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  1. #1
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    this email from linkshare?

    --------------------------
    Dear LinkShare Affiliate:

    I am writing to you to advise you of a potentially serious situation that
    has come to our attention. Last Friday, September 26, 2003, we learned
    that AffTrack, a provider of reporting and other tools that many of you
    may use, is launching a new and very different business of compiling,
    analyzing and selling data that it has collected about affiliate
    marketing programs for its own profit and gain.

    Our immediate concern upon hearing about AffTrack's new business is that
    the data AffTrack is using to create its data products appears to be
    largely derived from the reporting services it has been providing to its
    Affiliate clients, which may include you. Its first product is a
    fifty-page report called "The MetrixMarket 100 Report," which, among
    other things, ranks merchants with LinkShare programs highly (9 out of
    the top 10).

    Whatever may have occurred in the past, it is quite a different matter to
    store, publish and otherwise use that data, in any manner and however
    manipulated or presented, for AffTrack's own commercial purposes and
    profit.

    What does this all mean?

    - The data that AffTrack is using to compile its reports and package new
    products is exactly the kind of data ¿ such as sales, average order size,
    commissions, earnings per click -- that both Merchants and Affiliates
    take pains to keep confidential Signature Affiliates that subscribe to
    their iTracking services, individual consumer data may also be at risk.

    - By undertaking this new business, AffTrack is putting its Affiliate
    clients at risk of breaching their agreements with their Merchant
    partners. This, in turn, threatens to destroy the trust that is
    currently enjoyed by all of the Affiliates in their relationships with
    their Merchant partners.

    - AffTrack assured us that it had obtained "power of attorney"-like
    agreements with all of its Affiliate clients, which we know is not true
    in all cases and, even assuming it were true, would not give AffTrack the
    right to undertake this new business. Unlike a Nielsen or a Comscore,
    AffTrack has no independent rights to access and use this data beyond
    what rights its Affiliate clients are able to grant. If you use any
    AffTrack products or services, we would recommend strongly that you
    review your Terms and Conditions.

    As you would probably agree, it is reckless to conduct business this way.
    Having turned itself into a custodian of data about affiliate marketing
    programs, AffTrack poses a risk to all of us. We have no idea how any of
    this data has been used in the past by AffTrack, but we have to presume
    that it can be, and may already have been, sold as part of other services
    or products, including to competitors and other parties adverse to your
    interests. Right now AffTrack has collected enough data to threaten the
    integrity of the marketing programs of its clients, but probably
    insufficient data to provide statistically meaningful results.

    Once we learned the MetrixMarket 100 Report was for sale, we demanded
    that it be withdrawn immediately. All of our requests to see a copy of
    the complete Report and work together in an amicable way have been
    rebuffed. While we were successful in convincing them to take the "BUY"
    button down temporarily, the Report continues to be promoted and,
    according to AffTrack's CEO, it will be made available as soon as this
    Thursday.

    We are naturally most concerned about the fact that the MetrixMarket 100
    Report is just the beginning of the types of data products and services
    that AffTrack is planning. To date, we have received no assurances that
    AffTrack - respects the confidential and proprietary nature of the data
    it has accessed and is using for its own profit or the legally dangerous
    position it is putting its Affiliate clients in.

    This apparent disregard has compelled us to step in and take serious and
    immediate action to protect the interests of both the Merchants and the
    Affiliates that participate in the LinkShare Network. At our expense, we
    have initiated a suit to protect everyone's interests by engaging outside
    counsel to prepare papers seeking, among other things, a preliminary
    injunction. A complaint was filed yesterday in the New York Federal
    courts. You should know that we have contacted our Merchant clients
    separately to alert them also to AffTrack's activities, as well as the
    other affiliate marketing service providers in the hopes that they too
    will move to protect their clients' interests.

