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  1. #1
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    [Continuing Discussion] Blair.com and IGive
    In one of the Ecomxpo threads a discussion developed regarding whether or not Blair.com partnered with IGive. In order for that thread to continue on topic and as not to risk a ban I've started a new thread to continue dicussing some of the points which were being brought up.

    In that thread Haiko brought up the point that Blair's affiliate TOS state a 30 return days and unlimited actions. His question was that when Blair partners with certain software technology affiliates like IGive, isn't the 30 return day and unlimited action terms in effect negated? Does Blair.com have a responsibility to disclose there are other partnerships which make that part of their contractural agreement with affiliates not true?

    This of course is an issue that extends past just Blair and IGive and deserves discussion. However, it just came up again in the context of IGive and Blair.

    This video
    http://www.affiliatefairplay.com/bla...12005.swf.html simulates the situation Haiko was describing. I apologize for any scrolling necessary to see the video. I did reduce my screen resolution size, but it was captured from a 17" monitor, so some may still have to scroll even with their browser maximized.

    What happened in the video:
    1. I start already on Google where I had searched for "blair coupons"
    2. I click on an Affiliate's AdSense Ad
    3. I'm taken to the Affiliate's web site. I then have to navigate to the affiliate's specific page for Blair coupons.
    4. I click through from one of the affiliate's links to Blair and I'm taken to Blair's web site. Affiliate tracking is set and a PFX cookie is placed on my computer. Note the time stamp of the [link] cookie.
    5. I then clear my browser returning to my blank home page. Here I'm simulating the end user not purchasing on the first visit but returning at a later time (up to 30 days per Blair's TOS) where the affiliate should recieve a commission as long as the end user has not gone to Blair through another affiliate's link and the cookie has remained intact on the end users computer.
    6. I wait for a couple of minutes (see time clock in bottom right hand corner of screen). I was going to do a direct type-in back to Blair (end user coming back to their site to make a purchase). However the following happened....
    7. I typed in www.bl in the address bar. IE pulled up the history cache as it will. I did not hit enter or submit from the kb nor click 'go' from IE. I took no action whatsoever myself that I indeed wanted to go the URL that IE pulled up from cache into the address bar.
    8. IGive automatically redirected my browser through their affiliate link to blair.com replacing their affiliate tracking and cookie from the first affiliate's. See [link] cookie new time stamp.

    Several questions come to mind from the above video:

    1. Who deserves the commission if I had actually made a purchase. The commission would have gone to IGive.
    2. Does Blair really have a 30 return day as stated in their TOS? Should Blair be disclosing in their TOS conditions where that 30 return day policy doesn't apply? The disclosure can certainly be made in general terms without naming specific other affiliate partners. Should disclosure be happening just as some Merchants disclose when return traffic from their own advertising efforts falls outside of their return day policy (ebay and TD come to mind).
    3. Is this a cookie overwrite?
    4. What the heck is going on with this particular behavior by IGive? I am seeing this happen consistently with their software (ie the automatic redirection is happening prior to any actual call going out from my computer to a web site). This was not a one shot quirky behavior.
    5. How does IGive know what the true intent of the end user is and where they were planning to navigate? Come now, how many hundreds of thousands for web sites are out there that begin with 'www.bl'? I could have been intending to visit any of them. Or maybe I just hit the 'l' key instead of the 'o' key. Is it now ok for software applications to automatically redirect and invoke their tracking based off the fact that I had visited blair.com in the past?
    6. What is the true value add of the IGive software here?
    7. And finally, does blair.com find this behavior acceptable and allowed within their affiliate program? Who does Blair.com feel is deserving of the commission?

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador cditty's Avatar
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    Good post Kellie. I would like to know the answers too, HOWEVER, I don't thinkg that Chris/Blair is going to touch this thread.
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  3. #3
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    I have no idea if Chris Parks will discuss this or not here. I certainly hope he will as it is something that needs to be discussed. I also hope that some other AM's will weigh in on this also.

  4. #4
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Posted a link to this thread from the expo thread. Thank you Kellie!
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  5. #5
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Andy Rodriguez's Avatar
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    Kellie,

    Great post. The answer is simple in my mind and in the many minds that run an ethical program. The affiliate should get the commision - period.

    The terms on blair should be modified to reflect such a scenario, clearly it is a violation of their own terms. I think Chris will do the right thing and weigh in here. He needs to, this is clearly out in the open and is currently a huge issue IMO.

    Keep in mind that sometimes AM's are guided by management and that dictates what they can say or do in a given scenario. I was in a similar situation a few years ago, i took my only option, followed my ethics and got out. Other AM's may not be able to do that so easilly.

