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  1. #1
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    ***OLD THREAD from 2002 - Opinions on Tim Storms Fatwallet toolbar Scumware or not?
    What do you think of this thing?

    This thing is basically a toolbar which allows searching of the FW forums. But it also does other things...obviously his motivation for having it written. The scary parts are:

    quote:
    2) Deals Notification - If you are on a site that fatwallet has deals listed for, a button will come up that you can click on to take you to the Deals page for that merchant
    4) Cash Back Notification - If you are visiting a site where you can earn cash back on your purchases, A text button will come up notifying you that you can shop through our cash back mall and get a percentage of your purchase back. Simply click on the cash back button and you will be taken to our cash back mall.

    Fatcash is an ebates-ish shopping rewards service.

    Of course he tries to us you feel better with:
    quote:
    We do NOT intercept or redirect any links from your surfing session - we don't want to get in the way at all, we simply want you to have the information available when you need it.



    I think it is at least kind of scummy. Not nearly as bad as say morpheus' offering, but, still has the potential to steal commissions...


    An interesting quote from one of his users:
    quote:
    The toolbar is cool. Except I have only one suggestion and that is when you click the Deals button it opens a new browser window. So you don't have to lose you place on the web site that you intend to buy from.

    I've never installed the thing, but, it appears it totally blows away current browser session if click on the deal available button. Making it even more likely that the customer is going to then click through his site to get back, even if there is no relevant "deal".

    And btw, what merchant DOESN'T have some sort of "deal" whether it be free shipping, or, something like "Save up to 25% on some of our stuff". What I'm saying is just how many merchants (except ones Tim is not an affiliate of) will NOT have a "deal availble" when a customer surfs on over, no matter how they reached the site?

  2. #2
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Total copycat of Morpheus without the P2P network reach. Add in some Duperaffiliate flavoring like ebates and the surf to earn wanks with email spamm rear-end and Walla!! They try to fly under the radar but watch when it comes payday for their duped users. Here comes the CyberRebates type rath.

    WebMaster Mike

  3. #3
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    There is no question that the toolbar was designed to function as a customer retention mechanism.

    We do NOT bundle the toolbar with other software distributions - the only way it would get on a consumers computer is by them specifically choosing to add it and install it to their browser - Uninstalling is as simple as using the standard windows add/remove functionality - no remnants remain.

    Although offering consumers incentives in cashback/points programs does not make sense in some ways, the reality is that it is a proven mechanism to drive sales, and is currently being embraced by many merchants. In my ideal world, this type of system would not be allowed, but back to reality - If I don't serve my customers, someone else will. Earlier this year we brought our cashback mall management in house so that we could be sure that customers would not get left holding the bag. This decision was made when we knew we could operate the program profitably - we haven't had a reason to second guess the decision yet.

    During the development of the toolbar, a beta was sent to Haiko for his feedback. Last I heard, Haiko had no scumware/parasiteware issues with the toolbar or its implementation.

    The toolbar was designed to be a program that we ourselves would like to use - non-invasive, no interuptions, no annoying ad content. Just timely information and presented in a responsible way.

    I'll be happy to respond to REAL questions on the subject of the toolbar - Mike as usual has made unfounded accusations that are not worthy of a response - but for the record, we do not spam, we do not buy,sell or trade consumer information.

  4. #4
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    I can confirm that Tim's toolbar is NOT predatory!

    Tim, also, was kind enough to ask me to help him QA it and I can say that it is clean, and that I seriously doubt, knowing Tim, that it will ever be dirty!

    Haiko


    The secret of success is constancy of purpose. ~ Disraeli


  5. #5
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    Help me out here: If I send a customer to Merchant X, and FatWallet watches that and offers to "present information", what happens to my cookie for that merchant if the visitor clicks a link on the deals page you ever-so-kindly suggest that they check out?

    I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around how an entity that spawns messages keyed to content or actions on other people's sites could be considered anything but parasitic.

  6. #6
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    The answer is very simple - Your cookie is unaffected unless the consumer follows one of the links from our website.

