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  1. #1
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    These thoughts are in response to Todd Crawford's comments in This Thread about scumware.

    In response to a rather angry post from me, Todd said:
    quote:
    Regarding certain predatory publishers and whether they should be allowed to work with CJ advertisers; this is something that the advertisers must determine for themselves. CJ has limited authority to reject publishers or prevent advertisers from partnering with them.



    All the authority CJ should need can be found in the existing terms of service that publishers agree to when they join.

    Here’s a few quotes:

    From the introduction - it talks about how publishers ...

    quote:
    may earn financial compensation ("Payouts") for "Transactions" (sales and/or "Leads", ) made from such Publisher's Web site or subscription e-mails through a click made by a "Visitor"...


    I'd point out that our websites and subscription emails are the only promotion methods for which we are promised compensation.

    In Section 1, Relationship, publishers agree, among other things, not to ...

    quote:
    (c) engage in spamming, indiscriminate advertising or unsolicited commercial e-mail.


    Hmm, on second thought perhaps this one is not relevant. Arranging to show up as a last-minute interloper and seize the reward due to someone else requires a lot of sophisticated planning, so it’s not exactly indiscriminate.

    Another paragraph states:
    quote:
    CJ may deem inappropriate based upon the foregoing, and/or on reasonable Internet business standards as they may evolve, any Web site or content that You make available to Visitors through e-mail, and provide You with notice that You are in breach of this Section 1 ...

    If CJ remains silent and takes no action to disengage itself from being used as a channel to reward predatory advertising methods, CJ is in effect endorsing predatory advertising as a "reasonable internet business standard". Is that what you intend?

    Actually, I think “parasite” would be a better metaphor than “predator.” At least a predator does its own hunting.

    Another excerpt from the TOS:
    quote:
    You may post (and remove) Links from Your Web site or subscription e-mails to Advertiser's Web site or Web site content at Your discretion in accordance with this Agreement.

    Again, no place besides our own websites or subscription emails are mentioned as acceptable places to post links.

    Yet another excerpt from the TOS:
    quote:
    You shall not cause any Transactions to be made that are not in good faith, including, but not limited to, using any device, program, robot, Iframes, hidden frames, JavaScript popup windows, redirects or clicking on Links that You place to the Advertiser.

    What further grounds could CJ need to tell an affiliate to cease and desist the use of parasitical link placement?

    Quoting from Todd now:

    quote:
    I suggest you contact advertisers working with these publishers and let them know that you want them to stop or find it unfair. They need to hear it from their publishers not neccesarily from the solution providers that let them track and manage their partnerships.

    Todd, in effect you’re saying, “It’s your problem, not ours, that someone is planning to steal from you, and use our resources as one of their tools.” Is that what you intend?

    I am one individual with a voice and not much else. I do not have the investigative resources to track down and contact the relevant advertisers. CJ has the power to take strong, significant steps to discourage scumware advertising tactics, by refusing to let its resources be part of that ugly game. All it needs to do is enforce the terms of service that pubishers agree to when they join CJ.

    Of course, I’m assuming here that your resources include those commonly referred to as “honor” and “courage.”

    quote:
    CJ is between a rock and a hard place. Many advertisers bring their biz dev deals into the network so they can manage all or most of their partnerships via a single solution.

    Todd, help me understand: why does this prevent CJ from taking a stand against thievery?
    quote:
    I have seen good traction on the publisher front encouraging advertisers to stop working with predatory publishers. I think this is the best solution.

    It is an important part of the solution, but publishers should NOT have to stand alone here. Does CJ have the courage to stand behind its publishers and make a stand for what is RIGHT? Does CJ have the ethical backbone to do whatever it can to make sure its resources are not used to aid and abet theft?

    Or will CJ, by its silence, endorse the tactics of the last-minute interlopers?

    Scumware tactics steal the rewards rightfully due to someone else who invests time, skill, and money to direct interested customers to a merchant’s site. That might be an affiliate publisher, or in many cases it would be merchants themselves, when they are investing in other (non-affiliate) promotion to bring visitors to their sites. Should merchants have to be watching their back for this stuff too?
    quote:
    I understand your frustration with these companies and would not be happy if I lost even one sale to them - but I will let you in on a little secret, they don't have very good business models. They rely on distribution via downloads and installs. Once the users install them, they need to use them. This ends up to be very few actual users. It is very costly to get widspread distribution. In the end these companies will fail (my personal opinion) because the costs to get reach outweigh the revenues.

