Results 1 to 16 of 16
  1. #1
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Mansfield, TX
    Posts
    16,232
    Opposed to Buy.com Branded Links
    I don't know what you guys think about the concept of "branded links", but I've been pushing for them for quite a while. With the blocking of network links (in the HOSTS file and through ad blocking software) and the identification of affiliate network links/cookies as "tracking" links (implying a nefarious purpose that isn't there), it's a logical solution. If it's implemented right. I'm very concerned, however, that Buy.com's implementation is ill-purposed and poorly implemented. If they were a smaller merchant, they wouldn't be able to get away with it. (And I'm not convinced that they'll get away with it, even being Buy.com.)

    First, let's look at the intentions. It appears like a major goal of the Buy.com "branded links" initiative is to provide SEO benefits to Buy.com through their affiliate links. Not only will this likely have negative repercussions in the future (Google dislikes paid links passing PageRank), but it also goes against the purpose of affiliate programs. Remember the negative response that LinkConnector.com got here with their NakedLinks? Affiliates get compensated for generating sales, not for increasing PageRank. If you want to get PageRank, the affiliate program is not the place to do it.

    Requiring us to change temporary (302) redirects to permanent (301) redirects is further proof that a major goal of this change is SEO benefits. Making this change will degrade the user experience. Browsers cache those "permanent" changes. If I get a bad link from Buy.com and put it up, then catch the mistake and fix it, it'll be too late for anyone who has already clicked the link. If they click again, the browser will still follow the old redirect (because it was "permanent") until the cache is cleared. With a "temporary" redirect, it will check each time. This may also cause affiliate-tracked clicks to be understated.

    My next point of contention is that the clicks are now being tracked directly by Buy.com rather than by the trusted affiliate network. It would have been considerably better for the DNS for affiliate.buy.com to be pointed to a special CJ server, where they could do the tracking and logging. Instead, now clicks are being batched and sent over to CJ. That seems like it could be problematic, plus it removes accountability and I suspect that it will hinder CJ's Network Quality team from being able to monitor for fraud.

    Another major issue is that it's not backward compatible. It could easily have been designed so that existing links would continue work and track indefinitely, but instead the old links will cease to track at some point in the future.

    The communication on this initiative was very lacking, as well. It was sprung on us with virtually no notice, and affiliates apparently weren't included in the design and planning. If they had been, these types of issues could have been addressed and a good implementation could have been built.

    An even bigger concern is that other merchants will follow in Buy.com's footsteps, thinking that if it's good for Buy.com it will be good for them, too. There are already a few other similar concepts out there (eBay and Barnes & Noble come to mind), but none as egregious as Buy.com's. A smaller merchant won't be able to force this type of change.

    As it is, between this and the leaks that have resurfaced, I'm contemplating removing Buy.com from my site and am definitely not going to include them in a new niche site that would have generated a considerable amount of revenue for them.
    I'm considering writing a Best Practice on how a branded link concept should be implemented, but I'm concerned that even with a Best Practice many merchants won't get it right. I'm afraid that the damage to the affiliate marketing industry would be worse than the benefits that we would see from those who do implement it right. I'm leaning more toward just opposing the entire concept.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Nunya, Business
    Posts
    23,684
    "I don't know what you guys think about the concept of "branded links", but I've been pushing for them for quite a while."

    Why? And are you talking about in the Publisher Advisory Board? If so, that's something you might want to get input for from other affiliates. I'm open to hearing both sides of the arguments. In the major networks I'm aware of only Barnes and Noble at Performics doing this and I've read about Buy.com at CJ in their newsletter about it. I think keeping the regular links will continue to track just fine as well?

  3. #3
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Mansfield, TX
    Posts
    16,232
    Buy.com plans to disable the old links at some point. From their announcement:

    Your current links or "legacy links" will still be supported until a published end date.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Nunya, Business
    Posts
    23,684
    All merchants say that to get you over to the new ones. My old ebay links still work. It's a site I don't update anymore so I didn't bother switching over and I still get sales. Usually with stuff like this the old links will still work because CJ still wants their cut. It's still CJ tracking code. You should switch just to be sure but realize merchants will say that because they would rather you use the new code but I've found the old code still tracks fine.

