Results 1 to 18 of 18
  1. #1
    Full Member
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    469
    Greetings ABW'ers --

    I know I've been somewhat scarce here for the past couple months, for which I apologize. Fortunately I've been doing good work: Testing lots more software downloads for interfering with lots of affiliate programs. I can't say I'm having as much effect as some might like -- so far I've been providing my findings to only a handful of targeted merchants. But at least they are taking action, or so they tell me. Meanwhile, I'm working on developing more efficient ways of presenting my findings, to spread the word more widely. (Problem is, a major write-up like my 180solutions article of July 2004, takes on the order of a week to prepare, sometimes longer. That's a lot of time spent writing, formatting, adding highlighting, etc., rather than doing actual testing and research.)

    In any event, three months having passed since I released my initial 180solutions research, I think ABW'ers deserve an update on what's happening. The "hidden popups" I found have largely stopped for major merchants -- though, to be sure, 180 still uses hidden popups for cookie-stuffing on many adult content sites. In addition, as I mentioned in a this post, 180's exclude list has come to include quite a few (though by no means all or even most) LinkShare merchants. (Current exclusion list available on request.)

    However, 180 continues to target many, many major affiliate merchants with cookie-stuffing popups that cause 180 and its advertisers to collect commissions. They collect commissions even on type-ins, and even on traffic that originated through another affiliate's link. They continue to do this notwithstanding networks' claims to have addressed the problem through enforcement and through revised program rules.

    The networks will surely deny that this is still happening, so I thought I'd post a couple new videos + packet logs + screenshots + cookie listings. Here they are, for Lillianvernon.com (a LinkShare merchant) and Motherwear (a CJ merchant). See also my other annotated packet logs, videos, cookie listings, etc. from earlier this year.

    I remain at a bit of a loss as to how to proceed. Those merchants I've talked to are outraged, by and large, that this problem continues to take place. But so far it seems that networks' responses have been ineffective in fully stopping the problem.

    Ben

  2. #2
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    4,040
    Thanks so much Ben for all you do and for so freely sharing your information with us.

    We appreciate you!

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    1,356
    quote:
    180 continues to target many, many major affiliate merchants with cookie-stuffing popups


    Would any of those merchants happen to be in Massachusetts?

    I would not be happy if they were interfering with my business by overwriting my cookies.

  4. #4
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    St Clair Shores MI.
    Posts
    17,328
    Ben the pressure point in view of the new Congress bill ...soon to be law... is to publish the 3rd party AM firms who endorse and recruit for the BHO's not playing by the rules. Those IAB/DMA sponsored folks, since network inception, have monitized spammers -telemarketers -privacy info peddlers and drained millions from merchant's Ad budgets by teaming up with these commision exploiters.

    Just knowing who they are, and who they represent, will do wonders when the FTC and Feds and private lawyers seek sources to follow the money trails. A smart cookie like you (pun intended) should see that individual merchants actions get out voted by the few who get a network proxie vote for hundreds of merchant's.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  5. #5
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
    I decide when the pigs fly!
    Rhea's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    New York, USA
    Posts
    6,195
    Thanks Ben. As always your work is so helpful and gives us regular old affiliates hope. We need all the watchdogs we can get!

    I'm going to send you a PM about a set of sites that I've been puzzling over, but am too clueless to figure out who they are or what they're doing.

  6. #6
    Full Member
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    469
    quote:
    Originally posted by The_Boston_Crab:
    Would any of those merchants happen to be in Massachusetts?

    I'm sure some are. But let me be very clear about my terminology: The "targeted merchants" are the affiliate merchants (e.g. online retailers) who have been targeted by 180 -- who are paying commissions to 180 and its advertisers, without receiving any business benefit in exchange. These merchants are arguably negligent in failing to oversee their programs diligently, in failing to take action to remove participants who add no genuine value. And affiliates certainly are making the world a better place if they contact merchants and educate them about this problem. On the other hand, the real "bad actor" here -- the party acting in violation of published rules, and of ordinary practices of fair dealing (e.g. only receiving payment in exchange for doing something useful), is 180, along with its advertisers.

    So, if you asked about Massachusetts residency for merchant education purposes, I'm 100% with you. If you were contemplating suing a merchant (small claims court etc.) (another reason why you'd want someone in the same state as you), it doesn't seem like a great idea to me.

    -Ben, also in Massachusetts

  7. #7
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    3,550
    Good work Ben, thanks for the continued updates.

    > They continue to do this notwithstanding networks' claims to have addressed the problem through enforcement and through revised program rules

    That's the problem they will continue as long as there is no "true" enforcement. Saying we are looking into it and making changes for so many years gets annoying after a while.

  8. #8
    Full Member
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    469
    quote:
    Originally posted by EcomCity.com:
    Ben the pressure point in view of the new Congress bill ... will do wonders when the FTC and Feds and private lawyers seek sources to follow the money trails ...

    I don't want to let this thread drift off to the (critically important!) topic of the proposed spyware legislation. Suffice it to say, though, that I don't think the legislation will make nearly as much of a difference as you suggest. The FTC has shown little interest in acting to make things better here. And the new legislation specifically grants no enforcement rights to private parties (e.g. no private party can sue a spyware company under the new bill). I wouldn't hold my breath here.

    That said: I agree that it's important to figure out how it is that the BHO folks join so many affiliate programs. Auto-approves? AMs who want anyone who will drive commissions, to increase the size of their program and their own perceived importance within their firms? Bad recommendations by affiliate networks who stand to benefit from BHOs' activities? These are the obvious possibilities, the possibilities I've heard from others. It does seem clear that no smart, profit-maximizing merchant would actually want these programs claiming commissions on, e.g., type-ins.

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    1,356
    quote:
    If you were contemplating suing a merchant


    No but certain types of letters are more likely to arouse attention and concern. If anything short of a lawsuit does not achieve this, the merchant is not worth two bats of an affiliate's eye to begin with.

  10. #10
    Affiliate Manager swalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    64
    quote:
    I agree that it's important to figure out how it is that the BHO folks join so many affiliate programs. Auto-approves? AMs who want anyone who will drive commissions, to increase the size of their program and their own perceived importance within their firms? Bad recommendations by affiliate networks who stand to benefit from BHOs' activities? These are the obvious possibilities, the possibilities I've heard from others.

    Sometimes, as in my case, merchants are just plain ignorant to the situation. It was not until recently did I (or my superiors) have ANY clue about any of these problems existed. The BHO's and other "parasitic" programs that we found in our program were grandfathered in and now we are trying to reconcile the issue. I am still continually trying to understand these problems. I know I will keep reading post after post after post to stay "in tune". I do appreciate all the help I have found here.

    Sarah

  11. #11
    Full Member
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    469
    quote:
    Originally posted by swalker:
    The BHO's and other "parasitic" programs that we found in our program were grandfathered in and now we are trying to reconcile the issue.

    Interesting. Honestly, that's the first I've heard of any merchant choosing to grandfather affiliates who are, presumptively, breaking the rules and claiming commissions they're not entitled to.

    Here's the plan I've heard from most of the merchants I've talked to:

    1) Identify the bad actors by name, software program used, and publisher ID.

    2) Reverse recent transactions. Eject bad actors from program, with no further payments.

    3) For some merchants: Identify commissions previously paid, and consider efforts to recollect these amounts.

    4) For some merchant: Attempt to identify which affiliates would have earned the amounts seized by the bad actors, had the bad actors not done so. Credit those affiliates accordingly.

    Merchants' thinking seems to be, in general, that the bad actors were breaking the rules all along. They may not have gotten caught for a while, but when they do get caught, that doesn't mean they're not forgiven for their prior acts.

  12. #12
    Affiliate Manager swalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    64
    Ben-
    I am sorry let me be more clear on what I meant with the grandfathered issue. A few years ago, our webmaster decided to get us involved in affiliate marketing and set up our cj account. She managed it for a while before giving the rights to an affiliate manager. Neither webmaster nor affiliate manager knew much of what they were doing they were only looking for at websites that had categories we would fit in. That was it. Recently I took over and actually did some digging and found this forum. So, the websites that were "grandfathered" in were from our original webmaster and came with high praise as they were looking at the left hand (bringing in sales)while the right hand was picking our pockets. Now, since they have been in our program for so many years, bringing in sales, I am trying to justify their removal to those above me. Your articles on your website have been extremely helpful. I have given them to our current webmaster and as he can understand them better than me.

    Sarah

  13. #13
    Full Member
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    469
    quote:
    Originally posted by swalker:
    I am sorry let me be more clear on what I meant with the grandfathered issue. ...
    Ah! Now I understand. Glad to hear you're on top of it!...

  14. #14
    Member
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    56
    Ben,

    May i invite you to comment on the following alexa graphs with the sudden increase in gradient.

    Looks like Spyware is becoming even more prevalent.

    180 Solutions

    http://traffic.alexa.com/graph?w=379...utions.com/&u=

    Zango

    http://traffic.alexa.com/graph?w=379...=zango.com/&u=

    Metrics Direct

    http://traffic.alexa.com/graph?w=379...direct.com/&u=

    WhenU

    http://traffic.alexa.com/graph?w=379...=whenu.com/&u=

    Gator

    http://traffic.alexa.com/graph?w=379...=gator.com/&u=

    [Links, yeah I fixed them - Haiko ]

  15. #15
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    The Swamp
    Posts
    7,503
    Qui,

    Typical patterns that are seen every year. They are gearing up for the busiest time of the shopping year just like everyone else.

  16. #16
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    3,550
    Well, I see gator and metricsdirect with a upward increase always.

    2 increasing. What makes these 2 have no affect on what we are doing.

    3 out of 5 have taken a downward spin in September perhaps we are effecting them by name only, since most of the time we mention 180 but I see allot of sites out there with Gator on them.

    Webmasters, merchants, those that are perhaps not really affiliate marketers yet must and somehow should know how all these companies inter-relate to each other.

  17. #17
    Full Member
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    michigan
    Posts
    174
    Thank you ben! wow, what a lot of hard work.

    I am very thankful to be able to read these things and the reports.

    and.......feeling a little SBF (slow, but friendly!) about earlier posts i made today!

    It simply amazes me that these companies don't pull the plug on these programs in an instant when they see these programs stealing their money.

    Thanks again, plenty of reading to get caught up.

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    4,178
    Once again, thanks for the excellent work Ben.

    The fact that this behavior continues months later certainly indicates how the networks feel about parasites.

    Andy

  19. Newsletter Signup

+ Reply to Thread

Similar Threads

  1. Nuance Affiliate Program - Upcoming activities in August
    By DR Affiliate Team in forum Commission Junction - CJ
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: August 1st, 2012, 01:18 PM
  2. 180 update
    By ecomcity in forum Suspicious Activity!
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: October 18th, 2005, 06:07 PM
  3. Replies: 63
    Last Post: April 13th, 2005, 08:54 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •