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  1. #1
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    Linkshare attempts to force disclosure
    Hello All,

    I'm sure this is not the first time you hear this but
    it is a first time for me and this is why I'm asking for advice:

    I just received an email from one of Linkshare employees that asked me to forward all my business information to her or else she will terminate my account.

    I have opened a Linkshare account about 2 month ago and just finished all
    my PPC campaigns setup. I received some commission (not much by any means) most of it is not even breaking even just yet. I was hopeful that eventually some of my efforts might turn profitable.

    For all of you who will start the usual questions (what, where, why)
    I did not direct link to any merchant and all referrals are passed to Linkshare
    (including keywords in the referral Urls)

    I was very concerned about extortion tactic and asked to simply sign a non disclosure agreement that will protect my keywords and source from being used by any third party.

    She refused to sign it. And threatened to terminate my account.

    I asked to show any Linkshare terms of service that require me to forward
    screenshots of my PPC campaigns. Obviously it doesn't exist.

    I asked to get a confirmation from anyone else from LinkShare that this is indeed a Linkshare policy and not just actions of a single employee.

    I don't mind to share information as long as I get a due credit for my work.
    Most importantly I don't want to do anything I don't have to and I don't want
    to be taken for granted.

    Your suggestions?

  2. #2
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    And by the way, I did fill out the account profile that clearly states PPC as a primary traffic source.

  3. #3
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Doesn't sound like you have a choice if you want to continue as an affiliate for LinkShare. You can call and ask to speak with this employees supervisor to verify all information requested is necessary.

    I have had a merchant demand this kind of information from an affiliate I approved to do PPC and that affiliate refused to give the information on the grounds that they had done the research and the merchant wasn't bidding on those terms. We came to a three way agreement, the affiliate stopped their PPC, was paid their commissions and left the program.

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  5. #4
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    Thank you Chuck,
    At this point I don't know what to think. I asked for the Linkshare legal council contact information that can confirm that the demand is indeed a Linkshare policy and not an attempt to copy my campaigns.

    Do you know their main legal channel? Point of contact?

    I think it was very reasonable for me to ask for a NON-DiSCLOSURE. If this information was not supposed to be leaked anywhere I don't see why this would be a problem.

    I realize that Linkshare runs their own search division and this is why I am very suspicious of a single person asking for a very personal information.

    Thank you in advance

  6. #5
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I seriously doubt you will get a response from legal and most likely you will be terminated. Don't deal with this via email and forum posting, get on the phone and talk to someone.

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by LinkR View Post
    I just received an email from one of Linkshare employees that asked me to forward all my business information to her or else she will terminate my account.
    She asked for your business information. So give it to her. Shouldn't your business information already be in your account profile?

    Sounds like they've noticed something unusual/suspicious, it could be a mistake, could be a misunderstanding... I will ask them what kind of business information they want. If they are asking for information on where you display your PPC ads, what's the display URL, are you bidding on restrict terms...tell them honestly.

    Again, nicely ask them what specific info they want. Then go from there. There is no reason to get upset right away.

    Good luck.

  8. #7
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    I'm not upset. I don't mind sharing information as long as it's not shared
    with anyone else. Screenshots will include my account ids, keywords
    and who knows what else. Should I provide my passwords too?

    Why a Non-Disclosure is such a big deal then? It's a standard practice.
    You asked for my personal information I asked for you to promise not to share
    it with my competitors, etc.

    If I should not hide anything then simply confirm that you are not going
    to misuse my information in any way.

    Clearly, anyone who is willing to give away their personal information
    doesn't understand that this is a very serious business and
    a single rogue employee can cause data breaches or else.

    This is especially true if it is NOT part of the original terms and conditions
    you have signed up for.

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by LinkR View Post
    Should I provide my passwords too?
    No, you shouldn't. I don't think they are asking for your PPC account ID and password. Or are they?

    You said they asked for your "business information". That's why I said give it to them, and answer other general questions.

    Peace out!

  10. #9
    Member gibson's Avatar
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    maybe "business information" means name, address, tax number, incorporation paperwork, ...... stuff like that.
    The internet is a fad.

  11. #10
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    This is a part of standard template that IO have received.

    Do you advertise through Paid Search? Please provide examples of keywords and screenshots so that we can evaluate your search ad placements.

    If you only drive traffic via natural search, can you provide examples of the keywords and screenshots?

    Do you use Contextual Ad Networks and direct media buys? If so please provide specific information about your relationship with these networks and how they deliver the traffic

    Do you use Social Networking to promote your affiliate links? If so please provide links, so we can evaluate it.

  12. #11
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Why a Non-Disclosure is such a big deal then? It's a standard practice.
    You asked for my personal information I asked for you to promise not to share
    it with my competitors, etc.
    For a corporation of that size yes it will take an act of God to sign a Non-Disclosure and they will just as soon boot you from the network. My hunch is that they are already heading that way.

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  14. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    For a corporation of that size yes it will take an act of God to sign a Non-Disclosure and they will just as soon boot you from the network. My hunch is that they are already heading that way.
    Thats the problem. I am not even sure that this is a Linkshare policy to begin with. It is not written anywhere in the agreement that I will have to provide any of the information requested. I have yet to receive a confirmation from anyone else that this is a requirement and not some attempt to extort information for personal gain.

    Is there anyone from merchants who can confirm that this is a standard practice?

  15. #13
    Member Prosperent's Avatar
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    Network quality is simply making sure you aren't doing anything shady. You need to prove to them that you are actually driving traffic via ppc so they can confirm that you aren't breaking their TOS by sending ppc traffic or something else they don't allow.

    As for the non disclosure, not likely. A corporation of their size isn't going to copy your campaigns.

    You basically have two options as I see it. 1) comply so they know your traffic is legit, or 2) walk away

    I probably would have dropped you by now had it been our network.

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  17. #14
    Shimmy Shimmy Bang Bang shimmy's Avatar
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    employees do leave and start their own affiliate businesses and steal ideas. So, I get why you want a non disclosure agreement. However you won't get them to sign it. You pretty much just have to live by the networks rules. If you go to another network and get a lot of sales you will have the same demand.

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  19. #15
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    Thank you Shimmy, I think you got my point 100%.

    There has been a development. I was able clearly communicate my point
    that privacy is a concern.

    I did ask the employee for ANYONE ELSE to confirm that this email
    is indeed Linkshare policy and not her own attempt to extort my private
    and business information. (I even asked for name or contact number of Linkshare Legal representative)

    She refused to provide any other point of contact that can confirm her actions.

    Now she told in the last email that she will terminate my account if I don't
    give up my keywords, relationships etc. There was also a threat
    that my commissions will not be paid to me.

    What do you think about that?

  20. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mayfly View Post
    She asked for your business information. So give it to her. Shouldn't your business information already be in your account profile?
    Good luck.
    Mayfly, I manage account for a company as a consultant and don't have the right to disclose business information.

    JUST GIVE IT TO HER is a naive approach to doing business on the internet.

    I might know someone who wants to deposit $150,000,000 USD in your account.
    (You know what I mean)

  21. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by LinkR View Post
    Mayfly, I manage account for a company as a consultant and don't have the right to disclose business information.
    Then that's a whole different story...

    Quote Originally Posted by LinkR View Post
    JUST GIVE IT TO HER is a naive approach to doing business on the internet.
    When you said "business information", I thought she was asking your business information such as your business name, your business address...You shouldn't have problem give those information to her.

    I'm done with this thread.

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  23. #18
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    I manage account for a company as a consultant and don't have the right to disclose business information
    Looking at it from Linkshare's standpoint, it sounds like they just want some transparency.

    You mentioned screenshots of accounts - do you manage a number of unrelated LS accounts..? If so, that might be the reason for the question, ie. you're not the publisher, but have control over publisher accounts. I don't know what their policy is on third-party account management - this is a rhetorical question (I'm not asking), but are they your accounts where LS pays the company directly for the work you do? Again, I'm not asking, they may just need to understand the relationship.

    Honestly, if you are generating sales, I would send them a sample - take screenshots of a few campaigns.. it doesn't have to be best converting, but just to show you are within the terms & conditions for a select few merchants.

    It sounds like they just want to review the validity of sales.

  24. #19
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Went through the exact same thing with CJ when we changed our main marketing profile from loyalty/cashback to content a few years ago - same questions. Pretty standard request...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  26. #20
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    I don't think there is a problem with the request. The problem is that I can't confirm from anyone from linkshare that this is indeed their policy. I would be more than happy to forward information if that employe would simply guarantee the safety of the account.
    Not only she refused to provide a contact information of their legal department (so I ca simply forward it to our legal and let them sort it out) she threatened not to pay out commissions that already have been approved by merchants.

    The take away is if the request is legal and within their terms than why is it a problem to provide a simple contact information, never mind even signing the non disclosure.

    Think about it. Just because someone attempts to extort something from you doesn't automatically mean you have to comply with it, without verification?

    I don't even think its a policy we as affiliates agree to when we sign up.
    There is nothing in the terms and conditions about it.
    It's a made up excuse to fish for valuable information in my opinion.

  27. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Convergence View Post
    Went through the exact same thing with CJ when we changed our main marketing profile from loyalty/cashback to content a few years ago - same questions. Pretty standard request...
    We had the same questions with Cj before. Unlike linkshare this is well documented as a special program disclosure and the entire description
    is visible to everyone in the system.

    Here we have a case of a single employee Asking how I'm making money
    Via private email.

  28. #22
    ABW Ambassador kse's Avatar
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    So just contact Linkshare by phone talk with a manager!!! Really not that hard to do.
    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. #23
    Shimmy Shimmy Bang Bang shimmy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LinkR View Post
    Thank you Shimmy, I think you got my point 100%.

    There has been a development. I was able clearly communicate my point
    that privacy is a concern.

    I did ask the employee for ANYONE ELSE to confirm that this email
    is indeed Linkshare policy and not her own attempt to extort my private
    and business information. (I even asked for name or contact number of Linkshare Legal representative)

    She refused to provide any other point of contact that can confirm her actions.

    Now she told in the last email that she will terminate my account if I don't
    give up my keywords, relationships etc. There was also a threat
    that my commissions will not be paid to me.

    What do you think about that?
    Most people that work quality control are power crazy since they don't seem to have much oversight and do have a lot of power. It's most likely their policy to get transparency but odd she won't let you confirm. Again, most likely because she knows she has complete control over your future with Linkshare and not because she want to use your business tactics. The affiliate managers at the networks are usually the ones that steal ideas, not quality control. I dealt with Linkshare quality control before and thought they were the easiest to interact with. Affiliate Window has the most power crazy people working quality control. Bottom line, all networks will ask for transparency when you start sending decent sales, if you feel unsafe with that employee call and ask to release your information to another quality control employee instead.

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  31. #24
    ABW Ambassador LinkShare Moderator's Avatar
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    Hi All,

    This is a fairly common request from out network quality/compliance team to get some transparency into how our publishers are driving traffic if we either can't understand where/how the traffic is generated or if we think the traffic is coming from suspicious sources. I am not sure as to why this request came to you specifically but it is a fairly common request.

    --Ranae


  32. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by LinkShare Moderator View Post
    Hi All,

    This is a fairly common request from out network quality/compliance team to get some transparency into how our publishers are driving traffic if we either can't understand where/how the traffic is generated or if we think the traffic is coming from suspicious sources. I am not sure as to why this request came to you specifically but it is a fairly common request.

    --Ranae
    Thank you Ranae,
    Maybe you can tell me a contact person qualified to answer questions
    About privacy policy and responsible for the first line of defense on your
    Legal front?

    I feel very uncofortable when a single individual tries to bully me into going against the law and exposing my company private information.

    Much appreciated...

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