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  1. #1
    OPM JLH's Avatar
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    Some Affiliate Networks - A conflict of interest – deeply saddened
    As I go through publishers/affiliates within some affiliate networks, I am disheartened to see an increase in the number of affiliate sites that have been acquired by some of the affiliate networks. How can there not be a conflict of interest here. Is the new business model within this industry to compete against the very people who are keeping the affiliate networks in business? I know it’s not new news, it’s been around for a while but of late, I have come across more and more. I can’t be ruthless and say “it’s just business” not when I see how hard most affiliates work, the ones who have not been bought by an affiliate network. Am I the last of a group of people that still believes in ethical affiliate marketing?

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  3. #2
    OPM/Moderator Hectic GHC's Avatar
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    You are not alone.
    Greg Hoffman
    Affiliate Marketing Advocate of the Year 2016; Best OPM/Agency - 2014; Best OPM/Agency, Five Years in a Row - ABestWeb.
    Visit Greg Hoffman Consulting

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  5. #3
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I experienced this when running a genealogy program. They called them feeder sites and were purchased solely for SEO reasons. The good news is that Google slowly eroded their value (this was 7 years ago) until they disappeared. Affiliates kept the sites live with fresh content but the companies didn't take the time to continue that. Seems short sighted to me but at the time they used that and other techniques to eat up marketshare. Let's just say I hated finding those things out as well as seeing the frustration with affiliates trying to make an honest living through the program. Ended up going to the heart lab over it!

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  7. #4
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    I had a merchant who offered to buy my site so merchants and networks are at it. I didn't sell in the end.

  8. #5
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    I experienced this when running a genealogy program. They called them feeder sites and were purchased solely for SEO reasons.
    Sounds like what you're describing are doorway pages - not affiliate sites.

    My take is the problem with networks owning competing affiliate sites:

    CJ owns a ton.
    Valueclick Brands

    LinkShare owns it's share

    PepperJam was "caught" as well

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

  9. #6
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    They turned into doorway pages but were originally unique sites created by affiliates. I have seen merchants hire agencies to create affiliate sites to get more rankings. Hosting was full of that when I ran a program 5-6 years ago.

  10. #7
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    CouponMountain was a decent affiliate many years ago, produced traffic and sales. Was responsive to promotions and answered back when contacted. Hasn't been the case for a long time. Don't work with them anymore.

  11. #8
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    They turned into doorway pages but were originally unique sites created by affiliates. I have seen merchants hire agencies to create affiliate sites to get more rankings. Hosting was full of that when I ran a program 5-6 years ago.
    Brand recognition, maybe.
    Traffic, maybe.

    Rankings? No...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  12. #9
    OPM JLH's Avatar
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    I'm more positive today, I guess it is the way it is... the industry is pretty big and I guess we all choose who we want to work with, I prefer to work with networks who don't compete with their bread and butter or my affiliate friends, however my choices are becoming fewer. Yes not limited to just networks, but I find a merchant trying to buy an affiliate site a lot more palatable

  13. #10
    Member robbinsinteractive's Avatar
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    You are far from alone. I consider how a network treats or prioritize their affiliates when selecting a network. If you are looking for solid affiliates who bring quality leads, it is a must. My hope is that as the industry matures with seasoned affiliates and merchants, the cream will rise to the top.
    Stephanie Robbins
    Robbins interactive

  14. #11
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    My hope is that as the industry matures with seasoned affiliates and merchants, the cream will rise to the top.
    Industry is mature and the cream rose to the top along with the garbage. Its still highly unregulated so what "Super Affiliates" tout as their killer method may not be illegal but its unethical i.e. amoral.

  15. #12
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Outstanding article by Robert Glazer who I have sat with on panels at Pubcon. Pretty much sums up the argument: Why Network-Based Affiliate Management Is a Conflict of Interest

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  17. #13
    Member robbinsinteractive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    Industry is mature and the cream rose to the top along with the garbage. Its still highly unregulated so what "Super Affiliates" tout as their killer method may not be illegal but its unethical i.e. amoral.
    I still consider it a young industry. Networks are still figuring stuff out. I believe there will come a day when every network has click stream reporting. It will be mandated by demand.