    What about this part:

    "I don't know what you guys think about the concept of "branded links", but I've been pushing for them for quite a while.

    "Why? And are you talking about in the Publisher Advisory Board?"

    Sam was actually talking about this, could be another LMI in the sense it could be another affiliate uprising:

    http://www.costpernews.com/2007/07/1...filiate-links/

    And I ask if that's something you're pushing in the Affiliate Advisory Board because you could be pushing another LMI or something most affiliates don't want. In conversations in the past, affiliates would post they're not here to give merchants SEO help, they're here to drive sales.

    So with something like this, before anybody does any pushing, we should have a conversation about it. List any positives, negatives, discuss it and then we could vote to see where people actually are on the issue. I'm not sure, the only way to know is to talk about it.

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador newestuser's Avatar
    Join Date
    February 14th, 2007
    Posts
    505
    I haven't changed my links, and there are only a few left because of those other leaks.
    I guess one could create a redirect-script, so the user clicks a link on your site that goes to an intemediary page on your site that's excluded in robots.txt, then in that page do a 301 redirect going to buy.com.
    I don't trust buy.com though.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    5,303
    I prevent spiders from clicking my affiliate links. I use a robots.txt to block all spiders and I use PHP to block a database of spiders. So there are two walls of defense to prevent spiders from following these links. I know it's against Google's guidelines to sell SEO granting links, so I'm a bit apprehensive.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  7. #7
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Mansfield, TX
    Posts
    16,232
    I take similar actions to both of you, to prevent spiders from clicking my links. I also set them to "nofollow".

    Buy.com will never get PageRank from my links, but they will from tens of thousands of other affiliates (until Google catches on). In doing so, they will make affiliate marketing stink even worse to Google and the other search engines.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Nunya, Business
    Posts
    23,684
    "I'm leaning more toward just opposing the entire concept."

    Same here. I'm not sure on the current statistics on our links getting blocked, my new computer out the box and on default and all the links are working fine. Of course I don't have Norton or the other ones that might be blocking, have AVG free. And I remember it used to be ad blocking was on by default but didn't that get changed?

    So the network links are working fine for me on any network. I'm not going to be putting up the Buy.com branded links just like I didn't put up any of the javascript ones. And I don't know if more merchants are headed that way and if this is going to be the only option or if we'll have a choice. LMI javascript started out with them wanting it as the only option until everybody actually heard from the affiliates.

    If they plan on this being the only option, it just tells me they didn't learn the first time around. This can be their LMI II. Merchants and affiliates are the networks customers. You need to get input from them and listen to them. I'm seeing that they're not getting any input from affiliates yet again. The smart thing for them to do is get active again and get input.

    "Another major issue is that it's not backward compatible. It could easily have been designed so that existing links would continue work and track indefinitely, but instead the old links will cease to track at some point in the future."

    And CJ is alright with that? That part I don't understand. Anytime you do something like that, there is always going to be a bunch of links out there and never get changed over. If they don't track, then CJ doesn't get their cut. And I really don't believe it because I don't see it with the ebay links. They said the same exact thing but I'm still getting sales with the old non rover ebay links. And I'm sure there are plenty of those still out there. It's in CJ's benefit to track them.

    edited to add. Just to be sure, I checked the ebay links, it's on a site I don't update anymore but still gets traffic and sales. And they're all qksrv.net links, the older CJ links.

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Nunya, Business
    Posts
    23,684
    As far as Norton and ad blocking, Dec 2006:

    "I have norton on my computer - firewall - everything - and it doesn't block my affiliate links."

    "I just upgraded to Norton Internet Security and it doesn't block any affiliate links... As a matter of fact I looked at the program and tried to find WHERE you could turn on AD BLOCKING and I couldn't find it any where... So it must be gone in the new version..."

