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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager sunnypi's Avatar
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    Exclamation dropping MyPoints?
    As a merchant we have been working with MyPoints a few other rewards sites (Upromise etc.) for a while now. I just inherited the affiliate program in January and we've been making a lot of progress on working a lot closer with our publishers.

    Now my question is - will it make a difference to you - the publishers - if I were to drop all the rewards sites from our program? I am very seriously considering it, they're not big sales drivers for us (although they do bring in revenue) - but I want to make sure our program runs right - for everyone. Is there anyone who would NOT join a program because of their affiliation with rewards sites?

    I wanted to get as much feedback as possible, as I am seriously considering it. I've been doing the research - and I just want to make sure that my deision is the right one.

    I know this forum hasn't had many posts lately - but I wanted to make sure I get it in the right place.

    Thanks!

    pi

  2. #2
    Classic Rocker Mack's Avatar
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    That fact that you're considering cleaning up your program is a great start. Many affiliates won't even give you a second look if you have parasites.

    This is a great place for research. Might I also suggest that you add http://affiliatefairplay.com/ to you reading list. Many questions will be answered there.

    There are many OPM's here who might work with you on a consulting basis, or help manage and re-launch your program. Cleaning it up and keeping it clean IS worth the effort.

    Clean networks are a good place to start. Check out Avantlink and Shareasale.

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador newestuser's Avatar
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    If you get rid of the all the toolbar reward sites, it is more welcoming to more affiliates, that's the big thing.. And both mypoints and upromise have toolbars.

    The ones where the user needs to go to the affiliate site and click aren't really bad as long as they have something else to offer.

  4. #4
    Affiliate Network Rep Kim Salvino's Avatar
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    Congratulations on taking the first step - realizing the negative impact loyalty programs can have on your legitimate affiliate partners, your company's reputation and its marketing efforts.

    I'll echo Mack and urge you to visit www.affiliatefairplay.com. Here is a direct link to tutorials on loyaltyware - http://www.affiliatefairplay.com/adware_tutorial.html.

    Best of luck to you!
    Kim Salvino, Client Services Director, Performance Horizon Group
    Reach me at kim.salvino(at)performancehorizon.com or on (443) 617-4036

  5. #5
    Affiliate Manager sunnypi's Avatar
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    Thanks all for the replies, it is really appreciated.

    I've been focusing my efforts in the last couple of months to try and learn as much about the impacts of loyalty programs as possible. I've spent a lot of time on AffiliateFairPlay and here on ABestWeb, all in the hopes of making our affiliate program the fairest (and best) one out there in our industry.


    I will always welcome any other feedback or opinions on this matter. Now I am realistically hoping for our program to be 100% loyalty-free by the beginning of 2008...

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager kmacbc's Avatar
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    Mypoints - I'm confused. I did thorough research and testing and Mypoints did not behave in a manner in which other software sites did with regard to poaching PIDs.

    Is there anyone with proof that indicates Mypoints does indeed circumvent another's affiliate efforts?

    Please advise. Thank you.

  7. #7
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunnypi
    Is there anyone who would NOT join a program because of their affiliation with rewards sites?
    Me.

    You have an interesting program. I don't do much (yet) with "cars" except that I like them. My daily driver is an '01 SLK - my baby. I also have a '91 Miata that I keep at our beach place. Our "family" car is a Saturn Vue. And, I am building a Website about my "Second Car(s)." Just getting started, but had nearly 40 Amazon sales there in December. But, no, I will not join a site with any hints of an association with parasites.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
    Cute Personal Checks and Business Checks
    If you are too busy to laugh you are too busy.

  8. #8
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    kmacbc asked: > "Is there anyone with proof that indicates Mypoints does indeed circumvent another's affiliate efforts?" <

    I don't think so. At the MyPoints site, they say that members can earn points by "Shopping online, using our site as a starting point." Unlike some other incentive sites, they don't seem to actively encourage members to return to the incentive site and click from that site to a merchant before making a purchase, in order to accrue points.

