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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador
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    Affiliate Managers Competing with Affiliates
    Whether you're in-house AM or an OPM, you're privy to proprietary information, and functioning as an affiliate while (or even after) being the AM for any program or niche is profiteering at the expense of affiliates who trusted that the companies and/or persons they aligned with would regard their information as proprietary and not exploit them as a result of having access to that information.

    You might think that being "an affiliate" will gain you acceptance and approval as "one of us," but the fact of the matter is that you have access to private information that can be used to unfairly compete against us, and the final result is:

    I don't like you any more.
    I don't trust you any more.
    Like it or lump it.
    I am not your "friend" any more.

  2. #2
    Member lookingfortips's Avatar
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    Although I see your point in things like the recent Cowgirls/Performics issue, I have no problem with those who are an AM/OPM and affiliate as long as they are not in a competing niche.

    It's a gray area for sure but I don't agree with lumping them all together. There are some that do it fair and honestly.

  3. #3
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    Marcia - great post.

    All OPMs and AMs who are sideline affiliates need to consider the aspects raised by Marcia.

    Side note, Great to see you here regularly these days Marcia

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by lookingfortips
    It's a gray area for sure but I don't agree with lumping them all together. There are some that do it fair and honestly.
    It is a gray area and the AMs and OPMs should consider falling into this shady area.

  5. #5
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Just to get things straight for myself (once and for all): is no competition good, or is unfair competition (when an affiliate manager has had access to information that puts the AM a few steps ahead of the affiliate) no good? I have myself always been advocating transparency in this question, being guided by the following rule of thumb: never be an affiliate of the programs you manage.

    From what I've been reading lately it sounds that the affiliate manager best practices rule is (or has to be) more rigid than that, or: never be an affiliate and an affiliate manager at the same time (regardless of what niches you wish to explore).

    Thanks in advance for your feedback.

    Geno

  6. #6
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    The whole thing screams of conflict of interest and is nothing short of selling out for a few bucks.

    OPMs should make enough $$$ to not even think about being an affiliate.

    AMs - sure but not in a niche even remotely close to anything you manage or have managed in the past and only after you have relinquished all AM duties.

    Network Reps - do we really have to go there? They have all the info and it is nothing short of a fiduciary violation to both the merchant and affiliate base.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
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  7. #7
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    The merchants need to have a non-compete clause in their contracts with OPMs and they need to police it and enforce it. I must say I do get a bad vibe about OPMs who compete within the same niche that they provide AM services in. But I also get a bad vibe about OPMs who award their friends with insider information and perks that they don't provide to all affiliates who participate in their program.

    I prefer to work with in-house programs over any other type of program including OPM run programs. If I know an OPM is also doing affiliate marketing that makes me wary of working with them and their merchants.

  8. #8
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Geno,

    It makes an affiliate wonder when an AM of multiple programs starts to brag about how many birthday party hats he's sold recently as an affiliate
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  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    The issue to me is that an OPM or even AM's know the top websites that are driving the business to their merchants. That, at a minimum, allows them to review the sites that are working and see what from a design and content standpoint is working.

    I once made the mistake of asking people to identify the affiliate sites they thought were tops in their niches and learned very quickly that no one wants to identify actual domain names - not theirs and not ones they know about.

    While there is certainly a lot of experience necessary on the PPC or driving traffic side of the equation, how many of you would not like the domain names used by the top producing affiliates out there to see what they are doing?

    Anyone who said no to that is simply not telling the truth!
    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die
    to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there
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  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador kaizen's Avatar
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    Although I am dead set against AM's/OPM's being affiliate marketers on the side, at least Geno makes no secret that he dabbles in it.

    I wonder how many are doing this and keeping it (and their ill-gotten gains IMO) to themselves?
    We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.
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  11. #11
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    Happens all the time. And on top of that, they will promote their employer's competitors as well.