    "I have been using updated Norton for years, never saw my links blocked."

    "my notron is OK too"

    "The websites returned on my Google search for "Norton blocking affiliate links" noted that the "ad blocking" option was turned ON by default in 2004 versions, and that Symantec had been promising to have it off by default in the 2005 version. I couldn't find anywhere whether Symantec followed through with that."

    4 people with Norton, reporting that it isn't blocking affiliate links.

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread...norton+default

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    September 25th, 2006
    Posts
    71
    So affiliates would help boost buy.com's page rank (which is fairly high right now anyway), which would give Buy.com higher organic search results, effectively edging out or diluting their own affiliates appearing on the same results page?

    It seems to me that SEO is focussed primarily on increasing free direct traffic. So Buy.com is forcing their affiliates to cannibalize their sales with no recognition of the value their links add.

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    March 2nd, 2007
    Posts
    1,470
    301 redirects mentioned by Buy.com are only for some bonus commissions, right?. If you don't need that extra bonus from Buy.com in July, I think you don't have to convert them to 301 redirects ..

    Using 302 redirects should not change anything, right??

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
    Join Date
    November 9th, 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    1,659
    I sent this e-mail to Melissa when the announcement came out:

    Melissa,

    What possible reason other than to improve buy.com's natural search engine rankings would there be to use the 301 redirect? I assume you will still track sales even if it is a 302 redirect. You're not going to get any search engine love from my site anyway, all of my links are injected via Ajax and javascript. I suspect you are about to get quite a bit of negative backlash with the e-mail you just sent out... You can't dictate what type of redirect people use...

    ....

    I got no response from Melissa, but I'm guessing that we all flooded her inbox with objections...

    I do think the redirect change is just to get the bonus money, but the fact that Buy.com is being blatant about their intentions is going to cause the Google monster to bite them in the butt. If they had just not mentioned redirecting, they would have been ok.
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    March 2nd, 2007
    Posts
    1,470
    Quote Originally Posted by isellstuff
    the fact that Buy.com is being blatant about their intentions is going to cause the Google monster to bite them in the butt
    Big G could teach a lesson to Buy.com easily .. Hope G is taking a note

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Nunya, Business
    Posts
    23,684
    Ah, that's a very good point. Could backfire on merchants. The selling point on this and why this is attractive to merchants is the SERP boost and benefit they would get from this. Well that's until G catches on. That's a no no. I can see merchants starting up programs now just to get those benefits. A lot of indy programs are setup that way already but networks have a lot more affiliates, can get lot more links in.
    Last edited by Trust; July 17th, 2007 at 12:51 PM.

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Nunya, Business
    Posts
    23,684
    Don't mind me. Just posting a couple of links so I can find them in the future when I search on them.

    http://www.google.com/support/webmas...y?answer=35769

    http://www.google.com/support/webmas...ge&topic=&type

    keywords - merchants gaming google, direct links, manipulate page rank, serps

  16. #16
    general fuq mrbshouse's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Argieville
    Posts
    1,381
    I don't know that G is going to slap their hand for anything. Buy.com is pushing the G pay and adsense, all those things we affiliates love.


    btw should the sponsored links give credit to G for being in adsense or are they part of the quality search "network" now, like Shopzilla and shopping.com?

  17. Newsletter Signup

+ Reply to Thread

Similar Threads

  1. Definitely opposed to ParasiteWare!
    By TheXception in forum Merchants opposed to ParasiteWare
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: January 22nd, 2013, 04:57 PM
  2. Branded links, evil or opportunity?
    By derfsun in forum Starting an Affiliate Program & Merchant Q&A
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: February 7th, 2008, 07:44 PM
  3. Branded Links Now On All 3 Major Networks
    By Kellie aka Ms. B in forum Midnight Cafe'
    Replies: 27
    Last Post: August 27th, 2007, 12:03 AM
  4. Traffic as opposed to sales
    By redsand in forum Building Traffic, Newsletters & Advertising
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: March 26th, 2003, 04:43 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •