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  1. #1
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    Staple's latest newsletter tells coupon sites to stop their lying, deceptive ways. Specifically advertising "Staples coupons", when there aren't any.

    A lot of these coupon site owners have tried to redefine the meaning of 'coupon' in order to hijack sales from honest webmasters. We've probably all seen it in action, when they advertise 'get the latest Staples (or other merchant) coupons here!' You get to the site, and there are no coupons, just a link saying you'll get free shipping or some other standard policy.

    Staples is not perfect, and their motivation is not to protect us, but at least it will help stop the sales lost to deceptive coupon sites when our visitors get to the checkout and then go looking for coupons.

  2. #2
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Thank God my brief excursion into the coupon "incent" marketplace with an Overstock creative won't get me branded as Mr Coupon. I have an image to protect as promoting non-deceptive advertising within the affiliate community. Matter of fact I pray this industry gets far far away from the advertising mindset.

    Charlie ...

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

  3. #3
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    As far as Staples there are coupons and a lot of coupon sites have them. They're not supposed to have them as Staples hardly ever issues them. Some office merchants don't have a problem with them, Office Depot has a coupon text link anybody can pick up.

    Mike
    You are one of the most knowledgeable out there in affiliate marketing, no doubt about it but as far as

    "I have an image to protect as promoting non-deceptive advertising within the affiliate community."

    It's not deceptive promoting coupons. I remember you posting you conversion rate with 1800 Flowers. If you look at some coupon sites, they have a coupon for them with their site name as the code. You can get 1 and start to convert.
    From your posts, it seems you are the worst converting affiliate i know because your refusal to use coupons that a merchant would be more than happy to issue. Some coupons are even waiting for you in the creative anybody can pick up. The coupon creative Overstock gave you was not deceptive advertising, i think you even mentioned it helped you convert. Coupons help convert, period. I think people who use nothing but product links or just list stores, would try some, they would convert better. There are plenty of merchants who have coupons for affiliates and they will even tell you conversions go up when using them.

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

    [This message was edited by TrustNo1® on March 28, 2003 at 11:05 AM.]

  4. #4
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Your are correct that for many shoppers the coupon will entice a click. My problem is that the millions of cookies expire and the AM's often do not auto replace them with new ones wasting my shoppers time by taking them to a invalid merchant page. I refuse to try and jump above the thousands of coupon pushers on the SE's where that extra income and conversion ratio originates. I also refuse to compete with the BHO's billions of popup coupon/incent based cookie setting sleezebags.

    Coupons/rebates/points are advertising ploys used by merchants who could care less if they take the extra expense out of their companies coffers. I'm not in the advertising business for merchants and not one penny will I ever get for giving them impressions. I sure can hold the Tiger Directs -Essential Apparel -IBM -800Flowers -Gift tree- Overstock and 200 other merchant's feet to the fire if my targeted non-incented traffic can't convert. Notice how not one network or merchant has the balls to challenge me, or prove me wrong, when I shine a light on the under performers or diversion cheats.

    Charlie ...

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

  5. #5
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    Yes, a coupon will entice a click. It will also generate a sale and bring your conversion rate up. Lets say you have a link to 1800 Flowers from your site and your site visitor clicked it and is checking out and they see the box for a promotion code. They might go elsewhere looking for it, possibly costing you the sale because you didn't provide the code that would save your site visitor money. It seems from your posts you conversion rate is really bad but you are getting some great traffic. Try this, email 1800 Flowers and get a code for your site. Post it with whatever links you have now. Then post a before(without coupon) and after (with coupon) conversion rate. I don't remember what you quoted but you were converting something like 1 in 1,000+, i'm converting at 1 in 10 with them. It's not selling out using readily available coupons, it's generating sales for the merchant, saving your site visitors money, and making you money, everybody wins.

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

  6. #6
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Thanks Wayne ..I'll try that as Easter is a hot time for thta type merchant.

    Charlie ...

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

  7. #7
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    Coupon convert. That was not the point.

    Go to Overture. Type in 'staples coupon'. Where are the coupons? It says click here to get free shipping, click here to get up to 10% and price matching. That is bogus. They have free shipping all the time, no coupon needed. Same with up to 10% off and price matching.

    It is simply a way to lure the shopper away from the merchant site once they get to the cart and grab a commission.

    Do you think this is a great strategy to cheat the merchant and other affiliates?

  8. #8
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    I think it is up to the merchant what to do. They can easily deactivate anybody they want or have it in their terms and conditions that they won't pay commissions on sales generating from coupons.

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

  9. #9
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    kudos for Staples!!!!

