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  1. #1
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    Whose responsibility is it?
    For all merchants that are against spyware and don't allow it in any way, shape or form in their programs, whose responsibility is it to ensure the program is clean?

    Should merchants/AM's just sit back and wait for affiliates to report something fishy?

    Should merchants test, test, test and monitor affiliates on a regular basis?

    IMO, in the ideal world, it should be a combination of both. But is it?

    How do you make sure there is no spyware in your program?

    What are the signs of a spyware infiltration in a program? Of an affiliate using spyware?

    Catwoman

  2. #2
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catwoman
    For all merchants that are against spyware and don't allow it in any way, shape or form in their programs, whose responsibility is it to ensure the program is clean?

    Should merchants/AM's just sit back and wait for affiliates to report something fishy?

    Should merchants test, test, test and monitor affiliates on a regular basis?

    IMO, in the ideal world, it should be a combination of both. But is it?

    How do you make sure there is no spyware in your program?

    What are the signs of a spyware infiltration in a program? Of an affiliate using spyware?

    Catwoman
    Look at their registered site and determine if they have to rely upon spamming the SERPs and use direct to merchant PPCSE to get clicks. No impressions and all click via PPCSE automatically places them as someone whose liable to jump on 3rd world PPCSE and direct keyword/trademark placement with the likes of 180Solutions.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  3. #3
    http and a telephoto
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    My opinion is that it is a shared responsibility. I am grateful if someone reports to me something I missed, but I am also on the lookout myself. However I don't have a computer that I can toss over to the dark side to test adware on Perhaps in the future I will be brave and dedicate one to that task, but I don't have an extra at the moment.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  4. #4
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    As an AM, I tend to put affiliatefairplay under contract to scan my programs and report back. Legal takes it from there and IT IS LONG PROCESS.

  5. #5
    Influencer Marketing GravityFed's Avatar
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    I agree with Loxly that it should be a shared responsibility.. but networks should also be sharing that responsibility (if the program is using one). IMO if a merchant is using a network (any size network), they shouldn't have to worry about parasites/spyware making it into their programs. GBM

  6. #6
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I feel the AM should do a wholesale check twice a year, sooner if possible. It is always a help affiliates let you know if something is fishy. There are a number of scams going on right now and it should be the networks responsibility just as Gary states.

  7. #7
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    As a merchant and/or AM, what would make you suspicious that an affiliate is using spyware to advertise your products? Are there any signs to look for to know or suspect that spyware got into your program?

    When a sale is generated via spyware, is there any way to know where the sale originally came from?

    I, too, believe that it should be a shared responsibility between merchants and affiliates. But when there is no network involved and the merchant isn't spyware savvy, many rely 100% on affiliates to report fishy activity. This could be going on for months before being caught. So if there were signs to look for, it might help them recognize the problem before it gets out of hand.

    Thanks for your input.

    Catwoman

  8. #8
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
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    what would make you suspicious
    any signs to look for to know or suspect that spyware
    Very easy:

    1 - once you see someone sign up, few days or one week later lots of slaes or a spike in sales.
    2 - tremendous traffic from various urls
    3 - they signed up using google, yahoo or fake domain under main listed site

    These are just few that AMs merchants should first look for. There are many other tricks to detecting and services like Kellie, Ben are highly suggested for real proof for legal dept.

    Problem is 'cash might be king' to those that may look the other way first, AM, merchant or network. As an AM that hates adware and parasiteware those are minimums I look for. I had 2 BIG industry suspects sign up recently, won't post names here, if you really want to know, send me pm, they were declined first day.

    There could be others that get in sometimes unsuspectingly, that's why it's a good idea as affiliates to send an email to merchants or the AM if you see or suspect such things, as you said sort of shared responsibility, send them various links to industry information.

    When I get emails from new affiliates or merchants wanting more info, or "What do you mean no, or you have the last say so in who gets in, or aren't they good to increase sales, or what are parasites?

    I always suggest our training dept links:

    benedelman.org

    affiliatefairplay.com

    parasiteware.com

    forum.abestweb.com/forumdisplay.php?f=158

    Affiliate-Manager-Certification-Miami-05.html


    I know affiliates don't have much time to police everyone or those that really don't care or have a clue, I know, but you should try and send more info too, it's up to you, the good guys, to take a stance and educate as much as possible what's going to help you too and your industry in the long run.


