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  1. #1
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    Debunking SAHS
    For months, I've been watching actions by ShopatHomeSelect -- both in installation and in operation. My sense has been that SAHS often gets installed in ways that violate applicable network rules, and that SAHS often invokes affiliate links in apparent violation of applicable network rules. Yet when I've asked about this, I've largely been met with a resounding silence.

    To try to take the discussion to the next level, this morning I posted my views on SAHS -- a list of references as to wrongful or dubious installations, as well as some video proof showing cookies set without end-user-initiated events.

    Is SAHS in violation of applicable network rules, as the networks look at this situation? If they are, do they get (another) 30 days to "fix it," or is a longstanding violation (i.e. months of wrongful installs) enough to constitute terminable breach? We shall see.

    Debunking ShopAtHomeSelect

  2. #2
    Internet Cowboy
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    As usual, spot on Ben! And as usual, CJ's head will stay buried in the sand regarding this.


  3. #3
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    Ben - LinkShare and Commission Junction need not continue to pass money to SAHS from unwitting merchants, nor need they continue taking 30% cuts for themselves.
    We need an Attorney General to oblige them to give back to the affiliate community what was stolen from merchants and affiliates all these years.
    Great job as usual, Ben.

  4. #4
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Great eye opener on the SAHS grand scheme to debunk merchants of their Adbudgets. Your correct when you say the Belarco group (Like eβates) knows exactly how many clandestine install victims will never see a dime of the so called rewards...

    SAHS needs to be booted from Linkshare! Now I also liked your uncovering the infestaion routines of the sh*theals employed or monitized by the BHO's to infest systems. http://www.benedelman.org/spyware/installations/pacerd/

    "If a user presses Yes once in the popup shown in the first image above, PacerD begins to install numerous advertising programs. Beyond the eight programs disclosed in PacerD's license, in my testing PacerD also installed AdDestroyer, Apropos Media, Elitebar, Shop At Home, TopConverting, and Virtual Bouncer,desktoptraffic, websearch, peopleonpage, adpowerzone, direct revenue, exact, surfsidekick, [and] 180Solutions. In addition, while the PacerD license discloses installation of "exact," I actually observed three different eXact Advertising programs installed -- BullsEye, CashBack, and NaviSearch.

    All told, in my testing the single press of the "Yes" button caused the creation of 1,274 registry keys, 2,175 registry entries, 56 folders, and 711 files. PacerD also added two new web browser toolbars, and six advertisement icons on my Windows desktop."

    ...But who is PacerD? Pacerd.com's whois data gives an address in the Seychelles -- though also a voicemail phone number in Seattle and a web server in Russia. The Pacerd.com web site gives no meaningful information about PacerD's ownership or location. So users angry at PacerD may be unable to figure out precisely where to complain.... Since PacerD receives installation commissions for the programs it installs, the companies funding PacerD are the primary causes of PacerD's existence and prevalence. These companies include 180solutions, Direct Revenue, and eXact Advertising -- three advertising software companies that have previously received major venture capital funding.

    Great spotlight on something every network exec knows is going on and turnsg a blindeye to pad their own pockets from commission theftware!
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  5. #5
    Affiliate Manager nish's Avatar
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    Good work, Ben! SAHS client list is quite exhaustive and contains a few whom I thought were honest merchants.

    Its just no fun working with the networks.

  6. #6
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
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    As usual, spot on Ben!
    Correct!

    Thanks Ben.

    That "client list" has a few that I hope will reply here as having kicked them out, especially if things like this are true:

    "SAHS claims affiliate commissions even when users specifically request merchants' sites".

  7. #7
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    SAHS claims affiliate commissions even when users specifically request merchants' sites.

    Watch the videos on my site and see for yourself. I claim that the videos are extraordinarily clear: User requests www.dell.com and gets sent to Dell via a LinkShare affiliate link; user requests www.buy.com and gets sent to a CJ affiliate link. In both videos, cookies can be seen being set in the Cookies folder (which is visible in the video). In both videos, pressing Pause at the right instant shows the affiliate network link within the IE status bar.

