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Approving Affiliates - BMPs

Discussion in 'Affiliate Management and Recruitment' started by Sarah Prater, Sep 7, 2006.

  1. Sarah Prater

    Sarah Prater New Member

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    When I first started this position the instruction were - approve anyone who does not have adult content, promote a religion or morale, or compete directly with us.

    Today - I look at business model, type of site (shopping, rewards community, etc.) size of company/experience of webmaster, professionality (graphics quality, grammar in text, how content-rich the site is), then network ranking, promotion type...

    All of these things I basically try to figure out just from navigating through their site. If I'm satisfied that enough of my qualifiers are met - they're in, if not, they get declined. In most cases the applicants I decline go away and never bat an eyelash at being turned down. In a few cases they mail me back asking why and giving reasons why their site is a perfect match or telling me what their next steps are in growing their business. When this happens I always give them a chance.

    However, I have read some stuff from other affiliate managers that some companies do a very extensive background check on website owners who apply for their program.

    We're talking WHOIS lookups, phone calls to make sure they know who they are working with, checking with the Better Business Bureau....I think one source even said they did criminal background checks....!

    Is this all really neccessary?

    The DMA BPs for Affiliate Marketing says,"Onlie marketers using advertising and affiliate networks should: (1) Obtain assurances that the online advertising affiliate network is in full compliance with state law, federal law and the DMA Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice."

    Is there some similiar sort of documentation that affiliate managers should follow when deciding what affiliates they should partner with?
     
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  3. Linda Buquet

    Linda Buquet <span style="color: #daa520;font-weight: bold;">Me

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    Hi Sarah,

    I don't know of a checklist or best practices document that's available for screening and approving affiliates. There is so much affiliate fraud out there and the cons are getting smarter every day.

    Qucik example: theres a Chinese fraund rignt thats joining hundreds of affiliate programs pretending to be ME. They use my site and all my whois contact info. Then commit fraud get the sales. Then change their pay to info to themselves once they are ready to earn a check. The only way some networks have dicovered these are fraud apps is when they CALL me to verify that I'm the person to sign up.

    Not saying you should call to verify every app, but on lead based programs and high paying programs it's almost a must.

    The other thing to screen for is parasites that steal honest affiliate's commissions. Do you know about this and know what to look for?
     
  4. Sarah Prater

    Sarah Prater New Member

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    I know about it - on the surface - but not so much what to look for -

    I would say look for: pop-ups, text stating that they highjack commissions, other than that - I don't know...? :confused:
     
  5. Sarah Prater

    Sarah Prater New Member

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    What about the issue of letting publishers change links to make sure that Google doesn't give them a lower quality score for posting duplicate content???

    Is that something I should do?
     
  6. Linda Buquet

    Linda Buquet <span style="color: #daa520;font-weight: bold;">Me

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    Re parasites:

    "I would say look for: pop-ups, text stating that they highjack commissions, other than that - I don't know...?"

    They won't TELL you they highjack commissions. You are on CJ which makes it a little easier. CJ flags publishers that use any type of download software app. That's the main thing you want to be careful of. If they have a rebate site or a shopper toolbar or anything like that they could be bad news. If unsure you can do some research by Googling publishername spyware or publishername adware or publishername parasite. Sometimes you will find things that signal they are a baddie. CJ has gotten rid of some of the worst offenders but still has some in the network that are iffy.

    " What about the issue of letting publishers change links to make sure that Google doesn't give them a lower quality score for posting duplicate content??? Is that something I should do?"

    I'm not sure about all the ramifications of that. I don't manage programs any more and have not managed it CJ for awhile. There are other good reasons affiliates may want to change links but there are probably other things that bad affiliates could do if you give them the option. Maybe ask yor CJ rep for the pros and cons???
     
  7. Sarah Prater

    Sarah Prater New Member

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    Thank you!

    Thanks very much, Linda. I really appreciate your advice! :)
     
  8. goZing Network

    goZing Network Affiliate affiliate

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    Fraud-My Favorite thing to Kill-

    Well this is my first post besides my HI I am here post.

    I must say that one of my favorite things to do is to find fraud.

    As the Affiliate Manager for the goZing Network, we used to have over 80 different programs and the majority were not our own.

    Back then the fraud process was not as much of a concern as it is today. We made revenues so fraud unless it was obvious was something the Advertiser needed to focus on more than we did. Don't get me wrong, we still looked for fraud from the start and booted people out. But now we only use our Network for our own offers. As the Advertiser, we care more about fraud than we ever did in the past as it is our top priority.


    We use DirectTrack for our own program. Their are many great tools built into that system for fraud managment. It shows us duplicate applications based on Address, Name or IP within our own applications. You can setup warnings to indicate the application is coming from a certain country. We require that all applications fill out a W8/W( at the time of applying which is a new feature I have added. If you want to stop fraud, ask someone in China to fill out a W8 tax form when they apply.

