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  1. #1
    Network Rep & ABW Ambassador Carolyn - ShareASale's Avatar
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    How would you respond?
    Hey guys,

    Really interested in hearing how you would respond in this situation, I was a bit befuddled myself...

    Two players: a merchant and a very active deal forum that auto-monetizes product links on its site (no toolbar, no download, clean)

    The merchant was posting their own deals on the affiliate site, and then reversing any transactions because "we posted the deal, not the affiliate, why should they get any credit?"

    I must've have written and re-written my response several times...

    I'm curious, if you were in my shoes, what would you have said (keep in mind that my goal is to educate, not chastise, the merchant)
    best,
    Carolyn
    ShareASale Client Services
    Y!: SAS_CTang
    e: ctang(at)shareasale.com

  2. #2
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I would point out that it was the coupon forum's loyal traffic that resulted in the sales. Who posted the deal doesn't matter.
    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

  3. #3
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    GAWD! I can understand your dilemma in trying to respond to this merchant.

    Mostly, I would point out that the affiliate has the traffic and without their hard-earned traffic, no sales are gonna happen. The affiliate's traffic are BUYERS who are on the affiliate's site, NOT the merchant site. Seems so obvious but merchants get arrogant and need a wake up call. The affiliate can (and should) replace the merchant links with their competition. Pointing that out might make the merchant realize what's what.

    Good luck.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  4. #4
    15 years and counting
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    First, a merchant should never interfere with an affiliate site.
    Then, if a deal is posted on an affiliate site, the commission belongs to the affiliate.
    If the merchant don't want to pay a commission, then they should not post a deal on an affiliate site.

  5. #5
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    I understand why a merchant would think the commissions should be waived... but...

    The affiliate pays for the hosting, forum, development, and traffic on their own site... the merchant is posting the deals inside the affiliate's house. If the affiliate didn't have an established website, which costs money, the merchant wouldn't be able to post..

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager
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    From a merchant perspective I don't think they have any reason to reverse the affiliate commissions. As it has already been pointed out they are taking advantage of the service the deal forum has made available. If they want their deals posted there maybe they need to build a stronger relationship with the people running the site.

    As a matter of fact, I myself was considering making a post in the forum of one of our active affiliates and this is part of the message that made me change my mind.

    "Do not post promotional information for a commercial website for which you are an affilliate, employee, owner, or otherwise receive financial benefit from. Users who breach this provision are authorizing name removed to charge you the sum of $1000.00 in advertising fees plus any collection and legal fees involved in collecting the debt."

    This is also part of the forum user agreement that I accepted when signing up to join the forum. I would suggest reviewing the T&Cs of the forum (if you haven't already), maybe that will help you.

  7. #7
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    I was gonna chime in but it looks like the bases have been covered. The only other angle I see, from the affiliate's point of view is that, "This is my site, not your site. You cannot advertise your product here unless you pay for that advertising."
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  8. #8
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt.P View Post
    "Do not post promotional information for a commercial website for which you are an affilliate, employee, owner, or otherwise receive financial benefit from. Users who breach this provision are authorizing name removed to charge you the sum of $1000.00 in advertising fees plus any collection and legal fees involved in collecting the debt."
    I think this is a great solution. Regardless of the outcome of the current situation you should recommend that the affiliate adapt a statement like this one. It will prevent other merchants from attempting this strategy as well as tell the current merchant what is expected from them. The affiliate should make the acceptance of these new terms a requirement for ALL current members as well as new members.

    -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

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador JudiMoore's Avatar
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    The reason the merchant wants to post their deal on THIS site is the same reason that any resulting sale should be commissioned. The site has the eyeballs the merchant is looking for and that traffic has a value attached. Buy advertising, pay commission or find some other place to post.

  10. #10
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Ohhhhhhhhh now I get it - Sorry Carolyn, I didn't understand the original post. Now I do and I have another opinion. LOL

    If the merchant went to this affiliate's web site and posted HIS OWN deal, expecting FREE traffic and sales, something's very wrong with his thinking. If the affiliate has a relationship with the merchant and the merchant has an affiliate program, the merchant has no room to complain. Obviously, this affiliate's site visitors are valuable to the merchant, otherwise why bother posting self-serving deals on another persons site. If the affiliate has a site that automatically monetizes a product link and the merchant doesn't like it, too bad. The merchant is assuming that because the merchant posted the link, it's HIS effort that *should* be rewarded? WTF - is the merchant also an affiliate? No, so the affiliate whose site is being used by the merchant to drive sales should absolutely be compensated. That's the affiliate's biz plan and if the affiliate was accepted into the merchant's program, then all's fair.

    It would be like if a merchant went to a forum or blog an ANY affiliate's site and started posting their links because they decided the affiliate's traffic fit their niche market and then not expect to compensate said affiliate.

    This merchant sounds a little bit screwy, CT. Tread carefully and good luck.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    First, I think it's a ridiculous argument they're making.

    As an ex affiliate, current affiliate program manager and a new merchant my comment is "What is the agreement with the affiliate?" If they made no agreement about this situation, they are bound by their affiliate agreement. Not only do they risk damaging their affiliate program beyond repair, they would be in violation of their own agreement. Are the commissions they're saving worth the damage their program will suffer? You know how affiliates feel about this.