    This is like saying not to worry about muggers and pickpockets because they really don’t earn very much that way.

    I might accept your point that users "need to use them" if the average scumware program was easy for users to turn on or off at will, and was easy to uninstall completely. But they're not, so I can't.

    And that raises major privacy concerns ... but I won't go there just now.

    Todd, the size of a theft does not change the principle that is at stake. Neither does a 30% service fee.

    What are Commission Junction’s principles??

    Elisabeth Archambault

    -- Edited to correct typos.--

    [ 12-12-2001: Message edited by: buckworks.com ]

  2. #2
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    Excellent letter and full agreement from me.

  3. #3
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    Applause applause standing ovation you can't see or hear it but trust me!

    Excellant points [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador webmarm's Avatar
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    Sigh. I was very into the scumware battle idea, and then Sept. 11 came along and sort of distracted me.

    The scum is indeed going to morph on a regular basis. Having the merchants (and the trusted third parties) take a stand would indeed give a clear message about what the new industry standards are.

  5. #5
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    Since I got my copy on CNET.com, recommended in the section Surf smart, not hard, then 12 must-have browser plug-ins, HUNT AND PICK:
    quote:
    The Internet isn't just for eggheads anymore. It's so easy to use that anyone with a little know-how can find information on almost any topic and shop for almost any product. These three plug-ins will make it even easier to shop and search with your browser.
    WhenU is ONE OF THE THREE RECOMMENDED, right there with Google Tool Bar and Yahoo Companion.

    So what Todd said
    quote:
    It is very costly to get widspread distribution. In the end these companies will fail (my personal opinion) because the costs to get reach outweigh the revenues.


    could make us wonder just how widespread this thing is going to get, especially since at Cnet you don't have to give your credit card when you download it.

    BTW, there is only one CJ affiliate code # involved on this toolbar when it's to a CJ merchant. You can get it with right-click, copy-shortcut, paste it in your notepad and Voila you've got his number.
    If anyone's interested that is. On BeFree and Amazon companies codings it's got their company name. Linkshare, his LS number.

    (Elizabeth, thanks for your letters to Todd Crawford!!!)

    Karin

  6. #6
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    I observed toptext at work on a friends computer. He didnt know he had it installed on his computer until I told him. He had been curious as to what all the yellow links were, and had been clicking on them. I found the toptext links on my site, but also at my advertisers site. He clicked on an advertisers link at my site, browsed their site, and the yellow links appeared. Those link on my advertisers site could have stolen my commission if he (or anyone else) would have proceeded to follow the yellow link.

    Todd,

    I agree with Elisabeth, and applaud her stand and this post. I think it is evident that this is clearly an issue that involves violations of CJ's TOS, and I think ya'll should deal with this issue effectively, and according to your (CJ's) rules. If you are not going to uphold your own TOS, then why should any of the rest of us?

    [ 12-12-2001: Message edited by: Big Chuck ]

  7. #7
    Domain Addict / Formerly known as elbowcreek Thomas A. Rice's Avatar
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    Elisabeth-
    Excellent post. It's sorta hard for CJ to argue against their own policies, isn't it? Though I suppose they could just ignore you, hoping you'll wear down. GO get 'em!

    -elbowcreek

  8. #8
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    Elisabeth,

    Great post. But I think maybe you are too easy on CJ. CJ's motto is "If you don't get paid, we don't get paid". CJ is silently endorsing the scumware, because they are making money, it is as simple as that.

    Karibon,

    If you know which advertisers and publishers are involved, why don't you just post the names here rather than make everyone go and install this piece of crap software that CJ is making money from. Thank in advance for posting this info.

  9. #9
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    Elisabeth,

    Excellent ... You were fired up but I did'nt now you were THAT fired up.

    You did your homework and made some great points. However, when pinned against the wall ... CJ usually skirts the issue.

    I wouldnt be surprised if this thread gets "missed"

    You go Elisabeth and thanks [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    Regards,
    Dave

  10. #10
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    quote:
    I wouldnt be surprised if this thread gets "missed"


    We'll see. Either way it will say something about CJ's honor.

    If anyone thought it was worth mentioning on other boards they visit, please do.

    But refer people to this thread, don't just lift the text or something. It will be important that folks on the wide wild web know where to watch for CJ's response.

    quote:
    You go Elisabeth and thanks


    I'm not sure where to go. For now I shall watch and wait. I've said my piece, now it's up to others to actively validate it if they agree.