  10. #10
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Anyone here ever find anything nice under the rocks labeled -Coupons -Rewards- It's Free - Steal Music- ????

    Guess the folks at Staples haven't no matter how hard they look.

    Charlie ...

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

  11. #11
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    quote:
    Originally posted by jimbo2002:
    A lot of these coupon site owners have tried to redefine the meaning of 'coupon' in order to hijack sales from honest webmasters. ... You get to the site, and there are no coupons, just a link saying you'll get free shipping or some other standard policy.


    So what? Your Average Joe may very well not know that Staples offers free shipping on orders of $50 or more. How is a coupon site promoting this fact any different than any other affiliate site promoting this? How many creatives (banners, etc.) are out there touting free shipping for a number of companies where this is a standard practice? Where are the people complaining about this?

    Running a coupon site is definitely not easy. Cut us some slack.

    Michael

  12. #12
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    I agree with EmDub...There are many people that do not know that staples has free shipping on $50 or more so advertising this fact as an affiliate partner is completely legitimate and targets new users...

    Further more on this issue is the fact that staples asks us to promote the free shipping deal and has creatives to do so.

  13. #13
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    I have come to terms that all coupon/reward/points sites, like the BHO popup alert perps, are agents for the pure play advertisers. No incented click isn't designed for any reason except to take MORE profits from the pockets of the merchants. At the same time ALL incent sites are designed and promoted to overwrite normal value-add affiliates cookies by every sneaky trick in the book.

    Way too many forces are at work against those of us who just buildout sites and place network generated links with pre-sell promotional text. Maybe Staples is just sick and tired of the coupon and incent crowd taking up 90% of their affiliate managers time. Eventually the BHO demands for double commission rates and piles of extra cost specials for popup promotions has it's tolls on their profits. Getting their commission plan raped by sleezy affiliate traffic plans might get charted in their accounting deptatment. Now those charts show thta 80% of all affiliate sales are burdened with incent offers.....LOL.

    Charlie ...

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

  14. #14
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    Umm. If someone runs a site which specializes in coupons or deals or whatever.. isnt it valid to list the currently running promo's for staples? such as free shipping with $50?

    I dont see the email, I either didn't get it, or ignored it.. can someone post or PM it?

    Oh. here it is buried in some lame bidding on trademarks email:

    quote:

    Finally, we have noticed that potentially misleading offer descriptions are appearing on some paid and natural listings. One example of this would be "online coupons for Staples". As you know, we rarely promote coupons in the Affiliate Program and would like to make sure sites are not incorrectly claiming to have them posted.

    We are in the process of revising the Staples Affiliate Agreement to reflect the concerns listed above. I just would like to remind you that by joining the Staples Affiliate Program, your organization agreed to adhere to the terms of our Affiliate Agreement. Our customers are our top priority and ensuring a positive shopping experience is extremely important to us. We will be working diligently to ensure our customers' expectations are being met and will take necessary steps if we find that is not happening. I encourage you to review any paid placements and natural listings you may have and make necessary adjustments.


    That is pretty lame, and, untrue, as the useless AM from Staples always sends mail saying something to the effect of "We have plenty of
    offers for you to use on tp://www.reporting.net." Sounds like she encourages you to promote the "offers". Reporting.net often has (or had..) promotions, including coupon codes for things, posted.

    This really bothers me: " encourage you to review any paid placements and natural listings you may have and make necessary adjustments."

    So, they want you to deoptimize your page for certain things that they see fit?

    I think gapex has the right idea...

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    The neighbors complain about the noises above ... But she only comes when she's on top.

  15. #15
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    Ah, I remember those days... getting almost weekly emails from them. The remembrance almost brings a tear to my eye.

    They definitely have some great prices, lots of great products, and very high name recognition.

    I wouldn't try to sway people one way or another, but we dropped them as a partner months ago, and have been extremely happy with our decision. A few dollars per month commission vs the perception of your viewership. That's basically what it came down to for Staples & coupon sites. For us, the choice was clear.

  16. #16
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    I have been reading this and wondering what the big deal is. The thread started off with people advertising free shipping as a coupon. It's not. A coupon is this. "get free shipping enter coupon code xxx at checkout" that's a coupon. Now we are into value added vs. coupon sites. I'll tell ya what I think. A coupon IS value added. I've been to Mikes site. He has put alot of work into it. I have no doubt about that. But, when Harriet the homemaker wants to buy some socks for her husband or some gloves for her son or daughter, there is no value in an elaborate description. There is much value in "save 10% enter coupon code: xyz at checkout" when the bank account is low and the kids clothes are wearing thin.

