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  1. #1
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Force the network merchants to disclose diversion tactics. Here summarizes what we CAN DO to make the networks and parasitic merchant sponsors alert affiliates to potential commission losses due to traffic hijackers or diversion tactics. Sure we can all write a position paper and argue about the format or where we are getting shafted. But all the aligned power brokers attending this meeting know more about the Policy outcome and compromise positions then we do and they won't read these papers or use them against us in nuisance libel suits. So lets put on our thinking caps.

    1. We all agree we will never accept any BHO "Affiliate Application" that overwrites our ID #'s with someone else's as part of the clickstream. We therefore have to muzzle the "incenters" and all P2P reward interlopers to have to do a 2 step to force their captive users to actually perform a click from their own domains to reset a cookie. Hidden downloads buried underneath some FREEBEE service should not imply a commissionable action on the part of the end user with either the network or the merchant. These reward/loyalty program operators, like all normal affiliates, have to agree to abide by the network TOS. Unless they program an approved merchant affiliate coded link into the HTML of their pages they should not be allowed to receive a commission without their shopping club users actually clicking on that text, banner or product image link.

    2. We need to make the networks publish upfront for every merchant, before the signup process, the following sneaky tactics used by merchants which affect conversion ratios.

    Merchant must divulge in their profile if they use any of the following:

    a] Whether the merchant uses a 800# call center that is either an affiliate or works on a commission basis. These are all commission thieves if they don't record our referral ID#.

    b] Third party gift certificate or gift registry services who themselves are earning affiliate commissions by swapping their ID# with ours. (this inhibits new forms of parasites who trick merchants with a free service but monetize each action with their affiliate ID #)

    c] This merchant approves and works with "incent" and reward affiliates. ( simple statement that covers all Dupers and parasites)

    d] Published return cookie days and whether they are disabled after the first sale.

    e] This merchant has passed all network test purchase transactions done on a random basis at least once a month. (this puts the network compliance team in the liability loop if merchant remove sales reporting tags or delete transaction during batch file edits)

    f] Some sections of this merchant's website contain non-commissionable products or links to partner sites that do not track commissionable sales. (discloses if this merchant is really just diverting their own affiliate traffic to outside sites where only they earn a commission if our original referred shopper buys off of these links.)

    If the above gets put into the merchant profile before signup, the crap merchants who have parasite leakage and piss poor conversion ratios, due to diversion tactics, won't be able to dupe new affiliates into signing up. The networks have no legal grounds to deny us on publishing these points, since we're not asking them to divulge merchant conversion ratios. They all refuse to do that since many of their major merchants require well over 1000 clicks to show one sale. Their primary function is reporting and recruiting for merchants.

    The merchants and networks explicitly publish we will get paid commission on all approved links/clicks to merchants that result in a sale. This is false and misleading, since A-F clearly eliminate us from receiving any commission on our pre-sell and referral click efforts if the merchant employs these tactics.

    If this is done we have won! At least the first battle ..merchant/network transparency on real diversion tactics that effect conversion ratios. They need to throw us this bone at the very least!

    WebMaster Mike


    [edited to spell check for Mike. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] No content changed]

    [This message was edited by BLFH on October 23, 2002 at 10:05 PM.]

  2. #2
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    Mike - Of all your 3,000+ posts, this stands as one of the most thoughtful I've read. I'm sure you spent considerable time on it, and it suggests much in the way of reasonable standards that affiliates should expect from the networks and merchants. You should receive a lot of support from the affiliate end of things. I thank you.

    "If I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself." Bob Hope

  3. #3
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    Very good post [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    -- Less is more --

  4. #4
    Domain Addict / Formerly known as elbowcreek Thomas A. Rice's Avatar
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    Excellent post! You are right on target.

    I Will FOCUS On My Goal

  5. #5
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    You have my agreement too. If I read this first I would have responded differently in that other thread!

    It's just the kind of solution I was looking for--it puts the foot down on the worst of the undesireables while still not being coddling to those too lazy to do any due diligence.

