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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager
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    Newbie questions...
    Hi -- new member here. Great site. Thanks to all for the great posts...

    We are an established brand finally getting into affiliate marketing... my team has done great work for our launch (next week). Still have 3 questions that are not resolved... (our network has given me their opinion, hoping other merchants can give your opinion too).

    1. WHAT HAPPENS If customer comes to our site from an affiliate with quality editorial, then loads up the cart - then customer sees "apply promo coupon box" at checkout and realizes they didn't make note of the promo code from publisher #1 -- so customer does a quick google for "brand name coupon" and finds a partner coupon site. Now, coupon site gets the cookie and NOT the original referring affiliate (on our network, the last click gets paid). That kinda sucks for the affiliate that did the editorial. How can an advertiser protect the affiliate that does the heavy lifting?

    Ban the coupon sites? I personally like coupon sites -- they are good for our business. Customers are always looking for a deal.

    I am truly interested in finding ways to protect the affiliates that do the most work. Newbie naÔvetť? :-)

    2. DSAs -- I have read about the potential evils of some (most?) DSAs -- are we missing out on the big guns if we prohibit DSAs ? For a consumer products brand, do the DSAs do anything for us. Who benefits most from a DSA? Who is hurt?

    3. PPC bidding on branded trademarks. I get it. But I am not sure that this is a bad thing for our brand. We own organic search for our brand names and trademarks. We do not run PPC for our brand or trademarks -- PPC only for products and solutions. Our retail partners already PPC bid for our brand name. It doesn't hurt us. We either sell our product (through any channel) or we don't. My gut tells me that if an affiliate wants to bid for our brand name - the customer has choices already, and paid ads for our brand will only increase potential sales. Maybe. I am trying to see how this will hurt us. Can someone identify one scenario where permitting publishers to use PPC on our brand name can hurt us? I understand that one scenario has customer clicking on PPC add and not our organic listing, and we then pay the PPC affiliate. OK -- but we already have that with our retail partners. Everyone advertises PPC on our brand name. What's the harm? Paying for the cookie when it otherwise would have been free? It looks like very few advertisers (our competitors) permit PPC bidding on their branding from affiliates (even though every reseller seems to do it). I'm trying to learn why we should prohibit this?

    Thanks in advance for your guidance...

    J

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  3. #2
    Affiliate Network Rep JCrooks - AffiliateWindow's Avatar
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    Those are some pretty tough questions. I'll tackle one of them with a partial answer.

    1. You have some choices when it comes to the coupon question.

    a. You may want to consider offering an alternative check-out page for affiliate traffic, one that does not include the "enter promo code" box. Then there's no reason for a consumer to leave and search for a coupon code. Some merchants have employed this quite successfully.
    b. Not sure which network you are using, but some networks enable unique coupon codes to be tracked by each affiliate. If the coupon code doesn't match the affiliate, there's an alert and the merchant can decide who gets credit.
    c. Some networks offer an atribution model, which enables you to split the commission between the original referrer and the subsequent referrer.
    d. Some networks offer a functionality which prevents the original cookie from being overwritten by selected subsequent referrers.
    e. Switch to 1st click attribution. Then the original referrer gets credit and the coupon code does not. This isn't the preferred model of most affiliates, so if you choose this, make sure to announce it prominently in your program description, so that affiliates can make the decision about whether to work with you or not. I have two merchants doing this, and it has been successful for them, but we make sure the affiliates know that's how this program works.
    f. Don't require a coupon code to get the discount. Many merchants instead use "No Code Needed" for their specials.

    This isn't a complete list of all the choices available to you, but perhaps it will give you some ideas of things you can do. I'm glad you are concerned about being fair to the right person who deserves the sale. That's a great priority to embrace.

    Hope this helps.
    Jeannine Crooks - Always happy to share what I know! - Voted Best Network Rep 2013 & 2014
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  4. #3
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    Thank you for a very detailed answer.
    My network is LS and I do not believe 1st click attribution is an option. They told me last click gets the cookie.

