Affiliate Application: Watch Out for These 10 Red Flags

Posted on6 CommentsCategoriesAffiliate Program Management

A regular reader of my blog has emailed me:

I am new to the title of “Affiliate Manager” and I’m having a hard time discerning what classifies an affiliate as a “good” or “bad” affiliate. Do you have a “list” of what to look for when it regards accepting/declining affiliate applications? I don’t know what I’m looking for.

Application declinedVery good question. I’ve addressed a very similar one in my July 2009 6 Sure Ways to Get Your Affiliate Application Declined post on (and also touched on the subject in my 3 Signs You Do Not Want That Affiliate blog post of July 2010), but today I’d like to give you additional 10 red flags to watch out for.

As you’re reviewing affiliate applications in your program, here are the major reasons for concern:

  1. URL-related mismatches (e.g.: between the category in which the website is listed and the category it belongs to)
  2. Trademarks in URLs (see this article on trademarks in affiliate domains and also this one)
  3. Nonsense descriptions of promotional methods (e.g.: “I love [affiliate network name]”)
  4. Incompatibility of affiliate’s promotional methods and what works for your program (for example, loyalty affiliates’ business model doesn’t work well with some types of affiliate programs)
  5. Inappropriateness of affiliate website (e.g.: site promoting pornography, violence, etc… or a plain ole “banner farm”)
  6. Inaccessible website, or one on which dangerous scripts are run
  7. Affiliate relying on adware, toolbars, BHOs, etc (see my post on the clause that Walmart has recently added to their affiliate agreement, as well as the “Related Articles” list under it)
  8. Lack of response from affiliate when you’re trying to clarify their application (give them 72 hours to be on the safe side)
  9. Strongly negative feedback about the affiliate in affiliate in forums, blogs, etc
  10. Foreign name, English-speaking country (see my article on country changers) — of course, this one is a less alarming reason for concern, but definitely a good reason to monitor them closely

Have I missed anything?

6 thoughts on “Affiliate Application: Watch Out for These 10 Red Flags

  1. Hi Geno,

    Good list –

    I’d throw in nonsensical sounding domain name


    These are typical email spammers pulled from my server logs…

  2. Although I understand the reason for this article, I don’t think it states clear enough that one should be vigilant for the “act” of country changing on the link I followed. Frankly, when watching out for red flags the persons name if it sounds foreign should not necessarily be a red flag, rather the country change itself. Stating it the way you did sounds dangerously close to racial profiling, which in my opinion is many times worse than the actual offense that brings it on, Mr Prussakov. I’m new to affiliate marketing and am a born american citizen with latino background and a latino name. I hope for my sake and the sake of honest affiliates of other countries your readers do not follow your advise as far as racial profiling goes. You have a very good blog but as far as this article goes, you are wrong, sir.

  3. Ismael, I appreciate your comment. But let’s not put anything into my text that I didn’t intend to put in it. I myself am Russian (Russian is my native language, my name is Russian, my family is 100% Russian, etc), and with the terrible reputation of Russian hackers around the globe, one would think that this could influence me in the first place. It doesn’t. And it shouldn’t. If you re-read my article, you will see exactly what I meant (it’s a “less alarming reason for concern, but definitely a good reason to monitor them closely”, making sure you don’t get Russian or any other country-based spammers, cookie-stuffers, and other rogue affiliates doing harm to your program). Same applies to all affiliates, regardless of the country they’re based in, and this is covered by the other 9 of the above-quoted 10 points.

  4. I understand that, and I have no doubt that you did not have any intention of any type of racial profiling. As I said before, I understand why you wrote the article and your reasoning was sound, I was merely stating the manner in which you were presenting it may strike a chord with some people. I, myself am a little bit sensitive regarding the subject matter, as you can probably already tell, and I apologize if I inadvertently accused you of any racial profiling. It was wrong of me to do so.

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