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  1. #1
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    As many of you may be aware, LinkShare developed an addendum to the LinkShare Affiliate Agreement that commits affiliates to terms that prohibit them from blocking, altering, substituting, redirecting, etc. any click-throughs that originate from a LinkShare Network® affiliate site. LinkShare approached the major shopping utility companies with this addendum, and have been working diligently with them to ensure that their technologies comply with our standards. Several shopping technologies have already modified their software based on our firm stance against such activities. Many of you have asked for LinkShare's official stance on the subject, which is represented by the terms of our addendum. I'd like to share those terms with you here: http://www.linkshare.com/resourcecenter/addendum.pdf. Note that certain modifications may have been made to the actual agreements signed on a case by case basis; however, we can say that for the ones we have signed or are near signing, and in our current negotiations, we have encountered no modifications that have changed the substantive matters covered by the addendum.

    The Internet has fueled the growth of new technologies and applications, and we will continue to see innovation into the future. While we wholeheartedly support technological innovation that brings additional value to consumers, there has also been much in the press lately about new technologies that have either crossed the boundaries of ethical application or created gray areas in the legal landscape. We hope to demonstrate a firm stance on ethical marketing and to foster respect for the affiliate community and the efforts of LinkShare affiliates. I look forward to your comments and feedback. We will be releasing the first group of companies who have signed this agreement and have successfully passed our compliance tests shortly.

    Best regards,
    Stephen Messer

  2. #2
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    Stephen,

    While Linkshare's moves are positive (and certainly a published "whitelist" of safe merchants would be excellent) I can't help contrasting your comments with the fact that Linkshare has the largest proportion of Morpheus-partnered merchants of any affiliate network, which seems very odd considering your agreement specifically prohibits this type of activity...

    As I pointed out in this thread, there are over 100 Linkshare-powered merchants participating in the Morpheus Buyersport.com program.

    I would be grateful if you could provide an explanation that would bridge the gap between these two seemingly contradictory facts.

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  3. #3
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    Edwin,

    It is possible I might provide it.

    1.(a)(i) No affiliate application will replace, intercept, interfere, hinder, disrupt, (Morpheus doesn't do any of these things - unless you use a wide definition of 'disrupt') or otherwise alter in any manner the web user's access, view or usage of, (to any of these things) or any other aspect of the web user's experience in a manner that causes or otherwise results in a different experience from what was otherwise intended by [our other affiliates].



    Its close, but just sitting there flashing on the toolbar is probably not in breach of the above. The shopper still goes elsewhere. They've been condition to respond to a colored flash like Pavlov's dog to a bell.


    Personally I like:-

    "A sales commission shall belong to the copyright holder at the affiliate sales website the shopper is on when the shopper is engaged in any activity whose intended outcome is a purchase or obtaining information prior to such purchase, and such a purchase is subsequently made [waffling ommitted].

    The shoppers presence on an affiliate sales website is deemed to be evidence of such intent.

    If at any point any party intervenes in this process [waffling ommitted] the commission will be deemed to belong to the party who would have received the commission had this not occurred."



    I prefer that as it sets out not what someone may *not* do, but under what circumstances they get paid. I could be wrong but I think its tighter. It is rights based rather than prohibitive.


    I

    Just because my domain is open to the public, does not make its contents public domain!

    [This message was edited by Icicle on October 03, 2002 at 10:52 PM.]

  4. #4
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Stephen,


    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>I look forward to your comments and feedback.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I shall, and sincerely thank you for allowing feedback from the affiliate community.

    <font size="2" face="Verdana">Haiko


    The secret of success is constancy of purpose. ~ Disraeli
    </font></p>

  5. #5
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Having read and digested the Linkshare addendium to the affiliate TOS addressing the restrictions to S/W "Affiliate Applications" I'm amazed the offending enities at www.parasiteware.com are still recruiting LS merchants.

    ICicle's plain language version summary makes opposing lawyers cringe, because it has no loopholes or wiggle room to make for client fees. I do not know if any parasite or Duper using "Affiliate Applications" have signed this addendium. If Morpheus/Buyersport or LimeWire signed it prior to August 15th 2002 then they are in total violation of the agreement.

    Linkshare networkwide sales reporting Stats for merchants who are partnered with the above affiliate enities from the end of August til the middle of September would reveal unjust enrichment from parasitic violations of the interloper "Affiliate Applications". Modifications were made to the applications after normal affiliates squawked of swapping out affiliate ID#'s and poaching traffic to cover up violations.

    Where was LS's testing timeframe of these modifications by their compliance folks? Where was the disabling of the commission earning rights of those violators, while compliance was checked, before they could release the new versions and reactive their accounts? If they signed off on this proactive addendium did they incure any of the mentioned penalities?