    I posted this same idea in an earlier thread months ago. the subject was content sites vs. coupon sites. I am of the opinion that coupon sites have as much if not more content than any site out there. Those sites are take alot of work and yes it is a dog eat dog business but we aren't fight for table scraps. The article about people posting thanksgiving coupons/savings early made Fatwallets and others traffic jump 20%. You gotta figure that when Fatwallet probably gets 10 or 20 thousand hits a day that is one heck of a jump. This rise was from people who didn't know these kinds of sites existed. There is plenty of room for coupon sites because people are hungry for them because they add value.

    I will add this. A site is only as noble as its owner. I can see how the merchants get frustrated when you have site owners out there pilfering others coupons and copying others sites almost verbatim.

    Anyway, my opinion and mine alone.
    G'day mate

  17. #17
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Steveind makes some good points to justify coupons/rewards ect. etc. are a "value-add" well deserving both a higher commission rate plus the profit hit the merchant has to take. Justification for pushing "incent" offerings being you do not need to waste time and web ink on product displays and BS about how good a merchant is in pre&post sales hype to target shoppers. All that is needed is one text link and the knowledge on how to spamm/optomize the SE's and the directories to make the incent deals get top positioning.

    Problem is Steveind and the others have to take one common item (the coupon/reward/prize/special offer) that is readily shown all over the merchants site and TRICK users into thinking they have an exclusive discount.

    If I build a ecommerce site for a client I'm constantly having to put up seasonal specials -Free freight banners -buy one get one free advertising ploys to incent that client's shoppers to click the buy button. Before the SE even get the specials the sales offer expires.

    So now comes the BHO "incent" thieves and devise a way to not have to use the SE's, set their cookies with popups and interfer with the merchants checkout process right from within the sacred shopping cart. The BHO's pulverize the small "incent" players in the process and rape both the networks, other affiliates and the merchants in one fell swoop.

    Every commission thief in the affiliate industry is up to his butthole in coupons/rewards/points/prizes autofed by the networks in bed with the perps.

    Hard fact for merchants to digest. The moment your site/e-mail displays coupons and shopping cart displays "enter coupon/discount code here" you get a 80% abandonment rate on your cart. The shopper now feels even if there is no active coupons available they are not getting the same deal as someone else. Another fact coupons/rebates etc take up a huge chunk of customer support time. Another fact 66% of the network merchants DO NOT know what their sales conversion ratio is...

    Huge fact ...coupons/rebates/points eat into profits and force merchants to increase reversal ratios, turn off sales tracking in peak shopping periods, mark their cookies as Keep=NO, protect their Trademarks and keywords in the SE's. lower non-incent affiliate commissions and divert sales to phone order centers.

    As Overstock will soon learn running, a few stupid coupon offers to feed their BHO players and incent crowd, confuses their shoppers where the same offers are displayed everywhere on the site without a clear way to get at the discount. If Overstock eliminated all coupons and banned all "incent" affiliates it would increase their bottom line as they already guarantee shoppers a low low price on name brand goods WITHOUT incent offers.

    WTF does an incent site offer Overstock in the way of a value add to the shoppers. The few offers are are plastered all over the site on a direct Browser URL type-in. YET my guess is thta 90% of all commissions paid out by Overstock go to the Dupers-BHO's and "incent" SE tricksters.

    Deny this Steveind...If the networks banned all incent based affiliates and turned off all their "incent" autofeeds to the BHO perps they could tear up their phoney CoC and 100% of the commisions would go to the rightful referring party.

    Charlie ...

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

  18. #18
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    quote:
    Originally posted by EcomCity.com:
    Huge fact ...coupons/rebates/points ... force merchants to increase reversal ratios, turn off sales tracking in peak shopping periods, mark their cookies as Keep=NO, protect their Trademarks and keywords in the SE's. lower non-incent affiliate commissions and divert sales to phone order centers.


    I may regret asking, but prove it. Prove it with hard, concrete evidence. Prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I don't doubt that it cuts into the bottom line (that's why I edited that part out), but I have a hard time believing the rest.

    Michael

  19. #19
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    Michael .."Huge fact ...coupons/rebates/points ... force merchants to increase reversal ratios, turn off sales tracking in peak shopping periods, mark their cookies as Keep=NO, protect their Trademarks and keywords in the SE's. lower non-incent affiliate commissions and divert sales to phone order centers."

