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  1. #1
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    UPromise It's Clean?
    In the Clean Sweep article of Revenue (Fall 2005), the following was stated:
    ”As far as some affiliates think, there is no clean program,” says Shawn Collins, a consultant. “They have a very black-and-white view of anyone who uses adware. They think there are no possible [good] intentions from anyone who uses adware.”

    Collins calls that “a simplistic and lazy viewpoint.” “Maybe they don’t understand the issues completely or they are taking this stand from a selfish or competitive viewpoint,” he says.

    Under that stringent definition of clean, Collins says any affiliate manager that partners with any loyalty, reward or incentive program would be considered dirty. He disagrees.

    “If an affiliate is using the adware for something like shopping and the application is very compliant in allowing users to de-install the program, I think that’s okay,” Collins says. “Not all adware should be grouped together. It’s not like they are all drive-by downloads or installed or bundled without user’s consent.”

    He notes that many in the online marketing community do not consider RemindU from UPromise a parasite, but notes that it uses the same technology as eBates, which is often targeted as being a parasite by affiliates.

    Affiliate managers themselves seem a little more lax about what constitutes a rogue affiliate. According to a poll on AffiliateManager.net, a community messageboard and forum, 54 percent of affiliate managers stated that some adware affiliates are dirty and some are clean.
    Now I don't want this to be a Shawn flame thread. Because what he says is indicative of the reasoning by many decision makers within AM. And the fact that 54% of the Managers polled over at his forum stated some are dirty and some are clean. I suspect in the minds of those 54%, the decision is based off of criteria stated by Shawn: consenual install and ability to uninstall. Shawn specifically mentions UPromise, but from my own experiences talking with Managers other folks who would most likely fall into the 'clean' category would be folks like Igive, MyPoints and SchoolPops.

    Now I contend that what is the real lazy and simplistic view point is to make the determination of whether an application is parasitic or not based on install/distriubtion (consent) and the ability to uninstall. Certainly these are 2 things that can be problem areas. But it should not be the only, nor even the first, hurdle in assessing the parasitic status of an application.

    Ulimately it should be EXACTLY how the affiliate tracking code is behaving within the application that should be the determining factor. What is actually happening with their affiliate links. How is the software being used to elicit their affiliate links?

    Since UPromise was specifically mentioned in the article, let's see what is going on with their affiliate links. Let's see if people consider the behavior parasitic or not. Let's see if this is or is not considered appropriate use of affiliate links.

    Another post coming..........

  2. #2
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    That would be good. It was something i was asking about when Shoes.com had Upromise in their program and were given a the Trusted Merchant seal. And i said it would be confusing to have them in the Parasite forum and then a merchant partnering with them getting the Trusted Merchant seal.

  3. #3
    Internet Cowboy
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  4. #4
    A Real *and* Darn Cool Member! lstolze's Avatar
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    I have to admit to using UPromise myself. I have never used their search bar, but basically use it for the offline savings (eating out, grocery shopping etc.). I guess it is like everything else though. A person who does have the bar installed may go to an affiliate site, click through to say, Old Navy, and their cookie (because of the bar) may take over. I'm sure you all know better if this is accurate or not. I would say it is not unclean, just because it is optional, etc. BUT, that being said, I do see how this is a real thorn in the side of hard working affiliates.

    Please forgive me if I'm not seeing the bigger picture, because I know about an eighth of what most of you know in this area.
    ~Lisa - Brilliant Mastermind, or Nut? You decide!

  5. #5
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    Yeah, they're everywhere, even on the back of my Cottenelle toilet paper and they work with many, many merchants even those without affiliate programs. And I don't ever remember them getting into bundles and stuff like that, like the other TopMoxies have. But if their toolbar is up to no good, then it's a problem.

  6. #6
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    My lazy man version: Until the BHO's adopt a Double-OPT in requirement BEFORE anyone gets their BHO installed they are just double-dipping Adwhores. What are the Vegas odds Upromise will have all of the cashback rewards placed into Little Johnnies college fund 10 years from now? It always smelled like a huge Ponzi scheme to me from date of first announcement showcasing all the politician crooks jumping on the board of directors.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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  7. #7
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    I intentionally installed UPromise from the member area of their web site. And yes, there is an entry in my Control Panel to remove RemindU. Although I had previously documented this behavior, I made all new videos today since the others where over a month old, just for freshness sake.