    I think it's important to distinguish between three "separate but overlapping" issues that arise with "incentive" sites like MyPoints:

    - First, there is the serious issue of "parasites," many of whom mask their activities by claiming to be "incentive" sites. I won't bother to summarize the tactics or tricks used by parasites; this whole forum is dedicated to that. My understanding is that every legitimate affiliate program and network claims to prohibit such affiliates, although some do little to enforce their rules.

    - Second, there is the question of whether an "incentive" site, by encouraging consumers to utilize the incentive site's affiliate links, is diverting transactions from other affiliates, and whether this is either "parasitic" or "inappropriate." In other words, the consumer uses ordinary methods (including search and/or content-based affiliate sites) to find a merchant and product, but then the consumer visits the incentive site and clicks on the link from that site in order to trigger the affiliate commission credit to the incentive site. This certainly is going to overwrite some affiliate cookies, and may result in "dual payment" by a merchant for the transaction (for example, the merchant may have spent money on pay-per-click advertising, and now must pay again via the affiliate commission).

    - Third, there is the broader question of whether an "incentive site" brings enough "new business" to a merchant to justify the cost of paying for transactions which the incentive site did not bring to the merchant. (This is a quite similar analysis as applies to certain coupon sites.)

    I think it's important to recognize that there is nothing "inherently unethical" about an incentive site (whether it's a rebate, reward, or charity incentive). Certainly, any incentive sites that engage in unethical activities should be excluded, but there is a separate decision about whether all incentive sites should be excluded (as some merchants choose to do).

    In my published advice for merchants, I wrote:

    [Incentive sites] generally do not bring new customers to a merchant, but instead "poach" a transaction that should properly be attributed to some other source (which increases the merchants' costs, reduces the accuracy of other reporting methods, and alienates affiliates whose commissions are poached).

    Some "incentive affiliates" are actually "fronts" for "parasites," who use the "incentive" business model as a pretext for the lack of referring URLs in most of their affiliate links, and for their unusual (high or low) conversion rates.

    On some affiliate networks, these sites are flagged or assigned separate categories so that merchants can allow or exclude them; some unethical incentive affiliates actively circumvent such methods.

    I recommend that merchants exclude "incentive" sites from affiliate programs. Such an exclusion will add compliance costs.
    As an affiliate, I consider a merchant's relationships with incentive sites as one of the many factors when choosing whether to promote the merchant's products, and whether to include a merchant in specific new projects. However, I don't actively research this for every merchant I work with.

  9. #9
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Excellent post, Mark! I was going to post something much shorter and less detailed, but I didn't think it did justice to the subject. Yours covers it perfectly and I agree 100%.
    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

  10. #10
    Affiliate Manager sunnypi's Avatar
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    First of all - thank you to everyone for your replies. We are in the process of cleaning our programs up and wanted to make sure we're dropping the right affiliates for the right reasons. I'm trying to make sure that we drop all parasites and anyone with toolbars/ downloadables / BHO's first.

    Since I made the first post I have also read Geno's book, which is a fantastic resource, along with tons of threads here on ABestWeb. I can't thank everyone enough for taking the time to help me learn.

    I also wanted to correct my last post - initially we will be dropping all the 'parasitic' sites, the ones we can confirm that have toolbars / downloadables / BHO's.

    Once we have that taken care of completely, we will working on dropping the "incentive" sites.

    Mark - I truly appreciate your feedback - but had a question - by referring to "incentive" sites, are you referring to all sites including sites with more than cash back areas like FatWallet? Is there some way to be excluded from the rewards part but still work with their community side?

    Beachy - we would love to have you become part of the program - I know that we can learn a ton from you, and I'm sure we can have a great partnership

    Once again - thank you to everyone's input. It really is much appreciated!

  11. #11
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Mark / Coley, did you guys get the email from MyPoints in the last few days offering 100 points if you download and use their latest toolbar for 30 days? In the past, these fools have been busted for overwriting affiliate cookies using the top moxie platform to form their BHO cookie chunking machine... they do have multiple tools, a long track record of abuse, are a frequent spam complaint and are currently promoting their new (read that as revised and relabeled) search toolbar... you guys sure about your recent positions above that seem to me to give them your "I don't think they're unethical" report card?

