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  1. #1
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    As you are aware, there have been recent comments and criticisms regarding 180solutions’ affiliate marketing practices. Like any growing company, we encourage criticism of our products so we can respond and create even better applications. However, these reports present numerous misstatements and misunderstood assumptions that we want to address.

    · We fully respect an affiliate network’s decision not to award us a commission if they do not feel it is appropriate.

    · We fully respect the individual privacy of online shoppers. When a call is made to our server for one of our ads based on a keyword search, this call is not encrypted. Our software does not collect Personally Identifiable Information (PII) nor does it seek to collect PII. It does not read the Windows Registry looking for user information. We do not collect or maintain user profiles of their web usage. All we know about our users web usage is what keyword caused an advertisement request from our user’s machine. Our software then shows targeted advertisements based on the user’s online activity – nothing else.

    · We are open and honest with our advertising. We feel we have nothing to hide, therefore, our software operates in a very public manner. All of our advertisements are clearly labeled with our name at the top (many of our competitors do not comply with this IAB requirement). All of our ads are formatted as websites, we do not show pop-up ads.

    · Claims have been made stating that the ads delivered by our system completely cover the user’s original search window. Our advertisements appear in the form of an advertiser’s website. Websites typically display in the default setting that the user has for Internet Explorer. Therefore, the user controls the way that a website is viewed (including our advertiser websites). It is not our intent to completely block the user’s original search window. Code can be set by advertisers to enlarge an ad to full page but we audit our system to confirm that these ads display correctly and update our system as necessary. When an ad is found that differs from our designated size we immediately change it within our system.

    · Assertions have been made that 180solutions steals commissions from affiliates. This is simply not true. We do not target affiliate’s origination links or try to read affiliate’s cookies on user’s machines. 180solutions does not knowingly take affiliate commissions by opening hidden windows. It’s possible that misinformation and misunderstanding stems from the protective measures we have in place for our customers. Select customers request that we protect their brand and URL from other competitive online advertisers. 180solutions protects these customers by “buying” site-related keywords and their URL. A side effect of doing this is that this customer’s website appears twice (a double or duplicate window) when a shopper types in any of these keywords or the URL.

    This ensures our customer that a shopper goes directly to our customer’s site as opposed to a competitive site. This double window is labeled as a window delivered by 180solutions’ software, so what we’re doing is clearly visible. With this method, it’s impossible to say that we’re poaching or stealing from affiliates since our name is in the title bar. We’re simply protecting our customer’s site from competing advertisers in a highly visible manner. The down side of this method is that two websites are visibly open and it’s not the best user experience – and we want to make it easy for shoppers to shop.

    Another often misunderstood protective measure that is in place appears as a blank or hidden window on networks using cookies for tracking (referred to by some as a “silent affiliate code”). With this method (called an i-frame model) a second window appears and is blank or hidden (sometimes called silent). To some this may appear that we are hiding and sneaking commissions away from advertisers. But we’re not. In trying to improve the shopper’s experience, we simply hide the double window or make it a blank window so that the user doesn’t see the extra website and goes directly to our customer’s site. Our customer’s brand and URL are protected and there is no commission poaching because this is not done in secret – the web page is intentionally blank. 180solutions works directly with the networks to ensure that this technology does not interfere with the tracking of affiliate’s commission. There have been some instances in the past where there were some tracking issues and as soon as the networks notified 180solutions, we immediately took action to correct our system. Our objective is to protect our customers and their brands, not to poach from affiliates. Stealing affiliate revenue simply doesn’t make good business sense.

    · There has been some confusion about the affiliate identification we use. To clarify, we have used three affiliate IDs: 180solutions, MetricsDirect and PurchasePost.We no longer use Purchase Post and now only operate under 180solutions and MetricsDirect.

    As a closing statement, we invite anyone to suggest better solutions to the problem we are all trying to avoid/solve like those discussed this week. We are constantly changing and evolving our business & technology and are always open to suggestions and ideas.

  2. #2
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    Get bent!
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  3. #3
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    Can you please provide instructions on how to remove n-case and related software from my PC without having to re-format my hard drive?

    And then get bent!

