Affiliate Code of Conduct by Fraser

Posted on 03. Sep, 2007 by in General

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Fraser posted an interesting article about a subject that has been long talked about but nothing has ever been done about either because what is currently in place is ok by most people, or no interest in the subject from the people that are effected most or simply lack of understanding why a reasonable, simple to follow code of practice could be a good way to keep check that your not falling foul of any rules. At any rate I have always believed that you should act responsibly and the people you work with or promote should also act responsibly in return but sadly that dosn’t always happen.

So instead of commenting on Fasers site directly as I have a fair bit to say I decided to write what I think about the points he covers here in my own blog, you can view the original article here.

My Affiliate Code of Conduct
As an affiliate I will use a number of different methods to generate sales for the merchants that I choose to work with. At all times I will endeavour not to act in a way that reflects badly on the merchant.

Fair enough, I think that is what anyone would responsibly expect but good to have it in writing.

Contact Information
I will ensure that I provide an up to date email address and phone number to all networks and believe that this should be available to the merchants I work with. However this information must be confidential and not shared beyond the parties involved.

I personally don’t want merchants to have my email address or phone number to harass me any more than they currently do, most don’t give me a way to contact them. I will however be happy to provided these details to people I am working well with and are not about to abuse it by phoning me every couple of days. So for me I prefer that I give valid and correct details to the Network but that Merchants use the channels provided by the Network to communicate with me and I would like options with Networks to say what I don’t think is ok, as I have seen many a Merchant harvest my details from other Networks and send me piles of spam as I didn’t request information about them. One for the Merchants Code, give us an easy way to contact you should we wish and actually reply to my emails even if it’s a no.

Creative
If requested to change creative I will do so within 7 days.

This should only apply if you take the creative off the Networks system and copy it on to your own site i.e. your are not using the Networks system to server the creative. Otherwise sorry but I don’t want to change out of date creative for Merchants if the Network is still providing it they should update it themselves, many of the good Networks do, only the poor ones have to email you and call you to change a banner they provide.

Paid Search
I will comply with all reasonable restrictions as long as they are clearly communicated in a single point of reference that I can find when I log in to the network and cover all areas. I expect to be notified of any change to these terms. I do not believe that I should be forced to add negative keywords to my campaigns.

If I am found to be accidentally in breach of any restrictions I will modify my campaign within 7 days of being notified. If the issue is time sensitive then a telephone call is the best way to get my attention.

I think this one is fair enough however there is times when negative keywords will be asked and asked reasonably such as for an example a dating site may request that you add the term “teen”, teenager” etc to your negative keywords in your campaign as they do not want teens on a predominantly adult based services for a number of very good reasons and sometimes certain companies don’t want to be associated with certain keywords that unfortunately are typed in at the same time as their main keyword. If done on that basis then fair play but they need to be concise and sensible and not a spreadsheet with 10 thousand generic words and misspellings and yes I have seen that happen. Also Merchants that want to protect brand names on Google for example should be writing and complaining to Google after they got the registered trademark, as doing anything else is wasting everyone’s time and is a real turn off for people working with you.

SEO
I reserve the right to use whatever content or text I feel appropriate in the title, body text and META tags of my pages. If you as a merchant expect to restrict me in this way from using any of your terms then it’s probably best that we don’t work together.

Fully agree, however merchants will reserve the right to terminate the relationship if your saying something negative about them as they are not going to want to pay for that kind of promotion. However Networks should have no right to tell you to remove stuff on your own site just because the Merchant your talking about is on their books (as long as your not linking to the Merchant your slating via an Affiliate link that is).

Forced Clicks
I will not use frames, iframes, cookie stuffing or any other method of forced click to set cookies that the user may not be aware of. Visitors will only use my affiliate links when they actually click a link.

Frames are not the problem, it’s how they are used as highlighted in Jasons blog post recently.

Software
I will not use any form of desktop based software application to deliver advertising to my users.

Perfectly respectable and legal uses of software. I think you should add using software to set cookies or force clicks as a software program such as say a Kids Web Browser has a legitimate right to have banner adverts or text links if they want. I have changed my view point on what is deemed a respectable use of software from what I thought a few years ago after having a chance to see different things in use, for example there is sites setting cookies because their users said that is ok but do they really know what they have agreed to, half the time they don’t.

Content
None of my sites will have any adult or illegal content and there will be no offensive language.

Think you should just stick to no illegal content and porn sites and let the merchant decided if the affiliate is right for them or not. Lads Mag sites for example will have adult content (without being hardcore porn) and plenty of offensive language but will sell a ton of gadgets, joke products and underwear. Everyone has different standards and beliefs and so do Merchants, some will find shopping sites that promote bingo offence for example.

