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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager frankodelic's Avatar
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    ABW has made me aware of... affiliate fraud. Bogus orders submitted by nefarious affiliates from war torn third world countries... or just plain old fashioned Internet theives.

    Right now I'm set to auto accept all affiliates from the US, UK and the other four or five countries listed on the auto accept list.

    Should I be screening these affiliates first?

    What should I look for when accepting affiliates to protect us from fraud?

    How do you screen affiliates?

    Thanks,

    Frank
    UrbanScooters.com

  2. #2
    ABW Veteran jc101's Avatar
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    My reply is below.

    1. I only accept affiliates from USA and Canada

    2. I review each affiliate and if I see adult content or illegal downloads (warez) I remove them. Also if it relates to what I offer and if they have meta tags in there site and are listed at least 1 search engine.

    3. If they have too many popups: :0( I say no way.

    4. If there use scripts that redirect automatically or have dead links for violating affiliate program guidelines.

    5. Check to make sure there site isn't under construction or is dead ( URL does not work)

    6. they do not install dialers or software automatically.

    7. visit sites often and remove if they change to something that is not un-acceptable or expires.

    8. make sure you checkout out where affiliates are coming from I have terminated a lot of affiliates for using our site with a popup that redirects every 30 seconds on a adult site. Hmm. if you are honest you'll see the rewards.

    9. Make sure there's not duplicate ips when your affiliates get leads.

    10. There's probably more. just this came to my mind.

    Jason

    freebiesforever.com merchant

    Jason

    Santa Cruz, CA 95060

  3. #3
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    Every Merchant should have guidelines for potential affiliates, but I'm not sure if I agree with restricting sites that reside in the same country as the merchant.

    Most sites that appear on search engines can be viewed by people anywhere in the world and if you only want customers from your country, why don't you ask the affiliate to place a special notice on the entry "USA and CANADA ONLY" or whatever?

    I am British and my site is registered in the UK but I live in Russia. 70% of my visitors come from the USA and most of the others come from the UK. Hardly any from Russia! Yet some sites refuse to accept me because of my address. Quite frankly I don't understand this thinking. The Internet has no borders and a site can operate from any country and choose the customers it wants (unlike a high street shop). How can a site based in the USA or deepest Africa make any difference?

    Unfortunately Frank at UrbanScooters must have taken your advice and rejected my application! Which is a pity, because I thought the product he was offering was good and I liked his banner so much I was going to feature it on my homepage.

    If you get to read this Frank I don't take your decision personally and if you change your mind let me know, I can still find a special spot for your banner!

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager frankodelic's Avatar
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    I'm not exactly sure how rampant affiliate fraud is, but what if extra precaution were taken with the acceptance of affiliates from outside of what are considered "safe" boundaries instead of complete exclusion.

    What if a merchant accepted any affiliate (regardless of geography) who has proven themselves by reaching a FULL affiliate membership level (meaning they have generated at least one cpa transaction or $20 in pay per lead transactions) and has at least an OK affiliate current status (meaning there are no fraud reports on the merchant). You might even add that their website has to be in the top 500,000? (Alexa ranking) proving that they are somewhat established.

    Then an upstanding Russian джентльмен like IanB would have a shot, too.

    Do you think that's restrictive enough? Yes... no???

    Frank
    UrbanScooters.com
    UrbanScooters.com Affiliate Program

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador
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    quote:
    Should I be screening these affiliates first?


    I treat affiliates as business partners, and I screen all business partners to the best of my ability.

    -wayne

  6. #6
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    quote:
    You might even add that their website has to be in the top 500,000? (Alexa ranking) proving that they are somewhat established.

    I know you're only throwing ideas around, but this is truely a stupid way to judge a prospective affiliate.
    There are many different types of affiliate.
    There are those that just whack up banners everywhere and call it an 'online mall', and there are those who will see a product (or merchant), and build a whole site from scratch around that merchant.
    So, any check on a domain name (which was probably bought as the affiliate was clicking on the 'apply' button) will show up as non-existent in alexa.

    I know which type of affiliate I'd prefer.

  7. #7
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    Hi Ian

    I hear ya mate, some of the systems used for rejecting affiliates (such as location) are moronic in the extreme, heck some of my best affiliates are in Malaysia and Australia...

    I even had my test site rejected by GiftCertificates.com for the following really wacko reason :

    Affiliate Program. Unfortunately your application was not accepted
    for the website that you submitted - NAME REMOVED which appears to have an international customer base.
    GiftCertificates.com does not ship to international addresses except Puerto Rico.


    By their definition they would have no affiliates at all... international customer base ha.. nuts to them, signed up with GiveAnything.com instead!