  4. #4
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  5. #5
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    Will you state that 180 Solutions does not profit from software that is downloaded without the users knowledge? That is, no commissions are earned by you as a result of software that is installed through drive-by downloads or bundled with other software and your "opt-in" approval is buried in vague & misleading End User Licensing Agreements.

    Can you state that every computer that has your software on it is the result of a user downloading it with full knowledge that they are downloading your specific software, what it does and how to remove it?

    Wayne

  6. #6
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    In as much as 180help's message is pretty clearly a response to my The Effect of 180solutions on Affiliate Commissions and Merchants, it seems appropriate for me to respond. After all, I have on hand facts sufficient to prove, directly, that many of 180help's claims are false. Also, I have on hand facts in my judgment more than sufficient to support inferences that others of 180help's claims are false.

    That said, I've seen what has happened in the other threads where ABW participants have questioned claims from 180 staff. The threads generally devolve -- pretty quickly! -- into name-calling. Perhaps there's some way around that here, i.e. if I respond to specific quoted claims, and if my responses solely consist of facts, citations, and direct analysis. Nonetheless, I'm not hopeful.

    What do other ABW participants think? Is it a sensible exercise, for all of us, to take a look at the truth of 180's claims here? Or is it better to avoid the confrontational messages that will likely result?

  7. #7
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    LOL Trust. I think 180help's whole post was in response to the link you provided. Or did you post it so everyone would know what 180 was talking about??

  8. #8
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    What a load of BS smoke and mirrors. You have no customers ...only victims. Your a point of sale interlopers with only one valid sales pitch..... "Pay me to rob sales from your competitors!" Come to think of it you have another pitch in your Adwhore arsenal...."pay me a domain protection fee" and I'll just
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  9. #9
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Ben,

    Sorry I just crossed posted with you. As I stated in your other thread, the "devolving" as you term it needs to stay out of these types of threads particularly at this point in time. IMO of course.

    I think that it is very important that you are given the opportunity to respond with the facts and evidence you have in hand. Otherwise, the issues brought up by 180help will go unanswered and it will be pretty much of a one sided presentation to those reading the thread and not as well informed as some of the normal member here.

    So I ask folks to please try to bite the bullet and let Ben respond and not become emotional in your posts to this thread.

    The facts are clear. The facts will speak more loudly and clearly than anything else can.

  10. #10
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    "To clarify, we have used three affiliate IDs: 180solutions, MetricsDirect and PurchasePost.We no longer use Purchase Post and now only operate under 180solutions and MetricsDirect."

    http://www.benedelman.org/spyware/180-affiliates/
    "180 causes these commissions to be paid via at least 49 different affiliate accounts, using multiple intermediary domain names that redirect affiliate tracking HTTP traffic, making 180's activities particularly difficult to track and to prevent."

    "Despite my polite and business-like conversations with them about that - they continue to sign up under multiple aliases."

    Brian Littleton
    Owner/Operator Shareasale.com

    "So I ask folks to please try to bite the bullet and let Ben respond and not become emotional in your posts to this thread. "

    I agree.

  11. #11
    Content $ Queen Ebudae's Avatar
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    quote:
    Originally posted by BLFH (Ms. B):
    So I ask folks to please try to bite the bullet and let Ben respond and not become emotional in your posts to this thread.




    oh man - I guess I shouldn't post something like this then....

    Come you masters of evil
    You that build all the BHO's
    You that build the parasites
    You that build the spyware
    You that hide behind walls
    You that hide behind desks
    I just want you to know
    I can see through your masks

    You that never done nothin'
    But build to destroy
    You play with my world
    Like it's your little toy
    You put a parasite in my PC
    And you hide from my eyes
    And you turn and run farther
    And your lies will not fly

    Like Judas of old
    You lie and deceive
    You are not that bad
    You want me to believe
    But I see through your eyes
    And I see through your brain
    Like I see through the water
    That runs down my drain

    How much do I know
    To talk out of turn
    You might say I don't understand
    You might say I'm unlearned
    But there's one thing I know
    No matter what you say here or do,
    Even Jesus would never
    Forgive what you do

    Let me ask you one question
    Is your money that good
    Will it buy you forgiveness
    Do you think that it could
    I think you will find
    When your death takes its toll
    All the money you made
    Will never buy back your soul

    -------------

    oops, sorry, couldn't resist

    Ebudae


  12. #12
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    All right, as requested, some point-by-point response. Since 180help separated his comments into convenient bullet points, I'll respond to each in turn. I'll post each in a separate reply, to help provide some structure in this thread. A further convenient benefit is that I can post one reply now, then go to sleep and do the rest in the morning.

    180help wrote:

    We fully respect an affiliate network’s decision not to award us a commission if they do not feel it is appropriate.

    That's certainly a reasonable place to start. But as an affiliate, 180 has duties defined by affiliate networks' terms and conditions, and defined by merchants' terms and conditions. There's a burden on affiliate networks and on merchants to enforce these conditions. But there's also a burden on 180 to see that it complies.

    Let's start with the origin of 180's duty. When an affiliate signs up for, for example, a LinkShare affiliate account (via the process that begins at https://ssl.linksynergy.com/php-bin/reg/sregister.shtml ), the affiliate is asked to review a set of terms and conditions. The terms are long, too long to copy here, and I can't immediately figure out how to deep link to the terms screen that's presented, so instead I've made a screenshot at http://www.benedelman.org/spyware/18...s-shallnot.png . Let me quote a few relevant passages:

    "You agree that You shall not:

    Place or use any Link of any Network Merchant except with the intention of delivering valid sales, leads, applications, accounts, clicks or other specified compensable actions to that Network Merchant

    ...

    Distribute or display, or authorize or use any third party to distribute or display, any Qualifying Link or any other Link of any Network Merchant created or obtained through the Network by means of any browser extension or other software or technology which is downloaded to or installed on the Web user's personal computer or other Web access device and which serves advertisements, promotional material or links as an overlay upon, a substitute for content in, as a "pop-up" keyed by content or key words on a Webpage requested or viewed by such Web user

    ...

    Inflate the number of ... specified compensable actions ... by any method or using any device, program, hidden frames, java pop ups, ... autospawning of browsers or any other technique or means of generating automated click-throughs

    ...

    Display, distribute or otherwise make available to Web users or others any Promotion of or any Link to any Program Site anywhere by any means or method prohibited by such Network Merchant or that violates any law, rule or regulation or any intellectual or other rights of such Network Merchant or any third party"


    So, by pressing the Accept button at the bottom of LinkShare's application screen, 180 is affirming that it will abide by these conditions. 180's participation in the LinkShare network presents a duty on LinkShare to enforce these conditions. But there's also an independent burden on 180 to see that it complies, on its own, with or without enforcement from LinkShare.

    Without taking more space here with similar analysis for CJ, let me merely point out what interestered readers can readily check for themselves, which is that CJ's registration process includes an analagous license agreement that CJ affiliates must also accept before joining the program.


    Accordingly, I think 180help's post errs in suggesting that the right approach here is for affiliate networks to decide, retroactively, not to award commissions. Quite the contrary: Affiliate networks' admission procedures impose burdens on 180 to affirmatively comply with certain rules -- i.e. not to use affiliate networks' links except in specified ways and for specified purposes.

  13. #13
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    180help wrote:

    Our software ... does not read the Windows Registry looking for user information.

    My recent article didn't discuss 180 reading (or not reading) from the Windows Registry. But since you mentioned it:

    I once had occasion to open a 180 .EXE file in a text editor. Just ordinary Notepad would be fine, though I have another editor that I prefer. I looekd at the .EXE, and imagine my surprise when I saw each of the following pieces of text:

    Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\emailname
    Software\FerretSoft\NetFerret\CurrentVersion\Updates\email
    Software\Microsoft\Microsoft Comic Chat\email
    Software\GameSpy\GameSpy 3D\Registration\email
    Software\Netscape\Netscape Navigator\biff\CurrentUser
    Software\Microsoft\Office\9.0\Outlook\Preferences\AnnotationText
    Software\eFax.com\HotSend\UserName
    Software\EFAX.COM\HOTSEND\UserName
    Software\Microsoft\Fax\UserInfo\FullName
    Software\Microsoft\MS Setup (ACME)\User Info\DefName
    Software\Adobe\Acrobat Reader\4.0\AdobeViewer\notelabel
    Software\Adobe\Adobe Acrobat\4.0\AdobeViewer\NoteLabel
    Software\Microsoft\Office\9.0\MS Project\Options\General\User Name
    Software\Microsoft\Office\9.0\Outlook\Preferences\AnnotationText
    Software\Microsoft\Office\9.0\Word\Options\ReplyMessageComment
    Software\RealNetworks\Preferences\RegionData
    Software\America Online\AOL Instant Messenger (TM)\CurrentVersion\Location\ZipCode

    The first several lines clearly refer to entries with users' email address. The next few include users' names. After that come some zip codes.

    There can be no doubt that these are references to specific portions of users' registries, where sensitive personally identifying information is stored. Why, exactly, do these pieces of text appear in 180's .EXE's?

    Now, I've never seen 180 transmitting to its servers the data stored in these registry keys. But given the fact that 180 is known to make encrypted transmissions from users' PCs, and also known (from .EXE file examination) to have some interest in these registry keys, I'm sure you can see why folks are concerned.

    I do have some further research to share here at some point -- the results of a DNS spoofing attack audit, and the data that 180 sends to the designated destination server when 180 faces such an attack. But perhaps I'll save that research for some other day.



    180help wrote:

    All we know about our users is what keyword caused an advertisement request from our user’s machine. Our software then shows targeted advertisements based on the user’s online activity – nothing else.

    This is demonstrably false. You may think that the other things you know about a user are not important. But you definitely know plenty more about users. Let's take a look at the network monitoring log I posted to http://www.benedelman.org/spyware/18...s/#methodology : 180 transmits the domain name visited, the user's unique user ID, the ID number of the 180solutions partner who installed the software, the product ID number, the user's time zone (difference from GMT), the user's time encoded in various ways, the user's operating system version, the user's web browser filename and version, and additional data I cannot understand.

    Furthermore, http://www.quova.com/company/comp_ne...ease.php?ID=65 reflects that Quova counts 180 as a client for its geolocation systems.

    Does this all add up to much? Maybe not. Maybe it's not a big deal for 180 to track users' time zones, unique IDs, and geolocations. But in as much as 180 receives this data, it's not credible to claim "All we know about our users is what keyword caused an advertisement request from our user’s machine".

  14. #14
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    180help wrote:

    All of our advertisements are clearly labeled with our name at the top

    This is demonstrably false. Many 180 advertisements contain redirects and/or invoke popups via JavaScript or other methods. Either way, the result is typically that the window 180 created comes to lack the 180 branding.

    I have numerous videos that show the falsity of this claim. I have plenty of my screen-shots show the falsity of the claim too, but it's hard to prove the problem with screen-shots: Without the continuity provided by a video, it's hard to show how the "new" window (the one 180 opened) was 1) opened by 180, 2) had 180 branding for (perhaps) a tenth of a second or a couple seconds at most, and 3) thereafter came to lack the 180 branding.



    All right folks, that really is it for me for tonight. I'll respond to the rest -- the real meat of this thread -- in the morning.


    Ben

  15. #15
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    Thank you Ben for taking the time to uncovers the 180 Lies, thank you again for documenting and sharing those documents. The proof is in the hard copy, there will be another day you will have no other recourse but to take this documentation to a legislative body, it is an honor to know you will be a representative for Internet marketing and protecting the rights of all affiliates.

    Ebudae,
    The poem was perfect!

  16. #16
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    OK quick followup since I figured I would check in before the end of the night and it looks like I need to clarify some things:

    - Ms. B. actually dealt with the issue regarding advertisers who advertise with us using their own affiliate ids the other day on another thread and noted correctly they are 3rd parties, not 180 entities. We have no control over the relationships affiliate networks might have with those affiliate advertisers.

    - With regards to the registry issue, the analysis above finds "dead code" that is non-active and has never been used by the company. Early versions (going back a few years) contained form-completion functionality, but as I stated was never used. Per our privacy policy posted on our application's websites, we do not collect PII.

