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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager
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    October 7th, 2007
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    Approval Criteria
    Hi all,

    As I posted in the introduction lounge my company just launched our affiliate program and I am consequently very new to this form of marketing. I have been reading past threads to try and avoid posting something that has been asked and answered or is just plain stupid. But I don't promise I will succeed. Please be gentle.

    I have reviewed a couple of thread about auto approval vs. manual approval. I have a related question. We have decided that we want to manually approve. That brings up the question of what is the criteria I use for manually approving? I am trying to approve the initial rush of applications I received as quickly as possible. Thus far, I have been using sort of the stupid test...

    1. If I look at the affiliate site(s) can I tell how they will make money? (Can they make money on anything? I will approve even if they seem to just post shoes which is pretty far from my vertical.)
    2. Do they have a history of strong performance on my network?


    This has gotten me through quite a few. But, I have hit a brick wall.
    • What to do on affiliates that are new and have sites that are under construction?
    • How do I access affiliates that generate sales through search engines and there is nothing to look at?
    • What about affiliates that put sites that don't seem to have any marketing at present?


    So my question is, what criteria do you use when approving affiliates? I notice in the thread on auto approval there is discussion about using manual approval to avoid affiliates who are dishonest. How can I tell that from their minimal application.

    Just as a bit of background, we are a consumer electronics retailer. We are completely nonexclusive.

    Sorry this post turned out to be much longer than I intended. I do very much appreciate your help.

    Thanks,
    Erika Dickstein

  2. #2
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
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    Why would you want to reject any affiliate that wants to promote you, as long as they're not doing anything illegal, fraudulent, or deceptive?

    Does your network not do a good job of weeding out those types of affiliates?
    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

  3. #3
    Member lookingfortips's Avatar
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    September 13th, 2007
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    If I look at the affiliate site(s) can I tell how they will make money? (Can they make money on anything? I will approve even if they seem to just post shoes which is pretty far from my vertical.
    I wouldn't judge a book by it's cover. A newbie affiliate may not appear to be much by looking at their website but they could be a super fast learner and end up being one of your top affiliates in the future. Don't pick affiliates just because you think they have the potential to be a "super affiliate." Give your affiliates the chance to work with you and let them prove their potential to you instead of making any assumptions about their effectiveness.

    Do they have a history of strong performance on my network?
    As long as they are not a child porn ring website or affiliated with the KKK (I'm being somewhat facetious) what would it really matter if they only make a sale for you here and there? It's still revenue they are generating for you and the marketing expense is on them- not you.

    What to do on affiliates that are new and have sites that are under construction?
    Be patient. Their website could end up being a major success. Don't pass them over due to an if. If you're that concerned about it (which is understandable), make regular check ups on their site. Or even email them to see what their intentions and visions are. You may be pleasantly surprised.

    How do I access affiliates that generate sales through search engines and there is nothing to look at?
    In my opinion, if they are focusing on PPC methods then having their website being an embarrassment to you shouldn't be a problem. Most networks require the affiliate to have a website of some sort even if they plan to focus on PPC. In fact, I personally am not aware of a network that does not require a website during the affiliate sign up process (but surely some exist).

    What about affiliates that put sites that don't seem to have any marketing at present?
    Patience. A successful and professional affiliate website takes time to build. It's pretty unfair to demand them to the perfect promotional website and expect it to be done within a day. You can either have speed or quality. Very rarely you will get both at the same time.

    So my question is, what criteria do you use when approving affiliates?
    Racism? Illegal activity? Extremist content? A history of suspicious activity? Any of those are automatic declines. Sometimes I will decline the sites that have nothing to do with my product. But be careful with this one too. Many affiliates have several different websites with a variety of niches. You may be perplexed when a gambling affiliate site signs up for your personalized Bible products but it is possible they have other websites that this product would fit. It is also possible that they may own a gambling affiliate site but then promote other products only through PPC.

