Today I’ve had Caterpillar apply into an affiliate program I manage. At least so it looked from the URL on the application. Had it happened 5 or 6 years ago I would have probably even gotten excited about it. But not today.
As an affiliate program manager you do not want to get too excited if/when a huge website applies to join your program as an affiliate. First of all, you want to verify site ownership (for example, ask them to send you an email from an @hugebrand email address, or provide you with one at which you may reach them), and only once their association with the website has been established, you can celebrate.
In the case that I’ve started with, things were way too obvious right from the start. Here’s that affiliate application:
- Red flag #1: mismatch between website name (“I Love CJ”) and URL (www.cat.com)
- Red flag #2: mismatch between category chosen (“Magazines”?!) and the URL
- Red flag #3: “email marketing” indicated as the only promotional method, which mismatches all of the above (website name, category and URL), and in light of all of these red flags, brings only one word to my mind: “spam”
…not to say that the application originated from Thailand, and the applicant joined the affiliate network only a month and a half ago.
Affiliate usage of not-their-own URLs happens day in and day out. Not all of these applications will be from rogue affiliates (say, some may mention google.com implying that they will promote you through SEM endeavors), but in most cases it should raise a red flag, and the program manager should either request additional verification (as explained above), or, when things are obvious without any additional verifications, decline such an application right away.