    - With regards to user information, I edited the above to statement say: all we know about a user's web usage... We value the privacy of ALL of our users and do not attempt to collect or store any personal identifiable information. As noted above we use randomized, unique key strings to identify our users on an entirely anonymous basis. Utilizing data such as non-specific geographic points, the keyword that results in an ad match, and impression timestamps allows us to present a metered amount of timely, relevant, marketing messages to our userbase. We always have, and always will abide by the privacy policies set forth on our website and end user licensing agreements.

    - Regarding the labeling of windows which we present our ads in, as stated above, the initial window is labeled. With regards to re-directs that is a known issue, though in most cases we have no control over re-directs as they are provided by our advertisers. This issue impacts less then 4% of the impressions we deliver.

    I am sure there will be more points to clarify so I will be around this weekend as well.

  17. #17
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    Can you clarify my 1:07 AM post about multiple ids? Is Brian lying when he posted this?

    "Despite my polite and business-like conversations with them about that - they continue to sign up under multiple aliases."

    and

    "180 causes these commissions to be paid via at least 49 different affiliate accounts, using multiple intermediary domain names that redirect affiliate tracking HTTP traffic, making 180's activities particularly difficult to track and to prevent."

    True or not?

  18. #18
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    180help wrote:

    Websites typically display in the default setting that the user has for Internet Explorer.

    I can't agree with this claim. Many 180 ads contain specific instructions as to the size at which they are to be opened. Let's turn to a 180solutions ad's code, as shown in my article. Notice the orange highlighted text, marked ad characteristics. Notice specific instructions as to the height and width of the ad. In my testing, these instructions are followed by the browser, notwithstanding whatever browser size/shape defaults the user might have set.

    Now, as to the question of what's "typical": My article mentions that I checked 180's targeting of all 160,000+ keywords in the 180 database as it stood late last month. For 8254 keywords, I found ordinary popup advertisements (not iframes, javascript, or other such things). Of those, 4274 (52%) are set to 800x600 size, just like the Hawaiian Airlines ad above. Another 3846 (47%) use the browser's default. So it's true that the browser default is used often, but that mode is by no means typical -- indeed, it's not even the most frequent, because it's less frequent than the 800x600 setting.

    While we're on the subject of 180's window sizes, let me mention that the biggest 180 ad I've seen is 900x865 pixels -- not easy to manipulate on a computer running at 800x600, because its "X" button will generally be off the right side of the screen. Meanwhile, 180 serves a number of ads set to very small sizes, that definitely do look like popups rather than "other web pages that cover the web pages initially requested" (my paraphrase of 180's claims here and elsewhere). To be specific, I see ads of size 220x130, 235x390, 320x350, 400x175, 400x400, 400x600, 420x420, etc. None of these is a typical or particularly useful size for a full web browser, but these are all reasonable, typical sizes for popup ads. Now, these ads -- the very small ones and the very large ones -- account for at most a couple percent of 180's ads, based on my testing. But they definitely exist, and the small ads especially call into question the claim that 180 serves "no" popup ads. In the next few days, perhaps I'll post a screenshot to a couple of these, in case anyone is interested in looking at the graphics and judging for themselves.

  19. #19
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    180help wrote:

    Claims have been made stating that the ads delivered by our system completely cover the user’s original search window

    My precise claim was that 180's windows "generally cover substantially all of the targeted web sites." I stand by that claim.

    Let's take a look at my screenshot of a 180 ad for Hawaiian Airlines, covering delta.com. My screenshot is almost exactly 800 pixels wide by 600 pixels tall, the measurements of my testing PC's screen. (There's a small stretch introduced by the process of making a video capture, then making a screen-shot from the video.) A strip of the delta.com widnow remains visible, 25 pixels across the top and 25 pixels down the left side. Across the top, that's enough space to read the title bar of Delta.com, but not even to read the menu, which is covered except for the "Fil" in File. Down the left side, you can see the left half of the Delta logo (but not the right half or the Delta name), the "S" and part of the "k" in Skymiles (Delta's frequent flier program), and one to three letters of other words that begin at the far right margin of the page. I don't know how else to describe the 180 window but as covering "substantially all" of the Delta window.

