Programs on Multiple Networks: Parasites Hurt All

Earlier this morning I published an article on where I talked about the problem of parasitism in affiliate marketing, and channel cannibalization, and how it should not be viewed as a problem for affiliate marketers only, but be tackled on a much wider scale.

As I was adding more affected merchants to the comments under that above-quoted article/post, I’ve noticed that some of them run affiliate programs on more than one affiliate network. This drove me to the recording of the below video where I show how a parasitic affiliate could hurt affiliates in all of the programs that you run, as well as all other channels of marketing that you may be utilizing (yes the offline ones too! you could be building a brand that drives direct type-ins of your domain name, but those get cannibalized as well). Here’s the video:

If you’re a merchant/advertiser, check your own affiliate program for this particular parasite. If you’re an affiliate/publisher, check who you’re partnering with, and notify them of the problem if is in their affiliate program too. From the lists of merchants [see my comments to the Econsultancy’s post], it is apparent that this parasite is an active affiliate on at least the following three affiliate networks: LinkShare, Commission Junction, and Google Affiliate Network.

10 thoughts on “Programs on Multiple Networks: Parasites Hurt All”

  1. Great Post on Econsultancy, Geno. Thank you !

    Merchants and affiliate networks both should be aware about the harm caused by “Parasites”.

    Good work.

  2. Geno – great post. Your blog provides the most practical advice in the easiest to understand terms – #1 affiliate blog in my book.

    How do I know if I have a parasite as an affiliate? Since I run with SAS, I know it is unlikely, but the question still is there.

  3. Thank you for your kind words, Patrick.

    You’ve gone with a network that does their own policing, which makes life considerably easier for you. I recommend individually reviewing every affiliate application/website regardless of the choice of network. When in doubt, browse the web to see what’s been written about them, ask fellow AMs and OPMs.

    For example, just yesterday I have received an affiliate application from They have a toolbar which when installed lights up to prompt a click (even if you arrived at the merchant’s website through another affiliate link, the merchant’s own organic or paid search endeavors, etc). Here’s a screenshot that explains how it works (highlighting mine):

    NB: “a handful of merchants still require that you visit GoodShop first and click through to the store”. Of course! That’s how affiliate marketing works for everyone else.

    I’m declining them ticking that ‘yes’ box in the “Add publisher(s) to automatic decline list?” option again.

  4. Thanks for that post Geno. I’ve entered into the affiliate marketing world a short while ago. I’m still learning, as everyone is. I read your article at Econsultancy and found the Twitter list, actually I’m being followed and following @BareNecessities, should I erase them from my contacts?

    I really appreciate your help. Have a good day.


  5. Larry,

    Why would you unfollow them on Twitter? Notify them of the problem. Send them to that article/discussion on Econsultancy and to the video I shot. They are not to be avoided, but to be notified of the issue. They may very well not be aware of this happening.

    You can also tell them that I’ll happily shoot a separate video for them, and send it to them via email.

  6. Geno,

    Since this is such an important topic and understanding how important it is to keep a program clean, I think you should dedicate a whole book to this. I love your books and after taking over my first affiliate program I cleaned that affiliate list like you would a garage before a garage sale.

  7. Yes, Chris, the question of importance of keeping an program program clean (together with practical “how-to’s”) could easily take a book of its own. Maybe one day.

  8. Hi Geno,

    I have been reading your articles and been watching videos. You are an inspiration for me and lots of other affiliate marketers. Thank you so much for highlighting what can be done to ensure clean affiliate programs. I hope all merchants read this post. I’m shooting an email to my favorite merchants who may not be so aware of parasitic affiliates. This article will help them understand what few affiliates are doing to generate revenue while following unethical marketing techniques.


  9. Thank you for your kind words, Andy. They are much appreciated.

    Thank you also for deciding to send out an email to your merchants who should know about parasitism in affiliate marketing. Creating awareness if extremely important.

    I’ve been blamed for sounding “alarmist” regarding the topic. The Webster’s Dictionary defines “alarmism” as “the often unwarranted exciting of fears or warning of danger”. The danger is real. The facts and mechanisms are crystal clear from the above video and this one too. The sooner the merchants (and affiliate networks) recognize the danger, the better for the affiliate marketing industry in general, and for their individual online marketing campaigns in particular.

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