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  1. #1
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Since there are a couple of threads on the board referencing the latest NYT article, but no link to the article; here it is:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/20/te...l?pagewanted=1

    In case you don't want to have to register or log onto the NYT. Sorry about the lenght.

    A Truce for Some Web Publishers
    By BOB TEDESCHI


    Tensions cooled last week in the battle of the e-tailing affiliates when at least some of the feuding parties agreed to a treaty of sorts.

    The truce places the addresses of certain Web publishers on a protected list that is meant to put them off limits to providers of shopping software. The publishers have accused those providers of hijacking their customers.

    The agreement effectively creates some safe havens in cyberspace for smaller Web site publishers in particular — havens they say they desperately need to stay afloat. "It doesn't taste great, but I'm still happy," said Haiko De Poel Jr., who has represented the interests of Web publishers in the dispute through his Web site, ABestWeb.com.

    The conflict has involved online companies that earn money by funneling customers to Web merchants. In the Web's early years, the universe of these businesses, called "affiliate sellers," had been populated largely by small publishers — hundreds of thousands of them — who post information on music or books, for example, with links to Amazon. When shoppers click on those links and purchase something on Amazon or another affiliated merchant, the referring site typically receives a commission of between 5 and 15 percent.

    But in the past two years, these small affiliate sellers have increasingly found themselves giving ground to companies like Ebates, Upromise and others that give away Internet shopping software — often bundling it into the software used for popular music-swapping sites like LimeWire and Morpheus. When the software detects that the user is heading toward an online merchant, it typically displays a message telling the shopper that he or she can receive a discount or rebate by clicking a button — possibly at some other merchant's site. When the sale is made, the software company, like Ebates, earns a commission from the merchant.

    Small affiliate sites have bitterly complained that the shopping software companies are stealing commissions by siphoning off the small sites' prospective customers. And in some cases, the disgruntled affiliate sites have boycotted merchants who pay commissions to the shopping software companies.

    The shopping software companies, arguing in their own defense, have countered that it is the users who choose to place this software on their computers, and that if the affiliates cannot provide something of greater value to consumers as they shop, they should not expect credit for a sale.

    In November, merchants, affiliates and software companies met in New York to negotiate a settlement. Leading the talks was a group of five "affiliate provider" companies, including LinkShare and Be Free, which help merchants set up affiliate selling programs and dole out commissions to affiliates and shopping software companies alike. Their leverage, it was hoped, would move the parties toward an agreement.

    Those negotiations yielded the release in early December of an industry code of conduct, in which affiliate providers barred shopping software companies from "interfering with or seeking to influence improperly the referral of a potential customer" who had been on an affiliate's Web site.

    But LinkShare refused to endorse that agreement. And others, including Mr. De Poel, criticized it as overly vague, saying it did not clearly spell out a means of enforcing the policy. Still, many of the shopping software providers — so weary of being vilified by the affiliates that they are willing to cede some of the market to them — have tried to comply.

    Take Ebates, which typically rebates all but 1 or 2 percent of its sales commission to users when they shop at one of more than 500 online merchants. According to the company's chief executive, Alessandro Isolani, Ebates tried late last year to change its technology so it would recognize the Web addresses of affiliate providers and refrain from displaying competing offers when Ebates users were on sites associated with those affiliate providers.

    That proved technologically unreliable, Mr. Isolani said, but led to charges from affiliates that Ebates and others were not acting in good faith. (Ebates licenses a central component of its software from TopMoxie, which also provides the underlying technology for iGive, Upromise and several similar others.)

    Earlier last year, Mr. Isolani and his colleagues floated the idea of creating a list of affiliates with which they would agree not to compete. But affiliates rejected the "exclusion list" idea, Mr. Isolani said, because they believed that Ebates might use it to do further research on these competitors.

    The affiliates say they had good reason to be suspicious because in some cases the shopping software companies were surreptitiously diverting sales commissions from affiliates to themselves. Only after their methods were made public did companies like TopMoxie pledge to compete in a more straightforward manner — a goal, industry executives said, they have since pursued in good faith.

    Fast-forward to last week, when Mr. De Poel reconsidered his position on the exclusion list. "I figured this might take care of the problem the code of conduct never addressed," Mr. De Poel said. By creating a method to ensure compliance, he said, "we can avoid having this thing blow up and cause more stink in the industry."

    Mr. De Poel and Mr. Isolani of Ebates said they would test the system over the next few weeks. If successful, Mr. De Poel said, this method would be adopted by other TopMoxie licensees — and, most likely, by other shopping software companies, like Wurld Media, which provides the shopping software bundled with the Morpheus music-swapping technology.

