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  1. #1
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    What do you dislike most about networks you currently deal with in the US?
    Hi all

    Never one to shy away from rocking the apple cart I would like to hear from you warts and all what really gets under your skin about affiliate networks in general - I guess its best not to name individual companies or it will divert the thread . To give you an idea it might be slow loading images or suspect tracking - poor interface or no guides for datafeed usage - slow payment or non payment - or just an extra click to get a link when its not neccessary .

    As it is looking increasingly likely that I will be allowed off the leash to come over and work with you guys in the US I am trying to speak to as many people as possible and post as many questions as possible so that when we do arrive we make as little mistakes as possible.

    The UK has been our market and the UK affiliates are main partners and the US space is similar but different all at once so by asking these questions here like we did when we started in the UK hopefully we can learn more about what turns affiliates on and off in the US to make sure we give you guys and girls the network you dream of as opposed to the one we thought you would like.

    It may be the issues that get on your nerves with networks in general in the US are the same as UK but I need to ask so forgive me if its a bit basic , I will be covering off a lot of things over the next few months.

    This might be a boring post to many but its so exciting to me as this basic question was probably the first thing I ever asked the UK affs when I first decided to startthe network and I never dreamed then that one day I would be posting something similar on ABW the home of the US affiliate marketing community - its a good job they are letting me go to Miami to get my US aff fix to keep me going till next year or I would burst! :-)

    Don't hold back on the negatives - the more I hear about issues and problems , processes and backlogs , poor communication and misinformation the better.

    Its not rocket science if you don't like it then I don't want it in my network so if you let me know about what you don't like in general with your networks to date then I can try and make sure we have those issues pegged off for you pre launch.

    Thanks in advance

    Mal
    Malcolm Cowley
    Advertising.com's buy.at affiliate network
    malcolm.cowley@buy.at
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  2. #2
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    What do you dislike most about networks you currently deal with in the US?
    Their inability, or unwillingness to admit problems exist. There is no accountability.
    I do not include Shareasale in this reply.


  3. #3
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    Yeah Shareasale come across very well from what I have read by people who's opinions I value. So much so I just gave them a nice plug over at WW.

    In response to what you wrote about ostrich syndrome as we call it in the UK. I think the networks you write about really miss out by taking this position - it creates a them and us situation which no one needs in a supposed partnership. Problems happen to everyone and every business at points and how you deal with them really marks you as a company so really its better to look at them as opportunities to showcase how good you are when the chips are down. Whats your character like in a crisis and will you look after those that put you where you are.

    Mal
    Malcolm Cowley
    Advertising.com's buy.at affiliate network
    malcolm.cowley@buy.at
    buyat.com

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  4. #4
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    I second that. I wish i didn't have a bad thing to say about any of the networks because i would like things to work right because that's where a good chunk of my merchants are and when things go wrong with a network, it doesn't help the merchant-affiliate relationship. So when they do go wrong, i want communication, i want to know what's happening not BS, spin. I want them to be upfront and honest. For some reason it seems the networks here cut the communication off when things go wrong which just makes things worse. If they simply listen to their affiliates/merchants and what they want, things would be so much better.

    Right now I suspect tracking problems which i see during upgrades. I'm not talking about reporting delays, i'm talking about gaps in event dates. Some days it seems like it's back to normal with sales on the hour and then days with these big gaps. Also seeing sales show up in my account that aren't mine doesn't inspire any confidence with me. Seeing my EPC drop to a third of what it normally is, another sign. Really i just want the basics to work right, track and report the sale.

  5. #5
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    I have always found affiliates to be reasonable about bad news as long as the lines of communication were good. I think everyone accepts things go wrong but if your not in the loop from start to finish then your bound to get a bit jumpy even if you have a lot of trust for the network.

    I think the funniest thing I saw along the tracking lines was a stock " tracking and reporting of sales were not effected and no sales have been lost " line is response to network wide broken links. I mean seriously did they think that their affiliate base had turned into 2 year olds overnight to tell them that lol

    How can sales tracking not be effected in this situation - if this were the case companies could save a fortune on creative as no one would need it just show a grey box with a red x in works everytime apparently :-) What they mean is if a visitor was crazy enough to click on your broken link and went on to buy something your sale was still tracked.

    Better to hold your hands up and say you f'ed up and put your hand in your pocket to compensate than embarass yourself and be condisending to your partners/affiliates.

    Mal
    Malcolm Cowley
    Advertising.com's buy.at affiliate network
    malcolm.cowley@buy.at
    buyat.com

    Ticketmaster has Beta launched their affiliate program with buy.at - be one of the first to join now!

  6. #6
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    "I have always found affiliates to be reasonable about bad news as long as the lines of communication were good."

    Exactly. There was a case posted here when Pierced Body wasn't tracking and Chris was upfront and honest about it. People were a little disappointed but not really mad and appreciated Chris being upfront about it. That's why that whole team is one of the most trusted. Things are going to go wrong sometimes but how you handle it can makes things worse or better.

  7. #7
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    When you say Chris are you referring to Chris Sanderson?

    If so I am not at all surprised as Chris is definately one of the good guys for sure.