    One of them got called out on it a while back (he had been kinda 'copying' *wink* *wink* an affiliate's sites), and he has a story "Oh, that's not me, that's my WIFE". As if it makes any difference. And he wasn't married in the first place LOL!!!
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  12. #12
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    (when an affiliate manager has had access to information that puts the AM a few steps ahead of the affiliate) no good?
    Yes Geno, it's most definitey no good. Go to Dave Naylor and pay him a few grand a month to do your keyword research and SEO for you; but don't ride off our backs for zero compensation just because you have access to all our referrer and clickthrough information,

  13. #13
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by visitourmall
    ..... how many of you would not like the domain names used by the top producing affiliates out there to see what they are doing?

    Anyone who said no to that is simply not telling the truth!
    Some of us would prefer to be the ONLY ones who are doing what we are doing in the first place. Why swim upstream when the river flows deep and wide?
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  14. #14
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    I have myself always been advocating transparency in this question, being guided by the following rule of thumb: never be an affiliate of the programs you manage.
    Come on Geno, lets get real and really transparent and realistic about thisl. It's not a matter of which program or which merchant, it's a matter of which niche and which KEYWORD PHRASES.

  15. #15
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcia
    Go to Dave Naylor and pay him a few grand a month to do your keyword research and SEO for you; but don't ride off our backs for zero compensation just because you have access to all our referrer and clickthrough information
    Whatever information I do have does not help me a single bit in promoting Christmas stockings, birthday hats and checks. So rest assured that I have never ridden on your back.

    Having said this, there are quite a few valid points above... I have to step out for about an hour, but will post again in this thread as soon as I'm back.

    Thanks, and more more feedback is definitely welcomed.

    Geno

  16. #16
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcia
    Come on Geno, lets get real and really transparent and realistic about thisl. It's not a matter of which program or which merchant, it's a matter of which niche and which KEYWORD PHRASES.
    Not one used from what I know from other programs. I've been playing around with the long tail ones, very specific to two verticals: party supplies and checks...

    Off I go. But will be back soon.

    Geno

  17. #17
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    "I wonder how many are doing this and keeping it (and their ill-gotten gains IMO) to themselves?"

    Quite a few I spoke at Think Tank. Virtually all OPMs have side aspect as Affiliates.

    SaS should ban sharing / passing the referring URL ... SaS, do consider this as it is ill advised to pass such information to merchants / OPMs who are mostly side line affiliates

  18. #18
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
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    I agree we should not compete against affiliates. I never have on any programs I have personally managed and my commission earnings through any network I have managed a program in, and in my case it has mostly been SAS, have been practically zero.

    Infact, the longest program I have been and will still manage is EverythingFurniture and have in three years as the OPM do know what the top affiliates are doing in our program or such as ppc and keywords used. I think I would have been rich by now selling EF furniture or with any other prior managed merchants if I did competed. I agree with affiliates on this issue and ethically and honestly only want as Haiko says make enough and specially as the EF OPM to never even have to worry to compete.

    I can agree though that if you are new and you just started as an AM, OPM or network rep just to suddenly become an affiliate or became an affiliate just get info and to beat out and compete against affiliates later you should not do that and should atleast wait a year or more before buying related program domains and starting your own affiliate sites for those prior or current managed programs. Perhaps there should be rules and NDA and Non-competes stating this in the future through networks and perhaps merchants. If you were an AM or network rep and got fired or let go for some reason that rule should apply too and should have to wait 12 months.

    Also what happens if you used to be an affiliate and already know exactly what todo as an affiliate to create sites and prosper such as having a datafeed site or coupon sites, then became an AM or OPM to help merchants on how to effectively run their program? Which is one reason I personally became and OPM to help merchants but still am and like being an affiliate for various reasons. Is that considered not a good idea anymore?

    Also what happens if you used to be an affiliate for walmart, or let's say you already have family member that was or still is an affiliate of a program you managed or will manage in the future or used to manage and they do their own affiliate thing and nothing todo with you as an AM or OPM. (I'll use them as an example cause I know I will never manage that program on purpose) then one day I start managing their program, I would then personally ofcourse remove/change their link on my site right away but what if there is a program I used to managed such as walmart, then I put back their link on my site, how do we manage that part? Should the AM or OPM ever be an affiliate of walmart or perhaps have to wait 12 months because they managed or briefly perhaps just consulted or advised them to run or start their program?

    How do we balance this grey area for existing affiliates and future AMs, OPMs and network reps being affiliates?

