…at least within one particular affiliate network, within one particular country.
Stolen coupons have been a long-standing problem for affiliates that are receiving exclusive deals from merchants. The essence of the problem is as simple as this:
- You run an XYZ affiliate website
- A merchant gives you an exclusive coupon code (e.g. XYZ-TWENTY) for a 20% store-wide discount
- You upload it, start ranking well, and landing sales for this merchant
- A competing affiliate steals the coupon code, and posts it on his/her site
- You now have to chase the merchant’s affiliate program manager (and/or your affiliate network rep) to get the thief to remove the coupon code from their site
On 4 August 2009 buy.at has added an awesome functionality to their UK system (I’m hearing that they are still working with the U.S. merchants on launching the same product in the U.S.). They called the product OfferCentral, and what it essentially does is lets merchants assign exclusive coupon codes to specific affiliates, so that even when the exclusive coupon code is used on another affiliate’s site, it is the original affiliate that the gets the credit for the sale.
Here’s an official wording from buy.at:
- Assign permission to specific affiliates to use a unique voucher code on their site
- Set start and end dates for each code, and manage transaction approval for affiliates that are not authorized to use the voucher code
- Receive permission from an advertiser to use a unique code on your site
- Sign up for RSS feed updates on new voucher codes and coupon creatives
What an amazing development! Leonardo da Vinci words come to mind: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” The idea is both simple and ingenious. Why chase the thief when if he/she is marketing the coupons of another affiliate when the system can simply credit the commission to the appropriate affiliate account (that of the affiliate for whom the coupon was created in the first place)?
WTG, buy.at, and hoping many other affiliate networks (especially in the USA) will follow this example as well.