    If your offer is better than what we have, why would a customer use one of our links? good for you!

    There are NO mechanisms in the toolbar to redirect ANY traffic to commissionable links. The toolbar exists to funnel traffic to our site and serve our customers in the process.

    I think the key elements that you might be forgetting is that the customer:
    1) Knowingly installed our toolbar
    2) Knowingly clicked on a button on our toolbar, knowing that they would be taken to one of our pages.
    3) Intentionally clicked on a link from one of our web pages.

    If you compare these three steps that have to happen for us to impact any commissions whatsoever to what the other folks out there are doing, I'm sure you'll agree that we're acting VERY ethically.

  7. #7
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    All in all, What I see Tim offering is a true affinity (internet) group who is educated enough to surf for deals and will buy from the best one, that being said ... if they are the same the last affiliate gets the sale, if someone has a better deal ... they get the sale ... nothing predatory with that, as I can see, just deal hunting consumers.

    Haiko


    The secret of success is constancy of purpose. ~ Disraeli


  8. #8
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    I have tested FatWallet's Toolbar and I have seen nothing predatory about how it performs. There is no link interception, redirection or profiling.

    I think there is a fundamental difference between "predatory" and customer retention.

    Wayne Porter
    V.P. Product Development
    AffTrack LLC.
    http://www.afftrack.com
    http://www.revtrends.com
    Advanced & Automated Data Analysis for Performance Marketers.

  9. #9
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    Hmm, again, I find myself at one of these points where I know that I should keep my mouth shut, but, I also know that if I don't speak up, who will?

    quote:
    Although offering consumers incentives in cashback/points programs does not make sense in some ways, the reality is that it is a proven mechanism to drive sales, and is currently being embraced by many merchants. In my ideal world, this type of system would not be allowed, but back to reality - If I don't serve my customers, someone else will.

    Tim- I agree with you 100..no 110%. I've been in this game before the rewards affiliates (and hopefully will be around after them..) and it makes -0- sense. Any merchant that would partner with anyone giving rewards back for sales is, imnsfho (and also, not very informed, i don't claim to be an expert on this..) stupid. If I'm an AM and my goal is to drive sales, why pay someone whose whole business model is to allow customers to shop at my store, who were already going to shop at my store, to shop at my store and get paid back the fee i'm paying for that customer? Sorry, my wording sux, this is well known, but I think you get my point.

    However, like I said, Tim, I agree with you. I was in this game before you had FW, I remember when the AT Hotdeal fallout happened and you just happened to have a cozy Fusetalk board ready to accept the shunned AT'ers. I respect what you've done with AM and I've admired how you've done it. I agree with "In my ideal world, this type of system would not be allowed, but back to reality - If I don't serve my customers, someone else will."

    That said. I still think that it steals from the hard working people of this board(forum, sorry i'm old). I still think it is parasitic. I still will speak up against you when I get the chance. Would I do the same thing? Maybe. Does that make me a hypocrite? Maybe. I still realize its not in the majority (including myself, hey I do have my best interests in mind here too) of the people on ABW's best interest.

    Of course, once again, someone tossed Haiko a cookie, and he fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I promised myself I was going to try not to offend our gratious host, but, I'm sorry, when he is not speaking in our best interests, I feel that someone has to.

    But, back to what Tim said, since that was the topic of discussion here.

    quote:
    Earlier this year we brought our cashback mall management in house so that we could be sure that customers would not get left holding the bag.
    Of course. You had half your FW groupies posting "don't forget ebates for another 2% back" on every hot deal thread. You wanted a part of that business....duh, thats common sense. Also, as we all know ebates is not perfect on customer fulfillment, I suspect, that, you are better. And, overall that is a good thing for the FW commnuity. But, is it good for the ABW community? Or the average affiliate?

    quote:
    I'll be happy to respond to REAL questions on the subject of the toolbar - Mike as usual has made unfounded accusations that are not worthy of a response - but for the record, we do not spam, we do not buy,sell or trade consumer information.
    I resent the insinuation that my questions weren't real. Sure, Mike does tend to go overboard on his conspiracy theories and ..well you know. But, I do think he is a "good guy" and looking out for the best interests of (what most of ABW thinks of as) pure affiliate marketers. I think he had valid points. I would also like to see you properly address Elisabeth's questions/comments.

    quote:
    The answer is very simple - Your cookie is unaffected unless the consumer follows one of the links from our website.

