your banner on their homepage.

    Thank you for all your help guys

  16. #16
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dish2003
    How would they do that if they do not know the affiliate ID of other affiliates? They would also have to know how my program is designed right? I do not use any third party software to track sales and my affiliate tracking system was built from scratch by my developers. Is it still possible?
    And even if it is possible, how would I know which affiliate can be approved and which one should be declined?
    They also join your affiliate program. They then get people to put their toolbar or put spyware on computers when people go to their site even once.

    The toolbar or spyware monitors all traffic in and out of their computer. If someone clicks on one of my affiliate links to your site their toolbar or spyware intercepts the link before it leaves the customer's computer and recognizes it as an affiliate link to your site.

    The toolbar or spyware re-writes the affiliate link and removes my affiliate id and puts their affiliate id in its place before the click leaves the customer's computer and is sent to your site.

    They end up getting paid for the sale instead of me even though the customer originally clicked on one of my links - not theirs.

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  17. #17
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dish2003
    How would they do that if they do not know the affiliate ID of other affiliates?
    Toolbars don't need to know anything other than the fact that there is an interested buyer on your site. They sit and wait until a user gets to your site and they then set a cookie so that they get credit for the sale (over simplified, but pretty much what happens, see BurgerBoy's post above for a better explanation). It really doesn't matter who sent you that user, whether it was another affiliate or the user found you through organic search or a direct type in. If another affiliate sent the user, they get cheated out of a commission. If the user reached your site through any other means, then you end up paying a commission on sales that were yours to begin with.

    Quote Originally Posted by dish2003
    They would also have to know how my program is designed right?
    No. All they need is to be an affiliate in your program. And since you approved them without checking ANYTHING, everyone gets screwed, including you.

    Quote Originally Posted by dish2003
    I do not use any third party software to track sales and my affiliate tracking system was built from scratch by my developers. Is it still possible?
    Scary, but good to know. I'm always leery about in-house programs. You know, no trusted third party. I'm down right petrified over an in-house program with home grown software. I would (will) avoid your program as if it were my ex-wife and her mother.

    Quote Originally Posted by dish2003
    And even if it is possible, how would I know which affiliate can be approved and which one should be declined?
    This take a little art, a little science and a lot of experience. Rogue affiliates not only hurt you, they hurt your program. Good affiliates don't want to play in muddy water. Why spend countless hours and hard earned money to promote a dirty merchant when they could just as easily promote your clean competitor?

    I strongly recommend that you spend a few bucks and hire an OPM (Outsourced program Manager) or experienced affiliate manager. There's a lot that you can learn here on ABW, but learning how to successfully run an affiliate program online won't be easy.

    Regardless of what you decide to do, a good strating point for information is the Merchant Best Practices Forum. It'a a lot of reading and a real education.

    Good luck.

    -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

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by BurgerBoy
    They also join your affiliate program. They then get people to put their toolbar or put spyware on computers when people go to their site even once.

    The toolbar or spyware monitors all traffic in and out of their computer. If someone clicks on one of my affiliate links to your site their toolbar or spyware intercepts the link before it leaves the customer's computer and recognizes it as an affiliate link to your site.

    The toolbar or spyware re-writes the affiliate link and removes my affiliate id and puts their affiliate id in its place before the click leaves the customer's computer and is sent to your site.

    They end up getting paid for the sale instead of me even though the customer originally clicked on one of my links - not theirs.
    That makes a lot of sense and thank you for clarification. For now I don't think I should worry about it as I only have 10 affiliates (just launched website last Monday)
    Thank you for your advice and I will monitor my sales.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rematt
    Scary, but good to know. I'm always leery about in-house programs. You know, no trusted third party. I'm down right petrified over an in-house program with home grown software. I would (will) avoid your program as if it were my ex-wife and her mother.
    Why would you avoid it? I hired professionals to build it, it took couple months and a lot of money to get it done. What would you recommend I do?
    I guess the question is: How will I know if my affiliates do something fishy when I screen them?

    Thank you!

  20. #20
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dish2003
    Why would you avoid it? I hired professionals to build it, it took couple months and a lot of money to get it done. What would you recommend I do?
    Networks are a trusted third party (OK, not really, but they're at least greedy and that's enough to keep you honest). An in-house program requires that I put a lot of faith into an unknown commodity, namely you. Now don't take me wrong, you're probably a very nice person and honest as the day is long, the problem is that with an in-house program I MUST trust you.

    Now add a piece of home grown software being used by someone who is "new to affiliate marketing". You don't know enough about the industry to know if somethings is wrong or not. Plus I'm really concerned about someone that chose to develop such a complex piece of software with absolutely no industry knowledge. Did your programmers write your accounting software too?

    Quote Originally Posted by dish2003
    I guess the question is: How will I know if my affiliates do something fishy when I screen them?
    In many cases you won't. But look for some of the more obvious problems. An affiliate with no website at all may send up a red flag. Affiliates that have toolbar downloads or that stuff a couple of hundred affiliate cookies the second you land on their site could be a potential problem. There are some things that will stick out like a sore thumb, others that even an experienced AM won't catch immediately. But if you perform no screening at all, you'll never catch any of them.

    -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

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by rematt
    Networks are a trusted third party (OK, not really, but they're at least greedy and that's enough to keep you honest). An in-house program requires that I put a lot of faith into an unknown commodity, namely you. Now don't take me wrong, you're probably a very nice person and honest as the day is long, the problem is that with an in-house program I MUST trust you.

    Now add a piece of home grown software being used by someone who is "new to affiliate marketing". You don't know enough about the industry to know if somethings is wrong or not. Plus I'm really concerned about someone that chose to develop such a complex piece of software with absolutely no industry knowledge. Did your programmers write your accounting software too?

    In many cases you won't. But look for some of the more obvious problems. An affiliate with no website at all may send up a red flag. Affiliates that have toolbar downloads or that stuff a couple of hundred affiliate cookies the second you land on their site could be a potential problem. There are some things that will stick out like a sore thumb, others that even an experienced AM won't catch immediately. But if you perform no screening at all, you'll never catch any of them.

    -rematt
    Thank you for clarification. I guess I just was not aware of the potential risks with affiliate marketing. People who sign up without a website do not concern me as I offer offline sales as well so I knew that some people would sign up simply to insert small classified ad in their local church paper and promote my toll free number with their promotion code. I tested a lot of affiliate programs and none of them worked the way I wanted it to so I had no choice but to spend money and have one built. I do look at them as they sign up and when they provide a website I also look at it but I guess the only way to find out is when affiliates start advertising and I start getting some customer traffic.
    I guess I will have to learn as I go.

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