    There is no knowledge that is not power.~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador flamingoworld's Avatar
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    Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap!

    And from Mike no less!

    Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap!

    Connie Berg
    www.flamingoworld.com


  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador Nova's Avatar
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    WAY TO GO MIKEY! :-)

    one of your best input!
    thank you...

    na na na na na na the scums are getting the panic attack now! he he he he...

    little ants bites are more painfull than big parasite! :-)

    Love Life to the fullest. we only get ONE chance! :-)

  8. #8
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    The logical way to approach this meeting is from an Honesty viewpoint. If it is honest and restricts all commissionable parties to follow the same set of rules then those who can create the most "value add" to shoppers and merchants can prosper in the pay for performance industry. Those with "incent/reward" sites or a captive audience like the P2P networks are not bound by the restraints the rest of us have in driving traffic to our sites or earning bookmarks. That is just smart competition as long as it doesn't interfer with or negate our pre-sell efforts.

    The small affiliate still is the absolute best at defining his site visitors and targeting his merchant selection to their needs. Therefore he/she, along with millions of other web site owners should be allowed to benefit their own chosen merchant pool with highly motivated shoppers.

    Our ABW group, and any other outside affiliate forum can easily refine the first part as an "Affiliate Application" Policy to be presented to the networks. It should represent both honesty and ethics as the cornerstone for paying out commissions to qualifying parties. Lawyers I'm sure will have to poor over that part.

    The second part A-F requires no legal advice to implement. They too represent an honest approach to full disclosure of the income potential each merchant offers an affiliate partner ...upfront at time of application. Merchants can use it as a positive recruiting tool if they address these issues that cause leakage on our clickstream.

    The Superaffiliates and BHO "Affiliate Application" software group will know up front which merchants will accept them into their programs. They can also be content to build out their own domain shopping portals knowing full well others will not be poaching on those efforts as they themselves have done in the past.


    Merchants will no longer get double dipped for SE listing fees on top of commission exposure on normally direct URL traffic to their web sites. They then can compete with each other by devising better converting landing pages, creatives and individual product displays to go along with seasonal specials or incentive offers. Full Disclosure of diversion tactics upfront will penalize some of them in recruitment ..rightfully so!

    The most important part is the network attornies and legal counsel of the merchant's do not have to get involved in every shift of e-commerce as this market matures. I also can forecast sales based upon my own prior efforts as my own stats will be a true indicator of my marketing skills.

    WebMaster Mike

    [This message was edited by EcomCity.com on October 23, 2002 at 07:32 PM.]

  9. #9
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    I like the idea Mike. One paper representing all of us at ABW. Would we all have to sign it using our legal names and web site? I would prefer not doing it that way could we use our ABW names?
    In any event how would we set this up?
    Cazzie

  10. #10
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Eliz, Haiko, Shawn and the other moderators could all refine the above and we can all discuss it over the next few days before it is carried to Wayne.

    WebMaster Mike

  11. #11
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    @ Mike--

    One of the big things I like about your proposal is that it leaves the decision of whether to deal under "less than optimum" conditions up to the individual affiliates--as opposed to just banning conditions that some people can't compete under, but others can. What some people call "interference" I don't even consider an inconvenience but on the other hand there are places that others say they do wonderful with that have made me all of two cents or less!

    What makes for an "optimal" merchant actually varies a LOT between affiliates and your "full disclosure" ideas are great because CHOICE IS MAINTAINED unlike with some posts I've seen from different people who would just ban (for whatever reason) every merchant they personally can't make money from, while the one practice that truly can't be outmarketed (as far as I know it can't, anyway)--the outright automatic overwriting of aff codes--is forbidden.

    It's aces all around and I'll gladly sign onto that as a "position paper" since it addresses all of the concerns I've had but wasn't able to think of a way to put on virtual paper.

    There is no knowledge that is not power.~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  12. #12
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Hate to double post but I don't want this to get lost.

    First, what Cazzie said about the IDs. CJ knows full well who "Leader" is from the days of CJU so I see no need for further disclosure.

    Second, the only changes I would make would involve a spell check [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img] . Other than that, I would sign on the way it is now but not to any substantive changes that I could foresee.

    There is no knowledge that is not power.~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  13. #13
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Leader I had asked Elizabeth (Buckworks)and all moderators to spell check and edit it in any way they feel would most benefit the group. You may also carry it to other discussion forums for comments as it is just a basis for a unified front for all affiliate types.

    WebMaster Mike

  14. #14
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    Well thought out Mike. Calm, Cool, Collect.

    IamJaloppy

  15. #15
    pph Expert! Gordon's Avatar
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    Really good post Mike.
    Plenty of food for thought there.

    Travel safe
    Gordon
    YouTrek

  16. #16
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Great post Mike! Did the spell check for you. 3000+ posts and when you get edited by a Moderator, it's for spelling. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

    Keep Your Hands Off My Cookies

  17. #17
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    Bravo, Mike. Gotta give you a 5-star!

  18. #18
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    Sounds like THE PLAN

    Andy Williams

    Keyword DARTs - New search engine optimization software
    http://www.affiliate-masters.co.uk/k...timization.htm

  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador CrazyGuy's Avatar
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    This may be as good a tiem as any to ask a question I've had for ages ...

    What does "BHO" stand for?

    I hate TLAs [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

    On a serious note: acronyms need to be explained first time they're used (along with use of words such as "dupers" and "incent") if this is to become a manifesto - which I guess is what it's becoming.

    It would also make a reasonable checklist to use before entering into any affiliate relationship right now. I also like the fact that it allows the affiliate to make a final decision based on assessment of risk.

    Are you Crazy?

  20. #20
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    CrazyGuy, I might be wrong but I think it stands for Browser Helper Object. What it does I am even less sure, but some way it Helps your Browser [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    Andy Williams

    Keyword DARTs - New search engine optimization software
    http://www.affiliate-masters.co.uk/k...timization.htm

  21. #21
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    CrazyGuy - a "Duper" is basically an affiliate posing as a merchant who entices other affiliates (dupes them) into joining their program which pays out a few pennies on a commission dollar earned by the Duper. Gator.com or eBates.com are Duperaffiliates.

    A BHO (browser helper Object) is a piece of software that takes over a users browser normal functions to plug-in shopping bars-Popup Ads -sliders -URL redirects -reward alerts or spyware.

    _____________________________________
    Step #1 in my thread post is to create a "Honesty & Fair Practice" statement that gets put in the top of all network Terms of Service (TOS).

    SAMPLE Statement: "In order to utilize the the services offered by [insert network name] all affiliates and merchants, as defined below, must agree to use honest and ethical business practices as defined by existing USA and International business and criminal laws. Any action -representation or software application that circumvents or violates existing or future laws will be just cause for immediate termination from the [insert network name] affiliate network with loss of all benefits and acrued commissions."

    How can we trust the networks to spell out a restrictive policy on "affiliate BHO Applications" when they can't even define what a merchant is or isn't???


    MERCHANT:**** -A licensed business who collects money for products or services and takes responsibility for the delivery of the same to their customer. Merchants agree to pay all commissions incurred by honest affiliate sales activity in a timely manner without any deceptive practices. Those entities who agree to pay commissions on the [insert network name] network trackable actions, who are not involved in delivering a billable product or service, will be clearly marked as **** "special class merchants" during the affiliate signup process.

    AFFILIATE: An easily identifiable hosted domain who seeks commissions for driving targeted traffic to [insert network name] merchants using trackable affiliate coded links assigned to them. In order to qualify for a commission an affiliate has to originate the trackable click from their own authorized domain or from an e-mail marketing piece identifying their authorized domain.


    We all can see the value of a simple honest disclosure statement when forced to deal with often shady operators who lurk on the legally undefined fringes of ecommerce.

