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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    How to keep my affiliate list clean?
    I would like to know how to determine which affiliates are unethical in my program.

    Please advice.

  2. #2
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    This is probably one of the most common questions I get from managers and OPMs. It's also a topic that is near and dear to me.

    Probably the single most way folks who come to me want to approach this aspect of their program management is to ask me for a list of the "bad players." From my perspective that's putting the cart before the horse. They need to step back and begin at with more fundamental issues (I admit they usually don't want to hear that).

    Understand what the affiliate channel is about. You can't determine what are good or bad referral practices by affiliates if you don't understand what affiliate marketing is supposed to about to begin with.

    Understand the technical basics of tracking. I'm usually surprised at least once a month or so by seasoned managers/opms who are struggling with whether or not an affiliate is promoting them in an acceptable manner because they don't really have a grasp of how tracking happens. You can better determine if an affiliate is exploiting tracking if you fundamentally understand how tracking works. Understanding tracking will also help you in identifying questionable tactics in your network stats.

    Understand the most common types of questionable tactics These tactics are consistently the same and constantly changing. That sounds at odds, but what is consistent is that they affiliate in some way had their affiliate link track when it shouldn't have (that's the way they make money). How they do this is constantly changing. Some folks can be very creative in getting the "click" and in hiding bad behavior when they know they are exploiting the system and the merchant.

    Ask yourself how a promotional method impacts you and your loyal affiliates When evaulating whether or not you will allow a promotional method by an affiliate(s), ask how the practice impacts your own R
    OI and ROA. Is the affiliate bringing you a unique visitor or a unique customer (these two may not always be the same)? Did the consumer do something to indicate they wanted and intended to be referred by the affiliate to your site (typically this is assessed by whether the consumer actually did a physical click with the expectation of arriving to your site)? Was the consumer mislead in any way? Does the affiliate's promotional methods compete unfairly in any way with your other affiliates? Competitoin is a good thing....unfair competition can squelsh truly innovative and legitimate promotion by your other affiliates.

    How will you handle unacceptable promotions Have a set policy and procedure for how you will handle violations. Responses by the merchant should reflect how grievous the offense by the affiliate. This is a critical area and impacts my next point. There are all kinds of ways to handle offenses from ignoring it (yeah some merchants do that) to terminating the affiliate, to termination and witholdhing any unpaid commissions. Some merchants have sued affiliates because the offense was bad enough from the perspective of the merchant. Other options are giving a warning to the affiliate, putting them on probation or establishing a stike policy (e.g. strike three, you're out).

    Be prepared to enforce in a consistent manner Your affiliate list can never remain clean unless you are willing to follow through with consistent enforcement of your policies. For those new to the business, that will probably sound self evident. But I can guarantee you, there will come a time when an affiliate engages in a practice you don't like, and it will NOT be an easy decision of removing them from your program. You may know the affiliate personally & feel you have a good personal relationship. The affiliate may be generating enough revenue so that, even though you know that the revenue is tainted or some of the traffic is tainted, removing that revenue is hard to do. The moment you begin making exceptions to how you will manage your program, you have sent the message that the program can be manipulated....and it will be exploited and manipulated. Remember if you are making money from an affiliate, they are also making money from you! If an affiliate refuses to stop the objectionable program, then it suggests their revenue from such practices is more substantial than they probably want you to believe. Do not be afraid to terminate in cases where an affiliate refuses to use acceptable promotional methods. It such be a partnership between the merchant and affiliate, not a hostage situation.

    All of the above (and maybe somethings I've missed) should be mastered first before you can really hope to be able to monitor and maintain the integrity of your affiliate base.

  3. #3
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Excellent post, Kellie!
    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

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager Decorative Ceiling Tiles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kellie aka Ms. B View Post
    This is probably one of the most common questions I get from managers and OPMs. It's also a topic that is near and dear to me.

    Probably the single most way folks who come to me want to approach this aspect of their program management is to ask me for a list of the "bad players." From my perspective that's putting the cart before the horse. They need to step back and begin at with more fundamental issues (I admit they usually don't want to hear that).

    Understand what the affiliate channel is about. You can't determine what are good or bad referral practices by affiliates if you don't understand what affiliate marketing is supposed to about to begin with.

    Understand the technical basics of tracking. I'm usually surprised at least once a month or so by seasoned managers/opms who are struggling with whether or not an affiliate is promoting them in an acceptable manner because they don't really have a grasp of how tracking happens. You can better determine if an affiliate is exploiting tracking if you fundamentally understand how tracking works. Understanding tracking will also help you in identifying questionable tactics in your network stats.

    Understand the most common types of questionable tactics These tactics are consistently the same and constantly changing. That sounds at odds, but what is consistent is that they affiliate in some way had their affiliate link track when it shouldn't have (that's the way they make money). How they do this is constantly changing. Some folks can be very creative in getting the "click" and in hiding bad behavior when they know they are exploiting the system and the merchant.

    Ask yourself how a promotional method impacts you and your loyal affiliates When evaulating whether or not you will allow a promotional method by an affiliate(s), ask how the practice impacts your own R
    OI and ROA. Is the affiliate bringing you a unique visitor or a unique customer (these two may not always be the same)? Did the consumer do something to indicate they wanted and intended to be referred by the affiliate to your site (typically this is assessed by whether the consumer actually did a physical click with the expectation of arriving to your site)? Was the consumer mislead in any way? Does the affiliate's promotional methods compete unfairly in any way with your other affiliates? Competitoin is a good thing....unfair competition can squelsh truly innovative and legitimate promotion by your other affiliates.

    How will you handle unacceptable promotions Have a set policy and procedure for how you will handle violations. Responses by the merchant should reflect how grievous the offense by the affiliate. This is a critical area and impacts my next point. There are all kinds of ways to handle offenses from ignoring it (yeah some merchants do that) to terminating the affiliate, to termination and witholdhing any unpaid commissions. Some merchants have sued affiliates because the offense was bad enough from the perspective of the merchant. Other options are giving a warning to the affiliate, putting them on probation or establishing a stike policy (e.g. strike three, you're out).

    Be prepared to enforce in a consistent manner Your affiliate list can never remain clean unless you are willing to follow through with consistent enforcement of your policies. For those new to the business, that will probably sound self evident. But I can guarantee you, there will come a time when an affiliate engages in a practice you don't like, and it will NOT be an easy decision of removing them from your program. You may know the affiliate personally & feel you have a good personal relationship. The affiliate may be generating enough revenue so that, even though you know that the revenue is tainted or some of the traffic is tainted, removing that revenue is hard to do. The moment you begin making exceptions to how you will manage your program, you have sent the message that the program can be manipulated....and it will be exploited and manipulated. Remember if you are making money from an affiliate, they are also making money from you! If an affiliate refuses to stop the objectionable program, then it suggests their revenue from such practices is more substantial than they probably want you to believe. Do not be afraid to terminate in cases where an affiliate refuses to use acceptable promotional methods. It such be a partnership between the merchant and affiliate, not a hostage situation.

    All of the above (and maybe somethings I've missed) should be mastered first before you can really hope to be able to monitor and maintain the integrity of your affiliate base.

    Thanks Kellie,

    I guess mastering will come with time. I have enjoyed your podcast with Andy Rodriguez, would you recommend any other podcast to listen to?

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