    As always, we are committed to serving in the best interest of our
    clients. LinkShare is taking the lead in this important matter because
    we believe proprietary data is one of the most important assets to
    protect. We will, of course, keep you apprised of our progress in this
    matter. Please feel free to contact anyone listed below with any
    questions that you might have.
    -----------------------------------------

    What are your thoughts?

  2. #2
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Bottom line, simply put ...

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>AffTrack has no independent rights to access and use this data beyond what rights its Affiliate clients are able to grant.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    and

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Right now AffTrack has collected enough data to threaten the integrity of the marketing programs of its clients, but probably insufficient data to provide statistically meaningful results.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

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


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

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador DesignerWiz's Avatar
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    Yep ... pretty much sums it up!

    Ray Thomas
    DesignerWiz.com CEO
    Development Resource & Javascript Public Archive Center
    http://DesignerWiz.com
    ABW Board: Category: Programming / Coding

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
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    WHY DOES THIS NOT SURPRISE ME???

    Andy

    _______________
    <font color="red">Call the Exterminators! We've Got PARASITES!</font>

  5. #5
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    Give me a W. Give me an A...

    Snakes are snakes are snakes. Once you see a snake is a snake, why do you think he isn't a snake?

    But hey, that snake is giving something away for free!!!!!!

    Chet

  6. #6
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    I don't like the idea of others having access to my stats, don't know about you guys. I am not a customer of afftrack, but when I think of other hosted applications it is always a concern.

    Shawn

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
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    We have no idea how any of this data has been used in the past by AffTrack, but we have to presume that it can be, and may already have been, sold as part of other services or products, including to competitors and other parties adverse to your interests. Right now AffTrack has collected enough data to threaten the integrity of the marketing programs of its clients, but probably insufficient data to provide statistically meaningful results.

    I wonder how much of this has been given to the software apps? And I wonder how all of AffTrack's affiliates feel about them now?

    Andy

    _______________
    <font color="red">Call the Exterminators! We've Got PARASITES!</font>

  8. #8
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Ummm, haven't they been doing this to do some degree?? Remember Jeff's article regarding incent sites and the likes? That information came from their clients stats. At that time, Wayne's response to me was that the stats were aggregate, so no violations and it was in the client TOS. Always did amaze me why affiliates were paying for that service for them to be using the stats which in the long run negatively impacted on some.

    Now a step further. But hey, he came here offering his new service for free. Said there was a published privacy policy. Said the individual's privacy was protected. Failed to mention how the free service was going to benefit him financially. Well, does all that sound like a familiar business model? Looks like he's been learning from some of his parasite clients.

    You know, Wayne is really a very intelligent guy. Just he would use those brain cells for the good of the industry as a whole.

    It's Your Money. You earned it. What are you going to do to make sure you get to keep it?

  9. #9
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    BTW, good job LS for calling it like it is and passing on the info to their affs.

    Does make me kind of wonder what networks may be standing in line for the report.

    It's Your Money. You earned it. What are you going to do to make sure you get to keep it?

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador Nova's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Does make me kind of wonder what networks may be standing in line for the report. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Do I get another free parasiteware tshirt if I guess it right?


    I was reading this and I am just buckweet(sp?)
    It's always amazing when you find out that your gut feeling was right!

    Oh my!

    ------------------------------
    What does the COC stand for? Crooks Overwriting Commissions.
    Don't worry! Tracking is infected!
    ------------------------------
    Love Life to the fullest. we only get ONE chance! :-) !

  11. #11
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    I know now why my gut reaction to his posts has always been close to emptying my stomach.


    Download Site Map Creator Today

  12. #12
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    Thank you Stephen and Linkshare for bringing this up and representing your affiliates and merchants in the matter.

    This almost seems laugable given some of Wayne's recent comments here to some of my questions. Statements like "we only report in aggrigate and would not threaten our relationships", "we have a unique view", and "we do not miscontstrue facts" comes to mind.

    Their numbers are largely biased towards incentive sites because thats the bulk of people doing business with them despite Waynes statements saying "we represent all views". They may represent all views but certainly not on an equal basis that would allow for non biased data.