    Cheers

    Chris

    Chris Sanderson
    Mondera.com Partner Management
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  8. #8
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    Thanks for the reply Frank. Before responding, can I just clarify one point? I may be a "gentleman", but I am not a "Russian Gentleman". I have lived in this country 10 years but I am an Englishman (my English roots can be traced back beyond Elizabethan times!)

    At the end of the day it's a free world, everybody has a right to select their partners in a way that they feel comfortable with. However, for the sake of good business sense, I hope merchants take the time to think these things through and not just do it because other people are. It always surprises me that the USA (land of the free?), whose country was established by people from all over the world, has such a limited view to business partners from other countries. What happened?

    Merchants should also be aware of the "catch 22" situation. How is a new site going to become established if it never gets a fair chance to trade? My site is just over a year old and still developing. I hope it will become a serious force on the Internet in the future, but I will have to overcome Merchants with short vision and search engines that "don't play cricket!".

    Unfortunately, I am short of time and unable to say more today, but I will be back later. Many thanks to those who posted replies (and support), I look forward to discussing this and other subjects in the future (this is my first day on this "board").

  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager frankodelic's Avatar
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    Ian... yes, I see that now. An English gentleman living in Russia. My apologies.

    So far one method of screening for fraud has been suggested. If the affiliate is not from the USA or Canada, don't do business with them because the risk of fraud is too great.

    I've also heard this is a poor method of screening because it denies a merchant potentially lucrative business relationships.

    I had suggested a few solutions, one of which (Alexa rating) I can see doesn't hold water.

    I have yet to hear of an alternate way of screening for fraud. Methods other than screening by country of origin.

    Anybody care to tackle that one?

    Frank
    UrbanScooters.com
    UrbanScooters.com Affiliate Program

  10. #10
    Assistant Regional Manager Rik's Avatar
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    quote:
    I have yet to hear of an alternate way of screening for fraud. Methods other than screening by country of origin.


    - References from other affiliate programs on the same network.

    - Hold payments for a 30 day period to affiliates located in countries that are "perceived" by merchants to be risky.

    - Intense reviews of websites. Only accept generated sales from accepted domains.

    - Develop a good business relationship with affiliates from countries that are "perceived" by merchants to be risky. Result = trusted two way relationship.

    quote:
    So far one method of screening for fraud has been suggested. If the affiliate is not from the USA or Canada, don't do business with them because the risk of fraud is too great.


    You make it sound like all the good and trusting affiliates only come from those two countries. I'm pretty sure even the USA might have a few dodgy affiliates around.

    I also thought it would be evident by the large British representation here that UK affiliates could be also grouped in that "trusted" region. This goes for Australia as well. I know it's your business and you can do whatever you want with it but like you said, you could be really loosing out.



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  11. #11
    ABW Veteran jc101's Avatar
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    Maybe. I could be losing out. However if theres any affiliates here at abestweb that are well known. and known as honest then maybe I could let other affiliates out of the US join. but how do I know if there really being honest and not cheating. My 2 cents. what do others suggest?

    Jason

    Santa Cruz, CA 95060

  12. #12
    Assistant Regional Manager Rik's Avatar
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    Serious question - what makes you so sure that a US affiliate (current or potential) won't cheat you?

    I know your not implying this but just because I live in New Zealand it doesn't mean I'm going to cheat you.

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  13. #13
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    Argh! Pet Merchant Hate!!!

    Anyone who denies affiliates because of location is just stopping potentially lucrative relationships to develop. I am not from the US or Canada, but my site visitors are - take note - these are the customers you want to do business with are they not?

    My applications have been rejected countless times because of ill informed AMs considering location a fraud detection tactic. I also have a small number of these AMs now chasing me - emailing me & telephoning me - trying to set-up special rates so that I'll consider them again.. I would consider these AMs the ones who have finally managed to open their eyes (probably because my sites outrank theirs in search results, and their competitiors are getting the windfall).

    This business is very lucrative for myself and the merchants that I choose to work with. Just because I and others don't live in the US or Canada, does not mean that we are not good at what we do.

    You need to simply assess each application on a case by case basis, and not automatically dismiss a potentially great business relationship over a matter as trivial as location.

  14. #14
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    last time i checked every affiliate parasite on this planet was from the US, whenu , ebates etc etc...so all this talk of us foreigners been untrustworthy is a load of tosh.

    If we all followed jasonco12 example we might as well sign up WhenU and the rest of the US Parasites! Can't remember ever seeing a UK, Thai or Australian one, some one correct me if I'm wrong

    Cheers

    Chris

    Chris Sanderson
    Mondera.com Partner Management
    90 Return Days : 100% Parasite Free : Fast Support : Commission on ALL Sales.