    I don't know how to make it clearer that SAHS is in fact claiming commissions on type-ins.

  8. #8
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    That commission claim on type-ins, e-mail flyers, bookmarks and TV Ads comes at the expense of any affiliate referral return day cookie for that entire merchant list. And SAHS calim their a merchant rather then a Super Duper affiliate.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  9. #9
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
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    Ben,

    I don't know how to make it clearer that SAHS is
    It's clear to me, trust me.

    "A picture (video) is worth a thousand words". It's just some do not want to see it, then they will bare witness.

    Keep up the good work, we appreciate it.

  10. #10
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    I am sickened by the never ending circus.

    Ben's financial and time resources are many multiple orders of magnitude removed from those who should care - dell.com and buy.com and the hundreds, if not thousands, of merchants like them. These merchants should hire Ben or Kellie to investigate this - it would be SO much cheaper than what they pay the Networks in un-deserved revenue share fees. These merchants are being stolen from because of the inaction of the networks (who are supposed to be the merchants partners) - they cannot claim ignorance with Ben knocking on their cage as often as he does.

    Rename them Complicit Junction and LinkShare (their name already says it... think about it...)

    Merchant companies are struggling all day to SEO/SEM/PPC/BrandRecignition themselves - they work hard at it - and over in the corner of their company is an Affiliate Manager who looks good on paper - and he's complicit too. He/she is not ignorant either. They pull their reports and can see the top producers - people like SAHS. SAHS doesn't promote the products - they have no real dedicated sites for that merchant, they do no real SEO/SEM, spend no targeted PPC money - they steal the credit for sales from affiliates and from the merchants. That sniveling little turd - the informed Affiliate Manager - gloating about his/her great numbers - is stealing credit from his own company's other departments!!!

    Most merchants have revenue bins / buckets:
    Inhouse SEO
    Inhouse PPC
    Affiliate Program
    Direct (non-internet) sales like direct mail, telemarketing, etc
    Other channels and partners

    SAHS select takes credit for sales earned in those other buckets and moves it to their Affiliate Program bucket. And the inhouse Aff Manager looks great on paper.

    Somewhere at Dell, there's someone winning awards for the great growth in their affiliate program revenue... and the other departments at Dell is were most of it came from!

    I want to expose the sniveling turd AMs, in the halls of companies where other company executives are likely ignorant to this, but the Aff Manager KNOWS he's CHEATING TO LOOK GOOD!!!! As the team of people and managers and partners in the other divisions work their butts off everyday to make progress, he brings in SAHS and steals from them.

    We need to go to some company picnics and find the turds and out them!

    I bet the other revenue channels within their own companies would love to know their good work is serving a new purpose - to hoist up the Aff Manager and fill the coffers of parasites like SAHS... and clog the computers of the world...

    Ben, I am humbled by your work and perserverence. You inspire me. When I grow tired and want to quit, I think of you. Because I am an affiliate - I am being stolen from by these parasites - you'd think I'd never tire of working to expose these tactics - how you maintain your motivation is beyond me! Please let me know how I can help. Perhaps fund an education program or advertising program for your site... word has to be spread... cuz this behavior is OUTRAGEOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And it sickens me to see no apparent end to it.

  11. #11
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Todd... oh Todd... Ben's question remains on the floor...

    Is Shop At Home Select an affiliate in good standing? Is there anything about SAHS that merchants, other affiliates, and the community at large need to know? Any violations of applicable CJ policies? Or is SAHS in the clear?

  12. #12
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Ben in the last months you've been testing SAHS, were you seeing any redirections like in your videos except on affiliate clicks thrus?

    Donuts...certainly these 2 particular Merchants (dell and buy.com) are aware of the redirection through SAHS affiliate links from their own originating traffic (not isolated to just SAHS software). I don't think either one of those 2 particular Merchants claim ignorance on this situation. So let's do take the discussion to the next level, because it is important grasp an understanding for those within this Industry who do not like what is shown in the dell and buy.com videos. And the redirection of the Merchant's own traffic isn't anything new, it's been happening for years. And it's not unique to SAHS, but is common to all rebate software. So taking it to the next level.....

