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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador
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    I'm sure you've seen the BCS thread where they are now partnering with schoolpop.

    Brian made this statement
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Our stance on parasite software has not changed, and we still hold our trusted merchant status at ABestWeb. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Does this mean that schoolpop is no longer considered a parasite "by ABW" and merchants participating with them can still maintain a trusted merchant status?

    While I understand that BCS is suposidly participating in a "coupons only" type mode with them (not sure if this is the difference), I don't recall the formal requirements of having a trusted merchant status and if this really matters or not.

    I addressed some concerns regarding "coupons only" type participation and did not get any clarification or feedback on the issues I brought up.

    Any comments you can provide and clarification regarding trusted merchant status and this issue would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    As long as a merchant does not particpate in the downloadable app they qualify for the trusted merchant seal.

    There is a bit of work that needs to be done with the pware forum (and site) but I wanted to finish up some other outstandng issues before I takled that.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  3. #3
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    My primary concern on this is about a parasites ability to spoof a referring url and make the referer appear to come from the website instead of from the application?

    Do you see this as a non-issue?

  4. #4
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    No I see it as an issue, I also see it happening.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  5. #5
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    Well then IMO allowing merchants to keep their trusted seal while participating with parasites who offer a non program based alternative doesn't make sense.

    Not sure if you saw it but even the term "coupons only" is very misleading in itself. What this term really means is "website only purchases" with a merchant that "may also offer coupons".

    I suggest the term is not only misleading but specifically named as such with the intent to be misleading. A consumer with an application would never question being redirected to a "coupons only merchant" by software but if the term said "our website only purchases" they may think twice about the redirect and then wonder why some merchants fall into "our website only purchases". Obviously parasites do not want their members thinking this way and certainly not asking questions why a merchant is website purchases only? God forbide they realize they are supporting theft of other webmasters income.

    I am concerned that redirects and spoofing - do occur as you also suggest and would appreciate you considering this with allowing merchants to keep their trusted seal.

    Is a company really trusted when they partner with companies who are known to actively participate in theivery (regardless if its with the merchant itself or not)? IMO - they aren't and it does not support the overall intent of what a trusted merchant stands for.

    Merchants have to want OUR business (collective internet shopping appeal from consumers) to be "more effective" as well. Participation with parasites who actively particpate in theivery but also offer "coupons only" based alternatives does not IMO lead to a better environment for businesses, affiliates or consumers in the long run - and I think most people would agree with this statement.

  6. #6
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    I'm not going to really go into what criteria Haiko should or should not be using for the Trusted Merchant seal, but just respond to some points brought up here.

    On the coupons only point and I read that over in the BC thread also. That might or might not be a valid point (possibly worthy of it's own discussion), but in relation to BC, schoolpop and from the title of this thread, it's a mute point since schoolpop doesn't use such nomenclature. See http://www.schoolpop.com/cgi/allmerch.cgi?start=b Backcountry is showing a % donation for being a website only Merchant. In fact I don't see anything on the site which indicates which of their Merchants may be web site only Merchants. So there is no distinction for schoolpops users in web only and app Merchants, except the donation will not automatically happen if they don't have the software installed.

    On spoofing of referral headers. This is probably splitting hairs to some degree but actually has some important implications further than what you've said already.

    Applications such as schoolpops, ebates, etc will direct the traffic through their servers before sending it to the merchant's site. I personally don't consider this technically spoofing since the referral header is accurately stating where the traffic originated from (ie their servers). Can this configuration of hide the fact from a Merchant who has opted out of the software that their links may indeed be being run through the software? Yes it can. And I've seen it happen very randomly and sparodically with one application (not schoolpop). However more significant than that I think is the fact that for Merchant's who are trying to accurately assess the value of their partnership with these applications it is almost impossible. Because they really can't look at their stats and determine how much of the sales/traffic is really coming through the app vs the site. And then what you get is Merchants not willing to take the risk of completely dropping the application with the amount of revenue being talked about (especially when they see/hear other Merchants saying the revenue did not get made up through the other 'clean' affiliates) or doing 'test' run with just an opt out to try and at least be able to garner the 'clean' traffic that affiliate like schoolpop could bring them.

    Now true spoofing for me is when an application never has anything really go through their site or servers, however their website will show in the http referrer. So the traffic is appearing to have come from their web site instead of showing a zero referrer. IMO this is a pure blantant act by the affiliate to decieve and defraud. It also potentially allows for an affiliate to be using software and minimizes many of the red flags for detection. I have also seen true spoofing. Not talking schoolpop however.