    Visit the Mondera Partner Support Zone : Click Here

    [This message was edited by Chris - Mondera/WSO on November 21, 2002 at 10:48 AM.]

    [This message was edited by Chris - Mondera/WSO on November 21, 2002 at 10:59 AM.]

  15. #15
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    Perhaps RIK's suggestion of delaying payments for a certain period is a good alternative, at least until some "trust" has developed between Merchant and Affiliate. This would not be so different to the methods used by a Bank and a new customer.

    On the subject of trust, many Merchants tend to forget that this is a two-way thing. Many affiliates spend a great deal of time and money in promoting merchants and quite often receive a bad deal (customer poaching, bad service, bad goods and so on). This can affect the reputation (and pocket) of an affiliate, so the risk is not just on the Merchants shoulders.

    I don't know how others react, but when I receive a "personally" written email from a Merchant who is genuinely interested in developing a relationship, I feel more responsive and return their interest by making an extra effort to promote their service/products. A little more trust and respect can go a long way.

    TK mentioned about Merchants who earlier had rejected him and were now chasing him because they can now see the value of his sites. Maybe I would be shooting myself in the foot, but I don't think I would be quite so generous. I have a list of all the sites that have rejected me, or terminated my association with them. Some have given reasonable reasons for their actions and I would consider trading with them again in the future (should such a situation occur). However, the rest will not get the chance! I would do this in the hope of making them understand that "little acorns" grow into trees and perhaps next time they may get it right? I've had some Merchants terminate a contract because they are worried about their EPC! Obviously their company is run by an accountant and not a business person, pretty figures don't pay the bills, sales do! AND if they had checked my stats, they would have found that my site produces a very good hit rate from impressions (if they can't convert these hits into sales, that's hardly my fault!).

    Anyway, let's hope that these comments have some positive effects for everyone and more Merchants look at affiliates from "strange lands?" in a different light.

  16. #16
    Affiliate Manager frankodelic's Avatar
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    Is there a way to delay affiliate commission via shareasale? I don't see a tool like that available. Unless there's some kind of automatic tool out there that would be a bear to track.

    The only tools I see via shareasale to help us know more about an affiliate are; Affiliate Membership Level & Affiliates Current Status. These tell you if an affiliate has proven success with at least one other merchant and whether the affiliate is in good standing with no fraud reports.

    Also, it looks to me like the countries from which the least amount of affiliate fraud comes from are the USA, UK, Canada, Austrailia and New Zealand. I mean... we can set those to auto-approve, right. Simple deduction on my part.

    Would it be wise to apply a higher standard to those applying from outside those countries. Perhaps requiring a "Full" Affiliate Membership Level. Nothing more, just that they have proven themselves elsewhere first.

    I figure this should work, unless the window between fraud and discovery is pretty wide?

    Oh, and I'll beat everyone to the catch 22 response. I do see that, but not everyone will approve on the same criteria... also personal relationships would help a good affiliate gain a Full Affiliate Membership.

    and... for the record... I want to do business with EVERY legitimate affiliate on the planet that drives US traffic. A site with a wireless connection to the Internet from Mars is even fine. But I'd also like to be smart about protecting our company from fraud.

    Frank
    UrbanScooters.com
    UrbanScooters.com Affiliate Program

  17. #17
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    Might be worth having a word with Brian at Shareasale. I'm sure there must be a way to "adjust" the system to delay payments to certain affiliates on selected programs. From the brief contact I have had with Brian and the comments made on this board, he seems like a man of action. He certainly gave me a good impression when I joined Shareasale and if it can be done, I feel sure he will do it (providing he feels it may be of benefit to all).

    I look forward to reading about further developments on this.

  18. #18
    Member Gil's Avatar
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    Just my two cents worth... don't post too often but always read the postings, very educational.

    I agree with some of you in terms of what sites to approve or not approve when accepting affiliate sites. I cannot imagine a merchant turning away customers if they speak a language other than English (Does the Denny's discrimation lawsuit sounds familiar?).

    As an example, I have two sites, one in English the other one in Spanish. The Spanish site generates over 300,000 page views per month and receives visitors from all over the world, who are, in most cases, bilingual. Still, I cannot apply for most affiliate programs because the site is not written in English. My personal opinion is that someone is missing the boat with those rules, but as they saying goes "He who has the gold makes the rules".

    TradeDoubler Spain has realized this and has begun to expand their program to include Latin America. Since no English Only marketing program is accepting sites written in other languages, in this case Spanish, the only option available to the hundred of thousands of webmasters most likely is TradeDoubler Spain.

