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  1. #1
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    samfind.com FireFox toolbar
    Anyone have any experience with this one?

    More about this add-on:

    samfind Bookmark Bar makes the Firefox's Bookmarks Toolbar obsolete.
    - Faster access to websites - fine tuned to the way you want.
    - Fit more websites in the same space - with favicons instead of page titles,
    - Search bookmarked sites using their own search engines - right from the Bar,
    - Socialize anywhere: Digg it, Reddit, save to Delicious, Tweet, post to Facebook, and Stumble!,
    - Put it where you want it: as a standard toolbar, below the web page, or inline next to the URL,
    - Use Widgets and RSS feeds to interact with websites even faster,
    - Synchronize your bookmarks to access them from more than one computer

    Submit sites to nearly every social, URL shortening and bookmarking site you can imagine. Out of 122, here is a sample of the most popular: Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, Delicious, bit.ly, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, TinyURL, Wordpress, MySpace …

    "... I know people who are very sensitive about making the best use of their toolbar space. For those folks, there's Samfind Bookmarks Bar, a free Firefox extension that replaces your toolbar bookmarks with favicons, allows toolbar access to your favorite social networks, and groups your favorite pages into categories that you define." - Alan Henry of PC Magazine's AppScout: http://bit.ly/appscout

    samfind is available at no charge and pays for development through affiliate relationships.
    Thanks for your interest in samfind!

    Not classified as software on CJ so I reported the publisher.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador ladidah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    samfind is available at no charge and pays for development through affiliate relationships.

    Not classified as software on CJ so I reported the publisher.
    I was unable to see a list of merchants on there. Unless I am missing something.

    When you report something to CJ like this, what do they normally do?

  3. #3
    Affiliate Manager ParadigmWilliam's Avatar
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    It steals commission from ethical affiliates. I unpacked the plugin and looked at the code. It matches the url up against a list they have on their server and if a match is found loads their affiliate link in an iframe.

    This should be tagged as ParasiteWare.
    [URL="http://www.manageaffiliatelinks.com/"][COLOR="Red"][B]Manage Affiliate Links[/B][/COLOR][/URL] - Redirect Dead, Expired, or Broken Links

    [URL="http://www.wpcoupon.com/"][COLOR="Blue"][B]WP Coupon[/B][/COLOR][/URL] - Turn Wordpress into a Coupon Site!

  4. #4
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    When you report something to CJ like this, what do they normally do?
    You get an automated response and have to follow the instructions to reply. If you don't reply within 72 hrs it is dropped. They will investigate and reply if you go through the process. Experience has shown that you need to verify and continue to bump the reply until it is completed.

  5. #5
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    samfind
    Hello Chuck,

    I happened on your post. My name is Sam Deskin of samfind.

    We are not your typical affiliate. We offer a Bookmarks Bar. Affiliates are included in the Bar by default so that users can choose whether to use them or not.

    We also enhance the search functionality to make affiliates stand out in Google and other search engines.

    ParadigmWilliam mentioned: "It matches the url up against a list they have on their server and if a match is found loads their affiliate link in an iframe."

    That is correct, to an extent. We only open the iFrame when users do an action that the Advertiser benefits from the way we have set up the Bar, for example, when we put an Advertiser's logo on Google next to their search result to make them stand out, we launch the iFrame or when a user clicks on an default link to an Advertiser that we have added to the Bar itself, we launch an iFrame. The reason we launch an iFrame is because we send the user to the page that the user wants to go to, no necessarily the promotional page that the Advertiser has designated.

    Before your post, we already had this information in our CJ account:

    This is the affiliate account for samfind.com and the samfind Bookmarks Bar, a Firefox Add-on (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/9866). The website and the Bar work together to offer users a homepage and Bookmarks Toolbar-type interface for their Firefox web browser. Our software has gone through an approval processes with Mozilla.org and gets reviewed each time we put out a new release to make sure it complies with their standards of excellence. Users download and install the Bar through the Mozilla.org website. It provides users access to all the websites they use regularly. We supply the initial Topics and Websites that users start off with when they first download the Bar and we keep these Websites available to them through our website's customization page (http://samfind.com/customize.php) in the appropriate Topic. We have found that users generally maintain many of the initial Topics and Websites that we provide for them and augment them slightly and additional Topics and Websites. The use of the Topics and Websites by our existing users and new users results in an almost immediate upswing in traffic to any website that we add to the Website/Bar. We do not use the typical advertising model for our business. The value we provide to web-based businesses like yours is by giving our users immediate and constant - one touch access to your web-based business by adding it to their homepage or Bookmarks Bar.