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador purplebear's Avatar
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    I don't know if this helps any or not. If you're a member of MyPoints you can if you want and I believe you'll receive points for downloading their toolbar, but if you don't want to you don't have to.

    As far as I know you can shop through the emails they send you if you sign up to receive the emails. You can visit the sites included in the emails, not shop and receive a small amount of points just for visiting those sites. If you do shop through that link in the email you'll receive more points.

    If you shop starting from their site, they'll set a tracking cookie on your browser, that identifies you as a MP member to that merchant so they'll know when you purchase something to report that to MP. Don't know if there are any other methods they use or not.

    If you use the MP credit card, am not sure how that works so don't know how that effects the affiliate. Don't know what all's involved with their toolbar, either other than if you don't want to you don't have to download it.

    Not sure if that helps any or not?

  13. #13
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    you guys sure about your recent positions above that seem to me to give them your "I don't think they're unethical" report card?
    I had some concerns when I saw their newsletter about their new toolbar, but it looks like it's just a "search" toolbar that ties in with Google, Yahoo, and MSN. I haven't tested it (and have no intention of installing or testing it), but I would be surprised if it overwrote any affiliate cookies.

    I do see a world of difference between the software affiliates who have a real business behind them (Ebates, Upromise, etc.) vs. the pure parasites. But I still have problems with these more "legitimate" ones. I don't think it's acceptable that they essentially nullify return days. I don't think the "loyalty" business model produces quality customers, in most cases. Like Mark, my suggestion to merchants would be to exclude the whole lot.
    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

  14. #14
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    I would be surprised if it overwrote any affiliate cookies.
    Given their long track record, I'd be surprised if they didn't. And I'm a tad surprised by your faith in someone like this.

    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    I do see a world of difference between the software affiliates who have a real business behind them (Ebates, Upromise, etc.) vs. the pure parasites. But I still have problems with these more "legitimate" ones. I don't think it's acceptable that they essentially nullify return days. I don't think the "loyalty" business model produces quality customers, in most cases. Like Mark, my suggestion to merchants would be to exclude the whole lot.
    The EBates and UPromise BHOs steal credit for sales, real business doesn't include stealing. They not only rob affiliates of return days, but they interefere in many other ways with a merchants activities, impacting the success of their affiliate channel and their other channels including ppc, seo, direct mail, tv, radio, newspaper/magazine, etc.

    The world of difference that you see is intentional on their part, but a thief dressed in a nice suit with slick biz cards and a professional logo is still thief.

    I do understand your point, they have loyalty aspects besides their thieving software that does have some value, though even that certainly is questionable. But to call these legitimate (or more "legitimate") because they include low value loyalty activities along with their thieving automatic cookie setting BHO software, does a disservice to the hard work done by your peers and partners.

    If the mafia donates to charity, some good is done, but organized and efficient criminal networks aren't therefore "better" than a lone thug (or thugs) with a gun, they just seem more palatable because too many superficially judge them. Truth is, they are more insidious and harmful.

    The world of difference comment keeps ringing in my ears... the ability to see through the apparent differences, grasping the actual similarities, between a common street thug and a mafioso capo is something I thought you were capable of.

    From Wikipedia:
    The Capo's crewmembers may each have their own criminal activity going on with their legitimate business ventures, while the capo may have his own business or a legitimate job in order to file tax returns.

    I'm not accusing BHOs of being hitmen by any stretch, but I certainly see them as organzied thieves who seek to portray themselves as legitimate business people and in so doing, make many people more forgiving and accepting of what they really do to make money, including you.

    If the best of the best among us are indifferent, uninformed or even partially fooled... and they're also unwilling to test, yet are willing to forget or forgive obvious documented abuses in the past, I can plainly see why it continues to prevail.

    But, in 2008 and going forward, I've pledged to myself to take negative situations more as opportunities, and less as sources of melancholy. So Michael, today I do thank you for your post. It has illuminated a new path I'm already focused on, but now, brighter than ever before. The opportunity I plan to seize is obvious to those who know me very closely - and it ain't passive nor is it joining the immoral. I feel like you've given me a gift today Michael, one that I'll treasure for a very long time to come. Thank you.

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