    Not too long ago some of the largest media companies realized the tremendous potential of the Hispanic/Latino market and began to aggressively purse the "almighty dollar" this community had to spend, and we are talking billions of dollars here.

    As an example I am including the link to an article that appear in Yahoo on March 9.

    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmp...s/latino_power

    "There is no end in sight. "The growth in this market is going to be incredible," says Alissa Goldwasser, media-industry analyst with William Blair & Co., in Chicago. Goldwasser predicts that media spending geared to Latinos will grow two to three times faster than spending for the general population. It's not hard to understand why. There are 37 million Hispanics in the United States, more than the population of Canada, and they now outnumber African-Americans as the nation's largest minority. In some cities, like Miami, Hispanics are the majority. Their buying power is awesome: $580 billion a year and growing at a rate of 12 percent annually. By 2010, Hispanics are expected to have more than $900 billion to spend, making them an incredibly juicy target."

    Some may argue that Hispanics/Latinos are bilingual and visit more often English sites - to those I ask, where is the proof? Latinos/Hispanics have a very strong cultural ties to their language culture and tradition, and most prefer to communicate in Spanish whenever possible.

    Maybe sometime in the near future, those who make decisions on what affiliates to accept into their affiliate program will use some other method and do away with the English Site Only.

    Then we have, I am sorry to say, those who do not approve sites because they are not based in the U.S. - they are based in Puerto Rico as an example - but if you read the Terms & Conditions it states very clearly Sites based in the US or Canada will only be accepted. Well, Puerto Rico is a territory of the US. Perhaps they should be a bit more clear and indicate "Sites based in the 50 states are only accepted."

    I apologize if this considered too long an entry but I felt I had to put in my two cents.

  19. #19
    Domain Addict / Formerly known as elbowcreek Thomas A. Rice's Avatar
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    The only afiliates I have rejected have had sample web sites that made me.......uncomfortable. There's just no definitive way to put it. A couple of web sites that looked like they were encouraging their surfers to 'earn money' without buying anythiong by working PPL sites, one fellow's site had a porno popup, one site loked like they mass mailed to hundreds of thousands of email addresses, that sort of thing.

    I do not auto approve anyone.

    I drank what??! -Socrates

  20. #20
    I have reviewed the sites of the affiliates which had joined my affiliate program.
    The only thing I looked for was that it shouldn't be a site which promotes porn,hatred,gambling etc.

    I am not rejecting the affiliates who are out of US or Canada at this moment.

    Farrukh Saeed
    Arabian Bazaar.com
    Affiliate Program

  21. #21
    ABW Veteran jc101's Avatar
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    sorry if my comments were disliked but I had a major problem with sites from india, israel and other middle eastern places in the past which lead to termination for porn and redirecting on a popup. I apologize if I offended anyone. Just trying to help other merchants...

    "I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can't find anybody who can tell me what they want." -- Mark Twain

    Jason
    Santa Cruz

  22. #22
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    Frank

    While you can not delay payment you can reverse a transaction up to 60 days after the transaction date I believe. A "Hold" payment option would be good, I know I use it on LinkShare for any partner I'm not 100% sure of until the return date of the product has passed

    Cheers

    Chris

  23. #23
    Affiliate Manager frankodelic's Avatar
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    This is an old post that's come back from the dead! I'll give an update on what I've been doing since the post went quiet...

    I had decided to approach non USA, UK, Canada, Austrailia and New Zealand affiliate applications in a more selective manner and this seems to be working well. I now have a few great affiliates outside the above mentioned countries, but have not approved others based on the quality of their website, status with SAS (full vs. limited), and/or "gut feeling" about the partnership.

    I reject applications from countries participating in the Axis of Evil without review... ha or maybe it's 2 AM in the morning on Saturday night and I just felt like adding something silly to this post.

    Frank
    UrbanScooters.com
    UrbanScooters.com Affiliate Program

  24. #24
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    Just joined this board and found this thread quite interesting.

    FYI my bank here in Oz recently warned me about 3 countries in particular to be wary of - Thailand, Ghana and good old Nigeria - on the aspect of credit card fraud. These 3 were way out in front for instances of this according to this bank's records. Now I know you should not compare appled and oranges but I feel the inference is there.

    Designer/Inventor
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    www.kneelsit.com

    Only one commandment is needful - that we treat one another as we would like to be treated

  25. #25
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    quote:
    Originally posted by jasonco12:
    1. I only accept affiliates from USA and Canada



    Jason!
    I'm from Italy, my company is sited in Italy but I publish websites for the US and Uk markets.
    Maybe you can add a little 1.1 point which says"Foreign affiliates must submit their sites to my attention and I'll decide wheter to accept them or not, based on my solely discretion."
    I know you'd love my sites!
    Monica

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