    If your offer is better than what we have, why would a customer use one of our links? good for you!


    But, is it not true, and please correct me if I am wrong, again I am kind of ignorant about your bar having never installed it personally, but, whenever a FW toolbar user visits a merchant via my link, via type in, or via SE referral, and you happen to have a "deal" for that merchant, even if its something that is advertised on the home page of the merchant, your toolbar will blink or otherwise signal the customer that a "deal is available via fatwallet" and if the (in most cases clueless) customer clicks on your bar, his current context (session) will be replaced with the current FW deals page for said merchant? I apologize if I'm wrong, but that is how I understand it. So, if the customer then sees a deal, or, whatever, maybe he already knows that merchant X is offering free shipping.. clicks through..well he is now YOUR customer..right? Not Elisabeths..or mine..or whoever..?

    quote:
    All in all, What I see Tim offering is a true affinity (internet) group who is educated enough to surf for deals and will buy from the best one, that being said ... if they are the same the last affiliate gets the sale, if someone has a better deal ... they get the sale ... nothing predatory with that, as I can see, just deal hunting consumer

    I'm really having to hold my tongue here. So how is that different than from when (insert your [least]favorite scumware here) pops up their offer window, saying "an offer for merchant X is available"????

    quote:
    I have tested FatWallet's Toolbar and I have seen nothing predatory about how it performs. There is no link interception, redirection or profiling.

    I think there is a fundamental difference between "predatory" and customer retention.

    Wayne, I agree in that it isn't predatory in the same way that Morpheus et al is predatory, but, I still think it is scumware. Of course it is innovative, good customer retention, good way to make money from AM, etc. It is all those things. Is it a good thing for the average person here, I ask again.

    Sorry for the wordiness.

  10. #10
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    One final point that I forgot. I find it very funny that Haiko is all too fast to speak out against Coley, who i consider to be an honest, no trickery AM, but, who seems to support Tim. Yes, coley plays both sides of the fence, but, I call that smart business, just like any other merchant pays affiliates to drive traffic and/or sales. I feel that Tim has the intention of stealing our (and merchants' type-in) traffic, and not even paying for it, and I think what he is doing is worse.

    Just my opinion, and I hope there can be some serious discussion about this.

  11. #11
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    Sooooo .... It seems that someone who has a FatWallet toolbar will be one of your members in the first place; that much is an improvement over some of what we've been complaining about lately.

    But it still sounds as though you will not hesitate to step in and present your "deals" on the backs of other people's work. Some aspects of your approach are less automated, but you are still conniving and contriving to intercept customers shortly before the point of purchase.

    I do not understand how the ethics of that part are significantly different from Morpheus et al.

    BTW, Wayne, consider your metaphors carefully. A true predator doesn't pilfer someone else's lunch, he hunts his own.

  12. #12
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    Well the market is forcing us to become parasitic, so be it, what's the fuss? Can't we just choose to be competitive?

    Oh, sorry for being so sarcastic, Haiko!

    Murat Ates
    Affiliate Marketing Professional (Hint: as in Investment Professional)

    ---------------
    "Seat Belts - Click it or Ticket" ~Garden State Parkway

  13. #13
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    "But, is it good for the ABW community? Or the average affiliate?"

    I'm doing my best to live in the REAL WORLD of affiliate marketing - We need to continue to fight against client side commission redirection.

    The toolbar is a reminder service that does not interupt or otherwise "get in the way" of a users session, UNLESS THE USER WANTS IT TO.

    In all reality, I DID look at what was allowed in the merchant agreements - I could have taken it quite a bit farther, but doing so would not have been ethical even though it would have been allowed by the merchant agreements.

