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  1. #1
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    This is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO Wrong!
    Rec'd a typical email, warning affilliates not to scrape for coupon codes:

    We have recently experienced an increase in affiliates using the Coupon Codes printed on our catalogs. You will NOT receive commission for sales generated from this code. Our system automatically reassigns these sales to our catalog channel. It is in your and our best interest to only use the promotions set-up in LinkShare - which are usually equivalent. Please remove all Catalog Coupon codes. All our Affiliate Discount Codes are link driven - therefore if you have a code that needs to be entered upon check out (coupon code), this is a Catalog Coupon Code.
    Read the part I bolded in red again.

    If someone comes thu MY site - I don't care if they have a current catalog with a coupon sitting next to them, or if they found a coupon code on another site...

    This company is actually admitting that they can - and do - manually change a sale I made - somehow defeat the tracking cookie, and not have to pay me.

    Read it again! They have a coupon code box at checkout. If any visitor ever enters a coupon code in it - they manually take back our commissions.

    All TOS's say if they come from MY SITE and make a purchanse, then I get the commission.

    To manually change a sale to make it an in-house sale is THEFT - pure and simple.

  2. #2
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    Lightbulb
    I think someone ought to carefully tip off their legal department.

  3. #3
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Andy Rodriguez's Avatar
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    BK,

    Sounds like a AMC candidate. They need to see the othr side of the equation...
    Andy Rodriguez Consulting, Affiliate Program Management and Consulting Services, Since 2001
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  4. #4
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    I've had the same thing happen, but it is in most of the agreements that only coupon codes issued to an affiiliate earns a sale. But usually what they do is subtract out the amount of the coupon. Did you have the coupon code posted on your site?

    They've always been able to take sales out though. They can use a hundred excuses - returns for example. At least this merchant was honest and told you the reason although it doesn't help the fact that you lost the sale.
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  5. #5
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    There are several merchants who do this.
    Michael Coley
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  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador Sam Bay's Avatar
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    I'd say it's a debatable issue rather than calling it "sooooo wrong."

    Because catalog marketing is a costly effort in itself, when you add discount of the coupon, affiliate commission and network commission and fees, the merchant will most likely lose money on that particular sale. They certainly have the right to protect their bottomline, and in the case you mentioned it is unfavorable to the affiliate, because, while the customer had the catalog in hand, you may actually help them find the exact product or some information about the product that the catalog did not provide; thus you deserve the commission on that sale.

    On the other hand, it's no secret that there are *some* unscrupulous coupon affiliates who will post anything they can get their hands on, so it makes sense for the merchant to take some precautions.

    The solution: Merchant locates the affiliates who misuse their coupons and remove or punish them in some other way, so innocent affiliates do not lose their deserved commissions.
    Last edited by Sam Bay; July 2nd, 2006 at 02:08 PM.

  7. #7
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    "Because catalog marketing is a costly effort in itself, when you add discount of the coupon, affiliate commission and network commission and fees, the merchant will most likely lose money on that particular sale."

    All the more reason to pay the affiliate. The vendor's advertising efforts were a dismal failure. Even though the customer was already aware enough of the vendor to have a catalog at hand, in the end it was the affiliate's efforts that finally coaxed the cow up the ramp.
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  8. #8
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    The bigger solution would be to stop with the seperate coupons. if they are as close as they claim, just combine them. This way they don't penalize affiliates who did nothing wrong and they can continue their coupon program. Their solution seems rather short-sighted and territorial to their own loss.

    Chet

  9. #9
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    The only point I can see for seperate coupons for different channels (if the coupons are the same value) is for internal tracking. Merchants naturally want to know which ones are really working. If affiliates put the "paper" ones online, and then lots of people use them, it'll seem as though the best way to advertise is with those rather than the online ones. Then they may put out thousands of them via expensive hard-copy advertising, only to find a dismal response.

    But I still can't see getting so anal about it as to take away the commissions from someone who posts the "offline" ones online. It's still more sales, and probably more new customers. Although I would try to provide seperate coupons if I had coupons running in 2 or more channels at once--and check to see if they've been mixed up *before* deciding how much to spend on offline coupons.

    As for catalogs in general, the ROI sounds abysmal from all I've read! But to me the solution is to just not send them, not to try to prop up that channel by swiping sales off the affiliate sales stream.
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  10. #10
    Not that fat. ReallyBigGuy's Avatar
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    One small thing they could do to help is to remove the coupon box at the checkout if there's an affiliate cookie, so it won't spark the shoppers interest enough to go looking for one.
    I wonder if they really do weed through all the sales and not count the ones that used the coupons? It might just be a scare tactic?

  11. #11
    OPM Queen Kristin Kinsey's Avatar
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    I have never taken a sale away because a print coupon was used verses an online coupon. I may ask the affiliate to take it off their site (which I have done before for tracking purposes, especially since I offer so many coupons, but I would never discredit them the sale, that's obsurd.
    KK

  12. #12
    Affiliate Manager Blair.com's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chetf
    The bigger solution would be to stop with the seperate coupons. if they are as close as they claim, just combine them. This way they don't penalize affiliates who did nothing wrong and they can continue their coupon program. Their solution seems rather short-sighted and territorial to their own loss.

