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  1. #1
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Are affiliates losing commissions for coupon codes??
    It is an increasing trend for online shoppers to open a new browser window while in a shopping cart when they notice a place for a coupon code. I have heard merchants talk about as much as $100k per month of sales going this route.

    Shoppers can just copy a code if it is displayed on an affiliate site and not set a cookie. If a cookie is not set then there is no way for that affiliate to get credit for closing the sale. I have two questions for coupon affiliates on how to best insure that couponers get the commission. The arguement about whether they should get the commission is left to a different discussion.

    1) If the cookie is read after the transaction (when the thank you page is delivered) then can an affiliate get credit for that sale if found for the coupon code??

    2) Can an internal redirect insure that an affiliate sets a cookie when someone looks for a coupon code? If so, how is this done (my programming days are long over)??

    I am yielding to the experts here for the best way to advise affiliates on getting commissions for providing coupon codes.

  2. #2
    Newbie bizzer's Avatar
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    I would think that a good Affiliate Network or software would have solved this problem by now.

    We are working on our own coupon system at AffiliateBOT.com and our solution is simple:

    "Ensure that coupons are generated uniquely for each affiliate."

    That way even if customers just copy the coupon code, it'll register as the merchant would know which affiliate it is. (or, rather, when the merchant passes the coupon code back the the affiliate tracking software, the software would know).

    This way, affiliates can also promote the program OUTSIDE of the web, say on newspaper classifieds or other offline media.

    I am curious as to know which network doesn't have this simple solution???

  3. #3
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    Are affiliates losing commissions for coupon codes??
    For years, affiliates have lost their commissions to other affiliates offering coupon codes.
    Because some smart visitors found a way to open a new browser window to check around, you'll like to penalize the AFFILIATE with the visitor ON HIS SITE.
    What's wrong with you?
    Thinking about a way to stuff cookies if the visitor open a new window to reward a couponer?
    That's insane.

    Can we split ABW in two parts, one for the Parasites, an other for the real affiliates?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick
    1) If the cookie is read after the transaction (when the thank you page is delivered) then can an affiliate get credit for that sale if found for the coupon code??


    If the person clicked your link for the purchase to get to the shopping cart, your cookie is set. If they do a search and just copy and paste or type in the coupon code but do not click the person's affiliate link, the cookie that you placed should still be there and you should probably not loose the commission.

    Then again as Zeus pointed out, there are plenty of cookie stuffers and parasites out there which might rewrite your cookie when the browser opens up forcing a click when they did not click anything.
    Adam Riemer Marketing, LLC. Online Marketing Blog and Affiliate Management Company
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  5. #5
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    I think a good solution here is to provide the coupon affiliate with a landing page that transmits the coupon to the merchants site to be called and applied during checkout.

    Try to avoid the coupon code entry box or the merchant may complain about losing value on direct request traffic.

    With the technology available now, the only coupon codes that should need to be typed in, should be those that a consumer may read out of a print publication.

  6. #6
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    Sorry to disagree, but most shopping carts being used do not support the "click to apply the coupon" route. It would be great if more did. Plus some "cookie stuffers" force a click by posting "click here for coupon" which resets the cookie even if the result is a box that has an expired coupon or no coupon at all. So the "click to apply coupon" has it's shortcomings also.
    Deborah Carney
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  7. #7
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    "For years, affiliates have lost their commissions to other affiliates offering coupon codes."

    Well as far as that, if you work with a merchant that has them and you don't post them, that's your fault. That's competition. They had to go elsewhere to get the coupon because you didn't provide it.

    But in another thread I was hoping merchants would provide longer term coupons along with their regular monthly or ever shorter term coupons. That way those who don't normally post them because of all the time it takes to update, might put them up if it was good for a year or so.

    As a couponer, I like coupon links which will cut down on shoppers just copying and pasting codes off my site and me getting $0. There is another thread about all of this.

  8. #8
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    Chuck, check this thread out, talking about the same thing with more detail:

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread...t=coupon+links

  9. #9
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    BG4512 wrote: > "I think a good solution here is to provide the coupon affiliate with a landing page that transmits the coupon to the merchants site to be called and applied during checkout. Try to avoid the coupon code entry box or the merchant may complain about losing value on direct request traffic. With the technology available now, the only coupon codes that should need to be typed in, should be those that a consumer may read out of a print publication." <

    loxly replied: > "Sorry to disagree, but most shopping carts being used do not support the "click to apply the coupon" route. It would be great if more did. Plus some "cookie stuffers" force a click by posting "click here for coupon" which resets the cookie even if the result is a box that has an expired coupon or no coupon at all. So the "click to apply coupon" has it's shortcomings also." <

    You're both right.
    • The best solution would be to apply the coupon automatically during the referral from the affiliate.
    • The next-best solution would be to not show the "coupon prompt" (either not at all, or suppressing it for customers referred by an affiliate).
    • Another option would be to "conceal" the coupon prompt (so that only consumers who already have a coupon code would be likely to scroll down to find the coupon prompt somewhere near the footer of the order page).
    • The last option would be to offer some kind of "commission split" to both affiliates when one refers the customer but another presents the coupon offer.


