Stolen Coupons May No Longer Be a Problem

…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 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

    For Advertisers:

    • 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

    For Publishers:

    • 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,, and hoping many other affiliate networks (especially in the USA) will follow this example as well.

5 thoughts on “Stolen Coupons May No Longer Be a Problem”

  1. It’s a good step but not full proof.

    1. What if the merchant is on multiple networks? There is still a chance the affiliate can lose commission or even worse, the merchant pay twice.

    2. Is the affiliate allowed to upload it’s own exclusives? If so, what happens if the merchant never assigned it to that affiliate?

  2. Jon,

    Thanks for the retweet of this, and for your comments.

    1. Sounds like something that can be fixed on the merchant’s end by making the coupon code invalid unless the buyer comes through an affiliate link of this particular network.

    2. Good point too. Another reason for the affiliate and the merchant (or the merchant’s affiliate program manager) to work together beyond the recruitment and “newsletter” phases of the relationship.

    I’ve sent a link to your comments to too.

  3. Geno,

    Just a quick message to provide some detail on several points: has launched OfferCentral in the US, and we are working with US merchants to start using it.

    Answers to questions:

    1. Does this scenario refer to an affiliate stealing an exclusive voucher code issued through, then using a tracking link to the merchant via another network to get the sale? If so, in this case, it’s true, there’s nothing we can do about that, until other networks or the merchant can track offer code usage, or the merchant also records offer code usage and reconciles them with data from the networks.

    2. There has to be a degree of synchronisation in order for the exclusivity to work. To that end, any affiliate that is assigned an exclusive offer code is notified by, either by email or within their management area. If the merchant has not assigned the offer code to the affiliate, then the affiliate will not be notified by If they are then notified by other means (i.e. directly by the merchant), then the sale will still track successfully for that affiliate and commission will be recorded, but’s offer code tracking feature will not record that the offer code was used. A minor drawback, but nothing that means a loss to the affiliate.

    Gav Warrender
    QA Manager,

  4. Gav,

    I appreciate you taking the time to sit down and comment on the questions posed.

    1. Yes, I believe you’ve understood the question correctly, and this is yet another reason for affiliate programs to stay on one network.

    2. Gotcha on this one too.

    Thanks again, Gav, and WTG,!!

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