  19. #19
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lookingfortips
    Although I see your point in things like the recent Cowgirls/Performics issue, I have no problem with those who are an AM/OPM and affiliate as long as they are not in a competing niche.
    It's difficult to define a competing niche.
    Chances are any niche out there that the AM/OPM might want to do on the side will have affiliates who will now be in competition with the AM/OPM.

    I affiliate with birthday party hat merchants [I'm just using this as an example] so you can imagine my dismay when an AM/OPM I affiliate with for other products has entered the birthday party hat affiliate market This is just an example.

    When I sign with an AM/OPM I hope the AM/OPM will review my site and give me some marketing tips but the situation becomes awkward when the AM/OPM I signed with to promote widgets has become a competitor in birthday party hats; I'll want to watch my back.

    Instead of an AM/OPM affiliating on the side, perhaps the AM/OPM should consider possible ways to strengthen the AM/OPM business.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge - JRami
    I think I would have been rich by now selling EF furniture or with any other prior managed merchants if I did competed.
    That is the CRUX of the issue. AMs / OPMs / Network Reps have sensitive information. If they are not honest and misuse the information, they could get rich (ill-gains)!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge - JRami
    Also what happens if you used to be an affiliate and already know exactly what todo as an affiliate to create sites and prosper such as having a datafeed site or coupon sites, then became an AM or OPM to help merchants on how to effectively run their program? Which is one reason I personally became and OPM to help merchants but still am and like being an affiliate for various reasons. Is that considered not a good idea anymore?
    To avoid falling into "gray" area, you should choose whether you want to be an OPM/AM or remain as an affiliate. Being both at the same time could be risky and shady!. Better yet, if you were an affiliate wanting to become AM, take a break for a year or two, and start your new role as AM to avoid conflicts of interest



    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge - JRami
    How do we balance this grey area for existing affiliates and future AMs, OPMs and network reps being affiliates?
    Take a break for a year or two, and start your new role as AM to avoid conflicts of interest

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhia7
    When I sign with an AM/OPM I hope the AM/OPM will review my site and give me some marketing tips but the situation becomes awkward when the AM/OPM I signed with to promote widgets has become a competitor in birthday party hats; I'll want to watch my back.
    Rhia, you can be direct at Geno. Knowing Geno, I sure hope he will respond to this

  22. #22
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge - JRami
    Should the AM or OPM ever be an affiliate of walmart or perhaps have to wait 12 months because they managed or briefly perhaps just consulted or advised them to run or start their program?

    How do we balance this grey area for existing affiliates and future AMs, OPMs and network reps being affiliates?
    There is a difference between the use of one's experience using aggregated information (you remember the general processes you go through as either an AM/OPM or as an affiliate) and specific information.

    If an AM/OPM knows that "Bob Smith's" website and ppc program made lots of money and then the AM/OPM designs a site that is confusingly similar to that of "Bob Smith" -- that is wrong.

    If the AM/OPM worked for Walmart and decides not to be an AM/OPM for Walmart anymore, no one can fault that AM/OPM for using general and aggregated information gained from work experience.
    Last edited by Rhia7; November 8th, 2007 at 01:44 PM.
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  23. #23
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redtagdeals
    Rhia, you can be direct at Geno. Knowing Geno, I sure hope he will respond to this
    It was an illustration to show how an affiliate may or may not feel in such a situation. Although it is true that I affiliate with the same company being discussed, I doubt that Geno & I will be head to head in party hat competition
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by redtagdeals
    To avoid falling into "gray" area, you should choose whether you want to be an OPM/AM or remain as an affiliate. Being both at the same time could be risky and shady!.
    100% agree!

    I've heard of this kind of sneaky/greedy practice of some AMs/OPMs for years .

    I'm glad that the issue finally be raised up on ABW.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by lookingfortips
    ....I have no problem with those who are an AM/OPM and affiliate as long as they are not in a competing niche.
    How would we as affiliates know which niche a given OPM / AM is working in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge - JRami
    How do we balance this grey area for existing affiliates and future AMs, OPMs and network reps being affiliates?
    One way may be for OPM /AM's to make available a "declaration of interest" which is easily available for all potential affiliates to view and make their own judgements as to continuing to work with any given OPMs.

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