    There are instances where the AM does allow such to happen for their own benefit. For those 2 Merchants I'm somewhat doubtful if that is the primary reason. If you remember, this is something that I touched on during Andy's course, although it was rather quick due to the time thing. I can't remember, but I may have actually been showing a SAHS video similiar to Ben's when I touched upon this.

    So let me throw out a couple of my own questions for discussion (you didn't know there would be pop tests after Andy's seminar did you?). There are Merchants out there who are completely OK with those redirects on direct type-ins and it's not just not just an AM (in house or out-sourced) making themselves look good and/or lining their own pockets. Indeed, folks higher up the corporate food chain are aware and are ok with it. So why would that be?

    And in the case of a Merchant who not only is ok with it, but more importantly wants it (got to answer my other question first), what becomes the role and responsibility of the Networks towards the Merchants? That goes to the statement that the Merchants are being stolen from because of the inaction of the Networks who are supposed to be partners of the Merchant (I'm putting a specific context to the general statement). This is an important issue because it goes to part of why the Networks do what they do. It's deeper and more complex than Ben's point in his article that the actions of the Networks are related to their own financial gain (just a part of it).

    Just a couple of factual clarifications with regards to SAHS specifically. While SAHS doesn't promote Merchant's specific products, they do promote the Merchant. SAHS (Belacor) does have dedicated sites (that's plural) which promote Merchants. I can't say how much actual SEO SAHS does, but there are affiliates who don't focus on SEO. I have seen them show up in PPCSE listings however. Belacor does advertise themselves in general (all their properties) which extend beyond SEO/SEM. I bring up this clarification because it's all a hint to my first question.

  13. #13
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    Kellie,

    I haven't seen redirections on click-throughs on affiliate links. I wouldn't be surprised if these occur sometimes -- just like Haiko's great Ebates videos of a few months back. But I haven't seen it.

    As to the bigger question of whether affiliate networks should insist on compliance with their written rules even when merchants and affiliates might prefer other rulse: Yes. The rules are the rules. If merchants and affiliates don't like the rules, they can take their relationships to other networks (or work together directly, without a network). If networks don't like the rules they've written, they can issue official changes (as has occurred from time to time). But once the rules are written, they should be followed as written.

    Finally, I'm not sure I can agree that "redirection of the merchant's own traffic ... is common to all rebate software." Some rebate programs require that users click a link before the redirection occurs. Others do not. Those that require a click are in compliance with applicable network rules as I read them. At least as I read the rules (e.g. the CJ forced click policy), it would seem to be prohibited for a software provider to invoke affiliate links without a user first clicking on such links. We can debate whether my interpretation of the rules is accurate. (I've cited and quoted authority within my article.) We can also discuss whether the rules as drafted constitute good policy, or whether some other approach might better serve the interests of networks, merchants, and affiliates. But so long as the rules are as written, my personal view is that the only responsible, ethical approach is to comply with the rules.

    I don't see the connection between SEO and granting commissions on type-ins. Is the suggestion that SAHS would be inadequately compensated (for all its SEO efforts) if it were only paid the commissions that result from SEO, the commissions from intended visits to SAHS's web site, and the commissions from affirmative user clicks on popups presented by SAHS's client-side software? I don't find that argument credible. If SAHS's services are really so valuable to merchants, the appropriate and permissible response (under applicable network rules) is a private offer that increases their compensation (e.g. via a higher percentage payment from interested merchants), not claiming commissions without an end-user-initiated click (as SAHS is currently doing).

  14. #14
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    As to the bigger question of whether affiliate networks should insist on compliance with their written rules even when merchants and affiliates might prefer other rulse:
    That actually wasn't what I was exactly asking. Or the point I'm trying to make. I know I've never said (nor felt) that the rules shouldn't be enforced.

    Some rebate programs require that users click a link before the redirection occurs. Others do not.
    Rebate not coupon software. The major rebate software I've seen can do automatic redirects without a user click. May not always be the default with every installation certainly. "All" was probably a bit strict in terminology, but let's say the majority or major rebate software out there (I don't consider WhenU rebate software, but coupon software). I suppose there could be some lesser rebate software out there which the user can't change and will always show a pop up to click on.

