One would think that it is common sense to have a separate section prohibiting parasitic affiliate behaviors in your affiliate program and your program agreement. However, even larger online merchants sometimes do not do so. First of all, this makes them significantly more vulnerable to rogue affiliates. Secondly, it makes it harder to fight such behaviors. After all, if it hasn’t been prohibited in the first place, how do you enforce it?
Earlier today all Walmart’s affiliates have received a notification of an update to Walmart.com’s Affiliate Terms & Conditions. The core of the message read:
You May NOT:
- employ, use or place any web browser add-ons, toolbars or pop-ups on your website.
- engage in any direct or indirect relationships with ISPs and/or mobile carriers that results in the delivery or act of address bar keyword and URL error trafficking (e.g., a user mistypes a web address in the ISP’s address bar or search bar, and, as a result, is redirected to a web page that contains a Qualifying Link that directs the user to sites like Walmart.com).
- without the prior written approval of Walmart.com, use any Trademark, or any Licensed Material in an advertisement that is not created or provided by Walmart.com in any way that might suggest or imply or mislead or is likely to mislead a visitor to your website into believing that Walmart.com, Wal-Mart Stores or any related entity was the creator or sponsor of such advertisement.
- employ, use, or receive any direct or indirect benefit from, any “cookie stuffing” methods (e.g., use of “cookie stuffing” to cause LinkShare’s tracking systems to conclude that a user has clicked through a Qualifying Link — and to pay commissions accordingly — even if the user has not actually clicked through any such link).
Way to go, Wal-Mart! I believe that every merchant should mimic Walmart.com in prohibiting the above-quoted activities. Do you prohibit these in your affiliate program agreement already?
Related articles of mine (the comments under them are quite informative too):