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Affiliates: To Auto-Approve Or Not To Auto-Approve?

Alex Maxim

Affiliate Manager
Affiliate Manager
affiliate
Higher Grades Faster!™
Hey there guys,
I hope that this post finds you all in excellent spirits, and that you are having a great week.

We are now at the stage where we are joining our first affiliate network.

We have been advised that because of the high commissions we are offering, our program could receive a lot of applications from affiliates. Moreover, apparently it takes a good half-hour or so to properly vet each affiliate manually.

Our questions:

A. Is there a quick and easy way to manually verify the credentials of a given affiliate?

B. Would you recommend initially auto-approving affiliates instead, and then barring them later?

Any thoughts, suggestions, tips etc. are, as ever, sincerely appreciated.

With very best wishes,

Alex Maxim
 

azgold

Administrator
Administrator
affiliate
Dojo Master
I don't own or run an affiliate network or program, these are just my thoughts:

Moreover, apparently it takes a good half-hour or so to properly vet each affiliate manually.

Yup, I vet the registrations here and it is time consuming. However, it has cut down on 99+% of the spam that gets through. So, while it takes a bunch of time, it can definitely help you weed out the crap from the good stuff. Whether it's worth or not, you'll find out. :)

Would you recommend initially auto-approving affiliates instead, and then barring them later?

My first thought when I read this question was, what a headache with advertisers who won't pay for bad or fraudulent leads and affiliates who will bug you for the money, claiming they didn't engage in fraud.

Like I said, I have not done what you are doing, these are thoughts I'm just sharing, so you can think about them.

Whether you vet or not, I wish you much luck with it. Don't forget to apply for a vendor account once you're ready to go. ;)
 

Alex Maxim

Affiliate Manager
Affiliate Manager
affiliate
Higher Grades Faster!™
I don't own or run an affiliate network or program, these are just my thoughts:



Yup, I vet the registrations here and it is time consuming. However, it has cut down on 99+% of the spam that gets through. So, while it takes a bunch of time, it can definitely help you weed out the crap from the good stuff. Whether it's worth or not, you'll find out. :)



My first thought when I read this question was, what a headache with advertisers who won't pay for bad or fraudulent leads and affiliates who will bug you for the money, claiming they didn't engage in fraud.

Like I said, I have not done what you are doing, these are thoughts I'm just sharing, so you can think about them.

Whether you vet or not, I wish you much luck with it. Don't forget to apply for a vendor account once you're ready to go. ;)

Dear Ms azgold,
Firstly, thank you so much for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully to our questions. This is sincerely appreciated!

You raise an excellent point: when you are vetting registrations, are there any obvious red flags that you encounter, and that we should be looking out for? We understand that there can be some country-specific issues, but beyond that it's a bit nebulous.

With very best wishes,

Alex Maxim

PS Thank you very much indeed for reminding us about applying for the vendor account! We greatly look forward to doing so in due course.
 

azgold

Administrator
Administrator
affiliate
Dojo Master
are there any obvious red flags that you encounter, and that we should be looking out for?

What we check for is probably different from what you'd look for but I expect that you'll want to see what kind of reputation they have online, if they have been around online for a while and if they have a website, you'll obviously want to have a look at that. Do a bit of research on the person though, not just the website, if you want to be thorough.

Here, we look for spam red flags. Some of that involves using existing databases. I don't know if that would help you or not. I'm hoping some of the network reps will pop in here and offer some advice. Although, they won't reveal everything because they don't want potential affiliates gaming the system. However, perhaps anything they don't want to discuss publicly, they might talk about privately. I don't know, though.
 

Graybeard

Well-Known Member
affiliate
State your criterion POSITIVELY and ACCURATELY if you want to manually approve -- not wishy washy "we will get back to you in 72 hrs or less" (after we have a brain-fart).
Or, Just state your program's special terms plainly;
  1. prohibited advertising websites.
  2. prohibited practices.
We will let you know when we make our minds up doesn't work for me at all.

I know what I am doing -- do you know what you are doing?
I don't have time to second guess any sponsor/affiliate programs intentions ;)

What you don't realize is how difficult it will be to find competent people to sell a $500.00 ticket cold in the *affiliate world* Don't blow people off (without good cause).
 

Alex Maxim

Affiliate Manager
Affiliate Manager
affiliate
Higher Grades Faster!™
What we check for is probably different from what you'd look for but I expect that you'll want to see what kind of reputation they have online, if they have been around online for a while and if they have a website, you'll obviously want to have a look at that. Do a bit of research on the person though, not just the website, if you want to be thorough.

