Affiliates Do Not Always Read Program Policies Before Applying

Back in late 2009 I ran a poll which revealed that only 38% of affiliates, generally, pay good attention to affiliate program agreements before submitting their application (24% always, 14% often). Here’s that pie-chart:

Based on the above data, I’ve been strongly recommending merchants to include a Summary of their affiliate program agreement before the agreement itself (so that affiliates could quickly familiarize themselves with the key points you want them to see prior to applying).

I’m hoping that the Summary helps. However, I’ve been noticing something very interesting lately. Apparently, not all affiliates are paying attention even to those brief program rules that merchants spell out under their program terms. Here’s an example of a policy:

Yet, here are two examples that have applied into the program (which, obviously, doesn’t welcome cybersquatters) regardless:

In the second example, that mention of “Search Engine Marketing” as the primary (and the only) promotional method, coupled with the only domain in the profile being a trademark-targeting domain, doesn’t make me comfortable either.

Furthermore, a famous toolbar affiliate, which has been proven to cannibalize organic traffic, paid search traffic and direct type-ins before, upon being declined from the program, aggressively asked for explanation. C’mon, it’s right there in the program rules!

Affiliates, please read affiliate program restrictions/policies before applying into programs? It really saves everyone’s time (and money).

Affiliate managers, please take this post as another example of why you want to go away from automatic approvals, and regardless of what you write in your TOS or program rules, review each affiliate application manually.

7 thoughts on “Affiliates Do Not Always Read Program Policies Before Applying”

  1. Interesting to present the numbers that I think most of us with experience suspected. I think the suggestion to post a summary of your agreement terms is a good one though, especially if that agreement is heavy on the legal lingo.

  2. For some it may simply be a matter of “let them catch me”. Why bother to read if you know that your marketing plans don’t follow the basic network rules? In that case the whole point is to get in and do as you please until after the second warning (if caught).

    1. Nancy, I had this very thought too; but didn’t want to go into a rant about it, and focused on underscoring the importance of turning that auto-approve off altogether. But I thank you for bringing this up. I think this is precisely what some of them are thinking.

  3. Hi Geno,

    I believe that, as in other industries, there will be always people who have read the terms & conditions and realize they don’t fully comply try it anyway.

    This set us as aff. manager for a difficult choice. You want to quickly give affiliates access to your program because we know the negative influence on activity in your network if people have to wait to long. On the other hand you want to be a good gate keeper.

    We at therefore decided to use the following method in our in-house aff. network. If an affiliate subscribes he immediately gets access. The affiliate can do everything he wants and all clicks and sales are meausered. But we still check if the subscription complies with our terms & conditions. We communicate this cleary in confirm email and on the homepage if the affiliate login. If the subscription doesn’t comply we decline the subscription. The affiliate recieves an email with explanation.

    We believe with this the most affiliates will become active and we still control who has access to our network. Aff. Networks can easily implement such a method

    1. Yes, Ralph, I’ve seen other affiliate managers approach it this way too; and, in fact, we as an agency practice a similar approach in a couple of programs as well. However, it works well only if you’re reviewing affiliates nearly 24/7. Skip a day, and a tremendous brand damage can be done by an unwanted affiliate.

  4. Pingback: Affiliate Auslese Juli 2012 | Online Marketing Agentur (Projecter GmbH)

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