    I made a very simple statement that when I look on the web I do not see the majority of sites I visit being incentive sites (I'm not talking about offering a coupon here but rather their meaning for incentive which means accruing reward points, cash backs, etc).

    It seems pretty clear to me these sites are in the minority and a large percentage of these are either spam traps or they utilize downloadable applications that divert users and commissions. Sure, there are probably some very big ones that are honest and have integrity but from my view I dont see many of these in the incentive camp.

    I directly questioned Jeffs previous quotes concerning "their representation of facts concerning incentive based powerhouses and how merchants can not avoid using them if they want a strong program" and suggested that they had entered a role where they would have more disclosure responsibilities if they were going to make statements like that. I directly questioned the viability of "there view" and pretty much told him I didn't think he or afftract or Jeff "whoever" was acting responsibly concerning the kind of statements made.

    If they are allowed to further expose "their view" of the data in finer and finer levels of granularity this will likely be even more damaging than the "aggrigate view" they've recently represented.

    I'll say it again - statistics can be misrespresented, biased and manipulated in so many different ways it isn't funny.

    I still don't have that warm and fuzzy feeling!

    ===============================
    PeePee merchants with PooPoo policies allow our earnings to be flushed down the crapper.

    Why give parasites unlimited cookie durations and credit for sales where they divert our users and overwrite our cookies. PP merchants directly support what many consider unfair trade practices and thievery!
    ===============================

  13. #13
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Am I vindicated for being a thorn in Wayne's and Afftrac's side for 4 years, since I first reviewed their business model? Those who service the advertising industry on a regular basis automatically get corrupted by the company they keep. The damage and real harm comes from all the efforts The AD wanks do to justify peddling their wares. Smoke and mirrors is SOP.

    Wayne is a smart cookie and has picked up the spin master expertise enabling selling to the greed monger side of affiliate marketing the tools to back up fiction with facts. Rounding out the stats of the "incent" Dupers required mixing in some normal affiliates clickstreams so the data, upon first glance, appeared to be impartial. I passed on the free Afftrac offers on every occassion even though assured by Wayne none of the collected info was identifiable and not shared.

    Nice to see the brain trust at LS step forward, knowing the dangers of data mining by 3rd parties to snapshots of their network's datastream, if presented to the Ad wanks as spin food. Obviously LS is waking up to the subversive nature of the DMA crew of gorilla marketers. Danger is now that group of info buyers are getting threatened by pissed off duped consumers demanding they be shut down. Those same Ad whores will flock to the networks for newly hatched or acquired commission snatching schemes.

    It was always simple to dupe the lazy AM's wearing advertising caps seeking Eyeballs into the incent traffic game. Simplier to find greedy sleezy affiliates, falling all over themselves, to put up the next DUPERS bag of "tricks for Clicks for some nominal lead or CPC fee. Now the big powerful greed aggregrators have a ill gotten bankroll and huge consumer and merchant captive audience, via the network incubated S/W application affiliate force.

    Here comes the networks reality check as the current snooping media, legislation, class action suits, worldwide arrests and brand damaging gorilla marketing practices threaten their cash cow as politicians are forced to pay attention due to election 2004.

    Want to get an immediate damaging effect on the Ad Whores, privacy violators and theftware crowd Linkshare? Bust that coupon/incent nightly update service and preach FREE FREIGHT for Christmas to all your merchants.

    Mike & Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! BBQ some Gator and remember to flush WhenU..

    [This message was edited by EcomCity.com on October 01, 2003 at 08:52 PM.]

  14. #14
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Nova, I was just wondering out loud.