    The screenshot linked and described above is not an anomaly. I have plenty of similar screenshots (and their originating videos) on hand. And as discussed above, it's quite typical for 180 to send an ad with these very same targeting instructions (width 800, height 600), such that the ad would display in precisely the same way.

  20. #20
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    And now we get to matters at the heart of my research and at the heart of interests of ABW readers --

    180help wrote:

    Assertions have been made that 180solutions steals commissions from affiliates. This is simply not true. We do not target affiliate’s origination pages or try to read affiliate’s cookies on user’s machines.

    First: The third sentence (if true) does not imply the truth of the first sentence or the second. It is possible -- indeed, straightforward -- for a program, installed on users' PCs, to steal affiliate commissions without targeting affiliates' origination pages and [I]without[i] reading cookies on users' machines. To proceed in this way, a program need only set its own cookies (e.g. invoke the LinkShare or CJ links to merchants' sites, and let those links set/reset/overwrite users' cookies) when that program observes a user browsing to a merchant's web site. This is the behavior my article reported as to 180. I never claimed in the article that 180 tried to read any affiliate's cookies -- 180 doesn't read any cookies, in my testing, and it doesn't need to. Instead, 180 simply overwrites the previously-set cookies (if any) with its own cookies, by opening 180's LinkShare and CJ links to merchants' sites.

    Second: The third sentence is false. Some 180 ads do specifically target affiliates' origination pages. For example, in my testing, there's a 180 ad that targets the following affiliate URL: funwavs.com/bmg.html , a page which solely promotes the BMG Music Service. As of late June, the 180 ad targeting this URL took users to http://www.tnsrve2.net/r.php?id=40 . That URL is in turn a redirect, which took users to BMG via the CJ link at http://service.bfast.com/bfast/click...t&bfinfo=tan15 (affiliate ID removed). The net effect, then, is that when users view the bmg.html page on the funwavs.com site, 180 opens a window of the merchant that funwavs.com links to. I see no way to describe this process other than as targeting an affiliate's origination page.

  21. #21
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    180help wrote:

    180solutions does not knowingly take affiliate commissions by opening hidden windows. It’s possible that misinformation and misunderstanding stems from the protective measures we have in place for our customers. Select customers request that we protect their brand and URL from other competitive online advertisers. 180solutions protects these customers by “buying” site-related keywords and their URL. A side effect of doing this is that this customer’s website appears twice (a double or duplicate window) when a shopper types in any of these keywords or the URL.

    As to the first sentence: It's hard to prove 180's state of mind ("knowingly"). But let's look at the facts:

    When 180 targets the merchants I list on Domains Targeted by 180solutions Own-Affiliate "Double" Popups, 180 doesn't just target those merchants with duplicate copies of their site. Rather, 180 targets those merchants with duplicate copies of their site [I]reached through their own affiliate link.

    Why does this matter? It speaks directly to 180's intent. If 180's intent was solely to protect a merchant from other advertisers covering its site, 180 could do any of the following: 1) Target the merchant with a blank page that was very small (using the size-control functionality described above). 2) Target the merchant with a page that said simply "close me" or similar. 3) Target the merchant with a page that included JavaScript to close itself. 4) Target the merchant with some kind of null target that caused no new web browser to cover the merchant. Any of these would be a more natural and more obvious way to "protect" a merchant from other online advertisers.

    Instead, 180 chose to target merchants with their own sites reached through affiliate links. Unlike the four options described in the preceding paragraph, this approach causes 1) tracking codes (as received by affiliate networks and by merchants) to suggest that 180 deserves affiliate commission for users' subsequent purchases, 2) merchants to pay such commissions. These results cause obvious direct financial benefit to 180 -- receiving the affiliate commissions at issue.

    Another fact that cuts against 180's "customers request that we protect their brand and URL" claim: In my discussions with merchants, they've reported no such thing. Quite the contrary: They're reported that 180 (or other affiliates by other names) join the merchants' affiliate program, and target the merchants with the popups described here, without any contact whatsoever with the merchants -- certainly without merchants coming to 180 seeking any form of protection.

  22. #22
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    180help wrote:

    With this method, it’s impossible to say that we’re poaching or stealing from affiliates since our name is in the title bar.