    Now my favorite tools to do are to use the WHOIS as well as Alexa to look up the sites. Alexa is helpful if the Whois is blocked as it often will tell you details about the sites rankings, who is linking to the site and sometimes it has the data when WHOIS does not.

    Look at all websites very carefully as well. I can give you examples, but there are many chineese affiliates that take real sites, register other sites and change the name slightly. These hijacked sites are hard to detect because the WHOIS matches and the sites look great with good content. A good way to tell is ALEXA and the site rankings their. If it looks like a good site and it has a Copyright date over a few year, and Alexa has NO Ranking for, beware!


    Well I could go on and on.

    But the number one fraud prevention tool is the most simple and basic tool. Pick up the phone and call the affiliate or send an email to the address on the site if it does not match the one one the application.
     
  9. Sarah Prater

    Sarah Prater New Member

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    "We use DirectTrack for our own program."

    We do not have an in-khouse fraud prevention system other than on the accounts payable side. They look for things regarding the order, credit card etc. but that's on the customer side - not the affiliate.

    I wasn't actyually here when the program was set up - but I suspect the company decided not to invest in fraud prevention software due to ignorance of the need and the fact that CJ's network quality looks for fruad, as Linda mentioned.

    Is CJ's system good enough or should we have an in-house system as well?

    "We require that all applications fill out a W8/W( at the time of applying which is a new feature I have added."

    CJ requires that publishers turn in their tax information before they can get paid - however, a publisher can be approved for an affiliate program, post links and make sales without providing this information.

    What do you think about this?
    To me just not allowing a fraudulent publisher to get paid is only a fraction of the issue. They are still partnered with our company - they are posting our links and promoting our brand. This in and of itself could be damaging to our program in terms of credibility.

    It seems like CJ is a bit behind the times a lot of Affiliate 2.0 issues. Shawn Collins blogged yesterday that:

    "CJ merchants benefit from the ability to customize affiliate program sign-up and login areas, allowing Commission Junction powered affiliate programs to finally provide a branded experience for affiliates."

    CJ also seems to be behind the pack a bit when it comes to requiring tax information. LinkShare has a portion of their application where applicants are required to give their tax information before they are approved. Publishers also have to turn in a hard copy - but as you say, giving tax info upfront can help scare away those committing fraud.

    I know CJ is and has been a big dog in affiliate - but don't you think they're a little underdeveloped when it comes to keeping up with tools, issues and technology?

    I'm going to submit an incident requesting whether I can do a customer build of the application to include tax info beofre approval. If I can't do it now I'll at least suggest that they implement this - perhaps they're already considering it with all the LMI and web services changes.

    I'll definitely start doing the Alexa and Whois look ups right away. It's going to make my application review task a much more time consuming task - but I see the value in spending that additional time.

    Please feel free to "go on and on" on this topic.

    Another ? : is there a whois site that you like best?

    Thanks again,

    Sarah
     
  10. Sarah Prater

    Sarah Prater New Member

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    So, as site that has a copywrite 2005/2006 that is a good site and no Alexa ranking is probably okay?

    How does a site get an Alexa ranking? or rather...How does Alexa determine what sites to rank?

    - Sarah
     
  11. Sarah Prater

    Sarah Prater New Member

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    Most applicants don't have phone numbers included in their info. So I've drafted an email that I would send to questionable sites. Is this the type of message you would send? Are there other direct questions you would ask?

    Hello,

    I am contacting you because your information was submitted on an application to join the Creative Labs Affiliate Program. If you are the person who submitted this application, I would prefer that you give me a call so that I can be assured that the sites included on this request to join are not fraudulent. Alternatively you may reply to this mail; however, if this is your choice, please include a phone number where you can be reached.

    This fraud check is being conducted in the interest of making sure that all business associations created through the Creative Labs Affiliate Program are with ethical individuals and businesses.

    Thank you for your time,

    Sarah Prater
    Creative Labs Affiliate Program manager
     
  12. goZing Network

    goZing Network Affiliate affiliate

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    Fraud Tips

    Hi Sarah,

    Well in regards to a good WHois, Dtrack links automatically to dnsstuff.com there are plenty other ones like them out there.

    I am unsure exactly how Alexa ranks sites but if their is no traffic it will be in the millions. What I mean is if a site looks real good and it has a Copyright date of 2001-2006 yet they have no rank or they have a ranking in the high millions then something is fishy. This 5star site is in the top 7,000 rannk of all sites on the net.

    Let me give you an example, I had a site that was getting 5-10 hits a day, a small little experiment site and it got to the high hundred thousands 993,000 if I remember. Basically look for a site's rankings in relation to how long they have been around, how big they look etc. Alexa sometimes will show some things not in Whois. It is just another tool.

    In regards to your email, well I like it as long as you stick to your guns and talk to them. Always make it more difficult for the scammer, because they wont work hard for it, they would rather find a Affiliate Manager that doeesnt care. Let them know if you do talk to them that you will be montioring their account for 30 days, etc.
     

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