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  1. #1
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    Duplicate Orders from Mulitple Networks
    I run an Affiliate program for an online sporting goods company. We are currently in multiple Affiliate Networks and have started to see an overwhelming increase in duplicate orders: same order number, same first click time stamp, different companies and different networks.

    Last month over 26% of all orders were duplicates. It appears that they are mostly from coupon sites, but there is really no rhyme or reason that I can find.

    I know that many will give the advice... "don't be in multiple networks" but that is the current direction we are taking.

    So, is there any advice that anyone can share on how to reduce this issues. It is very time consuming to go through each order one by one to only find myself in a situation where I can't determine who actually the sales need to be credited too. I hate the idea that over 700 orders will need to be reversed as it is. It is not fair to the affiliates or the networks.

    Thank you for any help!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPnelson View Post
    We are currently in multiple Affiliate Networks and have started to see an overwhelming increase in duplicate orders: same order number, same first click time stamp, different companies and different networks.
    Are these clicks originating on multiple sites?
    You must climb this mountain. There is no elevator. ---- Don't stick your finger in the liquid nitrogen.
    Carolina China

  3. #3
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    same first click time stamp
    That says to me you need to check into those affiliates a bit closer for exactly how they are "promoting" you. If you are getting the same time stamp (or very close to it) from 2 different affiliates on the same order, software is typically the culprit behind it. If you time stamp you own organic or cookie them with a unique ID, you might want to check that as well.

    The one that is really the "second" click, even if by a fraction of a second, is the one you want to take a closer look at.

  4. #4
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    I want to make sure that I answer you question correctly. For the most part about 90% of them are originating for two separate websites. I have not been able to verify the IP address for one of networks, but that I my next idea.

    I orgianlly saw this pattern before the holidays and I asked the coupon sites to only belong to one network. Most complied and the duplicates were reduced. But this month they are overwhelming. I like stated, I want to be fair to my affiliates. But something has to change.

  5. #5
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    If only CJ and SAS gave me times down to the seconds and fraction of a second.

    There are some affiliates that are standing out to me as "bad apples". But it's the "big" and "reputable" ones that have the exact time stamp that worry me. I have always had a good relationship with them until I reversed almost half their commissions. Now I know I need to be more sensitive to our affiliates.

    Times like makes me want to end the program completely! Or at least get out of the multiple networks.

  6. #6
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    But it's the "big" and "reputable" ones that have the exact time stamp that worry me.
    If I'm understanding you correctly on what you mean about the time stamps, those are the ones that should be worrying you. The exact time stamp thing is actually commonly used as a compliance red flag.

    Again, this is "tell-tell" sign of some type of software (eg adware, loyaltyware, toolbar). An increasing number of coupon sites, even big and reputable ones, use this type of technology.

    If you are running on CJ, they allow such software in certain situations.

    The thing is, you need to understand how the traffic is being generated especially if you are reversing some of the transactions (need to be sure you are reversing the correct duplicate transaction.

    Go to the aff sites in question and look around to see if they offer their visitors some type of download, toolbar, plug-in, extension, etc. You can also Google the aff site along with things like toolbar, plug-in, extension to see if they are offering downloads outside of their own site like on the FireFox extension area.

    Of course, you probably should have your shopping cart programmed to only track the true last click since you are running on multiple networks. The drawback is that this type of situation isn't as apparent.

  7. #7
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    Kellie... this is so helpful!! Thank you so much.

    I have started the search and I am finding that the sites that are most frequently on this list do have "tool-bars".

    Now I have 10 days to figure this out. I just don't know how it is going to happen. Right now I am looking at almost $156k in duplicate orders and $20k in commissions and fees.

    Now you mentioned setting up tracking for last click. How will that work with our policy to pay on first click?

  8. #8
    OPM/Moderator Hectic GHC's Avatar
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    Also, have your programmer check the pixel to make sure its properly formatted to only give credit to one affiliate ID.
    Greg Hoffman
    Affiliate Marketing Advocate of the Year 2016; Best OPM/Agency - 2014; Best OPM/Agency, Five Years in a Row - ABestWeb.
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  9. #9
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    For others who may read this, I should clarify that when I'm talking about time stamp, I'm talking about the click time stamp (when the affiliate link is clicked) and NOT the transaction time stamp (when the order was placed). If a shopping cart is not programmed properly then of course the transaction time stamp will be the same as it tracks to more than one network. Just wanted to be clear.

    Last click was said because that is how most programs operate...last click in gets the commission. If your program is based on first click in gets the sale, then the same principle still applies with regards to the cart. Your receipt page needs to be programmed so that when more than network affiliate cookie is on the end users computer, then only the first one set triggers that ones network tracking pixel to fire off. If your tech guys aren't sure how to do that, they should be able to get assistance from the networks.

    I hate to add more angst to what is most likely already a bad day for you, but those duplicate sales aren't the only commissions which may well be at issue. Those are the obvious because 2 different networks were involved. You should be aware that toolbars can also either automatically redirect or prompt via the toolbar (depending on the particular software involved) on other traffic already on your site. This means that traffic on your site from places like your organic search traffic, paid search, direct type-ins, email campaigns, shopping comparison listings, etc can be redirected and show up as an affiliate sale. There would not be a duplicate affiliate sale to red flag you.

    I'll try to post a bit later some things you can do in order to hopefully prevent this in the future..outside of the shopping cart configuration which solves some things but hides other issues.

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  11. #10
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    I have recently taken over this program and over the past year it has grown exponentially. So I guess we are just having growing pains at this point.

    This has all be great news - good or bad- it will still help us to develop new policies and procedures to make sure that we are running a clean and honest Affiliate program.

    I know that it was mentioned that CJ allows for affiliates to use toolbars, does SAS restrict this? If Share A Sale does, would it be appropriate to require that all coupon sites use SAS and not CJ?

  12. #11
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPnelson View Post
    I know that it was mentioned that CJ allows for affiliates to use toolbars, does SAS restrict this? If Share A Sale does, would it be appropriate to require that all coupon sites use SAS and not CJ?
    Proposed Toolbar Policy - ABestWeb Affiliate Marketing Forum

    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Hoffman Consulting View Post
    Also, have your programmer check the pixel to make sure its properly formatted to only give credit to one affiliate ID.
    This is the LAST thing he should do, IMHO.

    The fact that duplicate commissions were posted is bringing a problem to light. That problem is likely caused by a parasite.

    If the cart were programmed to only display one tracking pixel, instead of having duplicate orders posted, the parasite would just be flat out STEALING the commissions from the other affiliate. Instead of the legitimate affiliate and the parasite getting credit, ONLY the parasite would.

    This is one reason (but not the only one, sadly) that I hate to work with multi-network merchants.
    Michael Coley
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     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
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  15. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPnelson View Post
    Last month over 26% of all orders were duplicates. It appears that they are mostly from coupon sites, but there is really no rhyme or reason that I can find.
    It's a huge number.
    "Again, this is "tell-tell" sign of some type of software (eg adware, loyaltyware, toolbar). An increasing number of coupon sites, even big and reputable ones, use this type of technology."
    Thanks Kellie to remind us, Affiliates and Merchants that (adware, loyaltyware, toolbar) are still stealing our commissions.
    Just one point, all coupon sites (and loyalty sites) and blogs or sites using coupons are not bad. I've seen lately, too many merchants getting rid of ALL coupon sites because of this problem.
    Affiliates using (adware, loyaltyware, toolbar) are the ones to deactivate.

  16. #14
    OPM/Moderator Hectic GHC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey View Post
    This is the LAST thing he should do, IMHO.

    The fact that duplicate commissions were posted is bringing a problem to light. That problem is likely caused by a parasite.

    If the cart were programmed to only display one tracking pixel, instead of having duplicate orders posted, the parasite would just be flat out STEALING the commissions from the other affiliate. Instead of the legitimate affiliate and the parasite getting credit, ONLY the parasite would.

