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  1. #1
    Member chris7530's Avatar
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    retailmenot url TOS violations
    Looking though the terms of service for a number of merchants, i see quite a few that have restrictions on the use of their band/domain name in an affiliate's url. However, most every seo landing page for retailmenot uses a merchant's domain name as a way to rank for their branded terms (e.g. http://www.retailmenot.com/view/gap.com). This seems like a clear violation. Have any of the inhouse affiliate managers here tried denying retailmenot's commissions based on this violation?
    Last edited by BurgerBoy; January 10th, 2014 at 07:20 PM.

  2. #2
    OPM/Moderator Hectic GHC's Avatar
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    mybrand/retailmenot.com is a violation.
    retailmenot.com/mybrand is not a violation.
    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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  4. #3
    Member chris7530's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akagorilla View Post
    mybrand/retailmenot.com is a violation.
    retailmenot.com/mybrand is not a violation.
    It is a violation for some companies. See TOS for 'payless rental car' for example. Of course, legally a company can put a trademark term after the domain name (there was a court case to that effect a long time ago). However, a merchant/retailer can impose this restriction on an affiliate in order for the affiliate to join their program and get paid commissions.

    My thinking here is as a merchant/retailer, I don't want to pay coupon affiliates just because they rank in SEO for my brand term. Having the domain name in the url is a clear attempt to do that. If enough retailers/merchants added these restrictions (and enforced them) we would have a much easier time ranking for our own 'brand + coupon' keywords. This would help remove the non-incremental affiliates by forcing them to compete and drive traffic for non-branded terms which is more likely to be incremental traffic.

  5. #4
    OPM/Moderator Hectic GHC's Avatar
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    Good luck, Crusader.
    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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  6. #5
    Member chris7530's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akagorilla View Post
    Good luck, Crusader.
    I'm not going to interpret this sarcastically... it is very important that those of us on the merchant/retailer side of things (including consultants like yourself who work with us) band together to eliminate these bad players as the networks like CJ and Linkshare have a vested interest in keeping them around. I'm also fighting for high quality affiliates who add value and drive incremental sales as they are also losing commissions to these companies.

  7. #6
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Many sites are set up like that because of the way the database is structured. It's an organizational "thang" as well. If merchants ever started blocking sites with that kind of URL they might as well close their program because it is so common. However, most pages with URLs structured like that also dedicate an entire page of their website to that specific merchant. When you multiply that times the abundance of sites that do that, its very good exposure for the merchants.

    Imagine a new merchant struggling to get exposure. Imagine 5,000 affiliates dedicating a page of their website to that merchant after a year in business. Suddenly this - no name - who is it - do I trust them - new-to-the-game merchant has gained some validity as long as they provide proper services and don't end up on a "*"hit list.

    That kind of URL is not going to influence SEO - it's the content of the page that get shoppers to websites (supposedly).
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

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  9. #7
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris7530 View Post
    Ieliminate these bad players
    Could you be more specific when you refer to "bad players" please?
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  10. #8
    Member chris7530's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeann View Post
    That kind of URL is not going to influence SEO - it's the content of the page that get shoppers to websites (supposedly).
    It certainly WILL influence SEO to have the exact domain of the merchant in the affliate's url: look at the EMD (exact match domain) and PMD (partial match domain) stats here: MozCast Metrics as an example of how google values keywords in urls. In order for coupon sites not to cannibalize merchant branded searches they should focus on non branded terms. For example, merchants should demand retailmenot etc remove /bestbuy.com or /gap.com from their urls and go after terms like /camera-coupons or /tshirt-coupons etc

    More on the importance of keywords in urls for seo here: Understanding SEO Friendly URL Syntax Practices

  11. #9
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris7530 View Post
    More on the importance of keywords in urls for seo here: Understanding SEO Friendly URL Syntax Practices
    Okay, so if you are worried about it, drop all of your affiliates that have your name structured into the URL. Don't play this game of allowing affiliates that do not follow your "rules" just so that you can use them for free traffic to your site, knowing perfectly well that you plan on reversing any sales that they bring to you.
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  12. #10
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris7530 View Post
    For example, merchants should demand retailmenot etc remove /bestbuy.com or /gap.com from their urls and go after terms like /camera-coupons or /tshirt-coupons etc [/url]
    Yeah, God forbid they get business from it.

