Anne Holland

Welcome to Affiliate Marketing Hell Week

June 24th, 2004

Ouch. When affiliate management company Linkshare announced their Titanium Awards Winner last week for best performing affiliate of 2003, turns out the winner, was a cookie-stuffer.

So Linkshare had to rip the tiara off the winner’s head and take back the $15k award.

Cookie stuffing is when an affiliate puts loads (sometimes hundreds) of cookies with their commission codes on an unsuspecting Web surfer’s computer, who happened to click on just one link the affiliate controlled. Then the next time that surfer goes to a merchant’s site of their own accord, the merchant thinks the affiliate sent them. So the merchant pays out a commission for the traffic.

In other affiliate news, Ken Evoy an online merchant who’s famous for encouraging thousands of mom’n’pop affiliates to market his wares extremely aggressively, is upset because he says his own email is being blocked by Brightmail’s filters.

The thing is, Evoy says he personally doesn’t send any non-permission email, so he should not be blocked just because of a few bad apple affiliates who may be. It appears that Brightmail — which is just about the most used filter in the world — may not agree with him.

Last but not least, although Google has not made their planned public announcement that they’ll cease to honor trademarks for AdWords, I learned yesterday that it’s a pretty good bet they’ll do so very soon after their IPO this summer.

So, if you are counting on Google to stop affiliates and competitors from running AdWords ads against your trademarks, watch out.

Got an affiliate program? Perhaps you should have a quick meeting with your team to make sure they are taking active measures to protect you on these three fronts.

UPDATE: Several of you have written in since I posted this article a few hours ago, wanting to know how to detect cookie stuffing. I asked Brian Clark, who as Publisher is a real expert, for some advice.

Here’s what he says, “Only real ways of detecting it are:

1) watch for affiliates that seem to have an abnormally high click thru quantity but with an abnormally low conversion rate.

2) go to the affiliate’s page with a cleaned out cookie folder, then look and see what cookies have appeared.”

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