    I would love to hear from both merchants and affiliates on how others handle the coupon site question -- some of my competitors simply exclude coupon sites as affiliates.

    Maybe the question should be: DO COUPON SITE Affiliates earn their keep?

    I'm glad you are concerned about being fair to the right person who deserves the sale. That's a great priority to embrace.
    I like to get paid for my work. I expect to pay others that sell for me. If I have policies in place that don't compensate the true sales generators, then those who will help me the most will soon go away. Nothing do-gooder about that -- actually quite selfish -- I want my program to reward the top performers, and I want to exclude those who get in the way.

    Am I asking questions that others had to solve as well?

  5. #4
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    carpeperdiem,

    Coupon sites, how merchants should handle coupons, etc. is a HOT topic.

    Suggest you do a simple search here for coupon...

    Welcome to the community!
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  7. #5
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Yes, welcome to the community.

    It is good to hear you are concerned about establishing fair policies for your affiliates, which is, indeed, a big plus. Unfortunately, you are on probably the least affiliate-friendly network available.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
    Cute Personal Checks and Business Checks
    If you are too busy to laugh you are too busy.

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  9. #6
    Affiliate Manager
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    Quote Originally Posted by Convergence View Post
    Coupon sites, how merchants should handle coupons, etc. is a HOT topic.

    Suggest you do a simple search here for coupon...

    Welcome to the community!
    LOL!
    Sure is!
    Thanks for the warm welcome.

    My [newbie] question is motivated by my goal to attract quality affiliates - and since I have the opportunity to try to "get it righter" the first time -- I am asking these questions...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill View Post
    Unfortunately, you are on probably the least affiliate-friendly network available.
    One of my reasons for going with LS: my leading competitors are also on the network. As you know, there are many factors when selecting a network, and the networks will not tell you "we are affiliate hostile" ;-)

    I have an opportunity to "screw up less" by making some choices right now... I hope this is not perceived as coupon-hostile... I (personally) use coupon codes and I am guilty of sniping when shopping (I honestly did not realize the coupon sites were dropping cookies, I did not understand their business model until just recently). And I read Geno Prussakov's book -- which had an interesting stat re: coupon sites -- but that just confused me even more. Couponing is here to stay. It's become part of USA's consumer shopping pattern. Even the most prestigious brands are offering sales and coupons -- UNHEARD OF 5 years ago. We used to only have one sale a year. Period. Now, at any given time, something is on sale or on a deal - or we have rebates, or coupons.

    SO I am trying to learn what my competitors are doing (and what will make my affiliates happy)... LS won't (can't, NDA) tell me... but they have given me my "options". That's why I am reading more and asking questions.

    I truly appreciate the posts here and I am reading the many past threads on the couponing. I have discovered a few strategies that may help preserve the 1st click's cookie - but still keeping my ears open.

    SO -- does anyone have an opinion on #3: PPC bidding on branded trademarks ? I've read a few hundred pages on this and I don't see the damage to the brand. Do Affiliates see this a good thing or not?

    Thanks to all!

    J

  10. #7
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    my leading competitors are also on the network
    Indeed, that is one of the stronger (of the many) reasons for choosing where to market.

    I don't know your product or niche so cannot comment further on your network affiliation. While I do maintain a few "old" relationships with L/S merchants I no longer look there for new merchants.

    I have only dabbled a bit with PPC and do not currently do any PPC marketing - either as an affiliate or a merchant. However, I have a somewhat contrarian view toward your question #3 - best left unstated because it will likely generate flames from the more learned folk in these parts.

    My own feelings on "coupon sites vs. content sites" can be found in my signature
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
    Cute Personal Checks and Business Checks
    If you are too busy to laugh you are too busy.

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  12. #8
    ABW Ambassador kse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpeperdiem View Post
    My network is LS and I do not believe 1st click attribution is an option. They told me last click gets the cookie.
    One of the worse networks out their for affiliates, I no longer join merchants who work with Linkshare. Top Networks for me are CJ, SAS, PJN (eBay now) and I currently giving AvantLink a try.
    MERCHANTS: Start showing your coupons directly on your site, that way your shoppers will stop leaving your site looking for them!! If not then remove your Coupon Box!!