  7. #7
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Can this configuration of hide the fact from a Merchant who has opted out of the software that their links may indeed be being run through the software? Yes it can. And I've seen it happen very randomly and sparodically with one application (not schoolpop). <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The amount of watching done by affiliates like you, Ben and "how many others" sees what percentage of whats realy happening?

    Even with sound procedures, methodologies and through testing plans we (thats right, myself included) still miss important information that is relevent to bad behaviors when it comes to testing a site or software - the networks with their compliance teams and big money budgets surely haven't been immune from missing HUGE things either - all the time and for years!!!!

    This will never make me feel good about anyone making a blaket statement concerning an application or an affiliate because what we see in our testing represents such a small sampling of data that it's almost nonsense to consider it as meaningful at all. So forgive me (no jab intended) but just because you say you haven't seen it in schoolpop - means squat to me when I consider the big picture.

  8. #8
    You are in, or you are out ... choose!
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    or to put it another way Poon,

    "Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence."

    This also concerns me and I am sure a lot of poeple as well.

    Woz

  9. #9
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Poon read what I actually post please.

    I said it could happen and I have indeed seen it happen. The case that I did see it happen was not schoolpop. Since I had just said it could happen in general I don't see where it's saying it couldn't happen. Lots of things can and do happen.

    However, I am NOT about to say I've seen it happen and have it appear that I'm saying that it does happen for schoolpop when I can't back that up if questioned. It's called being accurate. I can back it up for the application I did actually see it happen on.

    I was making no blanket statement whatsoever of whether or not schoolpop engages in this particular behavior. I've not tested schoolpop for it so I don't know. It is a behavior that should be tested for in situations where a Merchant is being told they can opt out. It's something I've causally looked for in the past because I knew it could happen. It's how I found the one I did find (with them being sneaky about it). It is something I do test formally now. Along with whether or not those exclusions list really are exclusion lists.

    It is a behavior that needs to be watched for. But in reality you'll probably make more ground with case when dealing with Merchants if you provide what is known to be happening with a particular application. And depending on the merchant sometimes being able to show them what is happening with a closely associated application or situation.

    Affs do need to seriously start thinking about what is being brought up with bc/schoolpop though. Becuase I know from discussions I've had with Merchants from quite some time now, many Merchants are not only seriously considering going this route, quite a few have. And I don't think all of them have necessarily opted out of the application part of the software. Folks might want to take a gander at some of those Merchant lists again.

    And if this isn't the avenue you want some of your favorite parasite-free merchants taking (seal or not) then the compelling case/reason for them not to do so from a business perspective needs to be made. Because it *is* a business decision that is making them take this route.

  10. #10
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Well this listing reads like the Who's who of ABW merchants playing all sides of the fence.

    http://www.schoolpop.com/cgi/allmerch.cgi?start=all

    I see Akiva's programs and Mondera aren't being two faced. Wonder how many millions a month these wanks cream off the top of other affiliates page creatives attacking our referral at the merchants point of sale. Some merchnats give a bigger rebate to their members then they dole out to their affiliate slaves. Have any idea the size of their e-mail list which probably parallels eBates list.

    Small wonder with this one and many more hidden enities why thousands of Overstock and TigerDirect clicks no longer yield the expected results. Sending targeted traffic to any of those merchants just focuses the BHO attackers and makes the cookie stuffers work harder.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  11. #11
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    I am working on reworking new standards for the Trusted merchant seal and am more than receptive for constructive input on or off the boards.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  12. #12
    pph Expert! Gordon's Avatar
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    To be quite honest Haiko I don't care if a merchant is not utilising all of a parasites program the main thing is they ARE utilising some of it and the parasites on/off switch is very easily switched as we have seen numerous times in the past. The fact that they are allowing a parasite in their program at all means they are helping fund the parasites to pay their programers to come up with better and more efficient and invisible ways to steal from us.

    I say any merchant that has even a small part of a parasites program in their affiliate program (knowingly) should not be allowed or should lose the Trusted Merchant Seal.

    If they are allowed to stay in then the Trusted Merchant Seal will soon mean as much as the CJ COC, as we all know that is Jack sh*t!, I would hate for anything you put your name to to go that way Haiko.
    One day parasites and their ilk will be made illegal, I bet a few Lawyers will be pissed off when the day comes.
    Mr. Spitzer is fetching it nearer

    YouTrek

  13. #13
    Content $ Queen Ebudae's Avatar
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    Well said Gordon!!

    Ebudae


  14. #14
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>And if this isn't the avenue you want some of your favorite parasite-free merchants taking (seal or not) then the compelling case/reason for them not to do so from a business perspective needs to be made. Because it *is* a business decision that is making them take this route. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Well then we're all gonna have one heck of time going forward. The business issue "if their really is one" is that the parasites do utilize and compete against their other affiliate partners using the marketing thay have provided as a basis to compete agaist them.