Domains
I will not register merchant names, misspells or confusingly similar names without permission from the merchant.

Far enough but only if not generic words and they have to register some kind of trademark also if they are serious about enforcing it as for example I have great names that I bought in the 90’s that merchants have since bought poor versions that are like mine but are generic and your rule could stop me using mine when I had it first. If they have the trademark then misspellings with regards to domain names should also be included but do have to ask yourself why so many Merchants never buy the other versions or misspellings.

Discount Codes
I will not use codes which are provided through other channels or offline promotions.

Merchants really need to offer all channels codes to use but if they don’t want to for whatever reason then Affiliates need to respect (as long as they been told in program restrictions) they can’t nick them from magazines, however Merchants need to know people are not daft and will click on Affiliate links and still use offers if they find elsewhere, so build that in to your costing for the promotion. As Affiliate can’t be punished for someone using a code just because you as the Merchant didn’t want it to happen like that.

Confidentiality
I will keep commercially sensitive information about my merchants confidential and I expect the same from them. Information about my traffic levels, methods etc should not be shared with other affiliates.

2nd part of this is really for Merchants Code and not Affiliates code, however I do agree if your given a nod and a wink about an up coming promotion that Merchants want you in place to work on but don’t want everyone finding out about then you really should keep tight lipped until it’s live.

I do think you need something in the code that asks Affiliates to contact Networks about issues instead of being lazy and just posting issues or problems on forums or blogs, got to say from Networks point of view it’s something I find very poor that Affiliates would rather stick the boot in first without giving people a chance to resolve it for them, of course if the Network/Merchant doesn’t do anything after giving a reasonable time, then by all means get stuck in and give the Network what for, just be sure you checked your emails for replies before you do as I seen a few times where people didn’t notice the reply and got all upset as if they had been ignored.

Given more time I could probably think of a couple of good add-ons but lets not run away and try and cover everything as it’s not going to work as no one will remember every single thing they should and should not be doing and more so if different sources all have different rules, like just now every Network treats many issues differently.

So in summary, a simple set of basics rules is needed for everyone to aim for, but if in doubt try to be reasonable about it, don’t be a nit picker and if you have any problems drop the Merchant/Affiliate/Network and go work with someone else who won’t give you grief, you have loads and loads of choice these days, talk is always cheap if you won’t back your belifs up with some kind of action. Sorry I have not added much more to this as the orgional was pretty much fine accept for the things I have pointed out, but to be clear some things said in the code are for more than just Affiliates so needs everyone to be onboard with it or it will not work.

Looking forward to the Merchant, Network and Agency Codes of Practice from Fraser, sure I will have loads to say on them. And always remember if you don’t like something ultimately don’t work with them after you explored the possibility of a policy being changed if you don’t agree with it.

5 Responses to “Affiliate Code of Conduct by Fraser”

  1. Fraser Edwards

    03. Sep, 2007

    Thanks for taking the time to post Clarke but I almost with you hadn’t 😉

    You’ve put a reasoned argument against most of my points which proves how difficult it is to get any standard that people would agree with. These are not simple issues but is it possible to have some kind of rules that would be widely acceptable without it being reduced to something so wishy washy that it doesn’t mean anything?

  2. Moose

    03. Sep, 2007

    Contact Info: I certainly agree with your point about contact details in the sense that this should be reciprocated. If we don’t have theirs, then there is no reason why they should have ours, unless we limit communication to internal mail systems & choice of communication we wish to receive by having them categorised.

    SEO: wrt to any negative review, for example a customer review, this should be at the discretion of the affiliate & nobody else. Because a merchant may want to to terminate a relationship, two examples being Comet & BT, it doesn’t mean the affiliate cannot still earn money or be inclined to remove that review, if anything more eyeballs may actually see it.

    “Merchants need to know people are not daft and will click on Affiliate links and still use offers if they find elsewhere,”

    Very valid point !

  3. Keith Bond

    03. Sep, 2007

    Absolutely spot on regarding creatives Clarke if the network can’t get them changed why should the onus be on the affiliate.

    Also agree about taking problems to the network first no reason at all why the boot should be put in on a forum without at least attempting to resolve them.

    As for Discount Vouchers, I’d like to see a network take up the challenge of Ray Theakston (Befuddle) and make codes affiliate specific so that all sales using that code are attributed to the affiliate it was issued to. I know this can’t be applied to codes from other sources but must surely help police the situation.

  4. yorganic

    05. Sep, 2007

    speaking as someone who manages the odd campaign on behalf of a merchant I don’t agree with affiliates being anonymous. There is so much fraud within these systems a lot of merchants are soon going to walk away as the costs of managing a campaign are starting to outweigh the benefits.

    another perspective

  5. Tephus

    14. Sep, 2007

    Great commentary. Keep it up!