    WebMaster Mike

  22. #22
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    The crux of reaching a meaningful network Policy and Agreement between affiliates and merchant involves something normally distasteful to good business management. Putting in legal terms the obvious restraints honest businessmen consider to be a tenent on good human behavior ..honesty. Organizations with Good ETHICAL business practices, assumed to be used by all participants in engaging in commerce, normally negate the need for ever having to specifically write and enforce these tenents.

    Almost 2 years ago the big issue for the networks and their merchants was building trust, as the .com bubble burst with thousands of affiliates getting burned on earned commissions. Instead of taking a firm stand at that time they dragged their feet on transparancy issues while catering to their remaining merchants branding schemes and diversion tactics. They decided to negate the negative effects of traffic losses when affiliate recruiting dropped off and many site owners exited the pay-per-performance scene in frustration.

    The networks were approached by schemers who had devised ways to bypass the hurdle and limitations of building web sites and generating expensive traffic. Their remaining stable of Superaffiliate "incent" pseudo merchants also pushed for network automation tools to expand their capabilities. So the networks threw some reporting crumbs to their affiliate masses, while devoting all real efforts to automate shopping plug-ins and parasitic software affiliates. They threw business ETHICS to the winds and shoe horned the real con-men into the mix as trusted partners swimming in their merchant/affiliate pool.

    Most the Zero cookie day merchant AM's only pushed harder on "incent" offers like coupons -rebate side deals based upon higher commissions to the Dupers and accepted the "darkside" traffic hijackers into their fold, rather than work on TRUST issues and conversion ratios. They never accepted the normal affiliate view of verifying and policing sales reporting -expanding cookie days -reducing minimums and timely paying of commissions monthly. Eyeballs and clicks were king and they could care less where the Dupers & parasites got their traffic and sales from....

    Like all others here I've no idea what Shopping.org could possibly contribute to the plight of affiliates as in 5 years they never bothered to post a thing in affiliate forums like ABW. If they are like DMA (Direct Marketing Assoc.)then it's all about dues and circumventing ethics with legal loop holes.

    The networks and merchants as a group cannot continue affiliate "business as usual" if brick-n-mortar laws -rules and ethics are imposed equally to all parties involved in the pay-per-performance industry. So they do need to CHANGE and level the playing field and restrict abuses. I relish the fact that the media focus on the internet con-men -thieves and P2P network copywrite violations and kiddie porn file sharing will not let up. The one factor they can't shove under the carpet is their favored affiliate players are going to get a huge consumer backlash. No merchant can ethically monitize OPT-OUT spammers and private porn sharing -music thieving networks with their brand when the consumer watch dogs revolt.

    What remains to be seen is whether "unfair traffic advantages" or swapping ID#s, that make merchants think normal affiliates aren't important, will continue to scew the stats in favor of the "darkside" e-marketers. My take is the BHO Dupers like Gator and eBates and parasites like Morpheus, Kazaa, LimeWire will setup their own private merchant networks to feed their greed and tell CJ -BeFree and Linkshare to take a hike with their new policies if they implement the ABW suggestions. Good riddence.

    WebMaster Mike

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador CrazyGuy's Avatar
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    Thanks for the clarification of BHO - I knew what it referred to, just not what it was being called.

    The "duper" definition reinforces my suggestion that such terms need to be defined/replaced/avoided in the final version of a document which is to be such a significant statement/manifesto. I had previously decided "duper" meant duplicator, someone who was 2-tiering an affiliate arrangement. Same thing, different thinking behind it.

    The original post had a real sense of clarity about it for the most part which we should strive to maintain by further clarifying any potential misunderstandings while resisting adding too much [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    Are you Crazy?

  24. #24
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Well I see some of our active merchants haven't bothered to post their views on these Diversion policy suggestions. It all comes down to a new form of diversion that does effect merchants if not curbed by the networks. The honest disclosure rules must be too honest as in the past all diversion schemes were merchant originated.

    WebMaster Mike

  25. #25
    Full Member jarec2001's Avatar
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    Very good post, Mike. You're right on target.

    <i>"Where a conversion is no accident, it's a miracle."</i>

    Jim
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