    Ask them what their reaction would be if this affiliate claimed they were due double commissions because they wore blue shoes today. They would probably think or say "We never agreed to that". Good luck!
    Greg Rice Affiliate Program Management
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  12. #12
    Influencer Marketing GravityFed's Avatar
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    I agree it is a ridiculous argument they are making, and I would not be concerned with offending, or otherwise being too harsh with your response to the merchant on just that basis.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary-AvantLink View Post
    I agree it is a ridiculous argument they are making, and I would not be concerned with offending, or otherwise being too harsh with your response to the merchant on just that basis.
    Although it is a ridiculous argument, you want to be firm but not harsh to the merchant if your goal is to educate them. Carolyn has gotten a lot of great feedback in this thread to show the merchant, even though she knew going in what the merchant needed to be told. To be able to show a merchant this type of thread with the well thought out responses here will (should) go a long way towards showing the merchant that they are incorrect and need to change their policy and pay the affiliate.

    Sometimes it takes a "village" to show a merchant the error of their ways instead of just one person expressing an opinion.
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  14. #14
    Network Rep & ABW Ambassador Carolyn - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Still haven't heard back from the merchant...but whether or not the merchant stays or goes, I think the affiliate will be just fine. I did forward the affiliate that wording about self-promotion, that was excellent. The affiliate had language that allowed them to alter the content of any post, but I like the idea of restricting promotion in self-interest. That's a really big distinction and helps preserve the idea that members serve an editorial function as well, only sharing deals they think are really good. Allowing merchants to post kind of defeats the purpose, eh?

    So thanks for that, Matt P, and welcome to ABW!

  15. #15
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Excellent 4th post Matt P...I am impressed.

    From a technical standpoint, I understand the merchant's argument, but I think it is ridiculous that they would claim such a thing.

    I hope it is only a matter of education, but it does seem a little bit underhanded IMHO.
    Matt McWilliams
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  16. #16
    Affiliate Manager
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt McWilliams View Post
    Excellent 4th post Matt P...I am impressed.
    Thank you. Although I should make it clear that in considering posting in the forum on our affiliates site I was fully prepared to pay them any commissions generated. I simply did not post because it was against their agreement.

    Carolyn- In the situation you are faced with perhaps the merchant and the affiliate can reach agreement where the merchant can start sending their post recommendations directly to a specific contact that would be willing to post for them. Then the merchant has no reason to reverse the commissions, and the affiliate would have regular content to post. Obviously what the merchant is posting is working otherwise there would not be an issue. I know I would be more than willing to do this for any of my affiliates because it is in the best interest of both of us.

  17. #17
    Affiliate Manager ParadigmWilliam's Avatar
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    Where do some of these merchants learn online business practices? Come on this is so clearly straight forward. You can't expect to use someone else's traffic for free.
    [URL="http://www.manageaffiliatelinks.com/"][COLOR="Red"][B]Manage Affiliate Links[/B][/COLOR][/URL] - Redirect Dead, Expired, or Broken Links

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  18. #18
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ParadigmWilliam View Post
    Where do some of these merchants learn online business practices? Come on this is so clearly straight forward. You can't expect to use someone else's traffic for free.
    There is a much lower barrier to becoming an online merchant, much like the low barrier to becoming an affiliate. And just like anyone can become an affiliate, anyone can call themselves a merchant. The trick is becoming a SUCCESSFUL affiliate or merchant.

    There are countless posts here at ABW about merchants that just don't get it. Some simply don't have the business experience to know what's an acceptable practice or not, others don't have the necessary ethics to run an honest program and some are just plain stupid. The stupid ones are those that actually think that since it's their program that they can do whatever they want, and see absolutely nothing wrong with making up new rules as they go along. They think that the TOS is strictly for the affiliate to abide by and if we don't like the way that they run their program that we can leave. These are the programs that fail after a few months or a couple of years, and we usually eulogize them here also.

    -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

  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    What if the merchant didn't have an affiliate program? They'd probably get those links/sales for free. But because they do, they have to pay for them. It's really part of the decision making process in starting an affiliate program. If a merchant already gets free customers from an affiliate, they need to consider that beginning an affiliate program will require them to begin paying for those customers.

    - Scott
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  20. #20
    Affiliate Manager ParadigmWilliam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snib View Post
    What if the merchant didn't have an affiliate program? They'd probably get those links/sales for free. But because they do, they have to pay for them. It's really part of the decision making process in starting an affiliate program. If a merchant already gets free customers from an affiliate, they need to consider that beginning an affiliate program will require them to begin paying for those customers.

    - Scott
    That's the decision you have to make before hand. But you can't reverse commission because you want it the other way like this situation.

    But, you will mostly likely get better results with deal forums offering an affiliate program.
    [URL="http://www.manageaffiliatelinks.com/"][COLOR="Red"][B]Manage Affiliate Links[/B][/COLOR][/URL] - Redirect Dead, Expired, or Broken Links

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  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ParadigmWilliam View Post
    That's the decision you have to make before hand. But you can't reverse commission because you want it the other way like this situation.

    But, you will mostly likely get better results with deal forums offering an affiliate program.
    Exactly, so they already made this decision whether they knew it or not.
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

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