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  1. #1
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Can Merchants Do This?
    One of my merchants has dozens of "Doorway Domains"

    One-page domain sites that are of course keyword heavy for rankings

    And all the links go back to their real merchant site - except they're using their own affiliate link

    Basically, they're competing with their own affiliates

    Is this allowed?

  2. #2
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    Doesn't sound like a very wise / ethical business practice if they care about having affiliates.
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  3. #3
    Affiliate Manager
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    I don't see anything wrong with multiple sites as long as they are unique in content. That's just marketing... But using the same links as your affiliates is a different story. There are other ways to track your inhouse sales instead of using the same tracking your affiliates use.

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    I wonder why they don't just track the traffic origination points?

    What's the benefit of using affiliate links? Unless the only tracking info they get is through the network they use. If that's the case then they are not terribly sophisticated.
    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die
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  5. #5
    Merchant & ABW Ambassador
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Kay
    One of my merchants has dozens of "Doorway Domains"

    And all the links go back to their real merchant site - except they're using their own affiliate link
    Why do they want to use their own affiliate link? I know most network will charge for tracking or sales.

    It will crowd the SEO space. I don't think this is wrong for a merchant.

    I.e. take ABC-Z merchant in travel with domain abc-z.com. They decide to come up with a different site travelideas dot com and pack it KW.

    If they do a redirect, that is a diff question all together.

  6. #6
    Member lookingfortips's Avatar
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    I can see the point if it's a small business with more than one owner. For instance, one partner is too cheap to advertise so the other partner advertises for them at their own expense and signs up as an affiliate in order to earn a commission for the sales they generate as well as their profit share or salary. Other than that, it could be to boost their EPC. Seems pretty pointless though if it is a one-owner company when they have to pay network fees for the sale.

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador sjangro's Avatar
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    If they set the commissions to zero for that account, they probably won't have to pay anything.

    They probably see it as an easy tracking solution that they don't have another way to do. Chances are, they didn't make the connection that they're competing with their affiliates and potentially clobbering return-days.

  8. #8
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Definitely a bad practice, but I don't think any network prohibits it. Same with overwriting affiliate cookies when consumers click through their newsletter.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
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  9. #9
    Outsourced Program Manager Angel Djambazov's Avatar
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    Hey Billy,

    I don't know who the merchant is that you are referring to but it doorway page technique is a very common practice. What's sad/funny is that several super affiliates sell this type of doorway service to merchants creating such pages specifically to impact search.
    Angel Djambazov
    Managing Edtior ReveNews
    OPM for Keen Shoes and Graphicly.com

  10. #10
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angel Djambazov
    ...What's sad/funny is that several super affiliates sell this type of doorway service to merchants creating such pages specifically to impact search.
    Wow. So it may not even be the merchant coding "their links" through affiliate URLs, but those affiliates that sell the "doorway service" to merchants?

    Geno

  11. #11
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    I've actually heard of employees in the merchant that are in cahoots with the affiliate manager and well, they take advantage of the system. I won't name names but it was not too long ago this happened. If you are working with the "gatekeeper"...

  12. #12
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    I don't see this (a merchant's "doorway domains" using affiliate links when sending traffic to the merchant) setting cookies) as a concern.

    I would see it as a problem if the merchant had "coordinating sites" (for example, if WelchStore.com also operated WelchStore-Forums.com and WelchStore-Support.com, which are linked from the WelchStore.com site, then I think it would be improper for the merchant to have its own affiliate links on those sites).

    I'd also be cautious when assuming that it's really the merchant's "own" affiliate ID.

    The "reluctant partner" situation is certainly realistic.

    Another scenario is that the merchant may be "leasing" the domain from someone and either agreed to pay based on sales, or may use the affiliate-commission stream to pay for the expense of leasing or buying the domain. I once sold a domain on those terms (I would be paid 25% of all revenue driven by the domain for the following 3 years -- which netted me about $10,000).

    Or perhaps the company has refused to authorize time or expenses for a strategy, and a consultant or employee has decided to do it "on their own dime and time," in exchange for the affiliate commission.

    In two cases, I've actually seen merchants invite their affiliates to exploit an idea, and then when no affiliates followed up, the merchant has allocated staff time and resources to create the affiliate site -- with the affiliate commissions used to pay for the costs of creating and maintaining the site. Again, this wouldn't be proper if the "affiliate site" is something that is ordinarily part of the merchant's own site.

    I've worked for several companies as a consultant, and then after they've transitioned to in-house staff, I sometimes do "affiliate-role work" for the company, creating sites or running PPC campaigns, in exchange for affiliate commissions. As an affiliate, I've certainly created "doorway sites" that funnel traffic to a merchant (obviously this is much less effective since Google has paid attention to "affiliate bridge pages"), and since my name is in the WHOIS record, someone who knew I'd done consulting for the firm might assume that this was actually "owned" by the merchant.

    I also believe that it's fair and proper for a merchant to use "its own" affiliate links in their own PPC campaigns, or to otherwise supersede a prior affiliate cookie if a consumer must be "repurchased" via PPC or another method.

  13. #13
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I did doorway pages in 1999 and 2000 but Google frowned on them so we stopped it. That was several jobs ago. I have seen a number of companies use affiliate links with DO NOT PAY to track internal campaigns. Just a cheap tracking system. You can always question them.

  14. #14
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    I consulted for a company that used their affiliate network for all their tracking simply because thats all they knew to do. I know they did not do it to avoid paying commissions because they are very honest people with a lot of business sense. If they thought it would hurt their affiliate program/good name they would stop immediately. Also the company had to stick to certain rules because of the venture capitalists that gave them the investment money to startup.

    I think what it boils down to is whether or not the intention is bad/malicious in nature and if they are abiding by the network terms of use. If they are not breaking the rules but hurting their affiliates the market will adjust acordingly when affiliates drop their links. Also if its that common of a problem I think the networks should step in and impose restrictions on in-house use of tracking via network links.

    Just my $.02

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