    I don't see the connection between SEO and granting commissions on type-ins. Is the suggestion that SAHS would be inadequately compensated...... [the rest of the paragraph]
    I was commenting on Donuts statement SASH doesn't have dedicated sites, SEO, SEM, etc. They do. I didn't make the arguement you outlined at all.

    The point of my questions again is to take the discussion to the next level. What you show with SAHS isn't new to either SAHS nor other applications. Indeed it goes to a major contention that many who oppose software within this Industry and one reason they are called parasites. No? We've been talking about these issues for years now. The stuff is still happening. My questions go to the why the stuff is still happening.

    I'm a firm believer that we all need to understand the why in order to come up with the solutions to the issues that are facing our Industry. Personally, I just don't see that these applications are just going to go away. And as I showed at Andy's seminar, even when these guys are terminated from the Networks, they can still impact negatively upon Merchants and affiliates. And for me the next level once problematic behaviors are indentified is to work towards the solutions. So my questions are geared towards that.

  15. #15
    Affiliate Manager Allen Nance's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bedelman
    Kellie,

    If merchants and affiliates don't like the rules, they can take their relationships to other networks (or work together directly, without a network). If networks don't like the rules they've written, they can issue official changes (as has occurred from time to time). But once the rules are written, they should be followed as written.
    Ben,

    One reason I see that the networks choose to absorb the criticism and heat is that in a conversation with heads of CJ regarding the parasites a few years back, their feeling was; (Paraphrasing) If the parasites are not in the network, then there will be less control and they will be able to write over as they see fit.

    FEAR is what the networks are running on.

    FEAR that the parasites will go to the big merchants that don't care how traffic is collected, just looking for results. (If anyone doesen't know which merchants these are, just look at the ones that are aligned with parasites now.) The smaller affiliates are drops in the bucket for virtually free advertising.

    FEAR that they will be completely washed up with these multi-million dollar national accounts that are currently partnering with their network.

    FEAR that stockholders will put their pansy asses out on the streets and living in a garbage can on Indio Muerto.

    FEAR that one day a government agency will end their posh life with fines and regulatory guidance.

    FEAR That there will retributions to those that got stolen from

    It's no secret, The Affiliate Networks look out for #1, themselves first. It's survival. Those fancy buildings and offices, stockholders and management salaries have to come first.

    If it pisses off a small group of low-life affiliates, it's a "Who Cares", feed them to the sharks attitude.

    Will, all I can say is that I feel there will be a day of reckoning.

    So for now, As Jackie Gleason said, "One of these days Alice, To the moon.

    Now that's something they should FEAR!

    Sitting here not being Poopie,

    Allen
    Signup Now for our KiteandWind affiliate program exclusivly at Shareasale.
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  16. #16
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Here's the difference the the approach to the problem by Ms.B and Ben. Ben isn't tied at the hip to a rolodex of AM & merchants, nor does he work within the affiliate industry. He can call a thief a thief without regard to smoozing up to a client list or playing political games with the networks. I'd hardly say his videos, screen captures and article words of damning proof are tainted with some politically correct adjenda.

    Ms.B is a respected industry insider hobbled by the fact she doesn't want too many waves impacting her contact list. If she goes ballistic and starts naming names, like Ben does, she fears being shuned by industry event coordinators.

    Me ...I'm all for Donuts plain stance on the issue... "That sniveling little turd - the informed Affiliate Manager - gloating about his/her great numbers - is stealing credit from his own company's other departments!!! He/She is also elated to be stealing performance bonuses, via non-commissionable actions, while ignoring his/her role in draining their employers Ad budgets. I'm all for the wholesale firing of major merchant AM teams as they are tainted, lazy, and beyond reform.

    They perfectly fit into my constant/consistant warnings to the networks since 1998. You'll never be legit until you quickly make moves to .. DISTANCE YOURSELVES FROM THE ADVERTISING MINDSET! I hope those who refused to listen get beat to death in some Mall parking lot some day by shoppers catching them super-gluing store flyers to windshields.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  17. #17
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    You are too funny sometimes Mike. You should go sleep it off.

