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  1. #1
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    Direct to Merchant via affiliate URL, allowed or not?
    OK, I just saw this on one affiliates site and was wondering is DTM allowed or not. They just have a redirect w/ no click. I should say that this affiliate is a very successful one and has even had exposure in Revenue magazine, so I would think that they wouldn't do anything wrong.

    So it against the rules? If so, is that a CJ policy? I was under the impression this was not allowed. Someone who I just started a campaign for told me that I needed to have a landing page so that I would "stay within CJ's TOS". The AM seems like a smart and successful one too. Who is right, the star affiliate or the star AM?

    -sfcom


  2. #2
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    Same thing we talked about in chat when I pointed you to the CJ rules. I think you already know the answer.

  3. #3
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    Same thing we talked about in chat when I pointed you to the CJ rules. I think you already know the answer.
    Well, since this forum is for all to learn, maybe we can make it clear for the others also. Since a "star" affiliate is using this technique, maybe the answer is not as clear as you believe it to be.

    -sfcom


  4. #4
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    Why don't you share your experience then so others could learn? Redirection on an affiliate link, without a click is against the TOS.

    If you're talking about direct to merchant via a PPC ad, that's up to the merchant.

    http://www.cj.com/code_of_conduct.html

    Non End-User Initiated Events. Publishers may not use methods to generate non end-user initiated impressions, clicks, or transactions. All click events must be initiated by an affirmative end-user action.

    If you're talking about getting someone to one of your pages and then it automatically redirects to a merchant, no. They need to click on the link, not get automatically redirected.

  5. #5
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    Why don't you share your experience then so others could learn?
    I did as much as possible. The revealing of an affiliate's URL is against the rules, so this is as far as I can illustrate it.

    Type in "star" affiliate's URL. Get re-directed to a CJ listed merchant's site. No click necessary.

    -sfcom


  6. #6
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    I mean your own experience. ecomxpo chat.

  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    Trust the argument previously hashed through and never resolved though is what defines a click event that is initiated by an affirmative end-user action?

    If you have a club that people join and your terms and conditions for club members state that upon logging in as a member you will open a window (thereby setting a cookie) with all the merchants associated with your site, has the user initiated that action when they log in as a member?
    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die
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    isn't and die to find out there is.

  8. #8
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    "Trust the argument previously hashed through and never resolved though is what defines a click event that is initiated by an affirmative end-user action?"

    This is pretty simple. I think some people like to confuse the issue. You're not supposed to automatically redirect to a merchant via your affiliate link from just somebody visiting your page. The only click was getting to the page, not an intention to visit the merchant. A click to the merchant is.

    "If you have a club that people join and your terms and conditions for club members state that upon logging in as a member you will open a window (thereby setting a cookie) with all the merchants associated with your site, has the user initiated that action when they log in as a member?"

    They just login and you load them up with cookies from all the merchants? That's called cookie stuffing.

  9. #9
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust

    Non End-User Initiated Events. Publishers may not use methods to generate non end-user initiated impressions, clicks, or transactions. All click events must be initiated by an affirmative end-user action.
    So then, why would a full-time "star" affiliate be using this technique at the risk of violating the TOS? Is it possible that this doesn't mean what you say it does? I would really like to hear CJ's side of this.

    -sfcom


  10. #10
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    sfcom: You are asking a question that can only be answered by CJ staff, and yet you are asking this in a discussion forum where CJ staff does not participate. If you want an answer, then contact CJ. If you don't want an answer from anyone other than CJ, don't post your question here.

    I don't understand exactly what conduct you are accusing the unnamed affiliate of engaging in -- you wrote that "They just have a redirect w/ no click" but without some context, that's meaningless. Unless you clearly identify the conduct you are questioning, it's impossible for anyone to reply intelligently.

    After reading your posts in this thread, I suspect that you don't really want an answer, but instead you want to create a "record" so that later when you are ejected by CJ for engaging in a particular practice, you can object that it was unfair because after all, they didn't reply here to clearly state that it was prohibited, and they also didn't act consistently if they ejected you but not some other affiliate engaged in the same activity.