    Payless Video

    What happened:

    1. I did a direct type-in to payless.com
    2. I was taken to the Payless web site.
    3. Once there, RemindU redirected me to a page on the UPromise web site. I had several options of things I could do on that page.
    4. One of the choices is "Continue shopping without receiving college savings" I'm explicitly told that if I make this choice I will not receive any type of college savings.
    5. I click to continue shopping without receiving college savings
    6. I am redirected back to the Payless web site through UPromise's BF affiliate link (see BF servers being accessed in the browser status bar) setting their tracking code (see the BF cookie being set) and they would receive an affiliate commission if I had made a purchase.

    Considerations/Questions:

    1. Isn't UPromise supposed to be operating under a loyalty model? What they are bringing to the Merchant is the influence they have with their member base for the consumer to purchase from the Merchant. You know the: I'm a member of UPromise so I can save for my kids college education and so I shop with Merchant's partnered with UPromise? Isn't that what value add of UPromise is supposed to be for their Merchant's?

    I earned no savings, yet UPromise gets an affiliate commission for a purchase by a consumer that was already on their web site via a direct type-in.

    2. Did I not intentionally and with a true and actual real physical click opt out of the whole UPromise college saving thing? But in the case the consumer opting out seems to mean set the affiliate tracking code. So while I may have consenually installed their software, I specifically said...nope I don't want the savings, I just want to get back to the Merchant's site I was on and do my shopping. Yet that opt out link was an affiliate link. Is this deceptive behavior?

    3. I was already on the Merchant's web site where I wanted to be. Now UPromise isn't doing a pop up like some other TM applications. Nope they do an automatic redirect in the same browser window to their website. Now all the choices on the UPromise landing page seem to ultimately ending with their affiliate tracking code being set in order for the consumer to get back to the Merchant's site. And don't hand me any nonsense like the end user could hit the browser's back button. I can log into UPromise. I can join UPromise (and just why is that even there if all their installs are coming from the member's area of their site? I should already be a member). Or I can decline and continue shopping.

    How is this NOT UPromise hijacking Merchant's traffic? Either to set their affiliate tracking or to gain a new member? I'm not sure which one of those is worse.

    4. Are the above things not a problem because I intentionally installed their software and that there is mechanism to uninstall the software?

    5. Was the automatic redirect from the Merchant's site to the UPromise web site not parasitic?

    6. What responsibilty to Manager's (inhouse or outsourced) have to the Merchant with regards to what they are allowing in the program?

    7. What responsibilty to we within this community have when stating something is either 'clean' or 'parasitic'?

    8. Is this the type of behavior we want AM to be built on? I know there are some who will say yes.

  8. #8
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    LOL guys. I was doing the second post.

  9. #9
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    Well, that's a parasite in my book. Payless, that's the one Shawn handles.

  10. #10
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Now just in case we get, it's a glitch thingie. And to give equal create to all Networks:

    123inkjets This would be a CJ Merchant of course. And well 123inkjets is now owned by ValueClick also. So if they allow this kind of within the program with is owned by VC?????

    Blair Yes, we've been told they run a clean program.

    Bellacor Performics link

    STP Linkshare. And time to call Andy.

  11. #11
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Trust it is in my book also. But there are 54% of Managers out there who would say UPromise is not because it's consensual installs and you can uninstall it.

    This is the kind of mentality out there and why affs often times will get either no response from a manager or a negative response when they bring up the parasite issue.

  12. #12
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrustNo1
    Well, that's a parasite in my book. Payless, that's the one Shawn handles.
    What you didn't expect the ??? Come on.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  13. #13
    A Real *and* Darn Cool Member! lstolze's Avatar
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    Yes, I agree. A parasite indeed. That's too bad. As for their savings model, we decided not to opt into their savings plans, because frankly, they suck. So we went through the process to request the few hundred we had in our account, and received a check. Not sure about the stability long term, but they did honor our request to withdraw the money. And I'm sure it doesn't hurt that they collect interest for everyone's savings unless it is placed in a separate account for college savings.