    Let's say LS and CJ both terminate SAHS tomorrow. I'll go as far as to say they are gone from all major affiliate networks. Would SAHS's software still be a potential problem for both affiliates and merchants?

    I say no. And that's not me saying that the Networks shouldn't enforce their own rules. I've been very clear consistently on that one. And that's not me saying that Networks should keep repeat bad offenders in the Networks. That's me saying simply that SAHS's software would most likely still be a problem for Merchants and Affiliates alike. It's me trying to discuss the realities of what is going on with downloadable software within the Internet Advertising Industry as a whole. Affiliate Marketing is not an isolated environment from the Internet as a whole.

    Is DirectRevenue no longer a problem for both affs and Merchants? They've been given the boot by the major Networks. Well the affiliate who had 4 pop ups for Merchants on their affiliate site via DirectRevenue probably will think DR is still a problem for them. The affiliate that sent traffic to a Merchant (maybe even via PPCSE) and then DR pops competitors websites on that Merchant's site will probably feel DR is a problem for them. The Merchant will probably also feel there is a problem. None of those pop ups are tied to affiliate marketing at all.

    Is 180Solutions no longer a problem for affiliates or merchants? They are no longer part of any of the major networks.

    Do DR, 180 and the other guys who have been terminated from the Networks still have ads to show? Are they still making money? Are they still making money from Merchants?

    Is ShareASale Merchants and Affiliates completely immune from revenue loss by software applications?

    Have any of the companies who have been terminated from the Networks stopped doing drive-by or back door installs? Are consumers still impacted by the applications?

    Have all Merchants terminated their relationships completely with software applications when those folks were terminated from the Networks?

    Are consumers computers no longer being infected by 180 or DR?

    Has an automatic redirect never happened to a Merchant by a rebate application when the Merchant didn't have a relationship with the application at all? Affiliate relationship or otherwise? Hmmm, I seem to recall documenting and posting that yes that certainly can and did happen.

    My point in case you aren't getting it:As affiliates, as Merchants, as Networks who have similiar views on what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior for online advertising, if all software applications were removed from the AM Industry tomorrow...we still have problem. Both affiliates and merchants will still have garbage popping on their sites and redirecting their traffic. Are you telling me that isn't the case?

    Ben commented in his article about taking it to the next level. Kudos for Ben for making that statement and I wish more were saying that. Researching, understanding and documenting what is going on with individual applications and what is going on overall with these guys is important. But isn't what we all want is solutions to having our rights to do fair business on the Internet not trampled on?

    I realize that you have kept saying that you have all the solutions to fix all these problems. You may have the solutions Mike, but I'm still seeing the problems. I have old videos of SAHS from, I don't know, a year or two ago that I did publish publicly showing the exact same thing Ben shows in the Dell and Buy.com video. I also have videos from the past where SAHS did a pop up and required a click (even when that does happen, I personally have problems with when and how that one can happen in that I feel it is infringing on others rights to do fair trade on the Internet and interferring with others ability to conduct business).

    So when are we going to actually go to the next level past the documentation? Again, documentation is important but documenation itself doesn't fix the problem. After all what Ben showed has been documented and shown in the past. Obviously it is still a problem.

    How do we really fix the problem? I don't claim to have all the answers (unlike you). I do think we have a lot of very intelligent folks in this Industry who firmly believe in a certain level of conduct with regards to online advertising. What are the solutions to the threats we face to our revenue because of certain players in online advertising? Again, I don't have the magic bullet solution. But I don't see how we can even begin to work towards solutions until we are being honest about what all is really going on out there and the why.

    180 and DR terminated from the major Networks. Yet Expedia (just an example of one of many potential examples that could be used) will still pop through both those applications on both affiliate's web sites, other travel Merchant's web sites via their own traffic and on other travel Merchants web sites from an affiliate click. Maybe for you a solution to the problem was achieved when those guys were out of the Networks. Maybe what is happening with Expedia isn't a problem for you. But I bet if I ask Michael Nunez if it's a problem for him that Expedia popped on ECT, he's probably going to say yes. Why are so many still willing to have relationships with these guys whether or not they are active in an Affiliate Network? I'm asking the why towards possibly coming to real solutions. You can consider that hobbled if you want. Personally, I don't consider it as such.