    The new détente among these bitter rivals comes, of course, with a residue of mistrust. Mr. De Poel said he had agreed to provide a list of affiliate Web addresses to Ebates on condition that they be encrypted in such a way that Ebates could avoid encroaching on the affiliates' territory without actually knowing their identities.

    And Mr. Isolani does not yet appear ready to invite Mr. De Poel and his constituency over for Sunday dinner. "I'm cautiously optimistic about this," Mr. Isolani said. But only cautiously. "Nothing we've seen would indicate they're going to be reasonable," he added. "It seems like they have a religious hatred for us."

    As for whether this agreement could lead to Ebates' giving too much ground to affiliate competitors, Mr. Isolani said he doubted it. "We're obviously not going to list every site on the Internet; if it's a real person with a real issue with the software, we'll take a look at it," he said. "We could probably work with a thousand or two."

    That may not square with Mr. De Poel's expectations, though. "I think about 80,000 affiliates will be willing to go onto this list," he said. "But I could easily get 500,000 Web addresses in about 10 days, depending on how actively I went out there and did this."

    Internet merchants, meanwhile, are hoping for the best since they have suffered from the acrimony as well. Shawn Schwegman, who is director of affiliate marketing for the online discounter Overstock.com, and who helped broker the deal between the affiliates and Ebates, said some of his company's affiliate sellers had boycotted Overstock in recent months because he had refused to stop paying commissions to the shopping software companies.

    "I've lost about $150,000 a month in revenue because of this," Mr. Schwegman said. "Our program will increase dramatically if we can finally get the issue resolved."

    Mr. De Poel said the only two shopping software companies that appeared unwilling to comply with the demands of affiliates were WhenU and Gator. But Avi Naider, WhenU's chief executive, argued that his service, like Gator's, was fundamentally different from those of the other shopping software companies and in fact complied with the industry code of conduct.

    WhenU's technology will monitor a user's Web surfing and then display ads and offer coupons from merchants when the software detects those ads will be relevant. For instance, 1800Flowers.com might pay WhenU to display coupons to its users when they reached the 1800Flowers site. Or Delta might pay WhenU to show a Delta coupon when the user was on travel-related sites — including, perhaps, the Web sites of competing airlines, Mr. Naider said.

    Affiliates argue that examples like the Delta coupons violate the spirit of the code of conduct by unduly interfering with a sale in progress. But Mr. Naider disagrees.

    "Software that alerts consumers to coupons, deals and offers right when they are most relevant increases consumer choice and competition among providers," he wrote in an e-mail reply to a reporter's query. "It is an inevitable marketplace innovation."

    Keep Your Hands Off My Cookies

  2. #2
    Affiliate Manager
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    nice article.

    Shawn Schwegman
    Overstock.com
    801-947-3119
    shawn@overstock.com

  3. #3
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    Just to get this straight - the new idea - instead of using the original befree proposal which would have covered all links - is to trust Haiko with all our domains and sites, or at least some untrusted third party (or really at this point 4th party?)

    And then the idea is they have free reign to screw every site not on the list?

    GIVE ME A BREAK.

    This is arrogant and self-serving. These forums are not the center of the affiliate world and to have a penalty for ignorance like this is unacceptable - I guess to everyone except those who gain from this.

    Can you just call off this entire farce already? The Nov meeting was a farce, this is a farce. Why don't you start admitting to what you are really trying to do? Hook yourself into the affiliate marketing process.

    Getting ready to be banned again for speaking the truth - go back and read the old messages of who were banned (not just me) for arguing against the nov meeting - our fears and predictions have come true.

    Chet

  4. #4
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    The list idea sounds aweful to me...since it means that there will now be an insider list that gets special treatment.

    There is not a single web site on this planet that wants to have a third party analyzing its content and popping up ads. It is not just an insider list of friends of Haiko.

    This compromise is also extremely bad news for small mom and pop stores on the Internet. The parasites have open permission to feast on small stores while leaving the big companies paying the protection money free.

    boom!

  5. #5
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    Something here just does NOT smell like roses!

    The Wolf Credo: Respect the elders. Teach the young. Cooperate with the pack. Play when you can. Hunt when you must. Rest in between. Share your affections. Voice your feelings. Leave your mark.

  6. #6
    Full Member Abusaki's Avatar
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    Ssanf,
    Even if it smells like roses, remember roses have thorns, and i can see a whole lot here

  7. #7
    Domain Addict / Formerly known as elbowcreek Thomas A. Rice's Avatar
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    - - - - -
    "It seems like they have a religious hatred for us."
    - - - - -

    What an idiotic statement. All we have ever asked for is to compete on a level playing field. And that constitutes religious hatred? You can spin it, baby, but that doesn't mean it floats!