    Chet
    On the surface, this would seem to be a reasonable solution. Unfortunately, many catalogers not only use that code to represent a particular offer, but also to identify the segment of a mailing list where the order came from. This lets the cataloger know which lists are good, and which lists are bad. When affiliates pick up and post codes from catalogs, it can actually skew the results when analysts begin their work.
    Christopher Park
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  13. #13
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    You have coupons from catalogs, coupons given to affiliates. If you have coupons for catalogs you should have something for affiliates and tell them to use coupons intended for affiliate use only if you want to. However if the sale comes from the affiliate link, they should get credit no matter what coupon they use. If they're not violating any rules, they can't help what coupon their site visitor uses.

  14. #14
    Affiliate Manager Blair.com's Avatar
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    Of course you're right, Trust!

    I believe it would make sense for catalogers concerned with this to set a policy against posting anything other than "approved" promotion codes. Of course, this would be a challenge for sites with forums, where codes are thrown around by forum members all the time. It is completely near-sited, though for a company to automatically recategorize orders based on promo codes. A customer easily could have a catalog and still shop through an affiliate site. FatWallet comes to mind. They offer cash back, so a shopper might bring a Free Shipping coupon from a catalog and go to FatWallet to get their cash back, too.

    In this case, FatWallet would deserve credit for the sale.
    Christopher Park
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  15. #15
    Affiliate Network Rep Danny K's Avatar
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    I think the likely truth to this is a combination of management (not manager) and technical capability. More so probably the later the communication Billy cites is nothing more than an explanation of the "technical issues" they are facing.

    Why isn't the coupon code field hidden when an affiliate code is present? Wouldn't that end the ability for a customer to get a benefit if they are coming from an affiliate? Then the visitor will be confused if they came from an affiliate on an earlier day. So, If the tracking cookies are not valid more than the single session referred by the affiliate, then why not just hide the coupon code field and let the customer figure it out? OOps! that's not very "conversion" freindly either. As a customer wouldn't you likely abandon because you're not getting the coupon benefit? In fact, don't you know kinda feel like you're time is wasted? Even someone who is savvy would just delete cookies and try again. So, the commission is lost anyway.

    It is a matter of how many layers of variables they are willing to analyze and compare to the more traditional channels that the internet is "cannabalizing", to use a common Direct marketing term.

    Having affiliate promotions driven by the link aludes to their degree of willingness or current capability of adding the additional variables necessary to accomplish fairness to each potential buying scenario. It's kinda a "turf war". I think most of the time an AM is getting heat just to keep those affiliates from other marketing territory. Period, end of story. So too, the affiliates want the ability to bring offline knowledge to the internet as a value.
    Danny K. - Network Administrator, Digital River- oneNetworkDirect.com, Email: dkautt@digitalriver.com

  16. #16
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Excuse me but what merchant thinks a couponer can sell anything for them except the coupon. The product, or product category pre-sell link, is a completely seperate animal. The coupon code box is always checkout coitus interuptus, and proven to be the #1 reason for shopping cart abandonment in all ecommerce studies.

    Sales cookie overwriting by couponers exceeds all the damage done by the BHO's combined. That is why the affiliate industry concentrates strickly upon catering to the couponers, loyality/reward/cashback sites & their BHO's, or the e-mail blasters.

    Hint merchants: Removing the coupon/rebate promo code box from your cart checkout process increases conversion ratios and profit per sale. Lowering your prices, or offering Free Freight equal to the costs of incentives, will DOUBLE your gross sales. It will also reduce affiliate cookie hanky-panky by a minimum of 50%.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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  17. #17
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecomcity
    Hint merchants: Removing the coupon/rebate promo code box from your cart checkout process increases conversion ratios and profit per sale. Lowering your prices, or offering Free Freight equal to the costs of incentives, will DOUBLE your gross sales. It will also reduce affiliate cookie hanky-panky by a minimum of 50%.
    Do the merchants read your advice?
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  18. #18
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    No. Coupons are awesome. But I'm all for removing the coupon box in favor of text link coupons, where people have to actually click on the link for the coupon to work. Even better if they go to a landing page explaining the deal. The couponers help out the sites that don't post them because their site visitors sometimes pop open a new browser to look for them. They should give us a cut of the commission for helping their lazy butts out
    Last edited by Trust; July 5th, 2006 at 07:18 PM.

  19. #19
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhia7
    Do the merchants read your advice?
    Yes they do and also read the reports at shop.org and all the trusted ecommerce studies they pay dearly for....