    There is no room for these apps in an ethically run program - its either or. This has been proven over and over again. Once these apps are present, the 'core' affiliate base will get screwed.

    It will be interesting to hear other points of view from other AM's. I sure hope Chris pays attention to this, Blair is not the only one with this behaivior but they can lead the way and correct it. At least correct their terms and have the affiliates make their own choices if they want to work with those conditions.

    Of course, this is just my personal opinion....
    Andy Rodriguez Consulting, Affiliate Program Management and Consulting Services, Since 2001
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  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager Blair.com's Avatar
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    Hello, All!

    With the likes of Kellie and Andy weighing in here, how could I not respond?

    Kellie -- Thanks! Good work, as usual! I'm in no way technically savvy, and haven't viewed the video, but I believe I understand what you're describing. This is a situation that obviously does happen, but one that I didn't consider. I've always been under the impression that downloadable apps would not pop on links in from affiliates. If that were happening, they would immediately be removed from the Blair.com program. And... that's exactly what happened to iGive in June/July 2003. iGive was admitted back into the Blair.com program in August '04 when I was satsified that they weren't overwriting affiliate links, and were only offering their download to registered members on their site.

    The whole cookie issue never occurred to me, I'm sorry to say. But, I understand what is happening. The dowloaded software is looking for an affiliate link and is not checking for a cookie. No link, so it pops, even though there was a cookie installed. Do I have that right, Kellie?

    Let me warn you that my head is swimming right now in several different directions, so forgive me if this gets a bit hard to follow. My first question: Let's say a shopper visits Kellie.com and clicks on a Blair link, but doesn't make a purchase. That shopper turns on their computer 10 days later and visits Andy.com or uGave.com and clicks on a Blair link. The original Kelly.com link is overwritten, correct? I believe this is the "last click gets the sale" philosophy that is industry wide.

    So... the problem is... the dowload software should be looking for a cookie, not checking for another affiliate link. If this is actually a feasible solution, it might solve the problem, but...

    What if the shopper visited Kellie.com, and 25 days later received a Blair catalog in the mail (she's been ordering from Blair via mail for 20 years, but decides to try to place her order online), finds a blouse she likes and turns on her computer and types blair.com? Who should get credit for the sale? Kellie.com? uGave.com? Blair.com?

    What if the shopper visited Kellie.com and 25 days later decided to make a purchase from Blair.com? Originally, 3 months ago, she made a purchase from Blair.com via uGave.com, and downloaded the software to remind her that her purchase could make a donation to the ACS. She types in Blair.com fully expecting for her uGave window to pop up, but it doesn't because uGave is finding a 25 day old cookie. She was expecting the software to do what she downloaded it to do.

    It is my opinion that these are ALL problems. Do I have the solution? Nope. Am I willing to discuss these problems? Most definitely! Am I willing to discuss them here? Absolutely not. I, and many other affiliate managers, realize that ABW is not an appropriate environment for any meaningful discussion. And that's a shame. Industry experts are available here, but discussions are impossible. As I've said before, I am not afraid to communicate, and I believe a dialog on this subject is needed. Kellie and Andy -- I'm not sure where you folks are located, but if by chance the two of you are near each other, I'd be happy to catch the next flight for a meeting. I truly believe a face to face with knowledgeable level-headed industry professionals would be a good start. If we could begin to find a solution, I'd be happy to take the lead for changes with the networks.

    Once again, thanks to Kellie for her well-presented case, and to Andy for making me aware of this. I fully understand that this is a problem for Blair.com, but I also understand that this is an industry wide problem. I'm willing to work toward a solution. But not here. Kellie and Andy -- you have my contact info. Let's get to work on this!
    Christopher Park
    Affiliate/Partnerships Manager
    Blair.com
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  7. #7
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    I can understand the hesitance to post at ABW. I've been driven away from time to time too.

    But here's there's not much to discuss, it seems to me. The affiliate networks have rules. iGive's software download is breaking the rules, as Kellie so clearly showed. Doesn't that mean iGive's software download needs to be removed from Blair's program, and any other program that cares about enforcing the rules?

    Now, iGive's web site is quite another matter. No one has said the iGive web site is breaking the rules. Perhaps a sensible approach for Blair and other informed merchants is to stay listed on the iGive web site, but demand removal from the software download. Then any iGive members who really care about supporting iGive will go to the iGive site and click through to Blair. But Blair and its rule-following affiliates will face no risk of iGive wrongly seizing commissions in violation of applicable rules.