Here, we look for spam red flags. Some of that involves using existing databases. I don't know if that would help you or not. I'm hoping some of the network reps will pop in here and offer some advice. Although, they won't reveal everything because they don't want potential affiliates gaming the system. However, perhaps anything they don't want to discuss publicly, they might talk about privately. I don't know, though.

Dear Ms azgold,
Thank you very much indeed for your kind response – which is as ever enormously appreciated – and I hope that this post finds you having a great day.

With any luck, the field this company is operating in (higher education) should itself prove to be something of a spam shield. We understand that sectors such as gambling, pornography, 'business opportunities' etc. are considerably more prone to this type of abuse.

Nevertheless, we will definitely look out for obvious spam red flags, and vet applicants carefully.

With very best wishes,

Alex Maxim
 

Alex Maxim

Affiliate Manager
Affiliate Manager
affiliate
Higher Grades Faster!™
State your criterion POSITIVELY and ACCURATELY if you want to manually approve -- not wishy washy "we will get back to you in 72 hrs or less" (after we have a brain-fart).
Or, Just state your program's special terms plainly;
  1. prohibited advertising websites.
  2. prohibited practices.
We will let you know when we make our minds up doesn't work for me at all.

I know what I am doing -- do you know what you are doing?
I don't have time to second guess any sponsor/affiliate programs intentions ;)

What you don't realize is how difficult it will be to find competent people to sell a $500.00 ticket cold in the *affiliate world* Don't blow people off (without good cause).

Dear Mr Graybeard,
Thank you – as ever – for your wise guidance, and I hope that you are having a fine week.

We have taken your advice on-board, and given clear and detailed information about what we will and will not accept in our affiliate programme agreement, which is – if I'm being honest – a work of art in itself :p

In all seriousness, the company wants to do everything possible to make its affiliates best-in-class money – it just wants to protect itself from scammers, chancers and ne'er-do-wells, instead aiming to attract a relatively small number of very high-quality affiliates who operate in (wide) niches such as education and parenting. (FYI, US$500.00 is a small sum in these domains.)

With very best wishes,

Alex Maxim
 

Daria_WapEmpire

Affiliate Manager
Affiliate Manager
affiliate
PayV
Hi Alex. In my opinion, however hard you try to avoid fraud, you will have to meet it sooner or later. The issue is not about letting fraudsters into your program or not, it's about how you deal with such situations.
Speaking about approval process, I don't recommend 100% automated approval, still you can auto-approved those pubs looking trustful. It's up to you to decide what this trustful means, though. Add a couple of questions to the application form (not too much, don't scare your potential pubs), or block unwanted GEOs, or check out emails (and auto-approve some good ones), or try any other method you find useful. Moreover, if you hired experienced account managers, they should be able to distinguish trusted applications from suspicious with the first glance.
To make a long story short, I'd keep manual approval process with an auto-approve option.
 

Alex Maxim

Affiliate Manager
Affiliate Manager
affiliate
Higher Grades Faster!™
Hi Alex. In my opinion, however hard you try to avoid fraud, you will have to meet it sooner or later. The issue is not about letting fraudsters into your program or not, it's about how you deal with such situations.
Speaking about approval process, I don't recommend 100% automated approval, still you can auto-approved those pubs looking trustful. It's up to you to decide what this trustful means, though. Add a couple of questions to the application form (not too much, don't scare your potential pubs), or block unwanted GEOs, or check out emails (and auto-approve some good ones), or try any other method you find useful. Moreover, if you hired experienced account managers, they should be able to distinguish trusted applications from suspicious with the first glance.
To make a long story short, I'd keep manual approval process with an auto-approve option.

Dear Daria,
Thank you very much indeed for your kind response – which is enormously appreciated – and I hope that this post finds you having a great day.

We're probably going to proceed exactly along the lines you suggest, with a general manual approval process coupled with limited auto-approval for obviously fine and upstanding affiliates.

From what you say, fraud appears to be very common when it comes to affiliates. Beyond measures such as carefully vetting them and not paying commissions until the returns window has passed (to avoid fraudulent transactions), do you have any other pointers?

FYI, we are about to read 'Performance Partnerships' by Robert Glazer, which is meant to be a great work when it comes to affiliate management.

With very best wishes,

Alex Maxim
 

AdSpyglass

Service Manager
Service Manager
affiliate
AdSpyglass
auto approve will make u more troubles than u expect. Good affiliates will chat, give their references and not waste your time. We got about 20-30 new signups daily, 90% of them are scrap.
 

Alex Maxim

Affiliate Manager
Affiliate Manager
affiliate
Higher Grades Faster!™
auto approve will make u more troubles than u expect. Good affiliates will chat, give their references and not waste your time. We got about 20-30 new signups daily, 90% of them are scrap.

Dear AdSpyglass,
Thank you very much indeed for your kind response, and I hope that this post finds you having a great day.

Re: 90% of applicants being scrap, does this vary much from sector to sector, and does the problem get worse if you offer especially lucrative commissions? We ask because the educational company we represent is intending to use very high commissions (possibly north of US$100/unit sold, physical product) in order to try and attract high-quality affiliates. I don't know if this is the right strategy or not.

With very best wishes,

Alex Maxim
 

PaidPoints

Affiliate
affiliate
I know it's a good thing to vet before approval. But I know some top affiliate networks like CPALead, Mobidea, and I think CPAGrip that have instant approval on Signup and they are still some of the best networks today. So... how do they do it then? Just wondering. If vetting is that necessary.
 

Daria_WapEmpire

Affiliate Manager
Affiliate Manager
affiliate
PayV
From what you say, fraud appears to be very common when it comes to affiliates. Beyond measures such as carefully vetting them and not paying commissions until the returns window has passed (to avoid fraudulent transactions), do you have any other pointers?
Thanks for your kind words Alex!
Affiliate business is risky and you need to take the risk. For example, most of partners pay NET30, some of them - NET60, while our default payment option is twice a month. You need to get the traffic/leads checked before paying, sometimes it's pretty clear that you are getting fraud leads, for example, due to CR over average, or suspicious user-agent data (like Vietnamese/Indonesian/any other but English language for US leads).
Another point is having close relations with your partners: for example, I personally always get in touch with the partners making more than $50-$100 a day. Most of them are open about their methods and sources, they understand why we ask to reveal such things. If they are not so open, for me it can be a reason to double check everything (I'm not speaking about revealing custom landings/banners/etc, just general things).
Also, we ask advertisers for feedback when there is a new affiliate with a descent amount of traffic working with their offer. Usually they can give it in a couple of days, so you are sure about quality before you get paid.
And only when I feel like something is wrong, but have neither evidence nor negative feedback, I will ask an affiliate to wait till the returns window passes or till we get paid for their leads.
 

EricNguyen

Affiliate
affiliate
I would do mobile number verification before anything. I have a free php script in the works that uses a database of known mobile providers and supporting country codes. Yeah they can get a burner but that's already quite a bit of work to burn you. It's just a great first step which is why google now uses it. They key is the database of known mobile providers otherwise you get all the garbage temporary text sites.
 

Alex Maxim

Affiliate Manager
Affiliate Manager
affiliate
Higher Grades Faster!™
Thanks for your kind words Alex!
Affiliate business is risky and you need to take the risk. For example, most of partners pay NET30, some of them - NET60, while our default payment option is twice a month. You need to get the traffic/leads checked before paying, sometimes it's pretty clear that you are getting fraud leads, for example, due to CR over average, or suspicious user-agent data (like Vietnamese/Indonesian/any other but English language for US leads).
Another point is having close relations with your partners: for example, I personally always get in touch with the partners making more than $50-$100 a day. Most of them are open about their methods and sources, they understand why we ask to reveal such things. If they are not so open, for me it can be a reason to double check everything (I'm not speaking about revealing custom landings/banners/etc, just general things).
Also, we ask advertisers for feedback when there is a new affiliate with a descent amount of traffic working with their offer. Usually they can give it in a couple of days, so you are sure about quality before you get paid.
And only when I feel like something is wrong, but have neither evidence nor negative feedback, I will ask an affiliate to wait till the returns window passes or till we get paid for their leads.

Dear Daria,
This is absolutely brilliant guidance – thank you!

It is really good to read about the NET 30 and NET 60 payment terms being common. When it comes to fraud, our main concern is the avoidance of fraudulent transactions because with three-figure per unit commissions, I'm guessing that the temptation will always be there for someone to try and game the system, although maybe this is less likely with physical products. (We are based in the United Kingdom, where consumer e-commerce legislation is apparently amongst the best in the world.)

With very best wishes,

Alex Maxim
 

Alex Maxim

Affiliate Manager
Affiliate Manager
affiliate
Higher Grades Faster!™
I would do mobile number verification before anything. I have a free php script in the works that uses a database of known mobile providers and supporting country codes. Yeah they can get a burner but that's already quite a bit of work to burn you. It's just a great first step which is why google now uses it. They key is the database of known mobile providers otherwise you get all the garbage temporary text sites.

Dear Eric,
That's a great tip!

What is the best way to do mobile verification at the moment? Would you recommend a service such as TeleSign or Ekata?

With very best wishes,

Alex Maxim
 
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