    My comment about answering "REAL" questions was pointed at Mike.

    I'm doing my best to sort through the opinion and answer questions about why and what we do. If I missed a question, please let me know.

  14. #14
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    "If you are on a site that fatwallet has deals listed for, a button will come up that you can click on"

    "The toolbar is a reminder service that does not interupt or otherwise "get in the way" of a users session ..."

    Um, which is it?

    If your button comes up after someone else sends the visitor to the merchant, that IS an interruption, designed to intercept that customer.

    You want to be ethical? Set your toolbar so your info is available but there will be NO PROMPTING from you if the shopper reaches a merchant through anyone else's promotions but your own. Otherwise you're still parasiting on the backs of someone else's work.

    If YOU were the one who actually sent the visitor to the merchant, it would be fair to do all the prompting you want. But that's not what we're talking about.

  15. #15
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    I don't think you get it - we'll have to agree to disagree on this point.

    Our toolbar does NOT redirect links, our toolbar is not piggybacked on some other download.

    Can it remind a customer UNOBTRUSIVELY to visit or site - yes, absolutely - that was what it was designed to do, and it will only do so if that is what the consumer wants to have happen on their computer.

    Don't forget that the consumer is making these active decisions. There is absolutely no deception involved.

    The only reason we would have for changing the way our code works is if it is required by the affiliate agreements and all affiliates are forced to play by the same rules.

  16. #16
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Andy Rodriguez's Avatar
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    FYI:

    Tiger is actively deactivating any and all affiliate partners that are using an application that can be downloaded and can be used to divert or affect the original website owner's commission.

    Even though Fat Wallet is not re writing any links at this time, they do fall into our new category. I know Tim personally and respect his business model, however it doesn't fit into our new affiliate policy.

    Fat Wallet/Fat Cash has been deactivated from our program as of 10/01/02.

    We are making amendments in our affiliate agreements as well to reflect this new policy.


    Thank you,

    Andy Rodriguez,
    Online Advertising / Affiliate Marketing Manager

    TigerDirect.com
    P: (305) 415-2313
    E: andy.rodriguez@tigerdirect.com
    ICQ: 175010
    AIM: miamitigercub

  17. #17
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    Andy -

    I forwarded the log files we talked about on the phone showing specifically where the traffic was generated for our sales.

    As we discussed, we are NOT redirecting or popping up any button for TigerDirect on our toolbar. As I discussed before, we have the capability of shutting off the functionality on a merchant by merchant basis as requested.

    Still waiting for the response from your V.P. making an apology about the credit card issue.

  18. #18
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    Tim, YOU are the one who doesn't get it. Andy does ...

  19. #19
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    >>UNLESS THE USER WANTS IT TO<<

    Tim, the thing you're missing is that the USER does not to get to decide if it's okay to steal from my site.

    >>remind a customer UNOBTRUSIVELY to visit or site<<

    Which means I convince the USER to buy and then you UNOBTRUSIVELY invite them to purchase via your site. They're at MY site, they make the decision to buy, and you then slip in to remind them to visit your site. I sold them, but you collect the cash.

    So it's a kinder gentler parasiteware, but I still end up with an empty pocket... because the user said that was okay.

    -------
    Dawn is nature's way of telling you to go to bed.

  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador cditty's Avatar
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    If Tim does not overwrite our affiliate links or offer any rebates to our users, then I have no problem with his program.

    But without some sort of guarantee from a 3rd party......

    Tim understands. He is not bundling with other programs. Only HIS users are downloading this program. This is really no different than users signing up for his newsletter. The only difference is that the users are notified when they go to affiliate sites.

    Again, don't get me wrong and don't start slamming me becuase of my opinion. As long as Tim does not overwrite our affiliate links or offer any rebates to our users, I have no problem with his program.

    Chris

  21. #21
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    quote:

    Even though Fat Wallet is not re writing any links at this time, they do fall into our new category. I know Tim personally and respect his business model, however it doesn't fit into our new affiliate policy.




    Andy, you are my God. What sacrifice you you want master.