    I notice in the thread on auto approval there is discussion about using manual approval to avoid affiliates who are dishonest. How can I tell that from their minimal application.
    I know some networks reveal who has a history of suspicious activity (assuming they weren't banned already). You would probably be safe if you were in a network that refuses to work with parasites.

    Hope that helps and best of luck. Although there will be some scammers out there, remember most affiliates are your best ally so treat them right and don't assume guilt until proven innocent.

  4. #4
    Merchant & ABW Ambassador
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    May 31st, 2006
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    What to do on affiliates that are new and have sites that are under construction?
    Based on my previous experience, I reject them. Let them come to me when they are ready. Hence, you will not know if they will post something "unfriendly" like Child Porn with their underconstruction site in the near future.

    How do I access affiliates that generate sales through search engines and there is nothing to look at?
    Can you elaborate, "nothing to look at"? Are you referring to PPC aff?
    What about affiliates that put sites that don't seem to have any marketing at present?
    If they have a good understanding of online marketing or affiliate marketing, they should swing around and put up "marketing"/affiliate links..all in good time.

    Here are my thoughts on manual approval.
    -Brand protection. If you company is very selective on where your banner shows up, then you might come in useful.
    -You know who is in your program. When I was doing manual approval, I examine every site. I spent any where from 20 seconds to a few minutes on a site. Check PR, back links, WhoIS, etc. I had a few new affiliates who said that they owner a shopping / coupon website (and I know that was not the case as the owner is an ABW member). I got those acct terminated by LS.
    -You control who gets in. Do you want your competitors in your program? Do you want parasite affiliates in your program??

    Please note, you do not want to wait 3 days to approve affiliates.
    My suggestion, if you have time, do manual approval but it WILL be time consuming. There is not clear cut answer but you have to measure the cost and benefits of doing this yourself

    I think your network is your first line of defense and some will do a better job than others.

  5. #5
    Outsourced Program Manager Stephanie Harris's Avatar
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    October 11th, 2006
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    We do manual approval for all our programs, and I think its one of the most important things we do to manage these programs on a day-to-day basis. I've looked at each and every application that comes through so I know the affiliates in my program and those that are never going to be in my program. Like Michael said before, you typically want to work with those that want to promote you, given they are not doing anything you would not want representing your program.

    However, I will only accept programs into the program that have a live site. We get hundreds of applications a week where under URL, there is nothing given. Those people get rejected. We also get the "Under construction" sites. I try to email each of these guys and let them know that once their site is up, they should please contact me directlyfor reconsideration into the program.

    Also, if I feel a site is not appropriate in content or I question their marketing methods, I send an email asking them to explain to me what marketing methods they would use to promote my program. If they don't respond, I reject them. If their response makes sense, I accept them. And if any affiliate writes to me directly asking me to reconsider approval, I will look again and either approve them automatically or if I still find something questionable, tell them what would need to be fixed so we can work with them in the future.

    It is really important to keep in mind that approvals aren't a way to wield power, but just another manifestation of the partnership you're about to embark on. If the publisher takes the time to apply to my programs, they deserve my time in looking at it as soon as possible and giving them a thoughtful, considered action.
    Stephanie Harris
    Schaaf Consulting
    p/f: 323.386.2338
    AIM: stephschaafco
    www.schaafco.com | stephanie@schaafco.com
    Our Programs: Baby Catalog | Blue Bee | Constant Contact | CourseSmart | ForMeToCoupon | Homestead | InTheSwim | Ipsos Survey Panel | LightInTheBox.com | Moosejaw | Mrs. Prindables | Payless ShoeSource | simply youth ministry | SnagAJob.com | Specialty Pool Products

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager kmacbc's Avatar
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    What to do on affiliates that are new and have sites that are under construction?
    - email them using the contact info they provide or through the interface and ask what their plans are to promote you. In some networks, affiliates can apply to an entire category and not even necessarily know which merchants they are applying to. They just want to promote "golf" and apply to all. If they are serious about promoting you - they will reply with a response. Plus, it gives you a chance to introduce yourself and get acquainted. Don't be afraid to ask - they are applying to you after all. And if they don’t reply within a week or two, then I feel it is reasonable to forgo accepting them at this time. They can always re-apply!