    Do we really try to go to the next level or not?

    And just an FYI, 98% of what I do along the lines of at least attempting to bring positive change for both affiliates and merchants is gratis. And I've never taken a fee for speaking at an Industry event. I've seen that as an opportunity to at least in some small way help to educate and counterbalance possibly in again some small way the smoke and mirros nonsense about these issues that gets spread at Industry events.

  18. #18
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Your an admirable person Ms.B and very logical in understanding the quandry the networks got themselves into by allowing commissions to go to domainless S/W BHO affiliates. Poopie nicely summarized the fEAR now facing the networks whether the out of control BHO's work within or outside the networks. Reality is it makes NO DIFFERENCE whether these BHO's are inside our outside as no network has shown they can enforce a TOS -CoC or addendium upon the forced cookie commission parasites. You watched in awe the BHO perps operate with impunity to network rules the last 3 Christmas shopping seasons.

    Sleazebag, non ethical, cookie trickster affiliates are a dime a dozen and can be pooled into drone unmonitored groups called CPA networks. Do real networks, with rules, know the outlawed BHO's use these CPA sheisters to backdoor affiliate ID#s into their click/cookie schemes? Sure they do. Every million $$$/month S/W affiliate has a complete roadmap of how they can sustain and grow this income through the affiliate underworld, hiding their tracks while doing it.

    Have things changed? You can bet they have and will get worse, not easier, for the BHO's and their Adwhore pimps running programs for major merchants. Real online consumer protection rules and criminalizing of existing Adwhore practices are just over the horizon. Here comes applications like SunBelts CounterSpy and www.greenborder.com beaking into the infestation game at the individual and corporate system level. Here comes the FEAR factor of Norton and others having to ramp up to combat the bundling of Adware//Spyware with computer viruses. Why? Because the BHO & firewall and virus killer of all time is being built right into the next Windows release called "One Care". Who'd buy Norton when paying 99.00/year to MS to protect them from the Adwhores and virus writing creaps?

    So what will the networks have left when the BHO's are strickly controlled to a OPT-IN structure ...after getting initial clandistine installs whacked? By the time critical mass of effective Anti-Spyware/Adware is reached the networks will have so alienated, and placed into poverty their real value-add affiliate salesforce, they'll collapse or jump totally into partnerships with traffic monopoly aggregrators.

    The real value-add domain bound affiliates can only be retained by merchants willing to reward their extra value in every referral click. Smart AM's will immediately move to identify showcase extremely targeted affiliate traffic and pay them 5-10 cents per click through to compensate them for the cookie landmines their shoppers endure on the way to the checkout lanes. Should Overstock pay me 10 cents per click bonus for EcomCity traffic? Your damn straight they should, and the same goes for the other showcase merchants content to get almost free traffic from my links.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  19. #19
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Kellie, you are ABSOLUTELY correct, we need to take it to the next level.

    Mike and Kellie - you both already know that we all happen to agree on a lot of issues and details, as well as not. While we all three (actually there's about 15-20 of us) may appear to others to be bickering (and at times we actually are), let it be known and said here today with clarity that the vast majority of the time, we are learning from each other and motivating each other and by asking pointed questions to each other, making sure we each do continue to question our own decisions - every decision - to make sure they will pass the sniff test amongst ourselves. This activity, ugly on it's surface at times, is a rudder for us all - it's ugly, it has green mung growing on it, it leaks hydraulic fluid and it is prone to wild swings, but it keeps us on the right course!!!!!

    Kellie, I suspect you are again correct, the decision makers at Dell KNOW what is going on, but choose to allow it. I argue that there are other departments there (and at many other companies) that don't know what's going on - but with Spitzer and many other suits that have come and gone, Dell's top dogs surely do KNOW what their affiliate program is doing. And you've asked me to guess why Dell (and others) would continue to stick with this plan / choice to play with risky technology partners through networks like CJ and LinkShare (that do incur a large cost for the Dell-types along the way, both in fees and potential liability)?