    Elisabeth Archambault

  11. #11
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Elisabeth,

    Bravo!

    CJ has NO honor ... look at what they allow to happen to us affiliates, Scumware, DirecTV(aseline), IDT, and on and on!

    Haiko

    [ 12-12-2001: Message edited by: Haiko ]

  12. #12
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    BTW, Todd, just think of all the free publicity Commission Junction would get on the internet, and most likely in offline publications, if ya'll had the nuts to enforce your TOS regarding this issue. Can you see it on the message board? How about the interviews?

    EXTRA, EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! COMMISSION JUNCTION TAKES SCUMWARE HEAD ON! - "Earlier this morning Commission Junction set a precedent by making a decision that is a first step in fighting scumware. In a phone conversation with Todd Crawford..."

    Go for it man! We got yer back!

    [ 12-12-2001: Message edited by: Big Chuck ]

  13. #13
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    Elisabeth,

    The intent of my post was to tell you what the most effective method is for combating scumware. The most effective method is directly contacting advertisers you believe are working with these companies and tell them you want them to stop this practice or you will not promote them anymore.

    The fact of the matter is, these advertisers and scumware companies can partner together without using CJ or any other solution provider. In fact, many of them are working together directly. Just because they are listed as participating with a certain scumware company and happen to use CJ for their performance marketing does not mean they are partnered through CJ.

    I suggest you write one email and copy every company you are partnered with requesting them to provide you with their position on scumware companies and ask them to stop working with them if they are using them. I would send it to affiliates@advertisername.com and CC ceo@advertisername.com. This should get through to 90% of the comapnies.

    Advertisers listen to their publishers and respect their opinions. You are their virtual sales force and a vital component to their online advertising. They will listen to you if you write call them.

    I appreciate you expressing your point of view and respect your opinions. I am trying to help. I urge all of you to write your advertisers and request that they not work with companies you feel are stealing your ad space and revenues.

    Best regards,

  14. #14
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    I thought some of these scumware companies were affiliates? Thats the angle I was going at - if you cut them off, they wont produce revenue through CJ as an affiliate. It wouldnt stop them, but it would definitely make an impact. These scumware companies that are signed up as affiliates with ya'll are violating the TOS, IMO (per Elisabeths post, too). I know the ones doing the top text are, or at least were an affiliate with Commission Junction. I saw the half.com banners on their site with the quickserv links.

    [ 12-12-2001: Message edited by: Big Chuck ]

    [ 12-12-2001: Message edited by: Big Chuck ]

  15. #15
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    Haiko,

    I prefer to make optimistic assumptions about CJ's honor.

    This is truly an issue that each individual and company needs to decide on the basis of their own ethics. Scumware is not an issue that can be dealt with on the basis of what's "legal", because legislation is so far behind reality in cyber-space issues that it will take years to catch up with what's going on now, let alone what might happen next month. We have to look at fundamental principles here.

    "Thou shalt not steal" is a good one to start with.

    Elisabeth Archambault

  16. #16
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    I was going to take one for the team and install this latest scumware that CJ is allegedly making money from, but they want a credit card.

    Is there any list of scumbag advertisers & affiliates anywhere?

    Todd is at least right in that contacting the advertisers really can help. But this latest package might be a different animal in that Cnet is touting it as the next best thing since sliced bread.

    From what I am reading, it seems like CJ is very interested in keeping this new program going.

  17. #17
    ABW Adviser Panel Dynamoo's Avatar
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    When I heard that HotJobs were using Scumware, I ditched 'em. I'd like to ditch CJ but I'd miss their product range [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img]

    I think the onus is on CJ on this - basically, the scumware operators are obtaining traffic through fraudulent means.

    Incidentally, has anyone tried the javascript at scumware.com?

  18. #18
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    no. what does it do?

  19. #19
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    Todd's note came through while I was writing my response to Haiko.

    quote:
    The intent of my post was to tell you what the most effective method is for combating scumware. The most effective method is directly contacting advertisers you believe are working with these companies and tell them you want them to stop this practice or you will not promote them anymore.


    I might do this, but at the moment my question is to CJ, which is allowing its technology to be used to facilitate predatory advertising methods.

    The issue is this: by cooperating with such users, CJ is for all practical purposes saying that it considers predatory advertising to be an acceptable internet business standard.

    Is that really what CJ intends? You didn't answer my main question: What are CJ's PRINCIPLES here?