    How do I access affiliates that generate sales through search engines and there is nothing to look at?
    - I suggest contacting the affiliate as mentioned above and asking that they please review your search policy, to contact you with any questions and as a sign of their reading the policy, they email you back prior to accepting their application. This will again induce conversation and offer your affiliates the opportunity to be perfectly clear in their intent.

    What about affiliates that put sites that don't seem to have any marketing at present?
    - I typically decline these applications. If able, just email and ask what their plans are or ask that they please re-apply when a web URL is purchased and/or the website is live. Affiliates should understand if you the advertiser has nothing to base their application on. Be up front and tell them you manually accept applications, thus your email to inquire what they have in mind.

  7. #7
    Outsourced Program Manager TrishaLyn's Avatar
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    Cool
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie Harris
    However, I will only accept programs into the program that have a live site. We get hundreds of applications a week where under URL, there is nothing given. Those people get rejected. We also get the "Under construction" sites. I try to email each of these guys and let them know that once their site is up, they should please contact me directly for reconsideration into the program.
    Honest (yet dumb) question... does one need a website to be a straight PPC affiliate? I've been declining those with no URL listed for awhile but I'm not that familiar with PPC. Any thoughts?

    Didn't see the need for a whole new thread... this is my first post here

  8. #8
    Affiliate Manager kmacbc's Avatar
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    TrishaLyn,

    It's up to the advertiser whether or not they allow affiliates to drive traffic on their behalf using their domain name. So is XYZ.com company allows affiliates to bid on keywords and phrases and use their domain, www.XYZ.com, then those affiliates do not necessarily need to own a domain. However, if advertisers require or prefer affiliates drive traffic to a content rich website of their own and then drive traffic through links and ads, a domain other than www.XYZ.com should be used on PPC ads.

    CJ, by the way, doesn't require affiliates to list every single URL they promote - so it's hard for advertisers to find them. Thank goodness for the “Fink Publisher by PID” option in CJ.

    My advice -- bear in mind that even if a URL isn't listed for a publisher, doesn't mean the affiliate doesn't own or promote your company on a domain that isn’t listed. I would definitely reach out with a friendly “what are your plans to promote my company” email prior to accepting them.

    Hope that answers your question, ~K

  9. #9
    Outsourced Program Manager TrishaLyn's Avatar
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    Thanks! It does give me some insight.

  10. #10
    Antisocial Media Expert ProWebAddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmacbc
    TrishaLyn,

    CJ, by the way, doesn't require affiliates to list every single URL they promote - so it's hard for advertisers to find them. Thank goodness for the “Fink Publisher by PID” option in CJ.
    That what I was going to say. I don't list every single one of my sites in CJ or any other network. So keep that in mind if you are a kitchen wares merchant and the affiliate only has a site about blue socks listed.

  11. #11
    Outsourced Program Manager TrishaLyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProWebAddict
    That what I was going to say. I don't list every single one of my sites in CJ or any other network. So keep that in mind if you are a kitchen wares merchant and the affiliate only has a site about blue socks listed.
    Out of morbid curiosity, why would you not list those sites? Because they don't have affiliate links or... what's the advantage?

  12. #12
    Antisocial Media Expert ProWebAddict's Avatar
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    1) I don't have time to list every single site I have x 4 different networks.

    2) There's no reason to show all of my cards. Normally I wouldn't think that it mattered but over the past few years I see that it does. When a sale is made you'll see where it came from and that's all that needs to be known. There's no reason X- merchant in X- niche to know that I also promote Y-merchant in Y-niche.

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