I personally hate it — can’t help but recall how just recently I was explaining to my daughter that “hate” is a very strong verb (and she should be careful how she uses it), but here I mean it — when “affiliate marketing” is used in conjunction with words like “spam” or “spammer”. However, this happens, and frequently not without basis.
In a recent article on Halloween-themed spam Softpedia wrote:
Security companies warn that affiliate marketing spammers have already began exploiting Halloween to trick people with fake prizes, contests and offers.
It’s a known fact that cybercriminal activity always intensifies around holidays, when people are more vulnerable and have more money to spend.
And spamming goes beyond email marketing. Softpedia continued:
…spammers compromised legit websites, including some that belong to educational institutions, and used them in black hat SEO campaigns to drive traffic to the website of a Halloween costumes retailer.
“The URL to buycostumes.com contains an affiliate ID which allows the spammer to get a commission (10% to 30% of the total purchase) from the store should a redirected user ultimately make a purchase,” explained Julien Sobrier, senior security researcher at Zscaler.
No doubt, as the holiday approaches, attacks will diversify and will increase in number. Google speculated that a surge of infected emails in August and September had the purpose of planting the seeds for spam botnets that will be used heavily during the holidays.
Much of this boils down to diligent policing of affiliates by affiliate managers — to make sure that such rogue affiliates are kept out of affiliate programs. Otherwise, they hurt both the company’s image, and other affiliates in the program.
Incidentally, another interesting article had just come out on a related topic, where Kellie Stevens of AffiliateFairPlay.com talks about Facebook launching 3 lawsuits against affiliate marketing CPA scams (a must read).