    Even assuming that your assumptions are correct -- that a particular affiliate engages in a specific activity and has apparently not been terminated -- this is not an endorsement of that practice. If someone drives erratically but the police don't pull them over today, that doesn't mean it's OK to drive erratically.

    There have recently been several very thorough discussions of "what constitutes an acceptable click/referral" -- one of them in response to a specific complaint I posted about a particular ShareASale affiliate. While I'm not aware of any similar in-depth discussion regarding CJ's rules, every affiliate network has its own specific rules (or not) regarding this issue, and each network has its own practices regarding interpretation and enforcement of these rules. Likewise, each merchant has its own practices.

    If the comments of many ABW participants are credible, then CJ and many of its merchants are very inconsistent in enforcing many rules. Certainly, the issue of "parasites" is one where CJ clearly prohibits current practices, and yet many trustworthy people assert that CJ has consistently refused to eject parasites from the network.

    And CJ rarely participates or responds to anything posted on ABW. If you actually want an answer, contact CJ directly for support (but don't be surprised if you get no response, nor if you get an inconclusive or unclear response, nor if you get a response that later turns out to be incorrect).

  11. #11
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    Mark,

    After ignoring the first part of your reply, which incorrectly states "my" intentions, the second part actually contributes to the discussion. WTG!

    Also, I did not state that I only wanted an answer from CJ. I just said that it would be nice if their opinion was made known, since they are ultimately the decider of the infraction or not. Thanks for twisting my words around.

    -sfcom


  12. #12
    Speechless OTProf's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Trust]Publishers may not use methods to generate non end-user initiated impressions, clicks, or transactions. All click events must be initiated by an affirmative end-user action/QUOTE]

    I wonder if typing in a url counts as a user-generated action. For example, let's say the star affiliate has a url called discountsnowboardgear and when a user types in that url they are redirected to the snowboard outlet store of a major outdoor store. I would guess that isn't appropriate, but I could also see where some find that acceptable.

    Also, as Trust noted, you don't need to have a landing page if a merchant allows direct linking -- but the client of the AM you spoke to may require landing pages.

    As was mentioned already, it would be great if you give some more specifics (you don't need to give the real info - just give a parallel scenario like my snowboardgear example).

  13. #13
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=OTProf]
    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    Publishers may not use methods to generate non end-user initiated impressions, clicks, or transactions. All click events must be initiated by an affirmative end-user action/QUOTE]

    I wonder if typing in a url counts as a user-generated action. For example, let's say the star affiliate has a url called discountsnowboardgear and when a user types in that url they are redirected to the snowboard outlet store of a major outdoor store. I would guess that isn't appropriate, but I could also see where some find that acceptable.

    Also, as Trust noted, you don't need to have a landing page if a merchant allows direct linking -- but the client of the AM you spoke to may require landing pages.

    As was mentioned already, it would be great if you give some more specifics (you don't need to give the real info - just give a parallel scenario like my snowboardgear example).
    Your snowboard example explains the situation perfectly.

    -sfcom


  14. #14
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    "Someone who I just started a campaign for told me that I needed to have a landing page so that I would "stay within CJ's TOS". "

    That's a little confusing. Are they saying have a landing page and someone gets to it and it automatically redirects to them? Because they're giving you misinformation that you need a landing page and it being against CJ's TOS because the merchant could just allow direct to merchant PPC. Unless you're not talking about PPC? Also are you talking about products or TM? Need more info. Ultimately it's up to the merchant as long as what the merchant wants doesn't violate the network rules.

  15. #15
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    "Someone who I just started a campaign for told me that I needed to have a landing page so that I would "stay within CJ's TOS". "

    That's a little confusing. Are they saying have a landing page and someone gets to it and it automatically redirects to them? Because they're giving you misinformation that you need a landing page and it being against CJ's TOS because the merchant could just allow direct to merchant PPC. Unless you're not talking about PPC?
    No, they are talking an actual landing page that requires a click from "Ilovebostoncremedonuts (com)", my site --- to "thebestdonutsever (com)", the merchants site.

    Not PPC, but advertising externally (outside of my domains/hosting).

    -sfcom


  16. #16
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    Which is different from - "They just have a redirect w/ no click."

    "that requires a click from "Ilovebostoncremedonuts", my site "

    A click from your site to the merchant site, is fine. That's how it's mostly done. Just landing on a page and getting redirected, might be problems with that. Ask the merchant.