    Hey, I can't stand retailmenot and I'm convinced the the big G is in that business - somewhere..somehow. But - if you have them as an affiliate, you should pay them. They don't hide what they do. It's no secret that people post bogus coupons or how their URLs are structured.
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  13. #11
    Member chris7530's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeann View Post
    Could you be more specific when you refer to "bad players" please?
    Here's some examples:

    coupon sites because exploit a merchant's brand name for their own benefit (retailmenot shouldn't make 100s of millions of dollars just because google gave them top ranks for a brand's terms)

    toolbar sites because they overwrite other affiliates cookies and take credit for a merchant's other marketing channels

    affiliates that violate SEM bidding restrictions in a merchant's TOS (many have sophisticated geographic targeting to exclude areas where the merchant's affiliate and SEM team operate).

    etc

  14. #12
    Member chris7530's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeann View Post
    Okay, so if you are worried about it, drop all of your affiliates that have your name structured into the URL. Don't play this game of allowing affiliates that do not follow your "rules" just so that you can use them for free traffic to your site, knowing perfectly well that you plan on reversing any sales that they bring to you.
    Yes! thanks, this is exactly what I would recommend retailers/merchants add to their TOS to block coupon sites from taking away their branded SEO traffic.

  15. #13
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris7530 View Post
    It certainly WILL influence SEO to have the exact domain of the merchant in the affliate's url: look at the EMD (exact match domain) and PMD (partial match domain) stats here: MozCast Metrics as an example of how google values keywords in urls. In order for coupon sites not to cannibalize merchant branded searches they should focus on non branded terms. For example, merchants should demand retailmenot etc remove /bestbuy.com or /gap.com from their urls and go after terms like /camera-coupons or /tshirt-coupons etc

    More on the importance of keywords in urls for seo here: Understanding SEO Friendly URL Syntax Practices
    Keywords in the URLs is ONE thing - EMD/PMD are another. The Google put the kibosh on EMDs and PMDs last year with an update.

    Furthermore, merchantname.com.Example.com/ and Example.com/merchantname.com/ are now treated the same in the eyes of the Google...
    Last edited by Convergence; January 13th, 2014 at 12:24 PM. Reason: Fixed sample URL
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  16. #14
    Member chris7530's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeann View Post
    Shoppers determine what has value - not merchants or affiliates. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.
    what do you mean by 'manipulating' who set the cookie? I don't like coupon sites (obviously) how do I do this?

  17. #15
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    I am soooo tired of merchants whining that they have to pay affiliates and trying to wiggle out of the deal by looking for infractions when those "infractions" have been visible for years, yet they sign them up (the affiliate) anyway.
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  18. #16
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris7530 View Post
    what do you mean by 'manipulating' who set the cookie? I don't like coupon sites (obviously) how do I do this?
    Far be it from me to explain. You are obviously very unethical.
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  19. #17
    Member chris7530's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeann View Post
    Far be it from me to explain. You are obviously very unethical.
    I seriously doubt you even know what you mean when you talk about 'manipulation' (you also, with great certainty I might add, assert that keywords in urls have no impact on SEO, which is shows a lack of understanding of how search engines work). I'm not charging you with being 'unethical' however I would assert that you probably have a vested interest some coupon affiliate.

  20. #18
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Manipulation - Redirecting commissions from the affiliate site with the final click that resulted in a purchase.

    URL/SEO - Read more here.