    We also had the following information that links to posts about our add-on:

    Customized homepage and toolbar helping users organize their favorite websites and keep them handy. We have been featured in:
    PC Magazine: http://bit.ly/appscout
    PC World: http://bit.ly/r3rQM
    The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...033003800.html

    Because of your post here, we went the further step of also updating our description as follows:

    We operate a Bookmarks Bar for Firefox that makes our website more useful. Users of our samfind Bookmarks Bar have access to their Bookmarks on the toolbar. Select Advertisers appear as default websites for users to add to the Bar to have instant one-click access to your website. All Advertisers get enhanced Google, Yahoo and Bing search listings that include your logo next to your search result making you stand out from the crowd of search results.

    And lastly, we have included ourselves as "Software," something we did not see before. We had only selected "Website/Content." But now it is complete.

    Thank you for pointing out our deficiencies in our CJ listing as being listed as Software, even though we had already written it in our "Incentive/Special Program" section.

    Sam
    samfind

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager ParadigmWilliam's Avatar
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    The bottom line is you are still stealing other affiliate commission.

    If I work hard and am spending money on a PPC campaign and send the visitor to the site your toolbar will overwrite my cookie thus stealing my commission. This tactic is not favored very well in the affiliate community.
    [URL="http://www.manageaffiliatelinks.com/"][COLOR="Red"][B]Manage Affiliate Links[/B][/COLOR][/URL] - Redirect Dead, Expired, or Broken Links

    [URL="http://www.wpcoupon.com/"][COLOR="Blue"][B]WP Coupon[/B][/COLOR][/URL] - Turn Wordpress into a Coupon Site!

  7. #7
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    ParadigmWilliam,

    I respectfully disagree. The fact of the matter is that the last person who sends a users to a page before the users makes the purchase is the one who get the commission. We place a cookie only if the user makes a purchase from a direct action they take using our Bar.

    To be very clear: we are not placing cookies when a user goes to a website through other affiliate links on personal websites or types a URL directly. I agree, that practice is not proper. We do not do that.

    The user has to make specific actions with our Bar that benefits the Advertiser because of the way we have marketed their services, e.g. a default link on our Bar or a logo enhancement to Google, Yahoo, MSN.

  8. #8
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Sam, research Ebates here or Upromise and tell us how you are not classified as the same.

    I do thank you for updating your CJ account.

  9. #9
    http and a telephoto
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    Samfind, your toolbar is not any different than any of the other thousands that claim an action has to be taken for an affiliate cookie to be dropped. Using an iFrame to drop a cookie is prohibited by a large number of merchants, and possibly even is against the CJ terms of service. Cookies can only be set using a click on a direct link to a site, not hidden in an iFrame.

  10. #10
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    If I work hard and am spending money on a PPC campaign and send the visitor to the site your toolbar will overwrite my cookie thus stealing my commission. This tactic is not favored very well in the affiliate community.
    I personally did not observe this type of behavior with the toolbar. While I did see the XML file of partnered merchants that ParadigmWilliam observed, I did not see it used in connection with invoking a SamFind affiliate link when I went to the a merchant's site via a direct type-in or another affiliate's link. While that type of behavior does happen with some applications and that type of "trigger file" is fairly common with toolbars, I personally didn't see it in this case.

    What I did personally find was the following:

    The toolbar appears to the end user as below:




    These are bookmark links using icons. Some of the preloaded booksmarks are for merchants partnered with SamFind as an affiliate. As basically a bookmark link, I did not find them connected with any type of automatic promoting or redirection of the browser. If I clicked on one of the bookmark icons, such as Overstock, the affiliate link would be invoked for that merchant.

    I personally don't find this type of behavior to be parasitic in the sense of forced clicks as the affiliate link being set is preceded by an actual physical click by the end user which is not misleading (the get to where they expect to go).

    However, individual merchants will need to decide if a preloaded bookmark in a toolbar is considered performance-based driven and warrants a commission.