    Of course this is an issue of their software practices, not their savings setup. I think that telling you that you will not receive your savings and then using their aff code just smells to high heaven of rotten fish. You would think Shawn in his infinite wisdom would be aware of this. Maybe Kellie needs to educate him.
    ~Lisa - Brilliant Mastermind, or Nut? You decide!

  14. #14
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kellie aka Ms. B
    Trust it is in my book also. But there are 54% of Managers out there who would say UPromise is not because it's consensual installs and you can uninstall it.

    This is the kind of mentality out there and why affs often times will get either no response from a manager or a negative response when they bring up the parasite issue.
    Great work Bster.

    Of course 54% of camp BS says it's ok because they are told it's ok. Reality truth and ethical marketing have nothing to do with that piece of
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
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  15. #15
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Thanks Ms.B. If they operate like ebates when you un-install their program and opt-out of receiving any e-mail offers your e-mail box gets unindated with every DMA/IAB e-mail blasting service as a goodbye present.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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  16. #16
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    What you didn't expect the ??? Come on.

    Of course i know Haiko I know a certain bunch that really don't have a problem with adware. Sadly some people actually listen to them and they throw affiliate marketing events.

  17. #17
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Kellie, EXCELLENT work as ALWAYS!

  18. #18
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    There is a reason they call him Con Shawlins! 'nuff said


  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    When I first read that comment about consensual install and ability to uninstall, I had a major question in my mind that remains today. With parasites and affiliate marketing, what is the major issue? Do affiliates give a flying crap if parasites are easy to uninstall? Is that the measure of a parasite? Why should the affiliate industry even care how easy it is to uninstall? Of all the times I've been pissed off about parasites, not one of those times was because some user had difficulty uninstalling it. I've always been mad because they steal commissions.

    Can someone tell me why it's important if a parasite can be uninstalled easily? After all, what makes a parasite a parasite? Is it the ease of uninstallation or consent of the install, or is it because it can't survive on its own and must feed off of affiliates and merchants?

    What I thought when I first read that is what I still think today. That aspect was thrown into this to distract from the real issue. The real issue, as I see it, is that they steal. A parasite is a thief, so think of this question in the same light. If UPromise came to your home to sell you their services and, in order to provide this "service", must steal money from others. Is the real issue whether or not you let them in your house or is it because they are thieves? Change this quote to match the above example:

    “If an affiliate is using the adware for something like shopping and the application is very compliant in allowing users to de-install the program, I think that’s okay,”

    and you get

    "If a company is stealing money from their competitors and partners and they are very compliant in leaving your home when you ask them, I think that's okay." Sure this sounds silly but the original quote sounds just as silly to me. Is the measure of "compliance" the ease of uninstallation?

    For an affilaite manager to say a parasite is ok because the user "consented" to the install is either a fool or they don't want to admit they're earning money from a thief (I had numerous versions of this sentence but each was too harse so this is as tame as I can say it). This type of "distraction" is common in politics and is intended to shift focus off of the real issue.

    If you were to ask affiliate managers "Is it ok to steal money from affiliates and merchants?", I wonder what percent would say "yes". Of those who think it's ok, I'd like their names. What would an AM think of an app that could "redirect" 30% of their paycheck to someone else?

    Kellie, this isn't directed at you. I have the utmost respect for you and what you're doing. But I don't think we should concern ourselves with parasite installation or uninstallation but rather what they do when they're installed. Your video clearly shows the issue isn't about the installation.
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  20. #20
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    You're agreeing with her, that's what she was getting at.

  21. #21
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    But I don't think we should concern ourselves with parasite installation or uninstallation but rather what they do when they're installed.
    EXACTLY! But what I've seen over the last year or so is that more and more emphasis is being placed on the other. It is being used to legitimize some folks. And from where I'm sitting it is succeeding to more of a degree than I feel comfortable with.

    After all, what makes a parasite a parasite? Is it the ease of uninstallation or consent of the install, or is it because it can't survive on its own and must feed off of affiliates and merchants?
    For me it is the last part of your question. That's what it's always been for me and what it will continue to be. And where my concerns will continue to be. Because I don't think that allowing behavior that does require feeding off of other affiliates and merchants is healthy long-term for the Affiliate Marketing Industry. Just like a real parasite, it slowly weakens the host.