    Poon, exactly!!! I patiently listened to Wayne's spin when that article first came out. Then I started asking specific methodology questions as to their "research" (being forced to sit through 2 brain numbing stats classes in college finally paid off). All of a sudden Wayne didn't know much about how Jeff had arrived at his conclusions and I would have to talk to Jeff. He did admit that the data was not pulled from all their clients, but could not say if or how an accurate cross representation of their client base was achieved for the study. Let alone if their client base even accurately reflects an accurate cross section of the affiliate industry as a whole. That right there completely shoots any conclusions they may have drawn out of the water as a valid and reliable statistical analysis. It's all about $$$$ and that's the bottom line. They rely on the fact that for most statistical analysis is an area where the mind glazes over (with good reason). As you said, you can make numbers look anyway you want. Doesn't mean there is an ounce of accuracy in the representation. I'll be damn though if I will fork over my data willing so that it can be used in questionable representation to someone else's own benefit. If my data is going to be manhandled it will be by me and to my own advantage.

    It's Your Money. You earned it. What are you going to do to make sure you get to keep it?

  15. #15
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    I got an email from Jeff awhile back saying he he had something new coming out I would be interested in. I had never heard from him before. I guess this is what he was referring to. NOT interested!

    Linda Buquet :: 714.754.1280 :: AM Consultant :: Catalyst eMarketing.com
    5 Star Affiliate Programs :: Top Paying/High-Integrity Merchants :: Visit 5 Star Forum
    <FONT size="1">4LowRates ::ChatDollars :: ConsciousOne :: EveryTicket :: Organize-Everything :: Irv's Luggage
    DentalPlans :: Executive Essentials :: IntelliContactPro :: zZounds :: Roadloans :: More Soon!
    </font>

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
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    If Deputy Dawg had a program to compete with Wayne's, I'd sign up for it instead! I was on the receiving end of one of Wayne's "try it for free" offers, and that's about what it's worth! Actually, Wayne should be paying the affiliates to provide him with their stats, since he obviously intends to sell the info!

    Now I understand completely why the CoC is such a sham, look at who moderated the meeting last year!

    I guess Wayne knows what he can do with his offer...

    Andy

    _______________
    <font color="red">Call the Exterminators! We've Got PARASITES!</font>

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    I am so glad I followed my instincts and did not join AffTrack.

    Hmmm, my instincts tell me something about the CJ spider, too. But, unfortunately, I have no control over that one.

    Ron - 7 Days A Week Marketing

  18. #18
    Newbie Affiliate Ian's Avatar
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    hmmm, I have been interested in AffTrack for a few months now but have not joined yet. I was under the impression that it was a decent represenataion of affiliate stats in the industry. I must be wrong on this one.

    How does AffTrack obtian it's data? From the merchants who belong to a network that works with AffTrack?

    Very interesting.

    Ian Lee, M.Sc.

    Internet Marketing Strategist / Affiliate Manager
    EYI, Inc.
    ilee_NO_SPAM@eyi.us
    http://www.eyiproducts.com
    604-596-9766

    Personal Sites: ADS-Links.com | HealthCastle.com

  19. #19
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    I picked up a new (to me) advertiser from shareasale recently and noticed an afftrack tag in the code. I'm not a user of afftrack itself, but this is where some of the info will come from, I'm sure.

    (wonder what would happen if that part of the link got disappeared)

    (I haven't seen that particular email from Linkshare, but then I haven't been near my home machine for most of the day)


    _____
    I earned something? Who screwed up?

  20. #20
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    Has it been confirmed that this letter is genuinely from LinkShare?

    I never got one ...

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    I thought that when I read it the first time. The sig was cut off. I never got the letter either. Can anyone else confirm that they got the letter before we go on a wild goose hunt?

    Ron - 7 Days A Week Marketing

  22. #22
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    I can confirm the suit by Linkshare and possibly other networks against AffTrack, as I was made aware of this last night.

    I fully support Linkshare and other networks who participate in this action.

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


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

  23. #23
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Herb:
    I picked up a new (to me) advertiser from shareasale recently and noticed an afftrack tag in the code. I'm not a user of afftrack itself, but this is where some of the info will come from, I'm sure.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Herb,

    I'm almost 100% sure that Brian does not send data to Afftrack via that tag and that it is only a way for affiliates to create a tracking system for their own internal links.