    Not all merchants who partner with SamFind are preloaded as bookmarks however. So how is traffic and revenue driven for these other merchants?

    This is where I start having a larger problem with the toolbar. As SamFind mentioned in his post, they also inject icons in search returns. This is a type of behavior I am seeing on the rise by some affiliates (I looked at 2 other applications last week engaging in this type of behavior).

    The justification by SamFind for this type of behavior seems to be that they draw attention to the end user of the merchant's natural SERP listings. I found the injection of the merchant's logo into SERP returns for the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) and some not so major engines (Ask, Lycos). There are others as well. These returns look as follows (red box added by me):





    Clicking on the merchant's SERP lead to the SamFind affiliate link being called via the mentioned iFrame.

    At this point, the merchant's natural SERP listing has become a affiliate commissionable traffic.

    This is not a practice I advocate as being considered a legitimate traffic source for affiliates. I do not see cannabilization of the merchant's natural search traffic into the affiliate channel as in the "spirit" of performance-based marketing nor do I feel it to be a practice that should be associated with our channel.

    Interestingly, I found this behavior whether I searched through the SamFind search box or went directly to the search engine. Except in one case, for Google.






    Regardless of whether or not the logo was present, SamFind affiliate link was still invoked with a click of the SERP listing.

    This brings up a larger issue aside from whether or not the above "promotion" of the merchant warrants an affiliate sell.

    Should an affiliate be allowed to alter the contents of a web site that does not belong to them and potentially impact the revenue generation of that other site? As an online marketing channel, is it in our overall best interest to allow such behavior by affiliates? Do we really want to potentially piss off the search engines? Do affiliates really want to be altering the web pages of the 1000 pound gorilla?

    Are any of the search engines going to be happy about some affiliates potentially drawing traffic away from their sponsored listings? I think not. I know from my own personal communications with Google way back in the day of Gator and Ezula, what Google thought of the practice. Maybe all these guys starting to engage in this behavior weren't around back then to realize how all of that turned out.

    Complicating that picture even more now is the fact that Google owns an affiliate network themselves and seems to be allowing such behavior. That just opens up all kinds of potential problems with natural SERPs being monetized to Google's eventual financial gain.

    Back to the practice in general. I'm not alone in my view that other's shouldn't be able to inject their own monetization on another's site. The FTC has made at least one ruling along those lines. In The final settlement agreement with Odyesseus Marketing (Odyesseus was owned by Walter Rines, a spam king who was connected to and is still connected to Sanford Wallace, THE Spam King), the FTC imposed a permenant injunction against Rines from using software to do a lot of things including:

    Modifies or replaces any search engine s or other application s search rcsults, search features, or functions;
    From Section II B. 2. This was specific to the injection of ads onto Google pages. Sound familar? A side note that Rines was found to be in comtempt of this FTC order last year, along with his buddy Sanford Wallace.

    I hope that the networks will take a closer look at this particular type of behavior and will modify and enforce their policy to disallow it.

    One more point about this toolbar I'll make in a separate post.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  11. #11
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Unsuspecting Affiliates in Toolbars
    There was one other thing I observed in the toolbar that I think should be mentioned. I've seen this one recently elsewhere as well.

    I found several other well known affiliate sites preloaded in the bookmarks under the Shopping section. This incluced several affiliates who participate here and/or known here.

    Merchants and managers should be cautious when assessing software. I doubt that any of those affiliates even realize they are being promoted by the toolbar. I've seen this kind of thing with other toolbars as well. In other cases, the affiliate did know and it was a syndication deal.

    Sometimes it calls for some common sense along with a bit of digging to ascertain what is really going on.

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador kaizen's Avatar
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    Excellent analysis of the situation. Thank you for explaining it to us in a clear and concise manner.

  13. #13
    15 years and counting
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    A new use of a toolbar. How to deface search engine like Google, Yahoo, Ask.com... inject your own links, and ride on their advertising budgets. Sure, they are not our typical affiliate. I'm sure these SEs are going to appreciate.
    And Sam has the same candid explanations than Ken Smith from Zango (ex 180Solutions)
    Thanks Kellie

  14. #14
    Full Member gcarson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    Thanks Kellie
    +1 Great reporting and digging.

  15. #15
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    Thanks Kellie, fantastic assessment, and much appreciated..

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