    I wonder why its so hard for other companies to adopt the same way of working?

    I am sure that some of the larger networks in the US would be even larger if they had played a more open game. Its so hard to do a U turn and suddenly be the company you would rather be so you need to do these things from day one.

    Any other things that people would like to be different if they had the Wheel of a network?

    Mal
    Malcolm Cowley
    Advertising.com's buy.at affiliate network
    malcolm.cowley@buy.at
    buyat.com

    Ticketmaster has Beta launched their affiliate program with buy.at - be one of the first to join now!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by perfiliate
    I am sure that some of the larger networks in the US would be even larger if they had played a more open game. Its so hard to do a U turn and suddenly be the company you would rather be so you need to do these things from day one.
    Corporate pressure. If the BIG boss finds out things went bad, then someone is likely to get fired. So what you end up with is a bunch of middle management and worker bees doing everything they can to cover their ass.


  9. #9
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    As much as I hate to say it, Mike has some valid points on his Safe Haven network model. Published conversion rates and published reversal rates are among the things I would like to see.
    Most affiliates know that a shoe merchant will have more reversals than a candle merchant. To the idiot eye, the shoe merchant is bad because of their high reversal rate, but the fact might be that the candle merchant with a reversal rate of 5% is way out of line with other candle merchants. Apples to Apples in other words.
    The networks don't publish reversal rates because of pressure from merchants in areas where returns are higher (usually apparel). They think it makes them look bad. Give me an apparel merchant who converts at 10% with a 30% reversal rate over an apparel merchant who converts at 6% with a 10% reversal rate any day.

    As a matter of fact, a new metric should be formed. It should be the product of conversion, reversals and the average within the given vertical. There is one for you to attack Mal. See ya in Miami!!!


  10. #10
    Full Member id2k's Avatar
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    most of the networks are merchant friendly and not affiliate friendly....many a times it takes lots of days to get response from the network regarding problems...i am sure this and many other issues of merchants are resolved much faster by the networks...

  11. #11
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    Hi

    Interesting comments thanks guys . I have someone looking at your proposed metric UncleScooter - one of the most intelligent metrics I have seen in a while and much more useful than the top and tailed epc data you see churned out which bears no relation to you.

    In terms of responsiveness theres no getting away from it everyone a network deals with needs everything done with immediacy.

    The core thing that networks should always keep in mind is you're an AFFILIATE network - this doesnt mean you should ignore the fact that clients needs 5 star treatment as well but remember the merchant is joining you as you are a gateway to high earning happy affiliates who like working with you. Without a loyal base of affiliates you don't have a network to offer anyone just spin and BS.

    If affiliates are happy then they look to try and make more money with the network they are happy with - the merchant ends up sharing some of the good PR that the network has and enjoys a better working relationship with their affiliates as a result of the service the network provides to its affiliates.

    Again its all simple stuff a child could work out but it seems to be something that a few companies need reminding of. What better way of reminding them than popping over and cutting a nice slice of market share my favourite food :-)

    I have some cool news but ill start another thread for that.

    Mal
    Malcolm Cowley
    Advertising.com's buy.at affiliate network
    malcolm.cowley@buy.at
    buyat.com

    Ticketmaster has Beta launched their affiliate program with buy.at - be one of the first to join now!

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador erninator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by perfiliate
    If affiliates are happy then they look to try and make more money with the network they are happy with - the merchant ends up sharing some of the good PR that the network has and enjoys a better working relationship with their affiliates as a result of the service the network provides to its affiliates. Mal
    This is an ideal description of an honest, growing network like Shareasale. The affiliates are happy when treated with respect and get honest answers. This how Trust is developed. When affiliates get spin and BS from networks (or merchants) the above ideal scenario works in reverse.

    The networks claim to be "trusted third parties" but when communication with affiliates is nothing but spin, that trust is compromised. The networks are set up to be in a "conflict of interest" position when issues arise between affiliates and merchants. It seems that some of the networks prefer to take sides on issues rather than offer 5-Star treatment to both affliate and merchant alike. Which side do some networks take on the parasite issues? Follow the money trail and you'll know why affiliates get spin and BS.
    ~Ernie

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
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    I'll mirror comments already posted.

    When things go wrong, no one ever takes blame for it! (Kind of like our government...) It would be nice to be told what went wrong, why, and what has been done to fix it. No big deal. Things happen.

    I resent the arrogant attitude we get from the networks. Like affiliates are expendable. Don't worry, we'll just go get more.

    I also dislike the double standard. Networks will come down hard on small affiliates, while the big affiliates get away with murder. Small affiliates are often shut down with no notice due to a small infraction, while the big ones get "60 days to fix the problem," or a warning, when they're ripping off 90% of the other affiliates in the network. Over and over again. It's wrong.

    A couple of the networks have their images and links blocked due to their perceived relationship with spyware, adware, Parasiteware, or the like. And they've done little to nothing about it. I wonder why?

    I don't feel I'm competing on a level playing field. Not only do I have to deal with legitimate competition, I also have to worry about the SEs, making sure I've got the right ads running at the right time, and on top of that I have to wonder how many of my commissions are being diverted - stolen - whatever you want to call it.