    But as loxly notes, many major shopping-cart solutions -- including Yahoo Store/Merchant Services -- do not support any of these options (though a clever and/or expensive programmer could make some work).

    Increasingly, I am finding coupon sites that claim to offer a coupon for a particular merchant, and which say "click here to see the coupon," but clicking sends them to the merchant's site (using an affiliate link) with NO coupon code (sometimes with a "no coupon available" message, but usually not even that). This is "cookie-stuffing."

    As an affiliate, I do look at the presentation of a "coupon prompt" as a "negative" factor, because I know that some consumers respond by opening a window to search for a coupon.

    I certainly am worried that some coupon site is going to "poach" the affiliate commission -- but quite frankly, I'm more concerned about merchants who prompt for a coupon, but don't actually offer any working coupon codes at all -- the prompt makes the consumer believe that she is missing an opportunity, which reduces consumer confidence and satisfaction, and increases shopping-cart abandonment.


    As the affiliate manager for QuoteProducts.com (which is hosted at Yahoo), I am annoyed about the coupon prompt, which is one of a zillion reasons why QuoteProducts will be moving to another technology solution "as soon as practical."

  10. #10
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Almost any system can be gamed by those who want to. That being said, I've seen some coupons sites address this issue themselves by coding their links where they don't display the code on their site. They have a "use couopn" link or some such which takes the end user to the Merchant through their affiliate link as normal and they also launch a small pop up window which contains the copoun code. Others do something similiar framing the merchant's site with the code in the frame.

    Unique codes are the best solution, however not all merchants will do this. I imagine that can be somewhat of a task (if not provided by the network) for programs with thousands of affiliates.

    Question 2 does sound an awful lot like cookie stuffing on the affs site. Looking for the coupon isn't the same as saying the consumer took action to actually use the coupon.

    Not not sure what the first question really means. If the coupon code itself is a unique identifer for the affiliate then yes. If I'm understanding the question correctly.

  11. #11
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    The scenario is for PPC or organic and is not an attempt to cookie stuff. I am looking for a way for the last affiliate to get credit for closing the sales because the visitor went looking for thier coupon.

    bizzer I am not looking for a network solution and will not wait for the networks to address this situation.

    Folks, this is a point brought to me by a merchant who pointed out that affiliates who supplied coupon codes to close a sale were not getting compensated. I am asking for a solution to that problem. I have a strong stance on parasites and this is not a way to cookie stuff. Do not try to derail the intent of this thread!

  12. #12
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Increasingly, I am finding coupon sites that claim to offer a coupon for a particular merchant, and which say "click here to see the coupon," but clicking sends them to the merchant's site (using an affiliate link) with NO coupon code (sometimes with a "no coupon available" message, but usually not even that).
    I view that kind of situation (and yes I'm seeing an incease in it also, even when valid coupons for the merchant are available) as misleading advertising for the merchant or as I like to call it "trick clicks." I think it falls to the merchant to monitor for and ensure their affiliate links are being used correctly. JMO.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    Well as far as that, if you work with a merchant that has them and you don't post them, that's your fault. That's competition. They had to go elsewhere to get the coupon because you didn't provide it.
    If they open an other window and you don't get your commission. Too bad, it's just competition. Stop crying because you don't get something you don't deserve.

  14. #14
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Trust, I will reread that thread but thought it was aimed at coupon scraping.

    Yes unique affiliate coupon codes are the best solution but that is a lengthy process and doubtful that merchants would implement it for non-coupon heavy programs.

    The investigation here is to see if revenue can be attributed to the affiliate channel that is not going that direction i.e. the affiliates are getting no commission.

  15. #15
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    "Trust, I will reread that thread but thought it was aimed at coupon scraping. "

    It started out that way but ended up talking about possible solutions, what we're talking about here.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick
    The scenario is for PPC or organic and is not an attempt to cookie stuff. I am looking for a way for the last affiliate to get credit for closing the sales because the visitor went looking for thier coupon.

    bizzer I am not looking for a network solution and will not wait for the networks to address this situation.

    Folks, this is a point brought to me by a merchant who pointed out that affiliates who supplied coupon codes to close a sale were not getting compensated. I am asking for a solution to that problem. I have a strong stance on parasites and this is not a way to cookie stuff. Do not try to derail the intent of this thread!
    Well, just be clear. I don't appreciate AMs talking about a way to screw other affiliates of their commissions. The rules of affiliate marketing is not something you can change everyday because you feel like it or to please a merchant.