    Vested interest - Well, I finally found something that you said that I can agree with
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  21. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris7530 View Post
    I'm not going to interpret this sarcastically... it is very important that those of us on the merchant/retailer side of things (including consultants like yourself who work with us) band together to eliminate these bad players as the networks like CJ and Linkshare have a vested interest in keeping them around. I'm also fighting for high quality affiliates who add value and drive incremental sales as they are also losing commissions to these companies.
    Coupon sites are not bad players, it's your choice if you want to work with them or not.

    That's pretty standard with coupon sites to have couponsite.com/gap or gap-coupons etc. Because people search on those terms. They search on those terms because there is usually a coupon box the merchant put there themselves. Now, as a merchant, you can either supply the coupon at checkout, remove coupon box, give coupon text links to affiliates etc. Now if you have a coupon box, the coupon site is actually helping the site visitor have a good experience because if they see a coupon box and don't have a coupon, is that good? No.

    Quote Originally Posted by chris7530 View Post
    Looking though the terms of service for a number of merchants, i see quite a few that have restrictions on the use of their band/domain name in an affiliate's url. However, most every seo landing page for retailmenot uses a merchant's domain name as a way to rank for their branded terms (e.g. http://www.retailmenot.com/view/gap.com). This seems like a clear violation. Have any of the inhouse affiliate managers here tried denying retailmenot's commissions based on this violation?
    That's also pretty unprofessional of you. It is either a violation or not and before you runaround forums throwing accusations around, you should be sure. I just checked the terms for Gap. I was wondering if you did and can you post the actual violation? Because I don't see it. And do you actually think Gap and all these other merchants are completely unaware of coupon sites? And if they had a problem with that standard practice I mentioned, don't you think they would handle it? Like drop the coupon sites or something?
    Last edited by Trust; January 13th, 2014 at 01:54 PM.

  22. #20
    ABW Ambassador kse's Avatar
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    Easy solution to all of this as far as Coupons goes:

    A: Get ride of the coupon Box

    or

    B: Show a coupon code on your site on the checkout page
    Last edited by kse; January 13th, 2014 at 02:03 PM.
    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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  24. #21
    Member chris7530's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust View Post

    That's also pretty unprofessional of you. It is either a violation or not and before you runaround forums throwing accusations around, you should be sure. I just checked the terms for Gap. I was wondering if you did and can you post the actual violation? Because I don't see it. And do you actually think Gap and all these other merchants are completely unaware of coupon sites? And if they had a problem with that standard practice I mentioned, don't you think they would handle it? Like drop the coupon sites or something?
    The Gap example was to illustrate how retailmenot was including domains in their urls, I didn't take a look at their specific agreement. I was thinking about agreement's like paylessrental's. Specifically this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Trust View Post
    Payless Car Rental Trademarks are never to be used as the primary display URL for SEM purposes. You are permitted to use Payless Car Rental Trademarks in the subfolder of your display URL. For instance, www.yourwebsite.com/payless or www.yourwebsite.com/paylesscar. If you choose to do this, you must send traffic to a page that only includes Payless offers and deals and does not include offers from any travel competitor.
    here's the landing page: http://www.retailmenot.com/view/paylesscar.com

    notice the competitors listed on the right midway down the page. Payless car rental might have a case for denying retailmenot payments based on this (please consult an attorney before doing this). However, it's just an example of how big brands should, in my opinion, start enforcing restrictions when affiliates decide to leverage a merchant's brand for marketing purposes.

    I would recommend adding similar restrictions on SEO landing pages as well e.g. if an affiliate uses your brand to try to rank for your branded terms, then in order for them to get paid they should not be listing your competitors there as well. Merchants are paying affiliates to drive customers, not to resell them to competitors. What I'm advocating is extending these SEM restrictions into the SEO space. Google doesn't seem to want to give brands top rank for their own coupon terms (perhaps because retailmenot is partly owned by google) so merchants should start removing the financial incentive.

