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  1. #1
    Member bluewaves1's Avatar
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    Merchants Who Become Affiliates
    Just a warning to affiliates. Beware of your affiliate managers who use your personal data to their advantage and then become - affiliates.

    One is now ranking in three spots for the same keyword on the front page just below me and most likely will rank above me.

    Competition is great, but I think this is unethical.


  2. #2
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Happens all the time. Happening this very moment. Many AMs/OPMs were affiliates first. Some even promote their own merchants and their merchants' competitors. And yes, they learn from their merchants affiliates to their advantage...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  3. #3
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    so . . . can we shoot 'em?

  4. #4
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herb ԿԬ View Post
    so . . . can we shoot 'em?
    Absolutely, Herb - on the condition, of course, where the OP has evidence that the accused manager-turned-affiliate has actually been employing personal data to gain an advantage. However, this might (most likely) be a case where a small, niche-focused site is simply employing better SEO to do well in the SERPs for a minor-league term.
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  6. #5
    Member bluewaves1's Avatar
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    Employing better SEO is what we all need, especially after the Penguin update. It is good that the competition was in a small niche site and that it was a minor-league term.

  7. #6
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Absolutely, Herb - on the condition, of course, where the OP has evidence that the accused manager-turned-affiliate has actually been employing personal data to gain an advantage. However, this might (most likely) be a case where a small, niche-focused site is simply employing better SEO to do well in the SERPs for a minor-league term.
    So Bill you are saying that if an Affiliate Manager leaves that position but uses information to compete with the top affiliate in the program they no longer manage, its OK as long as the affiliate can't prove it. Circumstantial evidence and coincidence are just that?

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  9. #7
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    So Bill you are saying that if an Affiliate Manager leaves that position but uses information to compete with the top affiliate in the program they no longer manage, its OK as long as the affiliate can't prove it. Circumstantial evidence and coincidence are just that?
    Not taking sides on this, just from a pure discussion standpoint.

    1. Without proof it's just conjecture. Too many variables in play.
    2. Merchants need to do a better job of writing enforceable non-compete clauses in their contracts to protect themselves and their affiliates.
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  10. #8
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Merchants need to do a better job of writing enforceable non-compete clauses in their contracts to protect themselves and their affiliates.
    I doubt that many merchants ever think about that.

    I remember one of the first affiliate programs I launched where the merchant sent a 12 page affiliate terms agreement. I told them that it was overly restrictive but they insisted. On the other hand most AM/OPMs aren't going to recommend adding additional non-competes as it takes long enough to negotiate what we have.

  11. #9
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herb ԿԬ View Post
    so . . . can we shoot 'em?
    Herb is being sarcastic and slapstick funny at the same time
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  12. #10
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    I doubt that many merchants ever think about that.
    No, they don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    On the other hand most AM/OPMs aren't going to recommend adding additional non-competes as it takes long enough to negotiate what we have.
    I can't imagine why an AM/OPM WOULD want to ADD any non-compete clauses. It would only restrict the AM/OPM. Merchants need to do it per my original statement...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  13. #11
    Affiliate Manager AffiliateWarrior's Avatar
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    Yeah, you're not going to see OPM's signing off on non-competes unless the merchants are willing to sign some long term, no-cut deals. That said, an OPM or AM competing with their own affiliates while working the program is definitely unethical. Jumping in immediately after being let go seems pretty shady as well. If there is some real separation time - might change my opinion a bit.
    Wade Tonkin - Affiliate Manager - Fanatics
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  15. #12
    ABW Ambassador purplebear's Avatar
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    Been called naive before for I guess wanting to see the good in people instead of thinking the bad and maybe being a bit blind before actually realizing the bad so will say that I think is possible to be an affiliate then become a merchant or affiliate manager or other way around IF the individual is an honest, ethical person.

    Dummy alert: Having said that, I will fess up and say I don't know exactly what information an affiliate manager or merchant is going to have about any of their affiliates that any other affiliate wouldn't also be able to have?? For instance if I have a site about dogs I could make a search for that and see the sites that appear in search results, can click any of the links if I wanted to do so and could look at their site. You can do a view source and then see keywords in it and you'd get an idea from that. Any affiliate could do this.

