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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager
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    So who should get paid in this circumstance:

    1. Merchant does a great job on SEO and customer finds him.
    2. Merchant provides great sales and service over the years.
    3. Affiliate sends traffic 25 days ago (leaves a 30 day cookie) and provided info regarding a coupon that was not intended to be used on affiliate sales.
    4. Email blast company sends out emails on a CPA basis 11 days ago and gets a click through and sets a 30 day cookie.
    5. Visitor visited by way of a remarketing ad on PPC basis.
    6. Visitor comes in again via Adwords.


    So the merchant has the potential costs of SEO, customer service, affiliate commission, coupon cost, email blast commission, remarketing, and Adwords. This could easily eat up all gross margin.

    The more I think about this from a merchant's perspective, the more I think it should be based on who actually triggered that sale so it should be based on the browser session that the sale occurred in. So that would get you your commission for a sale to a customer that the merchant already has as a customer but it would eliminate commissions after that visit (no 30 day cookies).

    So would it be fair if you sold to my existing customer but only when you generate a sale directly without a time lapse?

  2. #2
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbarr60
    So who should get paid in this circumstance:
    1. Merchant does a great job on SEO and customer finds him.
    2. Merchant provides great sales and service over the years.
    3. Affiliate sends traffic 25 days ago (leaves a 30 day cookie) and provided info regarding a coupon that was not intended to be used on affiliate sales.
    4. email blast company sends out emails on a CPA basis 11 days ago and gets a click through and sets a 30 day cookie.
    5. Visitor visited by way of a remarketing ad on PPC basis.
    6. Visitor comes in again via Adwords.

    So the merchant has the potential costs of SEO, customer service, affiliate commission, coupon cost, email blast commission, remarketing, and Adwords. This could easily eat up all gross margin.

    The more I think about this from a merchant's perspective, the more I think it should be based on who actually triggered that sale so it should be based on the browser session that the sale occurred in. So that would get you your commission for a sale to a customer that the merchant already has as a customer but it would eliminate commissions after that visit (no 30 day cookies).

    So would it be fair if you sold to my existing customer but only when you generate a sale directly without a time lapse?
    No bias here, huh? Why don't you rephrase your question within the context of this thread without the obvious bias and see what type of responses you get.

    If you remove the section bolded by me, the affiliate should get the commission. Regardless of how good a job the merchant THINKS they did, it still took an affiliate to guide that customer to their site. If you don't want to pay commissions, don't have an affiliate program. Simple as that.

    -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

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by rematt
    No bias here, huh? Why don't you rephrase your question within the context of this thread without the obvious bias and see what type of responses you get.

    If you remove the section bolded by me, the affiliate should get the commission. Regardless of how good a job the merchant THINKS they did, it still took an affiliate to guide that customer to their site. If you don't want to pay commissions, don't have an affiliate program. Simple as that.

    -rematt
    Calm down, you didn't get the intent of my post. I have no problem paying some one who generates a sale. I have approved affiliate payments on over a million dollars of sales in the last 6 months.

    Regarding bias, this is the Affiliate Managers sub-forum so the bias shouldn't be against affiliate mangers. We rank #1 for 80 of our top100 terms (so SEO is good), we get very good third party customer ratings (hence the good customer service comment), and the CPC provide conversion data on the session of the click.So related comments are objective data to back them up, not bias.

    The issue a merchant deals with is the actions that weren't directly related to generating a sale. As an example, should a coupon site that manages to "guide" my existing customers by displaying expired or bogus coupons be paid?

  4. #4
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbarr60
    We rank #1 for 80 of our top100 terms (so SEO is good), we get very good third party customer ratings (hence the good customer service comment), and the CPC provide conversion data on the session of the click.So related comments are objective data to back them up, not bias.
    Which means absolutely nothing if an affiliate sent you the customer.

    Quote Originally Posted by tbarr60
    The issue a merchant deals with is the actions that weren't directly related to generating a sale. As an example, should a coupon site that manages to "guide" my existing customers by displaying expired or bogus coupons be paid?
    The obvious answer is no. No commission should ever be paid when an affiliate violates the rules of your program. By the same token, merchants shouldn't look for every way possible to cheat affiliates out of their commissions, that's what this thread is about. If you have a different message that you want to get across, start a new thread.

    Calm enough for you?