    "No day is so bad, it can't be fixed with a nap." - Carrie Snow

  8. #8
    Domain Addict / Formerly known as elbowcreek Thomas A. Rice's Avatar
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    Listing out our successful sites and handing it over to competitors is a HORRIBLE idea. Are we supposed to buy the ammo for them, too?

    "No day is so bad, it can't be fixed with a nap." - Carrie Snow

  9. #9
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    The idea of an exclusion list misses the point that contriving to intrude into someone else's sales process is simply WRONG, and should not be done to ANYONE.

    I suppose they think we have "religious hatred" because some of us keep quoting the ancient commandment "Thou Shalt Not Steal."

  10. #10
    Domain Addict / Formerly known as elbowcreek Thomas A. Rice's Avatar
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    Oh, no wait, they probably ARE getting commissions off of the ammo purchases already. What I should have said was, "Are we supposed to wear a target on our shirts as well?"

    My bad.

    "No day is so bad, it can't be fixed with a nap." - Carrie Snow

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador JJJay's Avatar
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    I too am strongly opposed to such a list. We are all in this together!!!

  12. #12
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    This is a real shame and I take issue with Haiko and others who have totally dropped the ball on the issue of protecting affiliates rights and (from my opionion) are more interested in taking a role of "how can I profit from this" rather than sticking with "we will only accept a no diversion policy".

    I've heard it all but really for the most part I've heard little. The last message in the "private parasiteware forum" was 8 days ago and it seemed to me that most of the activity there was to use people as testers for others benefit. The points that were brought up and had action planned on saw the ball drop one after the other with little or no participation where it was promised. The ball has been dropped over and over.

    The only thing that rings loud and clear is that affiliates who continue to "NOT STAND UP" for themselves are continually being manipulated by parties at every end.

    Despite numerous calls for action, affiliates (for the most part) will not band or stand together on targeting and boycotting merchants, contributing monies and most don't even help raise awareness on the issue.

    Haiko or Linkshare or any other network is not going to be our hero - gang. It's going to take a group effort and this simply won't be done.

    If yall think this months conversions are bad.... you ain't seen nothing yet. Every month it's going to get worse as more and more parasites are entering the field strangling your profits slowly but surely.

    The idea that parasites will "stay off of certain domains" and that they will honor this is about as likely as them to stop diversions today. Just a case for more screw ups. To further think that this list will be limited to a select few is even more ludicrous!

    I've continued to protect my interests and I'm employing other alternatives to make money which totally cut out the networks and the parasites and yes...... the merchants too!

    Until affiliates show they can "significantly impact" 1 merchants profitability and show they will continue to impact one merchant after the other until the merchant "cleans it's house" of not allowing downloadable software applications and other parasites in their program this battle wont be won. This should be a simple task but the lack of cooperation by affiliates to help their own cause is astounding.

    Somebody better wake up.

  13. #13
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    A massive class-action lawsuit is the only way this is ever going to get solved.

  14. #14
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    yes the list idea is nothing but bs. Any site with an affiliate link should not be popped up on, redirected etc. Most affiliates don't go to boards like this, have no idea it even exists. They should have the same protection this list idea proposes. I'll only be happy when any site with an affiliate link on it, is not popped on, redirected etc. I don't have a problem with software that pop-ups coupons when someone types in the url to a merchant straight into the browser, that would be between the merchant and the affiliate with this type of software. But when someone comes to my site, clicks an affiliate link taking the site visitor to the merchant, there should be nothing happening at all.

    Refuse To Lose - Chuck D

  15. #15
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    LAWSUIT!! Otherwise this will keep going in cirecles.

    John Solamito
    Affiliate Program Manager
    www.datecam.com
    www.datedollars.com - Affiliate program for Datecam
    johns@datecam.com
    C 206-920-5646

  16. #16
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    Sad Sad Sad, the parisite debate has gone from getting the networks to take a moral stand and stop the theiving, too getting on a protection list to shut us up!

    "Our program will increase dramatically if we can finally get the issue resolved."

    Shawn I have no sympathy for your $150000 a month loses, and hope the trend continues.

  17. #17
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    I have not dropped the ball or conceded anything, Unlike some parties who are willing to chase their own tails, I've actively been talking with Ebates, the networks, the parasites and affiliates to come up with A real method of protecting your commissions. There is nothing in this proposal that deviates from my stance of zero tolerance of link hijacking, in fact it fully reiterates it and finally makes it reality!