    Just look at the shift with coupon and toolbar sites. I know they are having issues with merchants not wanting to work with them. this was not the case a couple of years ago.
    Stephanie Robbins
    Robbins interactive

  18. #14
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Just look at the shift with coupon and toolbar sites. I know they are having issues with merchants not wanting to work with them. this was not the case a couple of years ago.
    We are having issues because they are ineffective. We work with sites that bring us traffic and sales. I used to think that you wanted to be on as many coupon sites as possible to get more exposure and rankings i.e. traffic. Now its a waste of time as they no longer gain rankings or traffic.

    Some networks are screening toolbars and defeating their redirects. It shows them ineffective and if they won't work with a network that screens their traffic then they aren't worth working with. In that sense there are some networks maturing.

  19. #15
    Influencer Marketing GravityFed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    Outstanding article by Robert Glazer who I have sat with on panels at Pubcon. Pretty much sums up the argument: Why Network-Based Affiliate Management Is a Conflict of Interest
    Isn't that an article about networks managing programs? Thought this thread was about networks that own publisher sites.

  20. #16
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Both are conflicts of interest.

  21. #17
    Influencer Marketing GravityFed's Avatar
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    I disagree with management being a conflict of interest, at least if the network is compensated on a flat management fee (like we are). Robert Glazer's point is that it's a conflict for networks to manage and be compensated on a percentage of sale earning.

    But no need to hijack this topic. I am happy to discuss network management from my perspective more when I have time if someone starts a thread.

  22. #18
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Maybe I should clarify, network managed merchants by unethical networks is what I am against. I don't feel in competition with AvantLink but I do from several other networks. IMHO

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  24. #19
    Outsourced Program Manager John Jupp's Avatar
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    Being totally biased here but I don't believe any affiliate network account managing an affiliate program actually provides real value. I have spoken to network account managers (especially during holiday times) who bemoan they are having to account manage 28 or more affiliate programs at a time (one senior account manager was handling 140). How is that devoting time to growing an affiliate program? Networks should not account manage at all, period. They should solely host self-managed programs and then the merchants either manage the programs themselves or retain dedicated affiliate managers in-house or outsourced. Networks just don't cut it when managing programs and if merchants knew just how little time was actually spent on their program by the "dedicated" network account manager, they would kick up a storm.
    Flambi Media Limited - USA/UK/EU Affiliate Management Expertise

  25. #20
    Influencer Marketing GravityFed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Jupp View Post
    Being totally biased here..
    That's ok everyone looks at the industry through their own perspective. What you describe is definitely a problem. To keep from further derailing this thread... Later when I get to work I will see if I can get time to open a new thread in our category outlining why our management service is different and why it ROCKS for our merchant clients, and their publishers.

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  27. #21
    Affiliate Manager Kush@VMInnovations's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary-AvantLink View Post
    But no need to hijack this topic. I am happy to discuss network management from my perspective more when I have time if someone starts a thread.
    Here you go, and I'd love to hear your thoughts Gary

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  29. #22
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    interesting to see CJ own CouponMountain with Zappos highlighted on their front page yet I was not allowed to do the same thing on my own website. Having them compete with their customers is so low and dirty, so unethical, my respect for CJ just went down a ton,,,, Very bad, bad bad CJ hhmm..
    Hosting Discounts from Professional Rates Hosts - Deals and Coupons on Domain Names from GoDadday, Namecheap, Domain.com and more top registers.

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  31. #23
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glittered View Post
    interesting to see CJ own CouponMountain with Zappos highlighted on their front page yet I was not allowed to do the same thing on my own website. Having them compete with their customers is so low and dirty, so unethical, my respect for CJ just went down a ton,,,, Very bad, bad bad CJ hhmm..
    The hypocrisy in our industry knows no bounds.

    Zappos doesn't allow coupon only sites <snicker>

    Take a look at the merchants on CouponMountain - how many say no software or toolbars, yet...

    http://www.couponmountain.com/coupondigger.html
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  33. #24
    Member Prosperent's Avatar
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    Pretty shady. We were told that any site that has any discount slant to it has to remove all Zappos references. Guess the rules only apply when they want them to.


  34. #25
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    Have sent an enquiry...

    Spent time & resources building a workaround to make sure no deal would EVER appear for Zappos (even if one was entered accidentally).

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