    Many enities operating through the networks are both affiliates and merchants. They give and receive commissions on network tracked sales. Are they also compelled to sign this agreement?

    Stephen.. I hope your legal background serves you well as you progress into the arena of network politics. Us plain old affiliates just want a muzzle put on these greed driven "weapons of mass destruction".

    WebMaster Mike

  6. #6
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    Mike,

    &gt;If Morpheus/Buyersport or LimeWire signed it prior to August 15th 2002 then they are in total violation of the agreement.

    I'm not sure they are (if you're talking about the bit of the addendum I quoted) for the reasons I outlined above. In my opinion, in front of an unbiased judge - it could go either way.

    Of course, this is just an agreement between affiliate and network. And there might be legal definitions for some of those words ('interfere, hinder, disrupt') I'm unaware of.


    But using just dictionary definitions, these prohibitions seem designed to stop click interception by means of software trickery rather than by pure distraction.

    Stimulus = 'Reward' - you see? The Pavlovian approach to marketing (and they didn't even bother to hide it). It used to be very fashionable.


    Thats how its done. This addendum does not stop theft by conditioned reflex.

    Unlike some proposals...



    I

    Just because my domain is open to the public, does not make its contents public domain!

  7. #7
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Ici ..I was giving your rendition of the legalese laden document a loud clap. The rest of my ramblings just addressed the entire document LS wrote to restrict parasitic Affiliate Applicaations.

    Stephen obviously doesn't want the apps thievery portions turn on and off at will. Be a compliance nightmare similar to network gliches in reporting sales or merchnats turning off the reporting tags during peak shopping periods. If Morpheus signed off before Aug 15th and we caught them swapping ID# and poaching traffic till they cleaned up their bloody trails in the middle of Sept. then they in both spirit and actual manipulation violated the LS-TOS agreement. If this signatory did happened then someone at Buyersport turned back on the old theft feature we and Linkshare addressed in May/June. They were proclaimed "cleaned" back then and merchants flocked to them for cherry picking their competition's keywords not our site links.

    WebMaster Mike

  8. #8
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    Oh, I see.

    And with my new understanding of Morpheus and all its demonic works...

    Do my eyes decieve me or is the affiliate only 'protected' from parasites up to the moment the shopper lands on the merchant page?

    I guess it depends on how long you want to pay a lawyer to argue about what a 'traffic based transaction' is, exactly. And what might constitute 'interference' with it.

    '[N]or increasing any payment obligation of any network merchant with respect to any individual transaction'.

    Nothing there about not creating a merchant payment obligation out of free traffic in the first place. When there really ought to be.

    Must be an oversight.


    Mike, I recall I liked your proposal too. It was nice and short and highly relevant, but I've forgotten it.


    I

    Just because my domain is open to the public, does not make its contents public domain!

    [This message was edited by Icicle on October 04, 2002 at 02:53 AM.]

  9. #9
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    Real simple from my point of view.

    Was about to go with linkshare data feed for a few clients. THen wurldmedia reared its head. Dropped plans for the data feed.

    So my simple to the point question.

    Does wurldmedia break the above agreement or not. Can wurldmedia flash something in front of my vistors eyes to get them to take my comission. Does linkshare allow this? Does linkshare allow this with their clients suchs as overstock.

    If yes - then well big woop on your announcement. If not, I will be buying the feed today.

    To me, this whole thing is very black and white. Very clear. So a simple yes or no to my question will suffice.

    Chet

  10. #10
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    You're not going to get a straight statement out of Linkshare on this, since by the terms of their own Addendum they cannot make a formal announcement about matters relating to the Addendum without the prior WRITTEN consent of the parasites! See the extract from the Addendum, below:-

    "Any press releases or other formal announcements shall be approved in writing by both parties. Pending any such public announcement, you shall maintain the fact of this letter and the understanding reached by the parties hereby strictly confidential. Following any such public announcement, you may disclose the subject matter of this letter agreement only in a manner that is consistent with the terms hereof and with prior public statements that have been made by LinkShare or approved in writing by both parties."

    --
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  11. #11
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    Mike,
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>a compliance nightmare similar to network gliches in reporting sales or merchnats turning off the reporting tags during peak shopping periods. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I've heard this mentioned in several topics on the boards and obviously, it concerns me that an unscrupulous merchant could be able to effectively turn on / off tracking at their own will. That's what this is saying right?

    I would appreciate more detail on this in another topic area and a comment "from Stephen" (not another affiliate who thinks they can give his position) regarding this and steps being taken to prevent it - "if it is a valid statement".

  12. #12
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    Good morning everyone and I am glad to see that you all had a chance to review our addendum. The idea behind the addendum as you can see is to create a framework that is a practical way of working with new technologies. Our goal is to create an ethical standard as well as a transparent mechanism for working through any issues that may arise in the course of the development of new business models. In this sense, the document allows us to work together with the partner to assure that they are not hijacking your commissions. The nice aspect of this document for all parties concerned is that it sets up a process to deal with any issues hopefully before they appear as well as protections that do not currently exist in the laws of this great country if this standard is broken now or in the future.
    For the developers of new technologies the addendum spells out what is and is not acceptable allowing these technology providers to develop acceptable business models that add true value without unintentionally creating unethical behavior. For the affiliates, we believe it provides a strong protection from the behavior that you have all written here and other places about. For LinkShare and the entire affiliate industry, it helps to create a standard of acceptable use, as well as a mechanism for ensuring compliance that is sadly lacking today. This addendum was not something we thought up on our own. Rather it was developed with the help of affiliate leaders, the technology providers and others who all where able to find common ground. In the end we know that not everyone will be happy with this addendum but we feel that this is a giant leap forward from what is currently being done and hope that you will all work with us to solve this issue.

    [This message was edited by smesser on October 04, 2002 at 10:18 AM.]

  13. #13
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    Dear Edwin and others,

    If you read the terms of our Addendum, you will note that it prohibits affiliates from blocking, altering, substituting, redirecting, etc. any click-throughs that originate from a LinkShare Network® affiliate site. Based on our testing, the current version of Wurld Media's technology,
    which powers Morpheus Shopping, complies with the terms of our Addendum. While I have read a lot of discussion on the tool bar icon, I have to draw a line between the efforts that take place in the browser window and the needs of these new business models to work with their legitimate customers. In the end, the gray area is the difference between "parasiteware" and plain "competition." In some ways all competition is parasitic. Take Macys opening a store next door to Bloomingdale’s or for that matter every store on Madison Avenue. Each of these players is trying to get a customers dollar away from the next. What we as a society accept is the consumers right to choose where and with whom they spend their money. What we do not accept as a society is the competition walking into someone else’s store (the browser window) and pulling out the original stores customer. If the customer looks out the window of Macys and sees a sale at Bloomingdale’s and subsequently leaves to spend their money where the sale is taking place, (perhaps on the same product) is this not fair competition. So our addendum tries to help clarify the line between what is acceptable competition, and what is unethical stealing. We are in no position to stunt technological innovation where it provides value to the consumer in an ethical fashion, the policies for which we have outlined in our Affiliate Addendum.

    Best regards,
    Stephen

  14. #14
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> without the need for unethical behavior. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I can't put my finger on it yet, but something about the mindset behind words like that really, really bothers me.

    The NEED for unethical behaviour?? NEED????????

  15. #15
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    Buckworks,

    Its early in the morning, and i have had only one glass of coffee so take my word choice with a grain of salt ;-)

    Steve

  16. #16
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    Stephen,

    I like the document. I think it is a large leap ahead.

    -Wayne

    P.S. It is early, but drinking coffee from a cup is usually safer then a glass.

  17. #17
    Domain Addict / Formerly known as elbowcreek Thomas A. Rice's Avatar
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    smesser-
    I see a difference between a toolbar that returns, say, open directory search results versus one affiliates search results. This just seems to have a monopolistic effect on trade. Suppose Microsoft releases the next update with a toolbar bundled and installed, funneling ALL shopping results into their CJ affiliate id, to the exclusion of every one of your affiliates, including Morpheus et al? At what point will you say, umm, wait a minute, that's not fair?

    Somewhere, I am sure, the Gods of War are laughing.

    [This message was edited by elbowcreek on October 04, 2002 at 10:42 AM.]

  18. #18
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> P.S. It is early, but drinking coffee from a cup is usually safer then a glass. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>



    Ah but the tort when the glass shatters is just too good to pass up [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]At least he's not sticking it between his legs when he's driving. OUCH [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

    Mike

    Time to Worry, Mama. Things are about to get FREAKY!

  19. #19
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    Hate to sound a negative note again, but your analogy of two stores next to each other is flawed wrt Morpheus.

    It would be more accurate to say that one store sets up ads for its wares inside the other store, since Morpheus relies on knowledge that it is on a specific site to govern its behaviour.

    Your addendum is a good first step, but it's only that - until a program of education is in place to teach MERCHANTS what harm parasiteware can do to their direct traffic, the job is half done.

    --
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  20. #20
    Domain Addict / Formerly known as elbowcreek Thomas A. Rice's Avatar
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    Oh, and I didn't mean to sound completely negative there, your addendum is a nice move in the correct direction!

    Somewhere, I am sure, the Gods of War are laughing.

  21. #21
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Stephen I can see where your coming from on a difficult compromise solution. The perveyers of Affiliate Applications do not want to expend the money -time or efforts to generate shopping web sites beyond simple directory listings of their merchants...a cookie setting function only. This negates their need to build presell text and product displays and individually coded network affiliate HTML links. They know without these they cannot score well with general SE listings which rate content on relevence. They therefore HAVE TO interfer with traffic of others to reach beyond their own user base.