    Elisabeth Archambault

    [ 12-12-2001: Message edited by: buckworks.com ]

  20. #20
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    Todd,

    I would really like my CJ experience if they would just get a backbone! The fact that Scumware CJ users are in violation of the TOS and you do nothing about it makes me mad. It is CJ's responsibility as a "trusted 3rd party" to do such things. No wonder we don't trust you guys.
    In a somewhat related matter. I called CJ to get information about a merchant that had been deactivated and talked to someone in client services. I had asked if the merchant had paid CJ yet. If they hadn't I was going to take legal action for myself. The less-than-helpful person on the phone told me that they couldn't give me that information. They had it, they just couldn't give it.
    Your company has been NO HELP TO AFFILIATES. Take the IDT GlobalCall situation for example. That server was down for 3 months! CJ had no clue! Which is funny since they have claimed in the past that they have software which monitors merchants.
    Todd, I am not attacking you personally. I am thankful you are here and are willing to answer questions. Hopefully we can all work together to make a better CJ!

    Core

    [ 12-12-2001: Message edited by: Core ]

  21. #21
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    "Either way it will say something about CJ's honor."

    If there is so much as one scumware company using a CJ link and someone decides to sue over it, I don't understand how CJ can't be held liable too. They were profiting from theft (or whatever the crime is judged to be) which has caused loss (and long after they were asked to desist). Unless US law is vastly different from that in the UK it seems to me they are liable for several different kinds of civil damages.

    Have I missed something? Or don't CJ have any lawyers?


    f

  22. #22
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    It's obvious that CJ don't care at all. As long as they make money. How they do it isn't that important to them.
    A slimey publisher CAN break their TOS, and CAN steal the work of others, as long as CJ gets a BIG FAT COMMISSION!

    Our trusted ScumParty!

    [ 12-12-2001: Message edited by: OveB ]

  23. #23
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Elisabeth's comments and actions are to be applauded since they get right to the root of the www.scumware.com issue. If the 3 major networks posted their stand on scumware, regarding abusive merchants and affiliates who use these tools to steal traffic and commissions, prominently on their FRONT pages with a termination notice these guys all would dry up. Pure play advertisers have no possible place within the pay per performance industry. Disguising the advertising ploys around affiliate income potentials are just conn jobs devised early on within this industry. No affiliate manager should report to their companies advertising department. If they do then the company/merchant is not serious about converting traffic into commissions.

    CJ's the obvious leader in setting the ground rules for merchants and affiliates. Get the jump on BF and LS who only consider their majority of affiliates as drones...incapable of upsetting the merchant centric bizplan. Let the scumware enablers die a slow death by having to hard sell advertisers outside the affiliate networks. Then they'll just wither in the flood of professional spammers where they got their roots and tactics.

  24. #24
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    Mike,

    Affiliate networks are easy ways for publishers to find and partner with advertisers. If a publsiher is making money for an advertisers and the solution provider forbids them to manage the relationship via their network there is still nothing to stop the two companies form working together outside of the network.

    I strongly believe that it is up to the advertisers to stop working with scumware companies. Publishers are the best ones to voice this to advertisers. Advertisers are listening and are terminating relationships with these companies because their publishers are complaining.

  25. #25
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    Below is a list of companies that do not work with predatory adverting. This list is growing by the hour due to pressure from publishers.

    "Official Affiliate Program Whitelist - Merchants who shun Predatory
    Advertising"

    Adconnect.com
    AffiliateFORCE.com
    AffiliateFORCE2002.com
    Auctionpage.com
    Avanti-Sport.com
    BabiesOnline.com
    BabySongs.com
    Berries.com
    ClubMom.com
    Crucial.com
    DiscountMagazineRack.com
    eHealthInsurance.com
    EPage.com
    Ep.com
    EuroVacations.com
    FamilyPrizes.com
    FingerTipShopper.com
    Junonia.com
    Labf.com
    LeadCrunch.com
    OneTravel.com
    Raileurope.com
    Thaneinc.com
    Thane.com
    Top3.com


    The companies below have made clear statements they have distanced themselves,
    but their brand(s) still appear at WhenU.com. As soon as they are no longer
    listed there, they will go onto the "whitelist"

    BlueFly - Colleen Soriano
    CarePackages.com
    Office Depot - Diane Seals
    Iomega Corporation - Tambra Hamblin
    Staples.com - Karin Vaccarezza
    TigerDirect.com - Andy Rodriguez
    Zones, Inc. - Christie Triquart

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