    Am not sure what the "Personal data" is that the affiliate manager or merchant would be able to have that anybody else wouldn't be able to have. So.....this is my dumminess. Is there info they would have that others also couldn't have?

    If answer to that is yes then if they use that info it would definitely be unethical. Don't know how you could say it wasn't.

    Is it that an affiliate manager or merchant would know the sites of their affiliates because they're the affiliate manager or merchant and other affiliates would have no clue? Example, I know the sites of quite a few members here because am friends with them and they've told me or being the affiliate sleuth that I am am able to click the link in their signature to visit their site or take a guess from maybe subjects they've talked about then make some searches to find them Good majority of members tho I wouldn't have a clue what their sites are.

    If it is that they would know what an affiliate's site was (because they had that info ) and then make their own site be similar in some way as that affiliate then yeap that would definitely be unethical. (or least in my opinion it is)

    Guess other possibility this might be referring to is that the affiliate manager or merchant could know what all the sites are of an affiliate? They could then maybe get a niche idea from them and make their own site about that same niche? Wouldn't the merchant or affiliate manager already know what niche ideas are relevant to their sites tho? Or, is it that they wouldn't already know but after seeing that an affiliate in their program is doing well with a certain niche they would then make a site in that same niche? If that is the case then would definitely be unethical. (or least in my opinion it is)

    So, umm "an OPM or AM competing with their own affiliates while working the program is definitely unethical. "

    If they had their own site with their own ideas and don't use any info they'd get from being an am or merchant IF they're an honest, ethical person don't think that they would be unethical doing so. Have said that before in other threads. Don't think an affiliate should have to give up their site if was their own idea if they wanted to try being an affiliate manager. (as long as they don't take any info and use to their own advantage)

    Think answer would be obvious if any affiliate manager or merchant uses any information about an affiliate to compete with them that would definitely be wrong, just am not sure what that information is that is being referred to in this thread.

  16. #13
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by purplebear View Post
    Am not sure what the "Personal data" is that the affiliate manager or merchant would be able to have that anybody else wouldn't be able to have. So.....this is my dumminess. Is there info they would have that others also couldn't have?

    If answer to that is yes then if they use that info it would definitely be unethical. Don't know how you could say it wasn't.

    Is it that an affiliate manager or merchant would know the sites of their affiliates because they're the affiliate manager or merchant and other affiliates would have no clue? Example, I know the sites of quite a few members here because am friends with them and they've told me or being the affiliate sleuth that I am am able to click the link in their signature to visit their site or take a guess from maybe subjects they've talked about then make some searches to find them Good majority of members tho I wouldn't have a clue what their sites are.
    You and I, and many others, may know some of the sites of other affiliates, but You and I, and many others, don't have the actual data to know how much money they're making on that program, or how they're promoting that program in order to make more sales than the rest of us, while someone managing that program will have all that info at they disposal...

    It all depends on who have the info, and what they do, or don't do with it... (insider trading?)


  17. #14
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    What Mr. Sal said! Also if there are top products selling that follow a certain segment and the affiliate has made niche sites to sells those then it would be alarming to see an AM turn affiliate make similar sites. And even worse to have competitive sites show up that scrape the affiliates content verbatim. In that case it looks like they are not only trying to compete but also get the other affiliates site demoted in the search listings.
    Last edited by Chuck Hamrick; August 14th, 2012 at 08:06 PM.

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  19. #15
    ABW Ambassador purplebear's Avatar
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    "It all depends on who have the info, and what they do, or don't do with it... (insider trading?) "

    Never having been an affiliate manager or merchant I didn't know what info they have about the affiliate's site. (Guessing if an affiliate keeps their domain name private and if they don't have an email address on their site the affiliate manager wouldn't have access to that?? or maybe they would get it from the network? That really wouldn't be necessary for them to have tho if they have info about which products sell on their site/sites as Chuck said, possibly even keywords or whatever other info)

    Don't know but am guessing an affiliate manager or merchant would know the domain name of a site? They'd have referral info for where sales came from ??

    Will go back to what I said about being naive lol I still think IF person is honest and ethical it's not a problem. Admit that may not include very many people lol but think there are some people where it could.


    "Circumstantial evidence and coincidence are just that?"

    Guess if you're talking about in a court of law that would be the case but don't think an affiliate would be able to take their affiliate manager or merchant to court or maybe they could but doubt many would want to spend money to do so.

    So, going back to my example I used earlier. An affiliate has a site about dogs and is in a program that sells dog products. An affiliate manager or merchant would then know which dog products that affiliate is doing well with because they would have access to that information. If that affiliate manager or merchant had a site before becoming affiliate manager or merchant and had made it a niche site about purple dog beds for small dogs (just an example lol ) don't think that affiliate manager or merchant would be unethical if they kept that site because they had already established that niche on their own (without any affiliate info)

    If that affiliate manager or merchant after having that program discovered that one of their affiliates was selling a lot of purple dog beds for small dogs (because they had that info from data in program) and then decided to make a niche site about purple dog beds for small dogs.........umm don't think anybody in their right mind is gonna think that's just a coincidence.

    Guess what I'm thinking is that if you're an affiliate with an established site before becoming an affiliate manager or merchant and are an honest, ethical person you shouldn't be expected to have to give that site up,

    If you're an affiliate manager or merchant for a dog products program and then become an affiliate unless you go back to being an affiliate with that niche site about purple dog beds for small dogs (as an example) you had before becoming the affiliate manager or merchant affiliates will suspect whatever site you have.

    There would be plenty of topics that person could make a site about after leaving that program managed or owned by them so am having a hard time now after knowing they'd have access to that data that they wouldn't be unethical.

    Still think is possible if this person had a site before the program and they had access to data while managing or owning program (my purple dog beds for small dogs example) if were honest and ethical there isn't a problem. Making a site after having access to the data tho is where I'm having a problem.

    So...
    "One is now ranking in three spots for the same keyword on the front page just below me and most likely will rank above me."

    Unless bluewaves1 site is about purple dog beds for small dogs and this person before they became the affiliate manager or merchant of the program bluewaves1 is in had a site about purple dog beds for small dogs am having a hard time understanding how this would not be unethical.

    As Chuck said they'd know what products sold on bluewaves1 's site so they would have to know keywords they did well with as well. Even if they didn't know bluewaves1 's keywords they'd still know the products so could figure out their own keywords.

    Unless the site by this person was already an established site before being involved in whatever program, don't know how people are not gonna think something unethical is going on.

    Scenario you gave Chuck is definitely unethical and just flat out wrong and person shouldn't be allowed to do.

    As have said, don't know whole lot involved in being an affiliate manager but maybe there should be non-compete causes except in the case I gave where somebody could have a site before becoming the affiliate manager or merchant. Still think they could have it and not do anything unethical.

    Dummy question but am guessing there really isn't anything bluewaves1 can do about this situation? Certainly isn't very fair for them to have spent probably years making their site get to the point where it does well only to have another site start ranking higher than their site Very sorry this has happened to you bluewaves1

  20. #16
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Two possible scenarios:

    Scenario 1:
    Affiliate in Niche1 > Merchant/AM/OPM in Niche1 > Affiliate in Niche1.

    Was an affiliate before becoming Merchant/AM/OPM.

    Already established in the industry. Knows the industry. Moot point.

    Scenario 2:
    Merchant/AM/OPM in Niche1 > Affiliate in Niche1.

    Merchant/AM/OPM in Niche1 becomes an Affiliate in Niche1 - PROBLEM.

    Keywords isn't a relevant argument. - Any Affiliate/Merchant/AM/OPM knows what keywords work in their niche. There are no keyword secrets.

    Without additional input from bluewaves1, regarding who/what/where this peronal data was used to the benefit of the Merchant turned Affiliate, it's just gossip...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  22. #17
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    Nice summary Convergence.

    Business ethics are a spin off of personal character and responsibility. It's a sad but true fact that some affiliates/merchants/AM/OPMs simply have poor character and don't take responsibility for their actions. They'll always be with us.

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  24. #18
    ABW Ambassador purplebear's Avatar
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    "Without additional input from bluewaves1, regarding who/what/where this peronal data was used to the benefit of the Merchant turned Affiliate, it's just gossip... "

    I very much respect your opinion convergence but I disagree.

    I know a lot of affiliates like to keep their sites and information relating to it secret so don't think bluewaves1 should have to let anybody know that information if she doesn't want to do so. From everything I've read in this thread she hasn't done anything wrong so shouldn't have to give up that info.

    "One is now ranking in three spots for the same keyword on the front page just below me and most likely will rank above me."

    Unless as I said this is a case of this affiliate manager or merchant having had a very niche site before becoming the affiliate manager or merchant don't think is just gossip.

    If they did have this very niche site and had info while the affiliate manager or merchant that she was making a similar site I think the right thing to have done would have been to at least tell her so she wouldn't spend a lot of her time invested in a site where his or her site would be outranking her in search results.

    If is a case where the person left managing or owning the program and then made a niche site that is outranking her, that shouldn't be (and after knowing now what info the am or merchant would have access to is really hard to believe is just a coincidence) so......if they now realize she had the idea for the site first, the right thing to do or least in my opinion is for them to make a site about something else. If not, don't think any reasonable minded person is gonna think that niche site just happened by accident.

    Again, convergence I very much respect your thoughts, just differ a bit with ya on it I guess.

  25. #19
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    I understand where you're coming from PB, but the initial post was vague, so therefore my opinion reflects that.

    I actually do know what the original post was referring to - as I said, there are no keyword secrets and I've never been a merchant/AM/OPM in that niche. Just an affiliate who knows who the players are in that niche as I am in that niche as well (as are many, many, many affiliates). I wouldn't have needed to be a merchant/AM/OPM to do what the person did - it happens DAILY by other affiliates...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  27. #20
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Anyone remember when it was discovered that employees of CJ were also affiliates and making more money on commissions than their salaries? CJ decided that employees couldn't be affiliates of CJ merchants so they had to decide which they wanted. So several left their employment with CJ and became full time affiliates. Do you think you can be a judge for a legal case that you are residing over? Only in third world countries!

    Bluewaves1 is has chosen not to publicly out the past AM but has put this out as a warning. If it looks like a duck and farts like a duck, follow your gut feeling, its probably a duck!

  28. #21
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    Anyone remember when it was discovered that employees of CJ were also affiliates and making more money on commissions than their salaries? CJ decided that employees couldn't be affiliates of CJ merchants so they had to decide which they wanted. So several left their employment with CJ and became full time affiliates.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    Do you think you can be a judge for a legal case that you are residing over? Only in third world countries!
    What does either have to do with the price of tea in China?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    Bluewaves1 is has chosen not to publicly out the past AM but has put this out as a warning. If it looks like a duck and farts like a duck, follow your gut feeling, its probably a duck!
    Fine that Bluewaves1 hasn't chosen to publicly out the past Merchant - that's Bluewaves1 prerogative.

    I, for one, regularly follow my gut - more times than not. Doesn't mean I'm 100% right.

    Anyway, I'm sure more than one closet can be emptied of skeletons...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  30. #22
    Member bluewaves1's Avatar
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    I don't want to call out any individuals in this matter. If I had purchased a trademark on the my domain name I possibly could have done something about it, but I didn't.

    Merchants have access to your domain names, referring pages that produced sales and commission data. That gives them an advantage in any case to focus on niches and sub-niches. This data is valuable information and is at risk so I am just saying that it is important that merchants respect the privacy of the data and do not try to infringe on the space that the affiliate has already created.

  31. #23
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    This data is valuable information and is at risk so I am just saying that it is important that merchants respect the privacy of the data and do not try to infringe on the space that the affiliate has already created.
    Or profit from the hard work of others!

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