    -rematt

    BTW, the fact (I assume it's a fact) that you've "approved affiliate payments on over a million dollars of sales in the last 6 months" means absolutely nothing without proper context. There are merchants that have paid on much more and still managed to cheat their affiliates out of commissions. And unless you're willing to open the books, that statement is no better than the average pick-up line.
    "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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    To touch on what rematt said:

    "As an example, should a coupon site that manages to "guide" my existing customers by displaying expired or bogus coupons be paid?"

    Why are those type of sites even in your program? Boot them. Not only are they not keeping their site up to date and/or posting bogus coupons, it can result in a customer having a bad experience on your site by trying to use bogus or out of date coupons.

    We even have a recent thread with a merchant doing that - http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=129217

    Like I said in that thread, I will never put up merchants with those kind of policies with some of the reasons outlined in the thread I linked too.

  6. #6
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    Moderator Note: I've split this out from the unrelated thread that it was posted in.

    The answer is pretty simple. If your affiliate agreement says you offer a 30 day cookie and none of those actions are listed as exceptions, the last affiliate within 30 days in the click stream should get credit for the sale. To do anything else would be a violation of your agreement.

    I do agree with rematt and Trust that an affiliate who does what you describe shouldn't be in your program. They're not a good partner.
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  7. #7
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbarr60
    ......The issue a merchant deals with is the actions that weren't directly related to generating a sale. As an example, should a coupon site that manages to "guide" my existing customers by displaying expired or bogus coupons be paid?
    Among other responses, I am sure, I can see two scenarios: One is that your site did not do an effective job of building loyalty or customer awareness, so "that" customer did not return directly to your site (so maybe they really don't count as your customer). Two is that you have a "Coupon" or similar field in your shopping cart that, in today's market, almost guarantees that a customer will go out "looking" for a code to put in there. That customer might not be aware of an expiration date and whether or not the code is "bogus."
    I have approved affiliate payments on over a million dollars of sales in the last 6 months.
    Meaning?
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  8. #8
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rematt
    The obvious answer is no. No commission should ever be paid when an affiliate violates the rules of your program. By the same token, merchants shouldn't look for every way possible to cheat affiliates out of their commissions, that's what this thread is about.
    Perhaps I should explain this further just to make sure you have a clear understanding of my feelings.

    I'm a staunch advocate for the rules. I also have little patience for merchants that don't play by the rules since they make up the rules. Remember, you write the TOS and we have little choice but to agree or not. You can withhold our payments and you have the networks support when you think we've violated your TOS. Affiliates have very little recourse when a merchant has abusive terms, changes their terms or interpretation on the fly or just finds a way to cheat affiliates out of commissions that are rightfully deserved.

    Among the few ways that affiliates have of making sure that a merchant doesn't get away with this crap is to warn other affiliates about their program. And that's exactly what's happening here.

    You can do what ever you want with your program (within the law and within the networks TOS) as long as you are clear in your terms. When that happens I have an opportunity to make an informed decision about your program. When you withhold my commissions for things that are outside of your TOS I naturally feel cheated. I hate being cheated.

    We have merchants that come here with the excuse of "I meant to say". Yeah, right. Since when are contracts supposed to be intuitive? You want it, state it in your TOS. If you didn't state it and you try to withhold my commissions, you're a thief.

    I play by the rules, I expect you to also. When you don't, your name will be in a thread like this too.

    -rematt

    BTW, when an affiliate breaks the rules, it doesn't just hurt the merchant. It also hurts all the honest affiliates in that program. So we are also very concerned when an affiliate goes rogue. Theirs a whole sub-forum dedicated to Unethical Affiliates as well as Unethical Merchants.
    "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

  9. #9
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    The issue of how to compensate "multiple referral sources" is a tricky one, but the technology now available essentially forces a "single-payment" system, which most merchants and affiliates consider acceptable.

    Each merchant should clearly state whether it will pay "the most recent referrer within the past [cookie duration] days" (as most networks do) or "the first referrer" (as I think Digital River does), or some modified system. Each merchant should also clearly indicate whether non-network referrers (such as PPC advertising or other forms of advertising) will supersede and negate an earlier affiliate referrer. (I'm aware of several merchants who do this but don't disclose it.) Some folks have also suggested that "affiliate cookie overwriting" might be prohibited during certain times -- for example, for one hour after the consumer has added an item to the shopping cart, or has clicked to start the checkout process.

    Several times, folks have suggested the idea of having multiple "channels" so that different types of referrers (who provide different benefits to the merchant, including 'traditional' web publisher affiliates, PPC affiliates, coupon sites, loyalty programs) could all be compensated "fairly" (for example, I started a discussion of this at http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=113164, unaware that only a few days earlier another discussion thread on the same topic had been broken off from another thread to http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=113057). But there's very little support for the notion, in small part because of a strong belief that the current folks engaged in unethical conduct would not accept their "correct" channel assignment, but would seek to poach credit as the best-paying channel (or multiple channels).