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  14. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by kse View Post
    One of the worse networks out their for affiliates
    kse, although I am new to this forum, I am a veteran in other professional forums, and I know that posting in the correct thread and sub-forums are important. I think I posted in the right sub-forum? [Merchant Q&A]

    I hope this thread does not become a rant on my choice of networks. There are many, many, many satisfied merchants (and affiliates) using every major network. In my marathon reading of this forum, I found that there is always someone who has their issue with every major network.

    I am trying to refine my best practices so that our program will be profitable to my affiliates. Clarifying policies and finding best practices in theory will be better for everyone. There I go again... I'm self-centered and selfish :-)

    Thanks for your comments.
    J

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  16. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill View Post
    My own feelings on "coupon sites vs. content sites" can be found in my signature
    Hi Bill,
    Thanks for sharing your blog.
    I am enjoying reading your posts!
    Best,
    J

  17. #11
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    Thank yous to all, for your posts and sharing your expertise.

    I was speaking with my LS launch team yesterday, and the subject of activation offers (actually, all private offers) came up.

    We touched on a bunch of concepts - from activation offers/bonuses to private offers.

    Newbie here is wondering if the entire performance marketing space is driven by private offers? Do any affiliates worth having in your program accept the baseline offer, or is the baseline offer simply a starting point for the negotiation? My LS rep said that there are many advertisers with healthy programs and zero private offers. He also said that there are some publishers who won't look at my program until there is an offer that is superior to baseline.

    Just trying to get my head around the concept that the baseline offer is only a starting place for the negotiation - or do many (most) affiliates accept a fair baseline offer? I am offering a baseline of 10%/30days return. +Bonus offer on activation for initial 30-day activity, but that's not published in the baseline offer (should it be?)

    Do you (merchants) find that many affiliates accept your baseline?
    Do you (affiliates) accept fair baseline offers, or do you expect private offers to always beat the baseline?

    Finally, my LS rep advised me against a tiered commission structure at launch -- argument: don't set your bar too low. Agreed?

    Thanks again to eveyone here -- this forum has been invaluable reading.
    J

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  19. #12
    ABW Ambassador kse's Avatar
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    90% of my top merchants that I work with have given me a much better private offer then their base. Of course you can not demand a better offer unless your sending them a lot of sales. Warning though if you make your base rate too low, Top affiliates will not look at your program in the first place.

    That being said Linkshare merchants are always sending so called Private Offers that are the exact same thing as their base offers that make no sense.
    MERCHANTS: Start showing your coupons directly on your site, that way your shoppers will stop leaving your site looking for them!! If not then remove your Coupon Box!!

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  21. #13
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Top affiliates know to ask for a better than default offer. I personally build three tiers but reserve the top for producers that prove themselves. Put as much detail into your default commission to make yourself attractive.

    If an affiliate already has good traffic and conversion with a merchant they are hesitant to change unless they see a significant increase in commission over their existing merchant. They then may test your program to see how it converts but will not move all their traffic until you show a baseline of consistent conversion.


  22. #14
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Commission levels are important to us (on the affiliate side of our business) and we do have some "private" offers with some of our merchants. However, it is tough to generalize a response to your question - because there are other aspects of a program that are important in making the promote/do-not-promote decision. What is your competition doing, how does the base commission compare, how well does the site convert, how well-organized is your datafeed, if you are new to the market how do I know I'll be paid, does your site have leaks? There is a lot to consider and if, as you say, you have a lot of competition - there will comparison - with commission level/private offer being only one piece of the puzzle. (Without knowing your vertical/niche/site/product I can't offer any specifics.)

    heh - I actually have more detailed thoughts elsewhere.

    Activation bonus? Serious or superficial? I'll be putting together my thoughts on that, too.

