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  1. #1
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    "Affiliate agrees not to bid on Smith+Noble name and on any Smith+Noble, Inc. trademarks or any common misspelling or confusingly similar trademarks, on any pay-for-placement search engines, including, but not limited to: overture.com, findwhat.com and google.com. Affiliate also agrees to not utilize, advertise or otherwise promote, any Smith+Noble terms in the headline or description copy associated with pay-for-placement search engines or in meta-tags, keywords, page titles or paid search engine advertising."

    The above being an example of most of the merchant agreements you'll find at Performics, and there are plenty of merchants at CJ that feel the same way. We all get their e-mails from time to time, don't we?

    When you slap a merchant's name in a page title, and a person thereby finds your page in Google by searching for such merchant, do you feel you have really sold something if that person buys from that merchant?

    There's a growing number of merchants that don't think so.

    We recently heard an example of someone getting deactivated in CJ for such things. Obviously one of the roles the new CJ spider has is to help assure and make merchants happier...more so the ones that are tired of their names being abused.

    It's recently been brought to my attention that some merchants at CJ just don't care how their names are abused if it is helping their EPC.

    I'm in the process tonight to clean house of all merchants that would sell themselves cheap and allow their name to be abused in such an unprofessional manner.

    My partner and I here have come to believe we will not get long term respect from merchants that don't respect themselves. Since we're in business for the long term, we must rid ourselves of such merchants until they have learned self respect.

    We're sending e-mails to those particular merchants explaining why we must suspend our relationship for the time being, and showing them detailed information we have gathered as to how their names are grossly abused.

    Long live Pay-For-Performance.

  2. #2
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    That makes no sense. The purpose of a title tag, meta tags, is to give an accurate description of the page. If I have a full page of nothing but the current Amazon promotions, what is supposed to go in the title of the page? Having the title tag "Amazon.com current promotions" would be accurate and theres nothing wrong with that. There are also merchants that issue coupon codes to affiliates. If i make a page listing those codes, then Merchant X Coupon Codes would be what to put in the title tag. Its not abusing a merchant name my having the merchant name in the title, thats what title tags are for, describing the page.

    As far as
    "their names are abused"
    "their name to be abused in such an unprofessional manner.
    "My partner and I here have come to believe we will not get long term respect from merchants that don't respect themselves. Since we're in business for the long term, we must rid ourselves of such merchants until they have learned self respect."

    Thats just crazy, and i think most merchants won't care that you're dropping them.

    "Nothing focuses the mind better than the constant sight of a competitor who wants to wipe you off the map."
    --Wayne Calloway

  3. #3
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    It seems that you could be right, but I'm not totally sure, if free market wins, if a name is promoted better by other than the owner, then a merchant could be happy if others help find his name and redirect to him.

    Or... example:

    Merchant: I saw your page with my brand "cocacola" text in the title (title = "Do you need cocacola?"), so you are deactivated now.
    Affiliate: Ok, now that I cannot earn selling "cocacola" the same page in the same place with the same title is still getting consumers, but selling... Pepsi.

    Fer

  4. #4
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    Are you getting long term respect from Amazon?

    All these merchants that are making these types of agreements are out of their tree?

    Maybe one day they'll give in and allow you to plaster theirname.com in as many hundreds or thousands of page titles are your heart desires?

    I see a trend here, and tend to want to go with it. Alot of merchants are choosing respect, and that's where I want to be.

    The merchants I drop won't miss me, and the merchants you can't agree with will do fine without you.

  5. #5
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    "Are you getting long term respect from Amazon?"

    What are you talking about?? Give me an example of what you mean, what does a merchant do to give you respect, not following. They give me a check on time, thats what i care about.

    Again, if you make a page listing all the current promotions or deals with Amazon or whatever merchant, thats what you put in the title tag, what else would you put there? Thats what meta tags are for, describing the page. I have some of my pages like that for a year and a half and haven't had 1 problem with any merchant.

    "I see a trend here, and tend to want to go with it. Alot of merchants are choosing respect, and that's where I want to be."

    I don't see that at all. I agree about bidding on their TM in PPC, you shouldn't do that, that makes sense, but the rest of what you said doesn't.

    "Nothing focuses the mind better than the constant sight of a competitor who wants to wipe you off the map."
    --Wayne Calloway

  6. #6
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    Did you read the agreement quote I posted? That's not an Amazon agreement.

    Unfortunately I can't take credit for writing those agreements for all the merchants that feel that way. You'll have to talk to them about it if you disagree.

  7. #7
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    You posted about the Smith And Noble agreement then kinda went off talking about other merchants and that if you use there name in the title tag, somehow there names are abused, sell themselves cheap, abused in an unprofessional manner etc. All i'm saying there are many different angles to affiliate marketing. Sometimes you make a page about a product and sometimes you make a page about the deals a certain merchant has. All i'm saying is that if you make a page about Merchant X and all the deals they have, then it's ok and makes sense to have that in the title tag. The title tag should give some clue as to what the page is about. Lots of affilates do this, i've never had a problem with it. Each merchant is different, a lot don't have a clue how affiliate marketing or search engines work. I think Smith and Noble want you to promote the products they carry instead of them, but other don't. And just because a merchant lets you use there name in the title tag doesn't cheapen them or anything like that, if that is what the page is about.

    "Nothing focuses the mind better than the constant sight of a competitor who wants to wipe you off the map."
    --Wayne Calloway

  8. #8
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    I'm not in any way saying there aren't any merchants that allow you to plaster their names in title tags.

    But alot of those merchants that allow you to, they still get p*ssed when those title tags contain misrepresentations of them.

    The internet if full of affiliate page titles that are total misrepresentations of merchant offers, including promises of coupons for merchants that never offer coupons.

    Have you seen those search engines...that whatever you search for it would always state that so and so merchant had it? That's what it is like.

    Example: You search "Charles Manson", the search engine spits out, "Find Charles Manson at Bizrate".

    You want to make all those pages of all the wonderful coupons a merchant has at CJ? Why all the offers that don't exist?

    Coupon codes are rare for most CJ merchants, and everyone knows it.

    Those page titles don't serve to explain what a page is about...they are outright intentional misrepresentations of those merchants.

    Some merchants care about being misrepresentated, others maybe...ummm, their ignorant.

    Or go ahead and make a hundred pages about a merchant's sale that will end next week. You won't take them down after you've spent all that time putting them up with ya? Heck no, you'll love those misrepresentations until the Google cows come home.

    Hey, everyone does what they feel they need to do to survive. I hear ya.

  9. #9
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    First, I agree with you about somebody putting "Merchant.com Coupon" in the title when the merchant never offers coupons. All of your last post just talked about affiliates using merchant name and coupon in the title tag when there was none and i agree with you on that. You're kinda getting off the subject you started this thread off. You started off this thread with a Smith and Noble quote about using their name in the title tag and wandered off to coupons. My whole point is simple: That i think its okay to have the merchant name in the title tag if the page is about the merchant. If at the time the merchant is offering a coupon, then its ok to have "Merchant.com Coupons" in title tag. Never did i say you should misrepresent what the page is about.

    "Nothing focuses the mind better than the constant sight of a competitor who wants to wipe you off the map."
    --Wayne Calloway

  10. #10
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    The reason I gave the Smith&Noble example is because I've talked to them, and they don't allow their name in title tags because most affiliates by nature will misresent them in ways I described.

    I guess that's their experience, or they've been around the block a few times.

    Anyway, here's one of the myriads of examples I have gathered:

    Search for ebay coupon code in Google. No quotation marks.

    Click the first result you see in the search results. Not only is this a misrepresentation of Ebay (because they aint no coupon), but a forced click occurs via a pop-up...CJ cookies written to the hard drive.

    Heck, this is a minor representation of a merchant compared to alot of ones I've logged.

  11. #11
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    Kelly, i totally agree with your last post. I agree with just about everything you say except that i think if you make a page about a merchants deals or coupons(assuming at the time you make the page, they do have them), thats its alright to put that in the tag and it should be in the tag because that is what the page is about. But let me ask you this. If Ebay did have coupon codes and somebody made a page just to list the available Ebay coupon codes, would it be wrong to have a page titled: "Ebay coupon codes"

  12. #12
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    What's the life of a coupon code? Some could last months, but most of them (in those rare instances that they are offered) are pretty short lived.

    If a coupon code expires in 2 weeks, why would a person want Google to pick it up in a month or two from then? It would be invalid and a misrepresentation at that time.

    The response would be you'd take the page down when it expired?

    A two week coupon code really doesn't need a special page dedicated to it, equipped with title, meta tags, and the works.

    An affiliate must respect their merchant and visitors by insuring they are not misrepresentated, or mislead in any way.

    Yea, sure, it'd be nice to have that expired coupon in Google for a few extra visitors here and there, but I think it really does short change us all in the long run if we make those things habit.

    Hey, you might of heard that I don't run any of the whole 2 coupon codes CJ merchants offer. LOL Very rarily out of the slew of merchants I'm affiliated with will one post a coupon code offer, and I don't bother with it if they do.

    Sales are just to plentiful to cater to some cheap shopper that will most likely have eBates Moe Money Maker on their machine next week.

  13. #13
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    [This message was edited by TrustNo1® on June 28, 2003 at 07:47 AM.]

  15. #15
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    Get some sleep.

  16. #16
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    I have banned myself from posting from 3am-6AM in the morning. I should follow my own advice of not posting or buying domain names when i'm half alseep

    [This message was edited by TrustNo1® on June 28, 2003 at 07:54 AM.]

  17. #17
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    1. Affiliate should have a statement on his page that there is no active coupon at this moment.

    2. Affiliate do not use force pop up in a sole purpose to set tracking cookie. When the site visitor arrived your site and he see that all coupons had expired and no active coupons.
    We should give him the right not to go to the merchant.

    The visitor can then venture on other search result to look for coupon codes.

    http://8n.nu/

  18. #18
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    a couple months ago I bid on a domain name while I was half asleep.. i thought it was a 3 letter .com, instead it was a ".net"... That lack of sleep cost me A LOT of money.

    quote:
    Originally posted by TrustNo1®:
    I have banned myself from posting from 3am-6AM in the morning. I should follow my own advice of not posting or buying domain names when i'm half alseep

    [This message was edited by TrustNo1® on June 28, 2003 at 07:54 AM.]

  19. #19
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    I'm sure the incent affiliates are crawling all over each other and the merchants trying to turn all popular SE keyword listings into a "get your coupon/rebate/reward" for Merchant X or product Y ...click here message. The abuses come from using every trick conceivable right on down to lying to shoppers to set their commission cookie without having to showcase merchant products.

    These are domain bound affiliates who's sites haven't one discerning factor or exclusive coupons etc. to garner in a bookmark. Some incent oriented sites combine comparison price shopping services -merchant rating systems to set them selves apart. All suffer by having to compete with the incent BHO's and their network autofeed popup alerts and cookie swapping technologies.

    Basically all affiliates have to compete for traffic from the SE's. The shady practices to push other incent affiliates, non-incent affiliates,content pages and the merchant's from the first 2 pages of listings is a skill they hone. Basically many of these same incent folks were the scripted click cheats during the CPC era, surf to earn, co-reg spammers and lead merchant hawkers of FREEBEEs that plagued this industry since inception.

    So I have to side with Kelly626 on all her points. Those affiliates who's sites do not deserve a bookmark are the one's who will bend the rules and do anything for a top SE listing this month. They get no repeat traffic unless they can trick shoppers.

    Mike & Charlie ...

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

  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador ShoreMark's Avatar
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    quote:
    Originally posted by TrustNo1®:
    All i'm saying there are many different angles to affiliate marketing. Sometimes you make a page about a product and sometimes you make a page about the deals a certain merchant has. All i'm saying is that if you make a page about Merchant X and all the deals they have, then it's ok and makes sense to have that in the title tag. The title tag should give some clue as to what the page is about. Lots of affilates do this, i've never had a problem with it. Each merchant is different, a lot don't have a clue how affiliate marketing or search engines work. I think Smith and Noble want you to promote the products they carry instead of them, but other don't.
    On an apparel site I went with the "merchant" or "brand name" on "this web site" title tag naming convention. If it's "merchant" page the page will have a few featured items and links to a number of different departments on the merchant site. If it's a "brand" page the page will have some featured items mostly all from one merchant for continuity, but sometimes will mix and match merchants.

    I feel this accurately describes the content of the page, the very purpose of the title tags, but when the agreement says don't (or more likely when a reminder broadcast comes out) I change it from "merchant on" to something like "Well-Known Men's Clothier on this web site" but frankly I don't see how that title tag ban helps promote the particular merchant especially on sites, like mine, that don't bid against the merchant (or bid period).

  21. #21
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    First of all Kelly, I'm glued to this string... for oh-so-many reasons. I will say this much (with a tip of the hat to you, Mike, since you're hear and all... you have been known to contribute thoughtful and insightful points... and that's not just me talking, others recognize you for this as well). Your initial point, Kelly, and your follow-up/relating points are right on the money. This is the kind of discussion that abw deserves. Hats off to ya.

    To follow up on your comments, Mike, I think a theme that runs behind Kelly's entire point is this: it is these shady affiliates (to use your word) that paint the entire community. This puts everyone at risk - even the Dupers who run BHO's and apps. Marketers are starting to wake up and smell the coffee...

