Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Adware

Adware is still an issue today, but affiliate marketers have taken steps to fight it. AdWare is not the

same as spyware although both often use the same methods and technologies. Merchants usually had no clue

what adware was, what it did and how it was damaging their brand. Affiliate marketers became aware of

the issue much more quickly, especially because they noticed that adware often overwrites their tracking

cookie and results in a decline of commissions. Affiliates who do not use adware became enraged by

adware, which they felt was stealing hard earned commission from them. Adware usually has no valuable

purpose or provides any useful content to the often unaware user that has the adware running on his

computer. Affiliates discussed the issues in various affiliate forums and started to get organized. It

became obvious that the best way to cut off adware was by discouraging merchants from advertising via

adware. Merchants that did not care or even supported adware were made public by affiliates, which

damaged the merchants' reputations and also hurt the merchants' general affiliate marketing efforts.

Many affiliates simply "canned" the merchant or switched to a competitor's affiliate program.

Eventually, affiliate networks were also forced by merchants and affiliates to take a stand and ban

certain adware publishers from their network.

Resulting from this were the Code of Conduct by Commission Junction/BeFree and Performics,[23]

LinkShare's Anti-Predatory Advertising Addendum[24] and ShareASale's complete ban of software

applications as medium for affiliates to promote advertiser offers.[25] Regardless of the progress made

is adware still an issue. This is demonstrated by the class action lawsuit against ValueClick and its

daughter company Commission Junction filed on April 20, 2007.[26]

Trademark bidding / PPC

Affiliates were among the earliest adopters of pay-per-click advertising when the first PPC search

engines like Goto.com (which became later Overture.com, acquired by Yahoo! in 2003) emerged during the

end of the nineteen-nineties. Later in 2000 Google launched their PPC service AdWords which is

responsible for the wide spread use and acceptance of PPC as an advertising channel. More and more

merchants engaged in PPC advertising, either directly or via a search marketing agency and realized that

this space was already well occupied by their affiliates. Although this fact alone did create channel

conflicts and hot debate between advertisers and affiliates, was the biggest issue the bidding on

advertisers names, brands and trademarks by some affiliates. A larger number of advertisers started to

adjust their affiliate program terms to prohibit their affiliates from bidding on those type of

keywords. Some advertisers however did and still do embrace this behavior of their affiliates and allow

them, even encourage them, to bid an any term they like, including the advertisers trademarks.

Lack of self regulation

Affiliate marketing is driven by entrepreneurs who are working at the forefront of internet marketing.

Affiliates are the first to take advantage of new emerging trends and technologies where established

advertisers do not dare to be active. Affiliates take risks and "trial and error" is probably the best

way to describe how affiliate marketers are operating. This is also one of the reasons why most

affiliates fail and give up before they "make it" and become "super affiliates" who generate $10,000 and

more in commission (not sales) per month. This "frontier" life and the attitude that can be found in

such type of communities is probably the main reason, why the affiliate marketing industry is not able

to this day to self-regulate itself beyond individual contracts between advertiser and affiliate. The

10+ years history since the beginning of affiliate marketing is full of failed attempts[27] to create an

industry organization or association of some kind that could be the initiator of regulations, standards

and guidelines for the industry. Some of the failed examples are the Affiliate Union and iAfma.

The only places where the different people from the industry, affiliates/publishers,

merchants/advertisers, networks and 3rd party vendors and service providers like outsources program

managers come together at one location are either online forums and industry trade shows. The forums are

free and even small affiliates can have a big voice at places like that, which is supported by the

anonymity that is provided by those platforms. Trade shows are not anonymous, but a large number, in

fact the greater number (quantitative) of affiliates is not able to attend those events for financial

reasons. Only performing affiliates can afford the often hefty price tags for the event passes or get it

sponsored by an advertisers they promote.

Because of the anonymity of forums, the only place where you are to get the majority (quantitative) of

people in the industry together, is it almost impossible to create any form of legally binding rule or

regulation that must be followed by everybody in the industry. Forums had only very few successes in

their role as representant of the majority in the affiliate marketing industry. The last example[28] of

such a success was the halt of the "CJ LMI" ("Commission Junction Link Management Initiative") in

June/July 2006, when a single network tried to impose on their publishers/affiliates the use of

Javascript tracking code as a replacement for common HTML links.

Lack of industry standards

No comments: