|Affiliates Who Become Spammers|
Anyway to prevent this?
Has anyone here started his or her own affiliate program and one day an affiliate starting spamming? What did you do about it and did this affiliate/spammer cause harm to your business? Other than saying not to spam in your agreement, are there any technical means of preventing spam from occurring? Is there a way to differentiate between traffic coming from a website link and one coming from a link in an email?
Typically, e-mail links from a reader - like Outlook express, or Netscape - have no referer. If they are coming in from a web based mail service, it'll be a mail.domain.com/longurlhere referer (though Hotmail comes in from an IP number). You could easily ask your members to register domains that they will be sending visitors from (several programs do that now). Before you set the cookie or whatever you do for tracking, make sure the refering domain matches one they've profiled for.
I would make spamming a violation of your affiliate agreement. If the affiliate spams, his account may be closed, and any monies owed may not be paid.
Spam can really hurt your brand, cause you to have to change hosts, and can be a huge problem if just one major email spammer promotes you.
I would not rely on referrers for tracking spam. Your visitors will let you know, people generally will be outraged, and you will hear about it. When you get a complaint, investigate. If the affiliate did spam, close the account and don't pay the earnings.
You can also offer a "spam complaint" page to make it easy for your visitors to alert you.
<i>I would make spamming a violation of your affiliate agreement. If the affiliate spams, his account may be closed, and any monies owed may not be paid. </i>
The definition of Spam is so subjective that you would literally have to make a list so long that it would reduce the number of affiliate who sign up....
I think something along the lines of "Promotion via unsolicited email.." should be sufficient. You can always leave it as "spam" and it is loose for your determination as needed. Spam clauses have never stopped me from signing any agreement, but then again, I don't spam. ;-)
I would even consider promotion via email period as not being allowed, but that's just me.
Hmmm, simply prohibiting e-mail marketing of any kind would be safest. Sure, you might lose a few legit affiliates who mail to a house list, but I'd err on the side of caution.
Selecting your own affiliates works best.
Put your trust in a few good people and leave the rest to do whatever it is they do.
Is there some code or script that will only load my site if the link comes from the affiliate's url and disallow email links, but won't disallow all other possible sites that link to my site legitimately?
I sell very detailed, opt-in visitor info to my sites' sponsors. The data and the way it is distributed makes it very vulnerable and more than tempting to over-zealous small businesses. To subscribe, I now make them fill out an online "license" form (the input is filed in a database). There are 5 very specific anti-spam requirements spelled out on the form, and 2 related to another topic. Each of the 7 terms has a drop-down box and the field is set as required. To submit the form, they must purposely set all 7 drop-downs to "I Agree." There's no way someone can say "Oh, I didn't read the whole thing."
On the sites themselves, I encourage any visitor that feels he's been spammed to report it directly to me. So far, I've had to warn only one sponsor.
Another twist to this affiliate sending spam question is that some spam sending organisations use imaginary "affiliates" to spamvertise their services. When all the complaints roll in they hold their hands up and say "how terrible, this dastardly affiliate has done this".
One of the largest spammers in the World today is a German search engine/ site promotion outfit called <bleeeeep!>. They have an extremely clever system of purporting to sign up referral affiliates who then register domains URL forwarded (with their reseller IDs coded in) to their main site. The "affiliates" then send out literally millions of emails advertising these throwaway domains. These throwaway domains invariably get chopped after a few days but not before they've sent substantial amounts of traffic. When you complain, as I have done several times, they always say that "they take spam very seriously and will terminate the affiliate's account".
One of their recent "throwaway" domains was "<bleeeeep>", which I know many of you received email from.
I then get dozens of identical emails (always from angelina@whateverthrowawaydomainthey'reusingthisweek.com ) the next week advertising some other throwaway "trojan horse" domain.
What is curious is why "angelina" keeps doing this week after week and month after month if they are, as they claim, not paying out her affiliate commission because of her spamming. Angelina must be very devoted to do all this for nothing. Or could it be that Angelina is really the owner?
[edited by: rcjordan at 5:52 pm (utc) on Nov. 4, 2002]
[edit reason] <no specifics, please> [/edit]