    I think that affiliates don't realize the extent of how much the philosophy of using such things as install techniques, ability to uninstall or that the parasite is doing 'charity' is being bought into. I do know how many 'parasite-free' merchants have contacted me over time asking me if upromise (or whoever) was 'clean' now...and was I sure there were any problems....and weren't they really ok because of all those other reasons? Because they really, really, really wanted me to say they were clean so they could take them into their program.

    And just how many desktops is someone like UPromise on? As others have mentioned, they are everywhere. I get mail from them all the time. How much are they pushing the software to their members?

    The Industry is in the midst of defining what is allowed and not. I think we should all be very interested in what is being defined as legitimate and not during such times.

    For my part, I intend to be just as vocal on my POV as the others in the Industry are being. I actually give Shawn credit for telling Revenue the bill of goods that is being sold quite frequently in this Industry (by Networks, pundits, consultants and merchants). Joe Blow affiliate and Merchants need to know. And we need to be just as vocal in our POV of what is parasitic and back up what we consider problems.

  22. #22
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Benji conversation split off to -> http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=65881
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
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  23. #23
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    I am redirected back to the Payless web site through UPromise's BF affiliate link (see BF servers being accessed in the browser status bar) setting their tracking code (see the BF cookie being set) and they would receive an affiliate commission if I had made a purchase.
    OK, help me understand this - so then can we understand that when we see nice, high network earnings for some merchants and can't do squat with them ourselves, it's actually affiliate earnings by the likes of "affiliates" like that, and not us peons who do nothing more sophisticated than send clicks from pages on our sites?

  24. #24
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Thumbs up
    Double-OPT in consentual installs, and a simple one click un-install, are a must have for this industry's BHOs. It was ABW's official position back when the first CoC meeting took place ... and still should be. Why? Not because it legitimizes theftware, like it legitimizes e-mail lists. It's a must have so the actual BHO enduser can easily rid their system of the BHO, if the change their minds and OPT-OUT. We cannot control the amazing stupidity of the average shopper.

    The double whammy for the BHO's is no distribution partner can then circumvent the Double-OPT in step to dupe shoppers with non-consentual bundled or drive-by installs. Then Microsoft Anti-Spyware, CounterSpy, Adaware, SpyBot S&D, and others, can further whack the BHO user base while laws get put in place making unauthorized commission diversion a Felony Theft charge.... and unauthorized installs a trespassing/privacy violation.
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  25. #25
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    OK, help me understand this - so then can we understand that when we see nice, high network earnings for some merchants and can't do squat with them ourselves, it's actually affiliate earnings by the likes of "affiliates" like that, and not us peons who do nothing more sophisticated than send clicks from pages on our sites?
    Well, if you have a merchant that has a lot of parasitic partnerships then it will skew their stats, Nework earnings being one of those stats (for those Networks who provide such information).

    Because the appliction is parasitic and it is diverting traffic what would normally be the Merchant's own traffic (direct type-ins, natural SERPs, PPCSE listings, shopping comparison listings, etc) into affiliate marketing traffic/sales, then yes it inflates the earnings of the Merchant's affiliate marketing channel. This inflation of statistical data is a motivation for some managers because it makes them look like they are doing a better job on paper and/or their pay is based off of the revenue through the affiliate marketing channel.

    I had a Manager put it very clearly to me once. They said that their job as an affiliate manager was to 'mischannel' as much of the Merchant's traffic as possible into their channel, the affiliate marketing channel.

    When parasites come into play then the relability and validity of such stats as Network earnings and EPC are decreased. Affiliates who use parasitic applications likewise have their stats skewed for Merchant's who look at such things as part of decision making in partnerships. I've always contended that the degree to which parasites have been allowed to operate within Networks have diminished to helpfulness of the stats that are provided to affiliates and networks.

    Your ability to perform with any given Merchant is influenced by many things. Parasitic partnerships by the Merchant would certainly be part of the picture. However, it is not the only factor or the whole picture.

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