  17. #17
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kellie aka Ms. B
    I've seen some coupons sites address this issue themselves by coding their links where they don't display the code on their site. They have a "use couopn" link or some such which takes the end user to the Merchant through their affiliate link as normal and they also launch a small pop up window which contains the copoun code.
    That's the most common thing I've seen. Most top-tier coupon sites don't do that, though. It negatively impacts the user experience, and the top coupon sites have a very loyal following. We want to provide the best possible experience for those using our sites. True, it means we lose out on some commissions, but we would rather lose some commissions than our user bases.
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  18. #18
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Is an internal redirect used to protect the affiliate??

    What can affiliates do to make sure they get credit (where possible) when a shopper found them via search? Getting ranked or paying for coupons related to a merchant is not free. It is the merchants duty to police their program for improper ads or ad copy.

    I just want to insure that affiliates who help close a sale because a shopper looked for a coupon get credit for the sale. Last cookie wins only if cookie is set.

  19. #19
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    I beleive the best solution for merchants and affiliates is using a coded link. Again, not all merchants can do it, but for those who can, its the best. The click takes you to the merchant site, and the discount shows up in the cart, no coupon. Since there is no code, nothing to steal.

  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador MoneyBusiness's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skishore2006
    I beleive the best solution for merchants and affiliates is using a coded link. Again, not all merchants can do it, but for those who can, its the best. The click takes you to the merchant site, and the discount shows up in the cart, no coupon. Since there is no code, nothing to steal.
    I keep hearing about this, but no one ever seems to address it. Why wouldn't individual (or individually generated) coupon codes work in scenarios like this?

    Would it be too much work to implement? Or is it against some unwritten rule that I'm unware of?

    Just curious.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    That's the most common thing I've seen. Most top-tier coupon sites don't do that, though. It negatively impacts the user experience, and the top coupon sites have a very loyal following. We want to provide the best possible experience for those using our sites. True, it means we lose out on some commissions, but we would rather lose some commissions than our user bases.
    Great Michael, I've nothing against coupon sites as long as they play fair. I'm losing commissions to couponers, I don't mind as long as they run an honest business. It's my choice to don't offer coupons. My visitor can decide to leave to a coupon site and my commission will be lost but if the visitor stay and buy from my site I want to be compensated for driving the sale to the merchant.

  22. #22
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    "Would it be too much work to implement? Or is it against some unwritten rule that I'm unware of?"

    I don't think so, no. I gave a couple of examples in the other thread with Buy.com and Lamps Plus with coupon links. Have to check the thread out

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread...t=coupon+links

    From a Lamps Plus coupon link:
    Save $5 Off Your Purchase of $50 or More!
    Your coupon code 24AFFDC6 has automatically been entered into your shopping cart. Your discount will be applied upon checkout.
    Expires: 3/31/2007

    From Buy.com coupon link:
    Buy.com customers take $5 OFF the purchase of $50 valid in our Music, Movies and Games Stores! (Affiliate).* With a Redeem button to click.

    Once a merchant sets it up, I would think it would be easy. Those 2 merchants just change the date on their end once the expiration dates near.

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador MoneyBusiness's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    "Would it be too much work to implement? Or is it against some unwritten rule that I'm unware of?"

    I don't think so, no. I gave a couple of examples in the other thread with Buy.com and Lamps Plus with coupon links.
    I didn't catch that. Was just thinking, how hard could it be to implement somethign on the order of: "abcd1234" where "abcd" is the affiliate code and "1234" is simply the offer, or product info. Then simply have it automatically broken apart when the sale goes through, for proper compensation (speaking in generalities here).

    edit: thanks for the link

  24. #24
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    Here it is again:

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread...t=coupon+links

    We went thru exactly this in that thread, I promise.

  25. #25
    Affiliate Manager cbsturg's Avatar
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    A fairly simple solution would be to have an borderless iframe that's 1x1 pixels in dimension. When the user lands on the page with that displays coupon, that iframe loads the appropriate affiliate URL. The coupon is presented to the user without any change in the experience, but the affiliate cookie is set.

    As far as coupon hunting on checkout is concerned, I have no idea how to resolve that issue. Mainly because I don't think it can be resolved (I ascribe it to part of the cost of doing business, much like my PPC fees...). If coupons were affiliate-specific, the same tracking issue posed by the iframe solution would be involved (would the sale go to the affiliate that drove the traffic, or the one that supplied the coupon?).

    As it is not this thread's intent to delve into the second question, I'll not voice my opinion. But I think an invisible iframe could be an effective solution to the original question raised.

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