    Overstock listened, reinforcing Trustno1's excellent observation that forces legitimacy to those affiliates who use coupons responsibly. It is stupidity and laziness that drives an AM to push coupon codes not embedded into an affiliate link praying the coupon SERP and PPCSE spammers will flood the marketplace with their spiffs (valid or otherwise). Overstock was part of a study proving the removal of a coupon/rebate code box from the checkout process decreased cart abandonment by 80%.

    They also saw there was no OS shopper advantage, or substancial conversion increase, by shoppers coming into their site from coupon links verses posting the same deals prominently throughout their site. They just had to bite the bullet as their 6 AM's refused to ween their affiliates from pushing OS coupons. Any OS shopper gets the exact same spiffs as offered by their affiliates by clicking on the coupon deal banners on all main category and front page. http://www.overstock.com/cgi-bin/d2....CID=97350&fp=F

    Example: You must click the coupon links below to receive the discounts. If you click another Overstock link after clicking the coupon links, the coupon will not apply.
    HINT: If you want to order mostly media items and use these coupon, simply add one cheap non-media item to your cart, and the discount will apply...

    NEW!! 10% off ANYTHING at Overstock.com! NO MINIMUM PURCHASE (exp. 7/31)

    NEW!! $10 off $100 order at Overstock.com! (Expires 7/15)

    NEW!! New Customers - $20 off all orders of $150 or more at Overstock.com! (Expires 7/31)

    NEW!! $35 off $300 order at Overstock.com! (Expires 7/31)

    10% off ANYTHING at Overstock.com!! all customers, excludes orders of only media (exp. 6/30)

    TODAY ONLY!! Save up to 80% with the Overstock.com Deal of the Day!



    If OS, or any other merchant AM gave a hoot about moving specific products, they'd design either a multiple product link landing page, showing the add to cart already discounted price. Alternately they'd make a creative combining eligable product description/photo and the coupon offer with a link to a landing page auto placing the coupon into the cart if the shopper buys the deal. Most AM's are too lazy to do this, and couponers would squawk they be forced to actually display the merchants products on their site.

    I'm sure Trustno1 is smart enough to showcase some actual real deal products, and overcome the AM's laziness, by framing the coupon code above the product landing page to keep his shoppers from doing the product search from the merchants home page. Just an assumption. Most of couponers just set their cookie, after the shopper found something to buy, by spamming the Google Coupon Yellow pages. Other incenters just use a BHO to pop the coupons at the point of sale for that merchant or a competitor.
    Last edited by ecomcity; July 5th, 2006 at 10:54 PM.
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  20. #20
    Affiliate Manager Blair.com's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecomcity
    Overstock was part of a study proving the removal of a coupon/rebate code box from the checkout process decreased cart abandonment by 80%.

    They also saw there was no OS shopper advantage, or substancial conversion increase, by shoppers coming into their site from coupon links verses posting the same deals prominently throughout their site. Any OS shopper gets the exact same spiffs as offered by their affiliates by clicking on the coupon deal banners on all main category and front page. http://www.overstock.com/cgi-bin/d2....CID=97350&fp=F
    Interesting. Ecomcity -- would you please post a link to this study? I'd be interested in reading it in it's entirety.
    Christopher Park
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  21. #21
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    I don't ever remember them having a coupon box, must have been before my time. I would be interested in the link to the study too Mike.

  22. #22
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    Hard to link to imaginary studies. Of course that 80% figure is ridiculous.

    I will say it is a reason for cart abandonment but the major reasons are high shipping prices, comparison shopping, they decided to buy later, site design, site speed, trouble locating delivery information, contact information etc. There are studies on this, tho the perentages on cart abandonment vary sometimes greatly.

    A lot of times with they encounter a coupon box, instead of abandonment, they just pop open another browser and look for the coupon. Find one, stick it in and continue with purchase.

    But Mike has a point in that removing it will decrease it some, not 80% tho. Have coupon text links for affiliates or for a merchant's newsletter subscribers, have links they can click in the email for the deal or a url they can click on.

    As an affiliate who does mainly coupons, I prefer coupon links over coupon codes. It's a little more work but it's easier for my site visitors and would make me more money since it will cut down on people just coming to my site to get the code but not shop thru my site. A lot of times they might shop thru another affiliate site that doesn't post them and you have what I posted above. Them popping up another browser to go look for the code.

  23. #23
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    Well they join the ranks of 95% of affiliate programs..

    Hard to trust inhouse programs anymore.. too many of them are ripping people off

  24. #24
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    Inhouse? Who you talking about?

  25. #25
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    5. Revenues Qualifying for Commission
    You will earn commission fees based on Qualifying Revenues
    according to commission fee schedules as established by us from
    time to time. "Qualifying Revenues" are revenues derived by us
    from our sales of qualifying products as we shall designate from
    time to time. "Qualifying Revenues" do not include shipping &
    handling, gift certificates, gift-wrapping, taxes, and service
    charges. Orders placed using discount codes not approved by us
    in writing will not qualify for commissions.
    Read the last sentence.

    They're covered.

    But it's still wrong IMO

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