    I can't think of a single parasite that built their membership up via a website. Most have for years "and still today" target consumers and children with drive by downloads, tricky popups and BS free applications in order to facilitate getting their software on a person computer. Some of the compliant parasites even offer up ways that other affiliates can become out of compliance as well - and they openly allow this with what appears to be "no concsequences".

    The fact that court rulings to date have not made a significant impact on a parasites ability to openly operate does not mean that they aren't stealing at multiple levels and competing unfairly as a result. Without legal precidence, merchants and networks may still be able to make this ** business decision ** to do business with them but the issue is more of a moral decision in the time being if you support their business model "caugh caugh" or not IMO.

    Given the history of most parasites and how they have come into strength, I obviously do not trust any such trusted status with them and statements made where merchants partner with them and feel it's justified because they are "suposidly" not participating in one part of the business model is a croc as far as I;m concerned.

    I opened this thread because I wanted to know how Haiko felt about this and because I do see it as a risk going forward...... I certainly respect Haikos right to define what terms make up a trusted merchant and I also respect a merchants ability to do business with whoever they choose to. I also have my own opinions that I respect as well.

  15. #15
    Action Jackson - King of the World
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    ok I am confused as I didn't think schoolpop was a parasite.

    There was a mention of them in Revenue Magazanine and surely they aren't praising parasites?

  16. #16
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    You never noticed the parasite forum here?

  17. #17
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    This topic hits the nail on the head. The merchant signs up for web site only, so the app runs the clicks through the web site on the way to the particualr merchant.

    Merchants who participate in such programs are guilty and should not be trusted.....period!!

    This "web site only" status is a smoke screen to try to pacify the mainstream publishers. They can say what they want, but it doesn't matter.

    If you drive the getaway car, you are just as guilty as they ones who robbed the bank.


  18. #18
    Action Jackson - King of the World
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    Trust:

    That forum is way too complex and long to understand anything LOL

  19. #19
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Alright, I asked for imput and got:

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Merchants who participate in such programs are guilty and should not be trusted.....period!! <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    That's it? so no iGive, Upromise, ebates or the such coupons only or otherwise?

    What about full disclosure that they do deal with only coupons on those sites?

    Any other imput here would really be appreciated.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  20. #20
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    What part of 'constructive input' didn't you understand? Keep your smart ass remarks to yourself.

  21. #21
    pph Expert! Gordon's Avatar
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    Haiko you know as much I do that once a thief always a thief.

    We know for certain and from past experiences that these parasites can click the switch as soon and as often as they want. The moment their money is not coming in as fast as they want it to they will hit the switch with not the slightest thought for all us honest affiliates.

    Another thing to be honest with you I don't care if they are honest now, the fact that they built up their empires by stealing from us and lying to us should exclude them from anything whatsoever to do with affiliate marketing.

    Would you let a paedophile near your kids just because he said he was cured? I'm bloody sure I wouldn't. I feel exactly the same about parasites they were scum, they are scum and they always will be scum.

    Sorry if this is not what you wanted to see posted Haiko but I feel so strongly about this issue and the way we have all been exploited that I doubt I will ever change.
    One day parasites and their ilk will be made illegal, I bet a few Lawyers will be pissed off when the day comes.
    Mr. Spitzer is fetching it nearer

    YouTrek

  22. #22
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    OK, No problem - Just so people wont get confused. I did not make the post above. The post I made was completed erased and Haiko added his comments about my post in it.

    Haiko you can delete this one too

  23. #23
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    Originally posted by Haiko:
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> That's it? so no iGive, Upromise, ebates or the such coupons only or otherwise?

    What about full disclosure that they do deal with only coupons on those sites? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Haiko,
    I say to be trusted, a merchant should be clean 100%. No coupons through iGive or Upromise or anyone else. If a merchant will participate in a program that can so easily be used against them, as well as used against other affiliates, how can we possibly place the "Trusted Merchant" seal upon them?
    The merchants know that these companies are doing things that are unethical, but they participate only in the ethical behavior? Nonsense!!
    You havee the power to make a statement to BC and others here and I beseech you to take a Zero Tolerance stand here.
    This community represents all that is good about affiliate marketing.
    Hold yourself higher than the networks and the parasitic thugs and take a stance.

    Thanks

    Scott


  24. #24
    Content $ Queen Ebudae's Avatar
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    I agree with Scott.
    Ebudae


  25. #25
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    So do I. As well as the others who expressed the same sentiment.

    Any other input? AMs? OPMs? Merchants?

    Last call!
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

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