Over the past few days I have been receiving proposals from affiliates who came up with new ways to position themselves in the online space. Not to give away anyone’s secrets I’ll have to stay generic, but they have essentially come up with tools that help merchants’ existing customers and new site visitors enhance their user experience (be it through shopping comparison, ease of finding particular products, deals, etc). Everything looks attractive except for one part, which some merchants may not even notice. All of the affiliates that contacted me require a specific type of merchant’s involvement in the process. For the merchant to start offering the new tool, it is mandatory for them to place the tool’s logo on their website (or advertise it through their mailing list).
I am known for preaching full affiliate support and merchant’s involvement in the satisfaction of affiliates’ needs. However, the above-described scenarios are very different. Merchants are essentially being asked to give one particular affiliate an unfair competitive advantage over all other affiliates in their affiliate program. Yes, I know that the logo-link may only be leading to the tool page/website, but the ultimate purpose of the tool is to have the end user go through an affiliate link so that the tool developper could earn their commission.
I fully support innovative affiliates. However, when you come up with an idea, tool, or some kind of service that no other affiliate is offering, you want to come up with ways of marketing the tool/idea/service as well.
I’ve been given examples of merchants that have already placed the logo-link on their homepages. Things like this don’t convince me. On the contrary, they are telling me that some merchants do not see how by so doing they are hurting the overall development of their affiliate program. If I were an affiliate, I would never join an affiliate program of a merchant that has a competing affiliate’s logo on their homepage.