    The "traditional web publisher" who refers a customer will be upset if (1) the merchant's shopping cart includes a "coupon prompt" that leads a consumer to google for "merchantname coupon" and then click back from a coupon site with the affiliate-tracking cookie overwritten, or (2) after clicking from the original 'affiliate' link, the consumer triggers a toolbar or visits a loyalty/incentive site which overwrites the affiliate-tracking cookie, or (3) after clicking from the original 'affiliate' link, the consumer does a price-comparison search on google (or elsewhere) and then googles "merchantname" to return to the merchant site, and clicks on a PPC ad placed either by the merchant or by a PPC affiliate, with the original affiliate-tracking cookie overwritten.

    No surprise here -- very few affiliates whose affiliate-tracking cookie is frequently-overwritten considers this a fair system, and many affiliates refuse to carry advertising from merchants who (for example) allow "toolbar" or loyalty/incentive programs as affiliates. (It's also important to understand that merchants set their policies, but some unethical affiliates violate the rules, and some networks turn a blind eye not only to third-party affiliates who break the rules, but even the networks' own corporate cousins [subsidiaries of the same parent corporation] engaged in unethical conduct.)

    And of course, any decision to break prospective affiliate/referrer sources into "channels" or "segments" would inevitably lead to honest disputes about the proper classification of a site (for example, a web site that includes helpful product reviews that attract inbound links and SEO traffic, and also provides information about coupons).
    Last edited by markwelch; February 6th, 2010 at 02:09 PM.

  10. #10
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    ..only when you generate a sale directly without a time lapse?
    Let's say an affiliate refers a prospective customer to your site. By "prospective", I mean that they want to buy, but they're only doing their window shopping right now, and they're going to come back on payday to make a purchase. Ifs the affiliate sent this customer on Monday, and the purchase was completed on Friday, there is till no question as to whether the affiliate referred the customer to you. If you don't pay a commission to the referring affiliate, just because there was some time lapse like this, what could be fair about that?
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  11. #11
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    > "... what would be fair about that?" <

    "Fair" is determined by comparing the contract and the merchant's actions (crediting of amounts for advertising on the "affiliate's" web site). If the merchant's affiliate agreement (terms & conditions, network settings, etc.) provides that affiliates will only be paid for sales which occur within 72 hours after the initial click-through, then in your example (a four-day delay) it's completely "fair" that the referring affiliate not receive any payment. (Whether it's "reasonable" for web publishers to carry advertising from such a merchant would depend on several other factors.)

    Sometimes, important elements of the "true terms and conditions" aren't disclosed by merchants. For example, some merchants have internal systems that detect if an "in-house PPC" click was more recent than the affiliate click, and either the affiliate-network tracking pixel isn't fired or the transaction is reversed. Recently, one merchant reversed transactions for any order placed by a "pre-existing customer" (someone who'd placed an order with the merchant at some time in the past, even if the customer would never have returned unless referred by an advertisement on the affiliate site).

    If these practices aren't disclosed up-front in the merchant's contract with web publishers, then it would be "unfair" to operate an affiliate program this way.

  12. #12
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    4. email blast company sends out emails on a CPA basis 11 days ago and gets a click through and sets a 30 day cookie.
    Are you saying your own company emails overwrite an affiliate cookie?
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by rematt

    Calm enough for you?
    Yeah, that's better. Again I do want to pay the affiliate, just the right one.

    Quote Originally Posted by davidh
    Let's say an affiliate refers a prospective customer to your site. By "prospective", I mean that they want to buy, but they're only doing their window shopping right now, and they're going to come back on payday to make a purchase. Ifs the affiliate sent this customer on Monday, and the purchase was completed on Friday, there is till no question as to whether the affiliate referred the customer to you. If you don't pay a commission to the referring affiliate, just because there was some time lapse like this, what could be fair about that?
    I don't really have a problem paying this guy. I am having more trouble with our third party CPA email service and affiliates that are not so much introducing prospects but detouring existing customers for a cookie drop like sites loaded with bogus or outdated coupons that are very close to cookie stuffing in my opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by loxly
    Are you saying your own company emails overwrite an affiliate cookie?
    Our third party CPA mailing service doesn't overwrite affiliate cookies but they do have the potential of claiming a commission on the same sale an affiliate does.

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