  8. #8
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    "My first question: Let's say a shopper visits Kellie.com and clicks on a Blair link, but doesn't make a purchase. That shopper turns on their computer 10 days later and visits Andy.com or uGave.com and clicks on a Blair link. The original Kelly.com link is overwritten, correct? I believe this is the "last click gets the sale" philosophy that is industry wide."

    That example is ok. The one Kellie gives isn't.

    "What if the shopper visited Kellie.com, and 25 days later received a Blair catalog in the mail (she's been ordering from Blair via mail for 20 years, but decides to try to place her order online), finds a blouse she likes and turns on her computer and types blair.com? Who should get credit for the sale? Kellie.com? uGave.com? Blair.com?"

    Kellie.com because there is supposed to be a 30 day cookie. Merchants with catalogs should understand that when starting an affiliate program, it's an agreement between merchant and affiliate and the merchant should hold up their end of the agreement. To pay for sales in the 30 day window.

    If you allow the behavior you should be honest about the cookie and state you are a 0 day cookie merchant and you are a 0 day cookie merchant because of who you choose to let in your program. If Igive is so great then people will shop thru the site, which i wouldn't have a problem with. But popping ads over other people's sites or redirecting like what was posted above, poses problems.

  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager Blair.com's Avatar
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    Hiya, Ben!

    You're right, of course, on all accounts. What you're suggesting is exactly what I did with other sites with downloadable apps, but for different reasons. As I said before, this type of instance hadn't occurred to me before.

    I'll have some internal discussions, and do some investigating, and will email you with any decisions/findings.

    BTW -- nice presentation at EcomXpo!
    Christopher Park
    Affiliate/Partnerships Manager
    Blair.com
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  10. #10
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blair.com
    As I said before, this type of instance hadn't occurred to me before.
    Why shouldn't it have?


    For years we have said a merchant being in a parasitic application nullifies the cookie duration for all other affiliates, want me to post old threads?

    Do you just fill your affiliate page with words to make it "look good"?


    Join Blair.com's Affiliate Program today!

    Do you own a Web site? If you'd like to link to Blair.com and earn money, our Affiliate Program is the way to do it!

    Earn Generous Commissions. Earn commissions on every sale of our products. All Blair.com products are eligible for commissions, and you get paid on time and in full. We offer a 30-day commission period from the first click from your site to ours, so you'll get the credit you deserve for referring a customer to our site for a full 30 days. If a shopper makes 2 purchases in 30 days, you get paid a percentage of both sales!

    Source: http://www.blair.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/LandingPageView?langId=-1&storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&landingNavigation=true&landingPage=010305_blair_affiliates
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  11. #11
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    I, and many other affiliate managers, realize that ABW is not an appropriate environment for any meaningful discussion.
    While I am nobody to argue about that comment I quoted, I think and believe that if you find out about "the whole cookie issue" here at ABW, here on ABW should be a good place to answer those questions, but again, it's your call because it's your program the one at risk.
    I'm just reading some posts about what I am interested in knowing about some merchants, so never mind this post.

    Sal.

  12. #12
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Chris,

    Before I reply to your response in full, I'd ask that you take a couple of minutes to view the video as it goes a bit further than just what you outlined.

  13. #13
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Very interesting and very professional by all parties invited to respond. One other problem arises besides the obvious forced cookie overwrite... what happens if more then one TopMoxie BHO, or other domain/keyword triggered parasites reside on the shoppers computer. Try a test, Ben or Ms. B., with both eBates and iGive on the system with various dual BHO participating merchants. Finding those is a simple task.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  14. #14
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecomcity
    Very interesting and very professional by all parties invited to respond. One other problem arises besides the obvious forced cookie overwrite... what happens if more then one TopMoxie BHO, or other domain/keyword triggered parasites reside on the shoppers computer. Try a test, Ben or Ms. B., with both eBates and iGive on the system with various dual BHO participating merchants. Finding those is a simple task.
    Mike, only one Top Moxie program is allowed to operate at a time on the end users computer. If 2 or more get installed, a pop up comes up asking the end user to pick one of them.

  15. #15
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    LOL...video the 2 opposing Topmoxie apps politely viaing for the shoppers attention to determine who gets to auto-redirect and set cookies on a partial URL type-in. That would be precious if they both get eaten by a 180Solutions popup.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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  16. #16
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    Chris, this is honestly funny. Too bad herbie's website is gone, so we can't see how you also didn't discuss the issue there in a heavily moderated forum. Your song remains the same, maybe if you were honest in your discussion, you could have that discussion?

  17. #17
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    chetf,

    Ah but we have the waaay back machine ... I've done it and am ready for Mr. Park's rebuttle ... sh!t, maybe he'll try to *uy off more affs to keep quiet.