    The only real effort a Duper/Parasite has is tricking consumers into downloading their program. The enticement is some FreeBee -P2P theftware -Gator's form filler or some "incent" deal offering points -coupons -rebates -commission rewards for loyality shoppers. Obviously "driveby" hidden installs are also a way to install a shopping Helper applications.

    My take on Affiliate Applications is they offer absolutely no value add to a merchant and only create a perpetual monitized clickstream. They attempt to interlope at the point of sale at a higher cost to the merchants than a normal affiliate link. On their own they offer no branding or pre-conditioning of shopper choices with product displays and rely on the efforts of others for that targeting.

    How many years have I preached to you and other network staff you needed to distance yourselves from the advertising industry. This is an assault by the advertising industry mindset on the pay-per-performance affiliate industry. You automated it and monitized it and allowed the Dupers/parasites to call all the shots because you refused to rein in and educate merchant AM's who used us as branding and free traffic generators. The networks granted merchant status to all these "incent" affiliates and turned a blind eye to their devious nature and adjenda.

    Drawing the line upon what they can and cannot do will not deter more of them from jumping into the frey. If they want coupon -special offer autofeeds you give it to them. If they want autoload product e-catalogs you will give it to them. Then the battle of the Affiliate Helper Apps buried in consumer machines takes place outside network controls. Alexia appends it's Amazon shopping helper to the Google bar -Morpheus detects LimeWire users and secretly uses the BHO backdoor to sneakin their sailboat into the system tray -the major Portals introduce their own loyality shopping clubs and the SE's discounts their listing fees if the site owner pushes their branded shopping bar. On and On it goes as the parasites try to one up each other.

    Don't you get it ..the advertising EyeBall War is the enemy to a viable affiliate pay-per-performance industry. Normal affiliates like me are not advertisers for merchants. We only get paid for actions that lead to sales. We have to acquire traffic and convert it into a motivated shopper by going beyond advertising and creating a value-add to both parties in a transaction. There are no short cuts for us ..just hard work.

    Meanwhile put a leash on these guys and merchants who want to adopt them into their commission pool identify themselves as pure play advertisers. I will not waste time showcasing them Certainly their are exceptions to this rule when the merchnat has a AM like Shawn of Overstock who provides us with high conversion creatives.

    WebMaster Mike

  22. #22
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    Could you perhaps supply answers to the following questions? Thanks!

    1. Does your above comment mean that Linkshare will NOT be removing the current Morpheus/Buyersport.com from its affiliate program?
    A) Yes, we will be allowing M/B to stay on as an affiliate
    B) No, we will be removing them as an affiliate

    2. Does Linkshare permit the use of a software application that is written to extract commissions from direct traffic to a merchant (typeins, search engine visitors, visitors via a banner ad, etc.) by interacting with visitors on the merchant own site in such a way as to cause them to leave the merchant's site and re-enter it via an affiliate link?
    A) Yes, this type of application is acceptable
    B) No, this type of application is not acceptable

    3. Does Linkshare permit the use of a software application that is written to interact with direct traffic to a merchant's site (typeins, search engine visitors, visitors via a banner ad, etc.) to cause them to leave that merchant and visit a 3rd party merchant site?
    A) Yes, this type of application is acceptable
    B) No, this type of application is not acceptable

    4. Where does Linkshare believe the responsibility for policing "parasiteware" lies?
    A) It is the individual merchant's responsibility
    B) It is Linkshare's responsibility
    C) The responsibility must be shared between Linkshare and the individual merchant

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  23. #23
    Content $ Queen Ebudae's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Edwin:

    It would be more accurate to say that one store sets up ads for its wares _inside_ the other store, since Morpheus relies on knowledge that it is on a _specific_ site to govern its behaviour.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Edwin, I agree. Because a toolbar on my site is like setting up an ad in my store. I built the store - all they did was to build a customer stealing ad.

    Vicki [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times.

  24. #24
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    My GOD!

    Have any of you naysayers even READ the damned document?

    Obviously Icicle has, and probably Webnasty Mike; although his bias is so obvious that his statements are always taken with a block of salt.

    Obstinatedon

    You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

    Mahatma Gandhi

  25. #25
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    Everyone.

    [Steve says}
    &gt;Based on our testing, the current version of Wurld Media's technology,
    which powers Morpheus Shopping, complies with the terms of our Addendum.


    BINGO!

    Its a gift. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img]


    &gt;This addendum was not something we thought up on our own. Rather it was developed with the help of affiliate leaders


    Any 'affiliate leaders' who sign up for claptrap like this will find themselves voted out of office in pretty short order.

    Merchants read this!


    I

    Just because my domain is open to the public, does not make its contents public domain!

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