    Also note that, as kse, indicated - "private offers" emanating from L/S have become somewhat of a joke.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
    Cute Personal Checks and Business Checks
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  24. #15
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    "integration fees" ?
    Seriously?
    I'm gonna pay my affiliates 10-12% of sales (or more) and you also want me to pay you $1000 just to turn the feed on?
    placement fees for prime real estate, I can understand... but just to turn the feed on?

    negotiable?
    Last edited by carpeperdiem; August 12th, 2013 at 03:35 PM.

  25. #16
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    you also want me to pay you $1000 just to turn the feed on?
    Did I miss something here... where did THAT comment come from?? We get datafeeds from LS, if you offer one, we can pick it up...

    And, as mentioned, be aware of the LinkShare definition of "private offer" - it should mean terms that are favorable to the base offer, but right now we publishers are loudly complaining that merchants are allowed to simply spam us under the guise of a private offer. It's a separate topic, but just thought I would mention it. You don't want to (inadvertently) anger affiliates that you're just reaching out to.

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  27. #17
    OPM/Moderator Hectic GHC's Avatar
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    An educated merchant is the best kind of merchant. Keep Learning!
    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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  28. #18
    ABW Ambassador kse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpeperdiem View Post
    "integration fees" ?
    Seriously?
    I'm gonna pay my affiliates 10-12% of sales (or more) and you also want me to pay you $1000 just to turn the feed on?
    placement fees for prime real estate, I can understand... but just to turn the feed on?

    negotiable?
    Confused, are you *****ing at Linkshare or us affiliates??? I reading this as if your upset with Linkshare because they want to charge your $1000 to setup a datafeed??? Can you please explain your last post.
    MERCHANTS: Start showing your coupons directly on your site, that way your shoppers will stop leaving your site looking for them!! If not then remove your Coupon Box!!

  29. #19
    ABW Ambassador kse's Avatar
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    What "B I T C H I N G" is a banned word here at ABW???
    MERCHANTS: Start showing your coupons directly on your site, that way your shoppers will stop leaving your site looking for them!! If not then remove your Coupon Box!!

  30. #20
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kse View Post
    What "B I T C H I N G" is a banned word here at ABW???
    LOL - no but B I T C H is - standard forum blocked term.

    There will be no talking about female dogs, here...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  31. #21
    ABW Ambassador kse's Avatar
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    ok no problem, back on topic.
    MERCHANTS: Start showing your coupons directly on your site, that way your shoppers will stop leaving your site looking for them!! If not then remove your Coupon Box!!

  32. #22
    Affiliate Manager
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    No, the LinkShare fees are in the contract. We are very comfortable with the LinkShare fees that we agreed to.

    I was talking about an AFFILIATE who signed up for my program, we accepted them, then we received an email (it was friendly) requesting a $1000 fee to "activate" our merchant feed on their network - it wasn't an offer for prime position or front page or for a dedicated email or other premium promotion or position. It was a "please pay us if you want your links (your feed) activated".

    Considering this was the first time I've seen something like this, I will assume it's an affiliate who is just trying to see how far they can push their merchants... we can respectfully decline. :-)

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  34. #23
    OPM/Moderator Hectic GHC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpeperdiem View Post
    No, the LinkShare fees are in the contract. We are very comfortable with the LinkShare fees that we agreed to.

    I was talking about an AFFILIATE who signed up for my program, we accepted them, then we received an email (it was friendly) requesting a $1000 fee to "activate" our merchant feed on their network - it wasn't an offer for prime position or front page or for a dedicated email or other premium promotion or position. It was a "please pay us if you want your links (your feed) activated".

    Considering this was the first time I've seen something like this, I will assume it's an affiliate who is just trying to see how far they can push their merchants... we can respectfully decline. :-)
    I would not have respectfully declined. I would have chewed them apart and called them out publicly. But that's me...
    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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  35. #24
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akagorilla View Post
    I would not have respectfully declined. I would have chewed them apart and called them out publicly. But that's me...
    Not just you, Greg. Somebody must really be full of themselves...lemmee guess. I'll bet we could come close.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
    Cute Personal Checks and Business Checks
    If you are too busy to laugh you are too busy.

  36. #25
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    Asking a merchant for money to add a datafeed??

    Wow, I've been going about this business ALL wrong...

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