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  1. #1
    Affiliate Network Rep
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    Update
    Hi all,

    Whew, itís been a bit of a crazy three weeks as we are getting to the final days before the first run of the consolidated payments system. As you all know last night we launched the next stage of Athena. Unfortunately we ran into some issues with many of your re-registering.

    Today we spent most of the day analyzing the issues as well as working with all our partners to identify many of the issues that could have caused the problems you encountered. Here is what we discovered and what we are doing about it:

    First we discovered that where someone had entered their site name or other name in the legal entity field the system rejected the registration because the legal name did not match their social security number. For purposes of security we had originally set a rule that locked that name in once it had been set up prior to the full verification. To address this issue we will update the software to allow you to change your legal name even after an account has been created. This change will go into effect most likely next Thursday pending testing.

    Second we discovered that the different way our partners create rules around the verification process resulted in a number of rejected registrations. This issue is now fixed and live in the system. This error in logic is why some people could get through the process while others could not. It just depended on your own variables like how long you lived in your current residence and things like that. This is also why our test cases passed without a problem.

    Many of you have asked why we are doing this all at once. From a technical perspective all of these changes are interrelated and thus force us to make these changes at the same or similar time. Many of these changes involve people in technology that is out of our control. For example the banks we work with have rules that differ from many of the prior logic. Combining these new rules with other new and different rules has led to some significant challenges.

    Consolidated payment relies on us cleaning up the database and making sure the right people get paid the right amount. If we could have done this in stages, trust me we all would have been much happier to have done so.

    Why has the payment report disappeared and the new one has not shown up? This is also due to a major code change. The new payment system that we have will have a new payment report and that will go live with the new payment system in about a week or so. The old system has been in use until then and thus we took the old report down as it would no longer be updated as it will no longer handle any payments past the March period. We will update the new system with all the old payment history, until then we will just keep the old report up and running but not update it further.

    Again, all I can do is apologize for the bumps that have happened. Please recognize that no one has done this before and for all of us we are learning as we go. Progress often has bumps in the road, but once we get past them the benefits of those bumps should be apparent. To make these bumps less painful we will be offering three payment periods in this month in case the verification issues around Athena have delayed anyone from re-registering.

    Beyond that we will work hard to improve what we can without causing you all any pain.

    Finally, many of you have been asking for updates on what is going on. Over the past three weeks since I have been back, we have been working daily to make these changes. Since the legal entity is a major change to what an affiliate has been in the system and since this has so many interdependencies all I can tell you is that we have had to make many changes on a daily basis to deal with this launch. This process has been worked on for a very long time, longer then I want to discuss, and we really did a great job finding all of the interdependencies of the system, but in the end as you go into testing you find ones that you missed.

    Please do not take this as an excuse, but I simply wanted to give you a bit of color as to why this has been such a major change and why getting you information has been so difficult. I would have liked to have given you updates but with these last minute issues I have not had definitive information that I can share with you and so many things have been changing. I truly hope that when this is finished and the final patches are in place that you can forgive this misstep. As for now, I am going home to crash. The team here has really been burning the candle at all ends.

    Best regards,
    Stephen

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    That answers some of our questions. How about the rest?

    Like...when are we going to get paid, for one?

    And when will support start answering emails, for another.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  3. #3
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    Or more importantly, where did some of our logins go? I have one that went AWOL and has not shown up on my main account. I thought it would be consolidated and sent in an email over a month ago, and nothing.

  4. #4
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    First payments should go out next week. We are just fianlizing a few things. As for support and emails. What we are finding is that spam filters and other issues are blocking some of our emails and thus the belief that we do not respond. We are looking into solutions to deal with this issue and hope to have a fix in place soon. I have looked at the logs (which our CRM tool give me and which can not be manipulated by the support group) and it does show that they have responded to all email that we have gotten. The gap or apparent gap comes from those emails being blocked from getting to their proper destination.

    Now I am off to bed. My mind is fried.

    Steve

  5. #5
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    Chetf,

    We choose not to do the consolidation manually and so you should be able to take your old log in for the other accounts you have and consolidate them. Lots of reasons why we originally wanted to do it manually, and then even more for why we decided later on not to, but I really need to get some zzzzz's or my posts will sound even more crazy. If that is not the case or i misunderstood it send me an email with all your info (user name and accounts you are trying to consolidate) and I will have someone look into it on monday)

    Night all,
    Steve

  6. #6
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Thank you

  7. #7
    Newbie at tooting my own horn M_Diddy's Avatar
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    You see I told everyone....This is a good thing and this guy is a mensch (if you dont know-google it)

    Messer don't mess around. I like that, it makes me feel confident in working with them, I almost wanna fly out to vegas to meet the guy and shake his hand.

    This is what partnerships are all about.