    I disagree. Whether or not 180's behaviors "steal... from affiliates" turns on whether or not 180 receives commissions otherwise payable to other affiliates. This question does not turn on what text is or is not displayed in the title bar.

    The consequence of the behaviors described above is that 180 receives certain commissions that otherwise would have accrued to other affiliates. I haven't used the word "stealing" but I think it's an appropriate way to describe what is taking place: 180 gets moneys that (but for 180's activities) would have gone elsewhere, and others lose out correspondingly.

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    180help wrote:

    The down side of this method is that two websites are visibly open

    As discussed above, there are multiple other downsides of this method: For one, there's the fact that users' cookies get modified by 180's use of affiliate links. For another, there's the fact that merchants' and networks' tracking systems come to believe that 180 deserves affiliate commission credit for subsequent purchases, when in fact it does not (under the terms and conditions of the affiliate programs).

    Most seriously, perhaps, 180's use of affiliate links in this way is directly contrary to affiliate networks' rules. Let's look at the LinkShare rules I copied in an earlier post above:

    "You agree that You shall not:

    Place or use any Link of any Network Merchant except with the intention of delivering valid sales, leads, applications, accounts, clicks or other specified compensable actions to that Network Merchant"


    If we take 180's intent to be what 180help indicated ("protect their [merchants'] brand") (contrary to the inferences described in my earlier posts), then 180's behavior is contrary to LinkShare's rules. LinkShare's rules require that 180 link to merchants via affiliate links only "with the intention of delivering valid sales, leads ... or other specified compensable actions" to the merchant. If 180's intent was in fact to "protect" merchants, then 180 lacked the sales-generating, lead-generating intent necessary to comply with LinkShare's terms and conditions.


    Finally, note that these behaviors are still taking place. I made another half-dozen videos (with simultaneous network monitor logs) just yesterday of these same behaviors still taking place, as to both LinkShare and CJ merchants.

  24. #24
    Full Member
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    469
    180help wrote:

    Another often misunderstood protective measure that is in place appears as a blank or hidden window on networks using cookies for tracking (referred to by some as a “silent affiliate code”). With this method (called an i-frame model) a second window appears and is blank or hidden (sometimes called silent). To some this may appear that we are hiding and sneaking commissions away from advertisers. But we’re not. In trying to improve the shopper’s experience, we simply hide the double window or make it a blank window so that the user doesn’t see the extra website and goes directly to our customer’s site.

    This text glosses over the fact that 180's hidden windows and IFRAMEs cause 180 to receive affiliate commission when hidden windows and IFRAMEs target merchants' sites with their own sites as reached through affiliate links. The hidden windows and IFRAMEs load merchants' sites through affiliate links, thereby setting users' cookies to 180's tracking codes and causing 180 to receive affiliate commission.

    This use of hidden windows and IFRAMEs is directly contradictory to the conditions of both CJ and LinkShare. "Improving the shopper's experience" is neither here nor there: The problem is that what 180 is doing is prohibited by the networks' rules.

  25. #25
    Full Member
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    469
    180help wrote:

    Our customer’s brand and URL are protected and there is no commission poaching because this is not done in secret

    The conclusion ("customer's brand and URL are protected and there is no commission poaching") does not follow from the alleged facts ("this is not done in secret"). Whether or not 180's hidden windows are made in secret, the fact is that the hidden windows do invoke affiliate links, and they do cause 180 to receive commissions when it otherwise would not. The fact that 180 receives these commissions -- contrary to networks' rules -- is the basis to conclude that commission "poaching" takes place.

    As to whether or not this behavior is "done in secret": I've talked to a lot of people -- merchants, other affiliates, network staff -- about 180's IFRAME references to merchants via affiliate links. Few or none of these people seemed to know what was going on as to the IFRAMEs and other hidden windows. "Done in secret" actually seems to me a pretty accurate description of what took place. For one thing the silent, secret, hidden, off-screen windows are inherently secretive -- there's no way to know what's taking place based on watching the user's screen. For another, the result -- the fact of the matter, learned upon talking to people who might be expected to know what was taking place -- was that these people did not know what was taking place.

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