    The exclusion list will protect your sites 100% from any chance of being overwritten ... Nothing else will! If you want to recode all your sites with the affsrc=1 coding on both straight links and ALL database sites you have you still have the risk of being overwritten!

    The information will completely be encrypted and safe, either you protect your sites or you complain to the ones who shoot this proposal down and tell them to find a solution that is 100%.

    <font size="2" face="Verdana">Haiko


    The secret of success is constancy of purpose. ~ Disraeli
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  18. #18
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by TrustNo1:
    Most affiliates don't go to boards like this, have no idea it even exists. They should have the same protection this list idea proposes. I'll only be happy when any site with an affiliate link on it, is not popped on, redirected etc.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    If I'm supporting the exclusion list as a solution obviously I will make sure that most affiliates are cognizant of the service so that they can protect their site(s).

    <font size="2" face="Verdana">Haiko


    The secret of success is constancy of purpose. ~ Disraeli
    </font></p>

  19. #19
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    Hasn't wurldmedia been able to tell the difference? Their excuse is a copout - this is not the answer. This is an answer that benefits them and you - not us.

    You have become their lapdog, willing to take any scraps off the table they throw you. This was my concern from the begining, and this is clearly being shown by your lack of understanding over the outrage, though I think you do understand it but you are still trying to play the game.

    And i suppose these sites will be encrypted to you as well - and kept private - as private as private messages between two members of this forum????? *cough*

    Chet

  20. #20
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> I don't have a problem with software that pop-ups coupons when someone types in the url to a merchant straight into the browser, that would be between the merchant and the affiliate with this type of software.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I disagree with this.

    Unless the merchant is only promising a sessional cookie, the above scenario is just as wrong, because it overwrites the cookies that were set to credit us for sales made if the visitor returned to the merchant later.

    Any merchant who tolerates this from one affiliate is breaking faith with everyone else who promoted them in good faith.

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador ShoreMark's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Haiko:
    The information will completely be encrypted and safe, either you protect your sites or you complain to the ones who shoot this proposal down and tell them to find a solution that is 100%.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    My post(s) in the Exclusion List thread were not intended to shoot down the idea in total, depending on what further details emerge.

    However, this additional quote in the NYTs article by Mr. Isolani, if accurate, does not appear to give cause for optimism on that success: <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>"We're obviously not going to list every site on the Internet; if it's a real person with a real issue with the software, we'll take a look at it," he said. "We could probably work with a thousand or two."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    That sounds like, you'll first have to determine that the theft is occuring, then satisfy his undefined parameters for being "a real person." But, I know that what you read in the paper ain't necessarily what you get, so look forward to more details on this initiative in the near future.

  22. #22
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Andy Rodriguez's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Witness:
    A massive class-action lawsuit is the only way this is ever going to get solved.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    We have one on the table - NOW. The support as of today has been, well, not what i expected. We have been succesful in stoping gator and WhenU from poping on our sites. We have invited merchants and affiliates as well to join under the umbrella.

    I can count with one hand the number of people (affiliates/merchants) that have asked to be inclided and asked for more information. There are some heavy players in this group. Not one affiliate though has come forth.

    Haiko has come forth, but without your support, he is one man.

    I've said it before in the privste forums, stand up and be counted or lay down and be trampled. Tiger will not be trampled over!

    Do i have any takers? Send me an e-mail. Our lawsuits are now public knowledge. If you are going to post here and complain, take action, get involved!

    Andy Rodriguez,
    Online Advertising / Affiliate Marketing Manager

    TigerDirect.com
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    AIM: miamitigercub

  23. #23
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>
    There is nothing in this proposal that deviates from my stance of zero tolerance of link hijacking, in fact it fully reiterates it and finally makes it reality!
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    What reality? I've seen you bounce your opinion more than the balls you've dropped. If you want to be a leader well then - lead the affiliates.

    Your proposal will not even garner support from a very minor proportion of affiliates and surely doesn't show leadership at all. Now who's really chasing their tail?

  24. #24
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    I don't like the list idea, simply because i don't trust them to have my urls. I also don't see how you would notify hundreds of thousands of affiliates about this list idea, much less get them to give up their urls.

    Refuse To Lose - Chuck D

  25. #25
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> If I'm supporting the exclusion list as a solution obviously I will make sure that most affiliates are cognizant of the service so that they can protect their site(s). <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    What? We are talking about hundreds of thousands here. The only way I can see of reaching most affiliates would be for the networks to have a check box on their sign up page that says:

    Would you like another affiliate such as ebates to take a portion of your commisions yes/no

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