    I obviously assume this to be the case as I talk to AM's who openly support BHO and "incent" affiliates. I challenge them about drops in conversion ratios during peak shopping periods -why they are lowering commisison rates and cookie days -Why they accuse me of abusing their trademarks or keywords in SE listings when I have NO PPCSE accounts -why they have to resort to prominent 800# banners and links to non-commissionable sites or other diversion tactics....

    Common answer, under all the smoke and mirrors, is that they need to keep costs inline with profits and they pay out bundles of cash to affilates. Translation: The are so caught up with "incent" traffic and BHO's draining their commission budgets they have to cut back somewhere. Merchants in bed with "incent" traffic have no way to easily divert those sales by normal tricks and therefore wack the normal affiliate sales reporting to cut costs.

    I have many merchants who have prime shopping periods where they push all types of "incent" deals. Most of them show lower conversion ratios during that peak period then during the rest of the year. I build ecommerce sites for clients and can predict accurately peaks in their online sales. They remain true to these peak sales projections ...while the affiliate enabled merchant actuall declines on normal affiliate linked sales during this timeframe.

    All network reporting tags take 1 minute to turn on or off. So even the "incent" traffic gets wacked and the majority of affiliates just wonder what happened to their Valentines -Easter -Christmas sales. Meanwhile the honest merchants rack up sales during peak periods.

    Clickz has many articles on the cart abandonment issue where checkout screen has "place coupon/discount code here".

    Those playing the incent traffic game are not value-add affiliates ...they are part of the advertising game demanding all the time of the AM's willing to approach affiliate marketing with an advertising mindset. Show me a coupon pushing AM and I'll point you to a merchnat who doesn't convert for normal affiliates.

    Those same merchants, who readily approve incent traffic, are the ones paying out millions to Upromise -ebates -WhenU -Morpheus -Gator. I'll leave all the honest "incent" affiliates to police their own sleezebag brethern as this group seems to stink up affiliate marketing at every turn.


    Charlie ...

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

    [This message was edited by EcomCity.com on April 15, 2003 at 12:17 PM.]

  20. #20
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    If the merchant gives a real coupon, fine, go ahead and advertise it and grab all my commissions.

    But when there is no coupon, and you advertise 'Staples coupons' in order to grab a clickthru, that is deceptive to the user and stealing from me and the merchant. In other words you are a liar, a scammer, and a cheat.

    Sheplers just announced a similar crackdown on sites offering fake coupons. I am hoping others do the same.

  21. #21
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    quote:
    Originally posted by jimbo2002:
    But when there is no coupon, and you advertise 'Staples coupons' in order to grab a clickthru, that is deceptive to the user and stealing from me and the merchant. In other words you are a liar, a scammer, and a cheat.


    This is simply absurd. Affiliate marketing is all about making a merchant look good and selling their product. If a coupon site can point out the fact that a merchant offers free shipping on purchases over $50 (as is the case with Staples.com), then so be it. The coupon site is adding value to the merchant by pointing out a fact that many may not know.

    Michael <- liar, scammer, and cheat

  22. #22
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    Well this is true particularly in the case of a new customer, which are of great value and are generally sought after by merchants.

  23. #23
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    quote:
    Originally posted by jimbo2002:
    But when there is no coupon, and you advertise 'Staples coupons' in order to grab a clickthru, that is deceptive to the user and stealing from me and the merchant. In other words you are a liar, a scammer, and a cheat.
    Cry me a river. Taking away your commissions boo hoo.

    I am one of those who offer free shipping from staples as a coupon, code, or (wait for it)... DEAL. Yes, free shipping is a deal and perfectly legit to advertise.

    I get a tremendous amount of traffic from people using search engines to find "Staples coupons" or "Staples deals". So not everyone is interesting in clicking through aff links from some office supply fan site which was only created to generate clicks anyway.

    So quit yer whining and do something to make your site more appealing to visitors than the coupon sites.

  24. #24
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    quote:
    So quit yer whining and do something to make your site more appealing to visitors than the coupon sites.


    You guys are either totally missing the point or maybe just looking for an argument.

    If you are advertising 'Staples coupons' on Overture or elsewhere, you should expect to be nailed by Staples. It is a trademark violation, and you do not have a coupon to offer.

  25. #25
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    Nice to see the devious minds of the coupon pushers at work. No wonder their ranks include SE spammers -e-mail spammers and BHO parasites as most of them are not willing to build a site worth a bookmark. They can come up with new ways to beat the system in place, that are designed to make affiliates add their own value to earn the commissions.

    Damn shame that most merchants play into the "incent" schemers hands as they have AM's willing to do anything for eyeballs.

    Charlie ...

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

    [This message was edited by EcomCity.com on April 18, 2003 at 09:34 AM.]

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