The thing is PERCEPTION in 9/10 of the law in affiliate marketing.
I don't know if they are currently doing anything unethical or overwriting any affiliate cookies. However 2 things concern me with any company that has a download app.
NOTE: My comments below are regarding ANY rebate and shopping rewards sites that have toolbars - not the company you mention in particular.
1) They (see note above) have the potential to change the way the software works on the fly. Could be kosher today and not tomorrow.
2) In many affiliate's minds once a company is labeled a parasite they will continue to carry that stigma whether the company is clean or not.
If I managed an affiliate program there is no way I would let ANY affiliate in that had a toolbar/download app PERIOD! I don't care if they are currently overwriting or not. Some say they aren't and it's proven they are. Some affiliates think some do overwrite, when they really don't.
My viewpoint is that I don't have time to research every parasite on an ongoing basis, so in the interest of being fair to honest regular web based affiliates - I'm not going to let anyone in that has even the POTENTIAL to overwrite another affiliates cookies.
I find it very easy to make ethical decisions when I just think about "do unto others". If you were a full-time affiliate that relied on getting paid for everything that's coming to you, how would you feel knowing your merchant could be partnering with other companies that even possibly could be stealing from you? Maybe I take it too far, but that's just how I feel.
FYI when I took over management of one affiliate program, 1st thing I did was can every single parasite (or alleged parasite or any company with a previous rep as a parasite.) My sales didn't go down. They went up by 400% month after month!
Oh I could go on and on and write a book on this topic, but you just asked a short simple question, so I'm saving my carpal and stopping now.
REALLY good blog you should read - the most important info is down in the comments section by Kellie from Affiliate Fair Play who is the EXPERT on who's doing what in the parasitic/contextual/adware marketing space.
Linda brought up some things to think about with regards to perception and how other affiliates may react to the partnership. That is one aspect to consider. Here are some more and I'm going to play both sides of the argument here (pros and cons). I strongly feel that merchants and managers need to be making their own informed business decisions with these kinds of partnerships.
Now an affiliate like UPromise brings something to the table that other "loyaltyware" affiliates may not bring. They have reach. They have tremendous reach. They are in grocery stores. They promote themselves heavily offline. I received something in the mail from them just the other day. Whole school districts have switched to them as a primary fundraising source. They are considered a legitimate company by many and have some really big reputable names behind the company. All very enticing factors when considering a possible relationship.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind however when assessing whether thier business model is a good fit for your business model. First is your ROI and hopefully getting the best ROI that you can. The second is affiliate marketing is about customer acquisitions. Branding is a secondary by-product. But if branding is your objective, then the affiliate marketing channel isn't really the best channel to acheive that goal because there are certainly other channels which will yield you a much better ROI for that objective.
Anytime a loyalty site becomes a partner through the affiliate channel, realize that while they will probably send you some new customer acquisitions there is now a shift towards customer retention (ie repeat customers). Of course, we want those as well. As a business, you have to decide for your own business are the costs you are paying through the affiliate channel for customer retention within acceptable limits.
Now we throw in the aspect of UPromise which brings in the controversary, their reminder software. First, ask UPromise if you can opt out of being included in the software, that is only promoted through their web site and see what their response is. Next, ask them to provide documentation to support their claims for the % of their traffic they will tell comes from the adware and see what their response is. Ask them if as a merchant you can distinguish the traffic/sales your receive from their site and from their adware.
Now understand what you will actually be paying commissions on, that is how the traffic is "delivered" to your site. If you aren't familiar with controversial traffic/sale generation methods used by loyaltyware in general, I have some video tutorials on the subject. You may also want to take a look at a blog I did specfically about UPromise's new toolbar. The information came directly from the FAQ pages for consumers for the toolbar. Ask why were some of those questions needed in the FAQ. Pay particular attention to the response that instructs the consumer how to poach the merchant's shopping cart and turn it into an affiliate sale.
Now go back and figure the ROI for the relationsihp factoring in all the ways sales are driven and see if it is a financially beneficial relationship for you or not.
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