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


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

  24. #24
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    Even if there's a lawsuit in the works that doesn't answer the specific questions about 1) whether anyone else got that letter, and 2) confirming that it's genuinely from LinkShare.

    Did anyone else get it yet?

  25. #25
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Regardless if anyone else got the letter or whether it orginated from LS or not, the points made are on target.

    http://www.afftrack.com/products/mm_mm100_2002.asp

    The report is real. BTW, there is no Buy button.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Based on a sample from over $1 billion in 2002 sales revenue data & 19,000,000 sales transactions,<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    And that data was obtained from where??

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>what type of affiliates generated most revenue/were most valuable inside each retailer category? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>What was the 2002 average affiliate channel AOV and conversion-to-sale ratio for each marketer category?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Which marketers generate the largest volume of sales revenue through their affiliate program?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Which marketers distribute the most sales commissions to their affiliate partners?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>How are leading affiliates beginning to use the wide variety of contextual marketing solutions and how might this impact affiliate programs? How might you begin to leverage contextual technology partnerships - why or why not?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>This report provides details on how marketers must work to manage risks and exploit opportunities by:
    ....
    *Controlling affiliate partners usage of
    Search engines & directories
    E-mail campaigns
    Product data feeds & coupons
    Downloadable applications
    *Fraudulent activity
    *Contextual marketing & adware partners
    ....
    *Understanding exactly how legitimate & illegitimate affiliates send sales
    ......<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Anyone not see the potential threat here? Or the selling of proprietary information from affiliates, merchants, and networks? Anyone think AffTrack was able to obtain data on over $1 billion in sales revenue and 19M transaction for the whole year of 2002 if not from their existing paying clients? Just when did the free service begin? Don't think it was at the beginning of the year, seems it was recent. Before they just offered a discount to ABW'ers.

    What they are doing is REAL!

    From RevTrends TOSbolding is mine)

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>An essential part of AffTrack’s service to its customers is the automatic collection of its customers’ partner revenue information. In order to execute this service, customers must provide to AffTrack the means for accessing this information on their behalf, such as provision of user names and passwords. It must also grant permission to house data collected. All such information is protected by our privacy policy. AffTrack’s authority to collect and house such data must be accomplished by customer’s grant of a limited power-of-attorney, as stated below.

    I authorize AffTrack to access and obtain my revenue and statistical data (also known as associate, affiliate, partner or revenue sharing, etc.) information from the data providers described in our interface, as the same may be amended from time to time. For the limited purposes hereof, AffTrack is granted a limited power of attorney, and I hereby appoint AffTrack as my true and lawful attorney-in-fact and agent, with full power of substitution and re-substitution, for me and in my name, place and stead, in any and all capacities, for the limited purpose only, to access such data from data providers at all times as AffTrack may determine in its sole discretion, with the full power and authority to do and perform each and every act and things requisite and necessary to be done in connection with such access, as fully to all intents and purposes as I might or could do in person. AffTrack is further authorized to utilize such information as necessary, but only in accordance with its privacy policy. I understand that AffTrack acts solely as an intermediary, that my benefits are subject to the program sponsors' individual terms and restrictions, and that AffTrack has no authority to access, direct or divert any earnings or other benefits. I further understand that AffTrack assumes no responsibility and shall incur no liability with respect to the acts, omissions or determinations of any data provider. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    From their privacy policy:

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Your individual transactions and member profile information will NOT be provided to any third party. However, AffTrack may share or publicly announce compiled, aggregate data containing no personally identifying information. For example, AffTrack may publicly state that its subscribers, in total, "earn "X" dollars in commission." However, AffTrack would not release anything about you as an individual or your company, such as your name or company name.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Seems to fall a bit short with all the information they are saying is provided in MetrixMarket report. But if you are using them, then you have given them your limited power of attorney and they are aggregrating your stats for resell under the listings above.

    It's Your Money. You earned it. What are you going to do to make sure you get to keep it?

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