    I think most merchants and AMs want to do the right thing if you help them and show them, a Shared Patner Responsibility.

  9. #9
    Outsourced Program Manager e-Gazer's Avatar
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    Really high clicks and low to no conversion can be a warning sign too as I just stated in another thread where someone else asked about what to do when he sees high clicks and 0 sales.

    That can often be a sign that someone is popping your ad at an untargeted audience via one of many forms of spyware/parasiteware. When the ads are untargeted, your conversion will likely be MUCH lower.

    I agree with Loxly and others who abide by that same philosophy - that for any of us in this business, it is a shared responsiblity. The business is still young and bylaws are not yet in place to protect all of us at all times just yet (though progress IS being made - hallelujah!). For those of us who ARE anti-parasite, we need to stick together and help one another keep the bad guys OUT of business.

    As an AM I do an audit every so often and cross reference my program with any known lists of offenders, and get rid of those who DO reside within my program (they may have sneaked by under a 'different' name or ID, they may have been accepted by a previous AM, etc.).

    I do not accept any of those 'get paid to clicks ads or read email' type of sites into my programs. I do not allow those who use other ppl's domains as their own in their application, to partner with my programs (as in the case of those who use google, hotmail, yahoo, etc.). I do not allow anyone who uses software to serve ads (BHOs, etc.) to partner with us... there are so many forms of spyware and parasiteware these days... and I manually approve all applications as opposed to auto-accepting them so I can at least familiarize myself with each affiliate site before they are accepted.

    I welcome Affiliates to share info when they have it - it shows they are focused on making money with my program and that they are serious about our partnership.

    Best regards,

  10. #10
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Jorge pretty much summarized it. Over the last year I have taken over 8 programs so have gone over the list of affiliates and see common trends. There have also been a number of scams in the last year as mentioned by Jorge where they apply with high profile sites but use a google, yahoo or fake domain.

    Become an avid reader of http://forum.abestweb.com/forumdispl...prune=-1&f=161 and set up a subscription to the forum.

    For Ben's site you can set up a Google Alert and see every time he posts something new.

  11. #11
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    You guys don't over generalize too much here. I own and operate many domains of different levels of importance, traffic etc., but my primary email is a gmail address. I use gmail because it is easy for people to remember and full of features that I like. I have some domain-based email accounts and they all resolve back to my gmail account, but have gotten in the habit of using gmail for most everything. I can send mail through gmail that is from my domain accounts, but I often forget to do this.

    Because someone uses a Yahoo, MSN, Hotmail, Gmail etc. account does not make them a risk. You are shooting yourself in the foot on that one.


  12. #12
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Point taken and it was a bit of a simplification on my part. There are generally other points that make the submission fake such as differing information from the who-is or the web site. Foreign surnames and addresses for a US company. My reply emails give the application the opportunity to rebut the rejections.

    It begs the question, do we error on the side of caution and potentially decline high profile sites. Or, are we very selective as to not let parasite slide in under the radar and infest our programs.

    Ironically, BeFree and LinkShare have the most visibility, CJ the least. I reserve my comments on SAS as I am just launching there.

  13. #13
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    So much said akin to "If they are suddenly making allot of sales"....

    That's a bad thing? If no one gets any complaints from anyone other than lamer under performers about some ethics scheme they have made up to justify their underperformance or failures...what difference does it make?

    ..ditto on the email being from the free services as well....it's simply handy and easy. Im out here to sell myself. Not impress anyone with a mere email address.

    The bottom line is that all of us are bringing SOMEONE ELSES creations and products to the front of the marketplace. If someone has the ability and intelligence to make the trek to getting a sale seamless what is at issue?...sides some people's "content" is just as good as someone else's spam...just try and comprehend some of their "reviews".

    Who is deserving then?

    I don't know...but doing nothing simply does not pay....and PPC? Like it's some sort of sacred cow! It's proof that "spamming" will always be tolerated as long as it pays.

    ...but spyware? by what definition? To me that would be secretly placing serious crap on someone's computer without their knowledge and/or by trickery...i can't see anyone with any true ethics condoning that.

  14. #14
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    dsteitz,

    Not sure what got you so fired up here?

    If no one gets any complaints from anyone other than lamer under performers about some ethics scheme they have made up to justify their underperformance or failures...
    In my experience, underperformers as you call them, are not the ones who complain (the most) that something is fishy in a program. Nobody made up "spyware issues", it's a real threat to each and every one of us every single day. It's reality of affiliate marketing.

    I was rejected in ShareResults for using a different email address than the domain I registered with them. The issue was cleared up with one reply. I took offense to that as well, it was the first time this had ever happened to me. However, I do understand their reasons and I wouldn't get offended if that happened again with another program/network.

    But what I wanted to know here, and I have reasons for posting this thread in the first place, is what are the signs that an affiliate is using spyware or that a spyware program itself got into the program somehow. What makes merchants and/or AM's suspicious?

    We, as affiliates, can report fishy activities. Sometimes we're right, sometimes we're not. The merchant may not know what to do about it, may not understand what is going on, and probably wouldn't know how to test for problems. Sitting on the fence and doing nothing gets us nowhere.

    Most ABW'ers are pretty knowledgeable when it comes to spyware/adware/etc. But many outside of this forum in their own little world (merchants, affiliates, AM's) do not know the first thing about it.

    Catwoman

  15. #15
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I got my education by posting my top affiliates in a newsletter and several affiliates pointed me to ABW. It is not easy to recognize parasite but I have read about the more common ones here. If things look fishy I check the domain in Google, then the parasite forum here, Ben's site, Symantec and a few others. A big part of it for me is my "gut feeling".

  16. #16
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    I dont care for scumware myself.

    Still, one can say that some affiliates more are less are no better than the scumware folks...affiliates who use trademark terms in ppc or come up in the serps for brand names....

    I don't see it this way but some third party from outside the box could easily not recognise the counterpoint...

    This being the nagging question of:

    What constitutes "fair use"?

    This is still open to legal debate, ect....but I holdin out that common sense will prevail.

    In as much as long as no laws or rules are broken.

    I just can't see myself attacking someone else's business based on what my mere opinions are on the "ethics" I have created for myself...in fact many merchants I doubt would seriously want to hear it, albeit they might pretend otherwise.

    Imagine: 2 Marketing Managers..1993

    Co-Worker:"Yeah these guys are using the internet to promote and sell our products instead of running print, radio, & tv ads."
    Manager: "That is so unethical. I'll put a stop to it now."

  17. #17
    Influencer Marketing GravityFed's Avatar
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    Don't forget to check siteadvisor.com..

  18. #18
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    As an affiliate, there's a big difference between being responsible and being helpful. Since I can't control who the AM/Network let's in or kicks out, how can I be responsible?

    I think this thread is bouncing around between the balance of responsibility between the merchant and their network, and sometimes a few folks are throwing the affiliate into that balance as well. I'd say it's a shared responsibility between the merchant and their network. The merchant has authority to approve and deny, therefore also has the prime responsibility to make the right choices so their other partners (and their own company itself) aren't cheated. The network tracks the data, is able to extend policing across a wider detection net of polled merchant activity and has it's own TOS / rules that the merchant has a right to expect will be policed and enforced in cooperation with their activities.

    Overall, the AM / Merchant holds the key to the entry door and has prime responsibility. The AM / Merchant pays the Network to be a responsible party to advise and assist and police and track and analyze data for them, so they also have the right to expect the network to exercise it's alloted responsibilities.

    Some networks (like CJ pushing BHO partners) intentionally shirk their part, because they know it benefits them to do so.

  19. #19
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Amen Donuts. I'm moving you back over to the good side of the spreadsheet...

    In order of how I'd like to see it work:

    1.) Network has an effective policy on who gets to be in from the affiliate side. Then they ENFORCE THE POLICY AS WRITTEN.

    2.) AM's and merchants monitor activity closely, and advise network of suspicious activity.

    3.) Affiliates compare general program conversion rate/epc to their own, and ask the AM or Merchant WHY if they are well under the standard EPC (assuming they have targetted traffic to begin with).

    Responsibility lies at 1 and 2. Good Smaritanship rests on number 3, even though the affs obviously have a vested interest in keeping programs they particiape in clean.
    Kevin Webster
    twitter: levelanalytics

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  20. #20
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
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    Point taken and it was a bit of a simplification on my part.
    Agree, and agree with Chuck too, I was making it a general summary. That's why I mentioned "There are many other tricks to detecting". I usually communicate with affiliates and get good responses back, so far so good.

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