    He could of ignored everyone, drove home in his bmw without a worry in the world...but he was here...answering questions and giving us insight.

    When an educated man can't spell...you know he's either tired...or has a good publicist (sneaky sneaky)

    He doesnt know any of us, we may push 1 sale a month or maybe 2 or 3 thousand, all of which is irrelevant, the man is still here trying to help us make sense...I dig that.

    What I see is a man that obviously cares about Linkshare, and obviously cares about us.

    Not to say I told you so, but I told ya so.

    Diddy

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Mr. Messer,

    As I have suggested to you before, a support ticket system (like cj and all my server providers have) would almost guarantee all tickets get in.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  9. #9
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    >>We are looking into solutions to deal with this issue and hope to have a fix in place soon.

    Stephen, some things may be better not publicized and some may be sensitive or confidential, but when there are problems, if some of the mail isn't getting through, how about a BLOG that LS associates can check with.

    Or maybe a dedicated scapegoat type "PR" (not pagerank) type person here at ABW, like the search engines have at other places, to deal with things that come up as middle-person. They usually soothe the savage beasts by promising to check into things.

  10. #10
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    How can your contact form be treated as spam. I have send at least 10 without any response.

    How about aggregation? When and how?

  11. #11
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    Uphill...

    Coment forms still are sent via e-mail, typically...

    This brings into play one of the potential serious questions about an affiliate marketing company, using SPAM filters which are programmed to DELETE mail without letting it even get to their systems.

    Most SPAM fliters consider things such as affiliate marketing in the light in which they are most typically e-mailed, so they would typically consider questions about affiliate marketing as being commercial e-mail, and could errantly block a LARGER than normal percentage of false positive e-mails.

    The SPAM filters could be too sensitive, or programmed too low to account for the users business model which may need a higher threshold of sensitivity to account for legitimate mail; or if available, switching to the tag (**SPAM**) and not the delete option, could be the best option.

    If support sees a subject "**SPAM** PLEASE HELP" there is a good chance that it would be a legitimate affiliate who got false positived for their question.

  12. #12
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Looks like you deserve a stiff drink and a long Nap Stephen. I figured the complexities of a major changeover and expansion in your affiliate information files, with 3rd party automated verification, would not be a smooth road to follow. I therefore went through the steps when the first notice was given and have had no problems logging into LS.

    Thanks for burning the midnight oil and seeing to it that your long term affiliates get paid for March ASAP. I'll begin the long process of updating all my proven LS converting merchants creatives. Redesign my site (long overdue) and look for new LS merchants and niche's to build shopper friendly landing pages from natural SERP listings. Love allowing in more LS merchants under the consolidated payment model as that eliminates the normal 6 month wait to reach minimums if you only get 35 thousand visitors a month.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  13. #13
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    Promosoft :

    Yes, but using a form is different. They know where it is coming from, so there shouldn't be a filter on this form. I have to login to use the form, so it would be very stupid to spam LS through their form. And what could I spam? "Buy Viagra" to the LS support desk?

    If there is a filter on the mails from their form, someone doesn't understand what he is doing.
    If there is no filter, someone is sleeping.

    At CJ I always get an autoresponder including a ticket number, saying they respond within 3 days and they always do. That's how it should be.

    If there is no response they receive a lot more mails, because most keep trying. I have send 10 messages for the same problem without an answer and this doesn't make me happier.

  14. #14
    Full Member heisje's Avatar
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    .

    despite the (frequent) "bumps" at LinkShare, the direct personal involvement of Steve Messer with his affiliate partners (here and elsewhere) makes LS absolutely unique among the networks, in my opinion.

    and this is why most "bumps" are sooner or later "straightened out" to our satisfaction at LS, while this is not the case with the other networks.

    heisje

    .

  15. #15
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    despite the (frequent) "bumps" at LinkShare, the direct personal involvement of Steve Messer with his affiliate partners (here and elsewhere) makes LS absolutely unique among the networks, in my opinion.

    and this is why most "bumps" are sooner or later "straightened out" to our satisfaction at LS, while this is not the case with the other networks.

    heisje
    Very well said!

    Uphill wrote
    How about aggregation? When and how?
    There is a button under "update profile" which allows you to do your own aggregations. It says "consolidate affiliate channels".


    marcelle

  16. #16
    Newbie at tooting my own horn M_Diddy's Avatar
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    Ya know here is the chain of events for diddy....

    Last night after thinking for a bit bout this post and everything that transpired...The dedication, accountability, passion, honesty etc that came from Messer, I couldnt sleep.

    Its like I was haunted.

    Being the passionate entrepreneur that I am, I started developing and developing, just so furiously....everything became so clear to me...sorta like in a zone.

    I think Stephen kinda flicked a switch in me, that brought me back to a time in my corporate life when I had a major switch, very similiar to what just happened....I didnt sleep nor eat for days....why?