    Cannot give a question mark as my keyboard is totally f@cked.

    Andy Williams

    Keyword DARTs - New search engine optimization software
    http://www.affiliate-masters.co.uk/k...timization.htm

  22. #22
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    Isn't this what Bluesx mean't in his posts. First Morpheus turning clean, now Tim and his program( supposedly clean). Tomorrow someone else. These so called clean programs will be piling up day by day all claiming they are clean and it is the customers choice because they opted in. Whats the sense of having a site? To feed and supply these clean parasites? Pretty soon there will be more clean parasites than there are sites. If you are so concerned about giving the customer the best choice, make your own site with your best offers and leave it at that! This is plain simple BS!
    A really ticked off Cazzie [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_mad.gif[/img]

  23. #23
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    FatWallet's application shows nothing suspicious to me.

    It does not:

    - Cover intellectual property
    - Pop up ads based on other's intellectual property
    - Intercept commissionable links
    - Overwrite merchant's tracking codes
    - Do any type of profiling
    - Use stealth installations
    - Allows clean removal

    (Can anyone add to this list?)

    There is nothing parasitic about this and I am surprised people have predatory issues. This is a passive application and it is obviously built around customer retention and brand building. We are going to see more of this. People should focus on real threats- i.e. The risk of not building your own brand versus predatory advertising. I think the former is a far greater threat.

    For merchants the underlying issue here is loyalty and whether affiliate channels are built around customer acquisition or customer retention.

    Affiliates do not want to be soley a customer acquisition channel. Why? Because there is no longevity in this approach. Affiliates should strive to become a customer retention channel alhtough I am sure merchant's dont want to hear that. Publishers should be building loyalty to their site, their brand, and their content or sales material for those who don't publish anything.

    So if a site relies completely on Search Engine Ops they should start at looking at ways to retain visitors and lower their acqusition costs, otherwise the long term will be bleak as stronger sites capture more and more of the market.

    I concede that many merchant's do not want to see this mindset (a few understand it) especially those in low margin industries. However that is the hidden cost of doing business on performance. Performance marketers are far more savvy then they were two years ago.

    best,
    Wayne

    Wayne Porter
    V.P. Product Development
    AffTrack LLC.
    http://www.afftrack.com
    http://www.revtrends.com
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  24. #24
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    Wayne, your logic is like saying that because someone doesn't spray graffiti on buildings, doesn't slash tires, doesn't beat up little old ladies, and cleans up after his dog, it's okay for him to pick pockets.

    FatWallet plans to observe and intercept customers who reach merchants via someone else's promotions.

    That is the essence of what makes a parasite. A kinder, gentler, parasite is still a parasite.

    Phrases like "customer retention" are out of place here, because unless it was FatWallet's own promotion that actually sent the shopper to the merchant, *in that instance* the customer is NOT FatWallet's customer to retain.

    Unless they set their toolbar to do no prompting whatever when they weren't the ones who sent the shopper to the merchant, FatWallet WILL be a parasite. They will likely leech a smaller percentage with their less agressive tactics, but that does not change the essence of what makes a parasite.

    Installing a toolbar such as the one described in this thread is substantively different from signing up for a newsletter, because a newsletter IS promotion, it's not poaching on other people's promotions.

    Tim is wrong when he says there is no deception in this. He is not the one doing the deceiving, although he is a party to it whether he wants to admit it or not. The deception is by merchants who tolerate poaching tactics by some affiliates (no matter how polite). They are lying to every other affiliate who promotes them in good faith, trusting the merchant's promise that they will be paid commissions on sales to customers that they send to the merchant's site.

    Wayne, you have some influence in the world of affiliate marketing. At least have the integrity to call things what they are, don't gloss over what's really going on with a fog of buzzwords and bafflegab.

    Tiger Direct's position has integrity. It will be interesting to see how many other merchants have similar backbone.

    [fixed a typing error]

  25. #25
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    Here's what I'd add to your list of things it doesn't do: "Makes own sales without the use of my site."

    -------
    Dawn is nature's way of telling you to go to bed.

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