  25. #22
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris7530 View Post
    Google doesn't seem to want to give brands top rank for their own coupon terms (perhaps because retailmenot is partly owned by google) so merchants should start removing the financial incentive.
    Not true:

    1) Merchants that actively promote/market their own coupon page rank at the top
    2) RetailMeNot, Inc. is a publicly traded company on NASDAQ. The Google Ventures was one of several venture capitalists ..
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  26. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris7530 View Post
    The Gap example was to illustrate how retailmenot was including domains in their urls, I didn't take a look at their specific agreement. I was thinking about agreement's like paylessrental's. Specifically this:



    here's the landing page: http://www.retailmenot.com/view/paylesscar.com

    notice the competitors listed on the right midway down the page. Payless car rental might have a case for denying retailmenot payments based on this (please consult an attorney before doing this). However, it's just an example of how big brands should, in my opinion, start enforcing restrictions when affiliates decide to leverage a merchant's brand for marketing purposes.

    I would recommend adding similar restrictions on SEO landing pages as well e.g. if an affiliate uses your brand to try to rank for your branded terms, then in order for them to get paid they should not be listing your competitors there as well. Merchants are paying affiliates to drive customers, not to resell them to competitors. What I'm advocating is extending these SEM restrictions into the SEO space. Google doesn't seem to want to give brands top rank for their own coupon terms (perhaps because retailmenot is partly owned by google) so merchants should start removing the financial incentive.
    Even in that case, there is no violation. They actually say you can use their TM the way most coupon sites do - "You are permitted to use Payless Car Rental Trademarks in the subfolder of your display URL." and then even give examples.

    And there are no offers for other merchants on that page. There are links to other merchants, big difference.

    And again, they're the biggest coupon site out there. I'm sure all merchants are aware of them, since they probably drive some big sales if they're in their program.

    Quote Originally Posted by chris7530 View Post
    Google doesn't seem to want to give brands top rank for their own coupon terms (perhaps because retailmenot is partly owned by google) so merchants should start removing the financial incentive.
    Some do.

    JCPenney is #1:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=jcpe...ient=firefox-a

    Overstock #1:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=over...ient=firefox-a

    The merchant mentioned in this thread, Gap, is up there as well, at #3:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=gap....ient=firefox-a

    As far as your recommendations that merchants go the Walmart route. That might work for some merchants, it didn't work for others, like the one I used as an example, JCPenney, they went back to using coupons for a reason.

    "JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson lost his job recently because customers seemed to hate the no-coupons, no-discounting “fair and square” pricing that was a core part of the retailer’s dramatic 2012 makeover. In a new ad, JC Penney is apologizing for the changes made under Johnson. “It’s no secret. Recently, JC Penney changed,” the ad’s voice-over states. “Some changes you liked and some you didn’t, but what matters from mistakes is what we learn. We learned a very simple thing, to listen to you.”

    Each merchant needs to decide what's best for themselves but many use coupons for many different reasons.
    Last edited by Trust; January 13th, 2014 at 03:08 PM.

  27. #24
    Member chris7530's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Convergence View Post
    Not true:

    1) Merchants that actively promote/market their own coupon page rank at the top
    2) RetailMeNot, Inc. is a publicly traded company on NASDAQ. The Google Ventures was one of several venture capitalists ..
    are you trolling me

    1) you also get to the top by using black/gray hat seo techniques like bugmenot.com (notice the keywords at the bottom) and avoiding the penalties because you're partly owned by google.

    2) being a venture capitalist means you own part of the company - whether it's public or not

  28. #25
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris7530 View Post
    are you trolling me
    No.

    Quote Originally Posted by chris7530 View Post
    1) you also get to the top by using black/gray hat seo techniques like bugmenot.com (notice the keywords at the bottom) and avoiding the penalties because you're partly owned by google.

    2) being a venture capitalist means you own part of the company - whether it's public or not
    Providing they weren't paid back - usually around five years OR when the company is sold or taken public.

    RMN, through 2011 raised $300M in funding. They have a market cap today of about $1.6B...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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