    Because I love my company and what my company does, it isnt about the money, its about loving what you do...being honorable...having integrity....and I now truly believe that Linkshare does possess those characteristics.

    Ecomcity....said it best....now it is time for Diddy's crew to go to work...

    Thank you

  17. #17
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    Thanks Marcelle. You're a better help then LS. I don't get answers there or mails about changes.

    I agree, the help of Steve Messer is very helpfull, but we need him because LS support is a mess.

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heisje
    .

    despite the (frequent) "bumps" at LinkShare, the direct personal involvement of Steve Messer with his affiliate partners (here and elsewhere) makes LS absolutely unique among the networks, in my opinion.

    and this is why most "bumps" are sooner or later "straightened out" to our satisfaction at LS, while this is not the case with the other networks.

    heisje

    .
    Heisje,

    Perhaps you get communication from Mr. Messer that we do not, but from my perspective I don't see what you are seeing.

    Let me put things into perspective for folks about Mr. Messers "direct personal involvement with his partners", as you call them (I don't feel treated like a partner). The following is the number of times Mr. Messer has posted here at ABW since September (rough count and may be off my a post or two):

    May: 5
    Apr.: 6
    Mar.: 9
    Feb.: 0
    Jan: 1 (Holiday wish, not an informative post)
    Dec.: 1(Holiday wish, not an informative post)
    Nov.: 2 (same message about dos attack, just updated slightly)
    Oct.: 0
    Sept: 1 (response to the award fiasco)
    TOTAL: 25 posts in 9 months, average of .09 times a day.

    Between, September and February, a six month period, Mr. Messer only responded three times here regarding problems we brought forth. I wish I could easily calculate the number of posts written at ABW asking him questions that never went answered, but I donít have a few days of my time to search and count them.

    Now, just for a good comparison, let's compare the number of posts by Todd Crawford during the same period:

    May: 19
    Apr.: 41
    Mar.: 34
    Feb.: 22
    Jan: 14
    Dec.: 17
    Nov.: 49
    Oct.: 47
    Sept: 45
    TOTAL: 288 posts in 9 months, average of 1.06 times a day.

    I have received one personal response from Mr. Messer over the years (was a PM or email). I have pm's and emails that have gone unanswered (and I have only pm'd or emailed him a handful of times.

    You all can think what you want, but Iíve been here long enough to know how things are.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  19. #19
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    A more courteous and respectful situation would have been if LS would have sent a quick e-mail out to *ALL* of their affiliates & merchats which said *BEFORE* they began implementing the changes on the live server which said that they were going to be doing it, *AND* that if users would have problems with the new system *THIS* is what they can do.

    Updating *AFTER* we *KNOW* that something the system is broken is putting the cart *BEFORE* the horse.

    They still have not addressed the numerous legal questions regarding their implementation of the new system; which I raised in my thread about the New 'Verification' System.

    However, if they don't want to take my word for the fact that their new system as implemented is illegal under Federal Law, I'ld be more than happy to point Steven to the Federal Trade Commission web site, which has a letter telling companies which use consumer reports for the purpose of determining whether a consumer is eligible to engage in an independent contractor relationship is required to provide SPECIFIC LEGAL DISCLOSURES to said consumer before the inquiry, and in the case of an adverse action (such as the "unable to verify") additional disclosures, including the name and contact information for the consumer reporting agency *MUST* be provided.

  20. #20
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    Uphill...

    It depends on whether the SPAM filter is set uniformly for the entire domain, *OR* if it can be set on a per account basis.

    If it could be set on a per account basis, then *YES* they could create a CONTACTFORM at LINKSHARE dot COM address to handle form inquries without going through the SPAM filter. But the problem is when eventually that address will too get discovered by the SPAMbots, and that e-mail begins to get SPAMs.

    Any e-mail address can get SPAMs, I seldom use my GMail account, and for about 3 months it was able to stay SPAM free, but even without posting anything to publicly available sources with that e-mail address, it has started receiving SPAM. Luckily it catches those SPAMs into the Junk Mail folder, but it still gets to the account, so they were able to begin discovering the address.

    If the e-mail server would allow them to setup a custom white-list if a value which is only set by the form script would be present in the e-mail, and over-ride any other filters, then there would be another possible solution.

    But no matter what solution is made (unless they keep changing the white-list value to try to keep one step above the SPAMmers), eventually they would figure a way to bypass it.

    The question is one where they need to find out how to create, update, or customize the SPAM filter so it does not detect valid affiliate e-mails as SPAM.

    Another possible solution could be to update the form script to *ALSO* log the e-mail to a database file, then LS could find e-mails which are in the database, but which weren't received via e-mail. Then LS would have a clearer picture of the number of e-mails which their systems are misidentifying as SPAM, instead of only having reports of a sub-section of LS affiliates, who are also ABW members, and who decide to post in the ABW LS forum that their e-mails aren't being responded to.

  21. #21
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Thanks for burning the midnight oil and seeing to it that your long term affiliates get paid for March ASAP. I'll begin the long process of updating all my proven LS converting merchants creatives.
    I hope CHARLIE wrote that! Mike, you've been doing this since King Tut's time. Experenience dictates you should wait until a check is in your hand!!

    As for the constant apologies and references to nothing working as planned as "bumps" and "inconveniences" - my opinion is (since it's OBVIOUS nothing was correctly tested) that LS is treating it's affiliates as Guinea pigs rather then the valuable partner we all are.

    Even though they ADMIT it doesn't work, when I'm "allowed" to log in, I don't get the normal login page. I'm presented with a full page of "Mitigate Now to our wonderful new program" - with a tiny tiny tiny link to a home page if I decide not to.

    If it doesn't work - and they admit it doesn't - why are they still coercing us to use it??

  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Steve, First, thank you for the update. As noted, we have been pretty much "starved" for information of any kind, it is appreciated.

    The issue over "legal entity" will create an issue for you, I hope your staff is prepared, and would like to know how it will be handled. Specifically, those affiliates who have received checks (I am one) that have an incorrect payee. These checks will need to be returned to Linkshare, and replaced. How do we go about doing that? I certainly don't want to simply throw these checks into an envelope and mail them off to possibly never see it again (and the horror of someone saying "Do you have the original check?").

    Fred

  23. #23
    Pimp Duck popdawg's Avatar
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    I hope your staff is prepared
    THEY ARE NOT!!!!
    ================================================================
    Been away, now I'm back. Not as much, but I'm back & starting from scratch. Where I was, was fantastic. Where I am now, less so. Things have changed, become harder. So have I. Game ON!!!
    ================================================================

  24. #24
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    You're right Billie Kay. This time I lost all my confidence in LinkShare. It took me some time to work again with them after what they did to their affiliates during the period 1999-2000. Same problems, (not paying their affiliates) same bs answers from S. Messer and his team. Yes, we are just treated like Guinea pigs.
    I've never seen such a scr@wy company. I feel sorry for my merchants, but I'll feel safer to find new partners out of LS.
    I had my first sale with LS a few days or weeks after their opening. This merchant left two years latter to run an indy program. I was worried at the beginning, but I've never had a problem in 6 or 7 years. Their first step was to increase my commission from 10 to 15%. Let me tell you, it means a lot if you're making some money. My check this month is a little bit over $8K and it's not a good month.
    I had no problem with their new registration, but it's not true for everybody. I've seen many people running into problems. Do they care, no? They are drowning under requests. Do you think they are hunting the crooks stealing our commissions? No.
    We're in May, I've not seen a consolidated check, yet. They keep changing my business name to one of my web sites name. DAMM IDIOTS.
    What are they going to do, next? I've Direct Deposit with ShareaSale, CJ, Performics and a few others but I don't trust LS enough to give them my bank account information. I don't even know who's doing our credit verification. I just can't take it anymore. Well, Mr. Messer, Mike and Charlie are going to update their web sites, you won an affiliate to your cause. Good for you, bye.
    Last edited by Zeus; May 7th, 2005 at 05:39 PM.

  25. #25
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Did I mention updating my proven converting LS merchant's creatives and looking for niche's worthy of full page exposures. It's been a long time since I even checked the LS merchant roster due to most being led by parasite friendly AM firms seeking professional spamming affiliates and incenters. Those popping up on my Adware infested test system are red flagged and I'll never divert shoppers to new merchants home pages. They'd best have deep linking options to areas where shoppers can be focused...not branded.

    I just like the consolidation feature as the media, politicians and lawyers take on the task of burning the bad actors at the stake. I see no fresh air at BeFree. MY CJ stance is the same. If they don't come here and push their selection of creatives and conversion ratios, coupled with a pro-active affiliate stance on cookie stuffers and BHO's that merchant directory is not looked at....

    I've got to redesign the site around tunneling shoppers to quality converting merchants, so that selection process comes first. Build the interior pages and then streamline the navigation funnel to sections where sales aren't automatically subject to hijackers. Leaking targeted shoppers into the clutches of the BHO perps, or known diversion merchants, is not part of my plan. I'd rather niche' out existing proven merchant product categories to fit a savvy shopper Mall theme then risk hard earned traffic to newbee or branded merchants.

    Guess I'll browse the Indies, and even SAS as they've matured, for filler merchants and hawk some Adword income for high traffic pages not showing click conversions. EcomCity will still be a test bed site for justifying my ABW rants. Some day I hope it becomes a traffic funnel to a Safe Haven Network and bypass all the guessing games.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

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