    Take care of these problems, and you'll have no problem with me.

    Andy

  14. #14
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    Thats our job Andy and its not a hard one in the grand scheme of employment one could pick - its essentially just being a nice person and a straight dealer.

    I agree with your assertion on the link blocking side its something which I have been very vocal about - link with BS and someone somewhere will try to block one thing which in turn blocks you .

    In the UK we make money and we sleep at night thats good enough for me - in the US we hope to make more money and sleep just as well at night and again that will be good enough for me.

    It will be a pleasure to work with you all soon and I can promise you will find us much more like Share a Sale to deal with but with a client list LS would be proud of.

    Mal
    Malcolm Cowley
    Advertising.com's buy.at affiliate network
    malcolm.cowley@buy.at
    buyat.com

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  15. #15
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by perfiliate
    When you say Chris are you referring to Chris Sanderson?

    If so I am not at all surprised as Chris is definately one of the good guys for sure.

    I wonder why its so hard for other companies to adopt the same way of working?

    I am sure that some of the larger networks in the US would be even larger if they had played a more open game. Its so hard to do a U turn and suddenly be the company you would rather be so you need to do these things from day one.

    Any other things that people would like to be different if they had the Wheel of a network?

    Mal
    Chris -Andy -Akiva all are of the same mold. They want to cut checks to more and more value-add affiliates. You sound sincere Malcomb and have a clean record as a ethical network in Europe. Have a stiff upper lip and think innovation in networks to make a splash.

    You get the above and my feelings on what's wrong with existing networks at this link www.ecomcity.com/safehaven-network.htm
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  16. #16
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    Hi Mike

    Thanks for the support .

    Alongside the drum banging and day to day running of our UK network I do take time out sometimes to post thoughts and views on where I think the industry is going and what the next moves and shifts may be .

    One of my many ramblings is my thought that in the future merchants will pay an increased amount of commission for what I call " remoteness of sale "

    Remote sales are sales which the merchant had little or no chance of picking up and therefore represent the purest form of incremental business.

    It is webmasters who put real value into a click from the shoppers viewpoint who will benefit from this shift by merchants.

    As merchants become increasingly savvy about affiliate marketing and separate the wheat from the chaff un remote sales and customer recycling will flag up on the radar and be rewarded with decreasing %'s or even moved from % based renumeration to a fixed bounty for new customers only.

    Its at that point of saturation that merchants will turn to webmasters who have built strong content based foundations and reward them for their work with a premium for their " remoteness of sale "

    Just my thoughts but then again I have a drum to go with those thoughts so who knows - I like that quote cant remember who it was by :

    " History will be kind to me for I intend to write it "

    I am sure I will have some enlightened chats with you once we start full scale operations here in the US and hopefully we can come close to your ideal safe haven scenario and work together to increase your year on year earnings.

    A beer or 2 will have to come into it somewhere also as I do like a beer :-)

    Mal
    Malcolm Cowley
    Advertising.com's buy.at affiliate network
    malcolm.cowley@buy.at
    buyat.com

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  17. #17
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    You do indeed speak a LOT about beer
    That is a good thing.
    I can promise you will find us much more like Share a Sale to deal with but with a client list LS would be proud of
    This is the kind of statement that will keep me up at night anticipating your US launch.


  18. #18
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    What do you dislike most about networks you currently deal with in the US?
    I do not include Shareasale in this reply.

    1-Arrogance: These people don't treat their affiliates (and merchants) as customers. They know it all, don't listen then ask for your help.

    2-Trust: I'll never forget these crooks were the ones to promote parasites.

    3-Technology: Too old. Too slow. Bad programming. Buggy reports.

    4-Expensive: 30% is way too much for such a poor service.

  19. #19
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Buy.AT has a leader at the helm. Distance yourself from those with a pure play advertising mindset as they're just basically endorse throwing ethics out the window. None would comprehend the real long lasting meaning of your " remoteness of sale " theory. It can't be leveraged by their pool of browser and SERP spammers or those who feed off of incentive advertising.

    The SHN model was made to be a Commission Sales Network based upon removing both the merchants, and network's, ability to NOT REPORT SALES. Only way to 100% control this and guarantee 100% reporting accuracy is to have the trusted network operate the multi-merchant shopping cart.... period! Not even SAS has this type vision or bullet proof logic. Bonus, as I outlined, is it's illegal for any enity, like Norton, to block affiliate coded links directed to the secure shopping server for network cookie tracking set.

    Having affilaites qualify for a SHN ID# is important as is clickstream fraud control. No PPCSE Ad linking directly to any SHN merchant is allowed. No incentive affiliates or 2 tier CPA pseudo networks of sleazy affiliates are allowed. No "get paid to" type affiliates get into SHN. Now just concentrate on OUTing the forced click cookie stuffers and reward the OUTers with a portion of the forfeited commissions.

    Then concentrate on offering high conversion creatives and POST the actual networkwide conversion ratios of the SHN merchants. Just shoehorn in a SHN model into your Buy.AT existing model as a premier offering for those who get the ..." remoteness of sale " concept. I think the Adwhores call it justifying a premium slotting fee.
    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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