    Point of information: Blair was the first sponsor of the booze cruise (Herby solo's version) and I emailed him and told him he made a mistake ... then I saw the super moderation on all Blair threads or anything against "The Bob" - oh sorry, did I type that? Darn, truth ... can't keep it in.

    ===========

    Hey Chris did you listen to my radio show today?

    I was a jerk an anti-parasite and anti-parasite loving merchant "jerk" that is. , you would have liked it - you were specificly mentioned
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
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  18. #18
    Domain Addict / Formerly known as elbowcreek Thomas A. Rice's Avatar
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    - - - - -

    But here's there's not much to discuss, it seems to me. The affiliate networks have rules. iGive's software download is breaking the rules, as Kellie so clearly showed. Doesn't that mean iGive's software download needs to be removed from Blair's program, and any other program that cares about enforcing the rules?

    - - - - -

    So, why is igive not removed from the networks?

  19. #19
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Spent 4 hours last night cleaning, amongst others. E2Give.com off my brothers home computer. The drive-bys and bundles were laced with trojan horse viruses to a point the parasites ate into the DSL connection. Inquiring minds want to know if, in the parasite industry, this is called a BHO forced timeout period. Buggers popped from the desktop without even a Netconnection for 3 full hours of multuple removal techniques. Took a final TrendMicro "Housecall" online virus scan, after a 50 minute SBC/DSL support call, to get at the E2Give's ability to survive SpyBot and Ad-Aware scans on each reboot.

    Seems the Adware/Spyware trojan virus, and the various dialers and "ET call home" common feature set finally whacked the Windows XP winsock files, requiring manual registry edits. ET=EAT THIS.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador cditty's Avatar
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    Because the networks would rather have iGives money than ours.
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  21. #21
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    At this time there is just one thing I'd like to throw out. Week before last (I believe it was) when appearing on Haiko's webmasterradio show, he asked me to close the show with general thoughts about this whole parasite issue. I'd like to repeat here what I said then.

    For those of us who care about many of the concerns and practices happening within our Industry, I would hope to see that as problematic behaviors come to light that we all start taking more of a proactive vs reactive approach to finding solutions to the problems brought forth. We all need to well educated and informed, but once informed we need to move forward quickly from understanding there is a problem and what that problem is towards productive solutions which are proactive towards that particular problem and others that are likely to arise from the issue. Just my 2 cents.

  22. #22
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Just my 2cents. Nothing will ever happen to change the status quo from within the elite ranks of the affiliate industry. That includes those yelling for transparency and a level playing field ...as it applies to someone else... not them! Jewels do come along like Ms.B -Poon -Ben -Haiko -Andy who never waver from their proactive affiliate stance. This labels them pariahs by any and all coming here, who are driven by greed.

    Those ABWers who already have mastered the tricks of the trade will never-ever support or campaign for anything that would allow others to knock them off their loftly perch. They will do all in their power to defrock -defame -derail anyone, or anything, that involves undermining their own crutches to riches and lack of transparancy. Like the consumer, who hates gorrilla marketers of any flavor, only the BHO S/W Super affiliates get a unified thumbs down by ABWers.

    Just like the BHO's copping out via the "enduser choice" line, the successful affiliate marketer, under the current system, harbors nothing but hatred and fear of anything changing the status quo. That being their sleezy greed driven plan to have it all for themselves. Screw the unwashed masses getting into their game. They hide behind the "site & ebiz plan copiers" excuse to keep their competitors in check. They will support anything they can manipulate from Google to datafeeds. They will never support anything different, where they can't figure out how to leverage it to their sole advantage.

    Thus you'll see no support from any of the affiliate elites for something that would actually level the playing field, wiping out their advantages over others. They'd prefer whacking those they can't better with their own tricks of the trade. Want a real example of this in action just search ABW for Safe Haven Network" and read every post and notice the playas undermining any attempt at real change. Notice also those who refuse to post/comment as they recognize a level palying field when they see one!
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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  23. #23
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Mike of course those who are profiting from unfair competition practices aren't going to voluntarily give up that gravy train. Did you ever expect that they would? I haven't. Indeed, I expect them to protect their own interests anyway and as best as they can. Hence my comments regarding those who do care becoming more proactive vs reactive in addressing the issues. For sure the others have long been proactive for the most part in how they are protecting their own interests.

  24. #24
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    ...as in herding ferral cats...LOL.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  25. #25
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    I got 10 bux that says Blair does NOTHING about this. Blair is among the very worst in the business. They are in bed with EVERY app possible with an AM who admittedly is clueless. This is a true case of Russian Roullette.


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