|Commission Junction and Gator|
CJ knows that scumware is being used on their site
To put it briefly, Commission Junction knows that companies like Gator are using adware (or "scumware") to track their visitor's surfing habits, and CJ won't do anything about it! Why should they care? No matter who buys from their affiliate programs, they still get paid.
Put another way, CJ doesn't care if your visitors buy from you or from the scumware advertiser. You lose the commission, but so what? They still get paid.
Last summer, the CEO of Commission Junction literally said that his company had no way of preventing this from happening. Needless to say, this was very disappointing to the many webmasters who are advertising CJ affiliates.
Jeff Pullen, the president of Commission Junction, a company that helps link affiliates with Web sites, said that he was not inclined to cut off companies that divert commissions if the customer has agreed to the diversion. "The tactics that they use, maybe they're on the edge," he said. "Maybe, personally, I don't find them particularly attractive. But if they aren't illegal, it's hard for me to point to my public service agreement and say, `I have a reason to kick you off my network.' "
....NY Times, 9/27/2002
At this time (Oct, 2003), CJ, LinkShare and two other affiliate companies are drafting a Code of Conduct, so that the affiliate industry can police itself.
Here are some general articles on the topic of adware, CJ and the current state of the industry:
|if they aren't illegal, it's hard for me to point to my public service agreement and say, `I have a reason to kick you off my network.' |
Yes, rather a disappointing response! Mind you, I can't think what they can actually do about it? If the *****s ID(s) are disabled they would surely only setup more.
Actually, I should add my own experience to this!
I have recently setup a CJ affiliation (my affiliations have been generally direct up to now).
During the current month, the conversion has been 1 sale per 100 visitors to the site, with an average value of $13 commission.
I'm sure that conversion should be slightly higher than this, but the site is the 1st cut, so I'm happy that I do not appear to be suffering :)
Looking at this from an investor's viewpoint, I don't think I'd want to spend time or money on a company that doesn't care if its affiliates are bring ripped off. When the CEO makes public statements like this one did, it makes the whole outfit look dubious, like companies involved in the mutual fund scandals.
Or am I being rash in my judgments?
FWIW, there are many CJ merchants who have very strict policies against scumware.
How can the merchants enforce these policies? It's all well and good saying that you disagree with it to appease affiliates but stopping the network from paying these theiving swines is another matter.
I guess CJ figures it's up to the merchants to boot the scumware affiliates, and up to the working affiliates to rat them out to the merchants, and to beat on the merchants that allow scumware.
CJ's job is to collect 1/3 of the transaction.
CJ is smart to sell out to Value Click. CJ's operators are one step ahead of the wolf IMHO. Can't wait to see Value Click get in there and kick butt. I'll bet heads are gonna roll.
I was worried about BeFree falling apart when Value Click acquired them but that didn't happen and at this point BeFree has leaped ahead as my most preferred affiliate network. .
Shady, it's really you, as the Merchant, that controls the problem or not. All you have to do is not allow scumware Affiliates into your program. It's that simple. The scumware companies cannot benefit, nor will they divert your traffic, if they are not an affiliate of yours. Because they would not be making any money unless they are part of your program.
I would love for the Networks to take a stand and boot out parasites but I don't really think it's their responsibility. The only reason I say that is if the Networks start policing the Affiliates, they are taking on legal responsibility as well. And as fast as things change, how can they possibly take on that legal (and financial) liability.
I do think it is the Merchant's responsibility. Each Merchant should write their TOS so that the sale goes to the "click" and nothing else.
We also can't leave it up to the Affiliates either, because too many are making up their own rules about what is fair and good.
It is the Merchant.
Just a comment to point out that the quote from Jeff Pullen is over a year old, and the landscape has changed somewhat since then. Even so, his statement is not exactly a shining example of moral courage. Does something have to be explicitly illegal for a person or company to say, "We want no part of that."?
The Code of Conduct endorsed by CJ, Performics and BeFree now forbids some of the worst parasitic practices, such as using downloaded software to directly overwrite other people's affiliate links, and there have indeed been cases where affiliates using such tactics were kicked out of the network.
However, other tactics unfair to affiliates are still tolerated, either because there are still holes in the C of C or because enforcement is inconsistent and feeble. Using popups to set cookies even though the visitor clicked no link is one example.
In terms of affiliates like you and me losing sales, though, I think a bigger problem this year is the proliferation of ad-blocking software that erases cookies or renders many network affiliate links non-functional.
One of the most depressing things I ever saw was a video of how CJ links on one of my pages would behave for someone with a certain ad-blocking software installed. Click a CJ link and the software would deliver a blank page instead of letting the person go through to the merchant.
Millions of people have that particular software installed ... sigh ....