    My answer - I have no idea! The choices these in-the-know merchants make, confound and bewilder me. I saw merchants at Andy's seminar, as they watched your videos and listened to your explanations, I saw them get PISSED off when you showed them how parasites are working to steal from their other buckets - like their affs, their inhouse ppc and their inhouse seo/sem efforts. They asked questions like "why aren't these guys in jail?", "where's the FTC?", "but when these guys come visit us, this is NOT the story they tell - we chose to partner with them Kellie, and now you're showing me the things we were unaware of... I am sick" And Kellie, as you know cuz you've done some testing for me at times (thank you angel!), my own merchants are often lazy, ignorant, too busy or too afraid of legal repercussions to act against these huge parasite companies - I see those factors as the reasons why things persist - and so I see merchant education (perhaps also going beyond the affiliate manager) as a key path towards eradicating theft and mischief - and therefore the monetary driving force behind all this shiotty software clogging every PC on earth.

    I wish you or Ben would publish an article aimed at CEOs and COOs that goes like...
    Guess What Your Affiliate Program Manager Isn't Telling You or Your Other Department Heads?

    So I humbly wait here, for you to lead me to see the reasons you've deduced - why merchants would desire this - educate me please. Why would a fully informed Dell-like company want to continue to play this game, injuring so many parties along the way, especially themselves?

    And because I love learning - I wouldn't mind you leading me there with questions and hints.

    I'll take a shot - but it's a poor one I think - cuz I'm so biased by my current beliefs...

    My first guess would be that I am wrong about the injury to Dell-types... they must not be as harmed as I think... or perhaps there's a counter angle to all this that makes up for / overcomes one harm for another unseen-by-me gain within their halls? There must be a revenue channel that greatly benefits them where they choose that the damage done to their other branding and selling and affiliate efforts can be willingly damaged and huige fees can be paid to CJ / LS / whoever cuz there's a bigger pie that makes it all worthwhile...

  20. #20
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kellie aka Ms. B
    Just a couple of factual clarifications with regards to SAHS specifically. While SAHS doesn't promote Merchant's specific products, they do promote the Merchant. SAHS (Belacor) does have dedicated sites (that's plural) which promote Merchants. I can't say how much actual SEO SAHS does, but there are affiliates who don't focus on SEO. I have seen them show up in PPCSE listings however. Belacor does advertise themselves in general (all their properties) which extend beyond SEO/SEM. I bring up this clarification because it's all a hint to my first question.
    Kellie, on this point we differ GREATLY! You insist, for the point of accuracy, to correct me that some sleaze bag shiot heads do have sites or do seo or whatever. Technically, you are correct and I am wrong. And you've corrected me on this point many times - and each time, I'll admit - you have a valid point that sometimes they mix in a dash of actual work. BUT, in my view, you are doing the damage here on this point - you sound like you're defending them. My view of your point... what I hear you saying is...

    "Donuts, this bank robber has a day job over at the ACME factory, stop saying he's just a thief, at times he is also an employee"

  21. #21
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    As usual Donuts asks the the obvious $64K question that leaves us all scratchingh our heads. My take on the answer for Dell's actions, since day one in 1998, is Linkshare and Befree/CJ operate their program with their network in-house AM firm. The Fox watching the hen house syndrome.

    The stupidity and power granted to the Dell corporate Marketing department (Their employee Adwhores) far out weights the other department's, who are on a strict cost control plan and ROI justification path. Marketing at Dell accepts no responsibility for profit generation and have always embraced Gorilla advertising tactics.... often totally counter to the Dell VAR program and resellers in general. That's why Dell is the most hated company in the comupter reseller industry ...they'd cut the throats of their resellers if they can take over the profitable company account sales. Therefore they outsource the AM work to those with no respect or regard to the huge base of smaller domain bound affiliates.... but recruit or adopt any SE, Browser or e-mail spammers able to produce numbers, regardless of ethics. Leaves Dell Marketing folks with a finger pointing out and buffer zone when the legal sh*t finally hits the fan.