    Are you talking more about offline advertising? Like passing out a flyer or something with your url? And they get to your page and then what? They have to click or are you asking if it's ok that when they get there, they're automatically redirected?

    Or, reading your title. Are you talking about offline advertising, with your own affiliate encoded url that you can give out?

  17. #17
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    This is what is in question with the "star" affiliate. Against CJ TOS or not?

    -sfcom


  18. #18
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    As you said, if it is "Type In URL" and not a forced pop-under or some other deceit technique, it may be fine IMO. Also, it could vary from merchant to merchant.

    Once I had a merchant who was specifically asking a domain type-in URL traffic of mine be redirected to his domain with aff tracking enabled (not CJ - but an indy program). I don't work with that indy now.. But my point is that some merchants may like "Type in URL" traffic .. as long as it is really "type in" and not some forced pop-under scam!

  19. #19
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    I guess I misunderstood this, because I always think of "direct-to-merchant" as being unique to PPC, and the use of a redirect like this simply doesn't work on AdWords (Google requires that the display URL reflect the ultimate destination, not any intermediate URLs that redirect).

    With that issue "off the table," the question isn't really 'direct to merchant' at all, but instead it is the use of an alternate domain that redirects to the merchant's URL. Your example (using "bestbikes.com" to send traffic to "wowbikes.com") would allow the affiliate to run newspaper and magazine ads promoting "all-widgets.com." I wouldn't expect this to be prohibited; however, I don't think I'd engage in this practice without first discussing it with the merchant's affiliate manager.

    The use of redirects is common, including the use of alternate type-in-domains in order to facilitate tracking of "offline advertising." Both merchants and affiliate use this strategy, and I would not expect it to be a problem -- but again, it's always safest to ask first.

    The standard at ShareASale -- a user-initiated action or click -- would be completely met when the consumer typed in the affiliate's URL. The user's intention, when typing in the URL, was to visit a bike-shop web site. Since I don't work with CJ, I don't know what its rules say, but I'd certainly be very surprised if this were considered unacceptable.

    The same action would be unacceptable if the URL were promoting using a message such as "cheaper than Amazon" but then the URL redirected traffic straight to Amazon.com. That would simply be deceptive marketing.

    Again, you aren't really talking about the "usual" case of "direct-to-merchant" PPC, nor raising issues of deception (if the merchant were SEOplanet.com and an affiliate set up a redirect with the URL SEOplaner.com, for example, then it would probably violate rules against typo-squatting).

    On a slightly-related note: while doing research on a ShareASale office-equipment merchant, I noticed that the merchant had abandoned a domain that they had used earlier and which was actually still listed on some of their web sites. I went ahead and "pounced" on this expired domain, and then contacted the merchant to ask if they wanted it or if I could use it. If they'd wanted to keep it, I would have gladly transferred it to them, but they were happy to let me keep it. (In the week since I registered this domain, I've had only four IPs other than my own access it: two are from Pakistan, and the others are from GoogleBot and SurveyBot.)

  20. #20
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    Type in traffic on a domain name is one of the main reasons I look at buying expired domains. If I find an expired domain name with traffic that fits a niche, normally on an domain auction site, I'm bidding. I can't imagine any network or merchant having a problem with this.

    I've also created new domain names for niche markets that I direct to a merchant homepage or a specific product page on a merchant site using a 302 redirect. I then drive traffic through ppc to that new domain. This is with the specific intent that at some point in the future using offline marketing for the domain name. I've not had any complaints about this.

    Typically if a merchant disallows this they would post it in their own TOS stating no direct traffic, or that traffic must land at your site. In this case I would abide by it and create a landing page with the product information and a link to 'more info' or 'buy now'.

    But as had been stated repeatedly, I don't think there is a clear cut answer as it's up to each merchant on what they will or will not allow.
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  21. #21
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    The title of the thread is misleading IMO.

    DTM and Type-in-URL-domain-traffic are two different beasts.

    DTM is in the context of PPC ads where there is no other intermediary domain is involved

    Type-in-URLs are where no PPC is involved as the name indicates it is a TYPE IN DOMAIN NAME traffic!

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