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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager
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    Coupon sites which accept user submitted coupons
    I'm evaluating applications for our affiliate program, and I came across a few sites that I wanted to get the community's opinion on. We have plenty of coupon sites that have joined our program. But I'm focusing now on those that allow user-submitted coupons.

    Through searching the forum, I noticed there's a lot of discussion about these sites. A lot of the controversy centers around the fact they often end up having exclusive coupons that don't belong to them on their site. Whether they are posted by users or are posted by the site itself while hiding behind the user-submitted shield seems to be open to debate.

    In any case, is it a big enough problem that it's worth avoiding these sites altogether, or are they worth evaluating on an individual basis? And if I do evaluate them individually, is there a list somewhere of known dishonest ones? I've found various threads listing various dishonest sites, but have yet to find a thread which lists them all together.

    Any help or direction would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Carl

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador
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    If it's a site that has user submitted coupons, there's a good chance they might have you up already with all sorts of coupons, I would enjoy the free traffic.

    What are your rules as far as affiliates and what coupons they can post? There are some merchants that say to only post coupons you find thru the affiliate channel. These coupon sites with user submitted coupons automatically break that rule if you let them in unless you have some special deal with them.

    I've seen some merchants say you can post any coupon you find on the internet.

    Either way it should be clear. It your coupons are in code form, they're going to be out there somewhere on the internet.

    It comes down to what are the rules of your program and expectations.

  3. #3
    Affiliate Manager
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    I'm not worried so much about our program. We have some coupons, but not tons. We don't have any restrictions about what coupons can be posted or where.

    What I'm more concerned about is whether these sites are dishonest. If they're consistently breaking other people's rules, if they're a problem to the community as a whole, I'd rather not work with them.

  4. #4
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    It's just how the model works. If you have user submitted coupons, they're going to submit everything they find on the internet, which includes other sites exclusives, coupons meant just for employees, etc. Unless they monitor it and I haven't seen one do it effectively and I don't think they really care to.

    As far as community, depends. Networks love those sites. If you're a coupon site and they have your exclusives, probably not. Coupon Cabin just sued Coupon Chief and won over stuff like this. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-relea...-64911982.html

    And even after that, they still have other sites exclusives.

  5. #5
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    I have mixed feelings about user-submitted sites in general, based on some personal experience.

    While not coupon-related, as a publisher, I've had photos/content stolen by these types of sites. When I report the violation to the the site, I'm given some cock & bull story about the site not being responsible for user activities. My photo agency had a similar experience. The site hides behind the user activities.

    One of the sites we were dealing with hires "users", and pays per post. That doesn't make them independent.. and motivates users to post whatever they can find.

    I'm sure some may be perfectly legit, but my experience hasn't been very positive.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    There are some merchants that say to only post coupons you find thru the affiliate channel. These coupon sites with user submitted coupons automatically break that rule if you let them in unless you have some special deal with them.
    I wish that all affiliate managers would understand this. There are some AM's that allow coupon sites with user submitted coupons to post whatever content they want, while they simply monitor their activity and ask them to remove certain codes. These same AM's send emails out to all affiliates stating their 'no coupons outside the program' rules. What a waste of time for everyone! If a program has this rule in place, they should either not work with this type of coupon site, or tell these sites that user content is not allowed.

  7. #7
    Manager - Affiliate Marketing Patrick Vesperman's Avatar
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    While this type of policy does take up a lot of time to police (which you want to evaluate first to see if you have that time and diligence to do), it is mostly the AM's time, not the affiliate's.

    Sometimes a company's coupon policy and/or technology doesn't necessarily benefit everyone. It's unfortunate, but true. In these cases, allowing user submitted coupon sites and policing them is the only option - however non-ideal it is.

  8. #8
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    It's not the only option. You don't have to let them in, they'll still have you up and you'll get free traffic from these sites. That's how they operate. They want to get every merchant possible, with every possible coupon. And if someone wants to find a coupon for a merchant, if they don't find it at one site (say a user submitted coupon site), they'll just Google until they find a site that does have it.

    As far as policing them, from what I've seen like cases with RetailMeNot and merchants like Register.com, they have you, the affiliate managers, doing their job for them and they still do what they want anyway, keep violating whatever rules you had in place with them. Not all the time but I have seen it happen like the case I just mentioned.

  9. #9
    Manager - Affiliate Marketing Patrick Vesperman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    As far as policing them, from what I've seen like cases with RetailMeNot and merchants like Register.com, they have you, the affiliate managers, doing their job for them and they still do what they want anyway, keep violating whatever rules you had in place with them. Not all the time but I have seen it happen like the case I just mentioned.
    So true, glad that I am not in this situation

    Even if these sites are not in your program, like you said, they will still have you up and you still have to police the misuse of exclusive codes. Just because they are not in your affiliate program doesn't mean should abuse exclusive codes. I realize they haven't agreed to TOS but they still know it is wrong. This is more of an integrity issue and can't be enforced, but the principle still applies.

  10. #10
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pjvesperman
    Even if these sites are not in your program, like you said, they will still have you up and you still have to police the misuse of exclusive codes. Just because they are not in your affiliate program doesn't mean should abuse exclusive codes. I realize they haven't agreed to TOS but they still know it is wrong. This is more of an integrity issue and can't be enforced, but the principle still applies.
    Ahh, but it can be enforced. Here's an example of CVS filing a DMCA complaint with Blogger to have unauthorized coupons removed from a blog.

    -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

  11. #11
    Affiliate Manager
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    It sounds like what I thought. I'll evaluate them on an individual basis. Thankfully we haven't run into any problems yet.

    Thanks for all the input.

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