    From a front page article in Catalog Age Mag (and yes, I realize that this is not EXACTLY the same tactic coming under fire but it is VERY closely related)... Re-evaluating Affiliate Marketing MAY 2003

    quote:

    Danielle Savin, vice president of Frederick's direct division, says that affiliates infringed on the Frederick's name in order to gain commissions. These companies would buy “Frederick's of Hollywood” or similar keywords on search engines, Savin explains. Customers seeking Frederick's would end up at the affiliates, which would then direct the customers to Frederick's. If those shoppers made a purchase, Frederick's was obligated to pay the affiliates — even if the customers had been hoping to head directly to Frederick's in the first place.

    A number of Frederick's affiliates, Savin says, had outbid Frederick's for use of its name as a search engine keyword. For example, Frederick's sent Web marketer Love Fifi.com a cease-and-desist letter after Love Fifi bought the Frederick's name through a search engine. (Love Fifi.com did not respond to Catalog Age's calls by press time.)

    Today Frederick's has a staffer policing its affiliates. To that point, Savin notes, having 50 or so affiliates is far more manageable than 4,000.

    As a result of Frederick's experience with affiliates, Savin is skeptical of affiliate marketing in general. “No branded marketer should be doing affiliate marketing,” she declares, unless the business has some way of policing affiliates.

    But Omaha Steaks' Paschal believes his company's brand won't end up in the wrong place — as long as his company constantly reviews affiliate sites carefully.

    “You can be overly conservative as to where your brand is presented,” Paschal says. “That goes back to fundamentals of what you're selling. We find that if we monitor our affiliates and go with reputable Websites, there aren't many risks.”




    The fact is that most smaller programs (and yes, MANY live inside the CJ realm) - with a handful of biggies too - run on auto-pilot or under the trusted eyes of a third party (network) who is, of course, paid their cut... is left to uphold ethics at their own financial expense (e.g. enforcing the COC or Addendum).

    So... that's the state of the market. What Kelly is suggesting is exactly what I see - a shift coming and there are many early signs of it.

    Which leads me to my question for Kelly: do you think that you're alone in making this recent decision or do you see others understanding as much and making such moves (contacting merchant partners, etc. etc.).

  22. #22
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    MrMerchant are you affiliated right now in any way with Performics?
    I agree that you shouldn't mislabel a page.
    But it is ok if i have a full page of Amazon Deals, and they have a lot, to name the page Amazon Deals. Does Kelly, Mike, or MrMerchant disagree with that? And if so can you give me a better title for a page that has nothing but the current Amazon.com deals?
    And i agree with kelly on the ebay example, if an affiliate misrepresents the merchant in that way, they should be deactivated. Just like in the BackCountryStore forum about using the word cheap or discount, if the merchant doesn't want that, tells the affiliates and they still do it, just deactivate them. But there are merchants that are coupon friendly and making a page listing these discounts and deals and labeling at such is ok.

    "Nothing focuses the mind better than the constant sight of a competitor who wants to wipe you off the map."

  23. #23
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Thanks for the recognition mrmerchant that some of my rants have a foundation even if they mostly echo in empty boardrooms. Affiliates who build pages without focusing on the value-add they bring to the merchant's table will soon suffer. Those merchant's and their AM's who don't deliver on that value added effort will also start to suffer.

    The shopper doesn't want to be fooled by anyone and demand some real value at the end of the click. All else is a waste of their time. By now many shoppers completely ignor those prime listing spots if they hype coupons - rebates or have Freebie/incnet connotations in their URL.

    More effort & money should be spent in 2003 redesigning these affiliate enabled web sites to increase conversions ...not blowing money to get more untargeted or incented traffic.

    Mike & Charlie ...

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

  24. #24
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    So if a merchant has coupons for affiliates and sometimes they have deals only available through the affiliate channel. You're saying saving people money offers them no value? That makes a lot of sense.

    "Nothing focuses the mind better than the constant sight of a competitor who wants to wipe you off the map."
    --Wayne Calloway

  25. #25
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    quote:
    Which leads me to my question for Kelly: do you think that you're alone in making this recent decision or do you see others understanding as much and making such moves (contacting merchant partners, etc. etc.).


    I very much knew I wasn't alone, but was curious to what extent.

    Thank all you guys for all the insightful detailed posts.

    I'm glad this is reaching the merchants, and I hope it serves to encourage them to go with what is best for them in the long run, and to continue to make those strong merchant/affiliate agreements that serve to protect what we call Pay-For-Performance for many years to come.

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