Yesterday I have once again touched on the subject of affiliate compliance with rules, and how merchants are
or aren’t policing it. As I wrote in my FeedFront article:
…to begin with, you want make sure you have an affiliate program agreement in place. Not to be confused with the affiliate network agreement, it is basically the contract between you and your affiliates. I won’t pause much on this here, but if you need a sample, I have one for you at www.amnavigator.com/TOS.html.
Now, just having that affiliate program agreement in place doesn’t safeguard you. It gives you grounds to enforce the rules.
If you don’t have the rules, there’s nothing to enforce… But even in the rules (or program “policies”) merchants are frequently confusing. Here’s an example I’ve caught just the other day:
The AdWords policy is:
The display URL in your ad must match the domain users will land on when they click on your ad. [emphasis mine]
Permitting “direct linking” (or Direct-To-Merchant (DTM) paid search bidding), however, implies that affiliates are allowed to link their paid search ads (through their affiliate links, of course) right to your website. If the use of merchant’s “display URL on any PPC engine is prohibited” (as in the above example) then there’s no way they can direct-link their PPC ad to you; and you want to mark that DTM field “No” (not “Yes”).
When, however, merchants (or affiliate program managers) word their agreements, policies, or rules, in ways which may point to their lack of knowledge about a particular field, rogue affiliates easily spot that. And then don’t be surprised about “violations”.