    This is one reason (but not the only one, sadly) that I hate to work with multi-network merchants.
    Agreed, clean up the program, then check the pixel. But it still needs to be done.
    Greg Hoffman
    Affiliate Marketing Advocate of the Year 2016; Best OPM/Agency - 2014; Best OPM/Agency, Five Years in a Row - ABestWeb.
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  17. #15
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    MichaelColey - very good point. I want to be able to see who is doing something wrong and not let it go undetected.

    As for multiple networks - We are seriously re-evaluating making that move. But at what cost? Will how many of our "big" affiliates will leave us all together? Will we be able to make up that lose stream of revenue? Which network should we leave - the one that tends to be lass transparent with the merchants or the one that seems to go the extra mile to protect both the affiliate and the merchant but has 1/3 less sales?

    Zeus - Coupon sites will exist regardless of whether or not we have them in our Affiliate program. But I'd rather have them on our side when it comes to visibility in the online community. And I can't ignore the fact that they tend to be our biggest producing affiliates, even though I try to help and grow the small niche websites that truly represent our products.

    Overall, I just want to run a clean and fair affiliate program (and avoid public humiliation form very unhappy affiliates ). Now I just have to find out what the best steps are to making that happen. I guess it's a good thing that we just clean the system of most of our PPC violators. Now on the cleaning up this issue.

    Please keep the great advice coming! It is amazingly helpful!!!

  18. #16
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    If the cart were programmed to only display one tracking pixel, instead of having duplicate orders posted, the parasite would just be flat out STEALING the commissions from the other affiliate. Instead of the legitimate affiliate and the parasite getting credit, ONLY the parasite would.
    That would be the case normally. But SP said they are running their program as first click gets the sale. So if the cart was programmed correctly and a parasite was involved, the first referring affiliate should be the affiliate who really sent the visitor.

    But as I said earlier they probably wouldn't have caught this problem either. And the % of duplicate orders is certainly much higher than I've seen other merchants report whose cart isn't configured (in the single digits).

  19. #17
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    Kellie aka Ms. B - up until the past few months, it had been less than 100. So this month was alarming especially since we had not changed anything on our end.

    I have put in a request with our IT department to look at the configuration on the thank you page and how it is determined who get's first click.

    We have also recently added a new parameter that helps track actual first click so we can accurately assign sales to the proper channel. I just had not been able to get to all the affiliate links yet. However, if we only track down to the minute and not the second, I don't know how it will handle it.

  20. #18
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    As for multiple networks - We are seriously re-evaluating making that move. But at what cost? Will how many of our "big" affiliates will leave us all together? Will we be able to make up that lose stream of revenue?
    When looking at the numbers in attempt to reach a decision, you need to keep one important point in mind: your numbers are currently corrupted. Unless you can clean your numbers up retrospectively, you will be using numbers which are misleading.

    If you remove the sales/commissions which are parasitic (not just the duplicate sales which are affiliate overwrites but the affiliate sales associated with cannibalizing your other traffic so shouldn't really be affiliate sales), is one network still generating 1/3 less sales than the other network?

    How many of your "big" affiliates work with both networks already anyway? Most large affiliates work with most of the major networks. They may not like the thought of having to change out their links, but that's not the same as they won't do it. Particularly if they are making money with your program. You can check their sites to see if they are promoting merchants on both networks. If there are particular affiliates you have concerns of following you to a single network, then reach out to them privately, let them know you are considering the move and get their input.

    Which network should we leave - the one that tends to be lass transparent with the merchants or the one that seems to go the extra mile to protect both the affiliate and the merchant but has 1/3 less sales?
    You should be thinking ROI/ROAS and not sales volume. You can have get a large volume of sales, but have an ROI that can kill a program. Again, you need to have unpolluted numbers when calculating the ROI.

    You may want to reach out to Angel and get his input on what those numbers turned out to be when he cleaned up OnlineShoes. The numbers related to just one adware affiliate and the impact on just their PPC was not insignificant (wish I could remember what it was).

  21. #19
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    However, if we only track down to the minute and not the second, I don't know how it will handle it.
    If you are putting the info in your merchant cookie with the sales channel parameter, then you should be able to do it. You pull the first aff network incident recorded in the cookie. But I'm not a programmer. The networks have helped merchants set this up, so it's probably best for IT to get advise from the networks.

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