    There in lies the quandry for ABWers trying to educate 500+ major merchant. The ones pulling the strings for them aren't loyal company employees. They're hired guns trained to pad stats, divert criticism, push spam food and incentives, lunch with BHO's and hide unethical affiliate practices from the real merchant management. Companies like Overstock and TigerDirect, with employee AM's, are few and far between. Therefore I invited both early on to ABW to learn the ropes, cause they had to listen. Why? Cause their bosses were reading ABW posts and checking live sales stats as they adopted pro-active affiliate practices.

    A list of the merchants being managed by the CJ and LS inhouse AM firms would highlight 90% of the merchants kept in the dark about double-dipping and Million $$$/month cookie con men posing as Super Affiliates.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  22. #22
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    BUT, in my view, you are doing the damage here on this point - you sound like you're defending them. My view of your point... what I hear you saying is...

    "Donuts, this bank robber has a day job over at the ACME factory, stop saying he's just a thief, at times he is also an employee"
    I'm sure there are probably others who also make the choice to feel like you do. I do take heat everytime I try to have a discussion that focuses on the reality of what I'm seeing going on with different folks decision making processes. I'll probably continue along those lines however because I do strongly feel we all need to step past the emotions and talk honestly about what is driving decisions we disagree with. I really don't see how trying to point out, identify, and discuss the motivations behind decisions we don't agree with or like is in any way me defending nor supporting those decisions. For me I have a need to understand what is driving those decisions in order to try to come up with solutions for how I want to see things going. Maybe others don't have that need. I'm really not sure. It has always baffled me when folks come up with the conclusions that you did above. I do have first hand knowlege as to the reasons that some Merchants have given me along these lines. Doesn't mean I agree nor support those decisions. I just feel the reasons that others are basing their decisions on can't be ignored.

    Anyway, reread my last statement in what you quoted. It was a hint to my first question: so why would companies like Dell and Buy.com potentially want to continue partner with SAHS when folks higher up the corporate food chain probably do know and understand what Ben showed in video is going on? There are of course more than one reason and I'm extending outside of financial gains by AMs.

    Here's another hint to what I was trying to point out with what you quoted me on: http://www.shopathome.com/About.aspx Read it carefully. Take note of the dates given. Then take a bit of a look around the rest of the site. Keep in mind Merchants have a relationship with Belcaro which is more than just SAHS. And ask yourself if that URL above possibly has any bearing on why SAHS has one of the largest Merchant lists in the area of rebate software.

  23. #23
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Thumbs down
    Take a close look at this BS Belarco page to better understand why this DMA poster child should be run out of the Merchant list at Linkshare.... http://www.shopathome.com/(zly213uw2fqxii55343uh055)/af_home.aspx They pay squatt and directly place spyware/Adware on every referred affiliate visitor buying into the hype. That valid install bilks other LS merchants and affiliates out of millions in theftware commissions, burdening every sale with a discount to boot! How about the millions of drive-by and hidden bundles installs and the millions they make off pilfered privacy info they peddle to other DMA members.

    Belarco is, and always was, an Adwhore gorilla marketer. There.... I let the cat out of the bag...
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  24. #24
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    Kellie - Keep in mind Merchants have a relationship with Belcaro which is more than just SAHS. And ask yourself if that URL above possibly has any bearing on why SAHS has one of the largest Merchant lists in the area of rebate software.
    I saw that some time ago. It's difficult to make a decision for these merchants when you have so much at stake.
    From Mike link
    http://www.shopathome.com/(zly213uw2...)/af_home.aspx
    For more than 18 years, ShopAtHome.com has been recognized as a reputable leader in providing unique catalogs and magazines to consumers around the world. With an established client base of more than 12 million people worldwide and over 26,000 affiliates, you can rest easy knowing you're affiliated with a trustworthy team.

  25. #25
    Affiliate Manager nish's Avatar
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    Take a look at this press release from Belcaro Group. It might have a few answers/hints: http://www.send2press.com/PRnetwire/...-belcaro.shtml

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