Setting Violator's Commissions at Zero Hurts Other Affiliates

This morning as I was reviewing affiliate applications in our clients‘ programs, I had to dig into one specific affiliate’s feedback (it was a ShareASale-based affiliate program, and they equip their advertisers with this great feature). It was their negative score that raised a red flag.

This affiliate positioned himself as a coupon-oriented affiliate, but their simplistic website (with nonexistent Quantcast and data, and Alexa rank of 7,371,262) was just a mask for what they really were all about — of course, paid search violations or “trademark bidding” (a very common situation, by the way).

However, as I drilled down into the feedback left for them by other merchants and affiliate managers, I noticed one record (you may see it marked with an arrow on the below screenshot) that prompted me to write this blog post.

Zero affiliate commissions problem

Whether the affiliate violator is bidding on your trademarks (or other prohibited terms), harvests the coupons you email to clients, engages in cybersquatting/typosquatting, or any other prohibited behavior, lowering their commissions to zero (or any other low) percentage is not a solution to the problem. Banning them from the affiliate program is a much better route to go in these contexts.

Since most affiliate programs and platforms currently operate on the “last click wins” model, when the violator’s link is clicked – the cookie still gets set (frequently overwriting the previous affiliate referrer’s cookie). And yes, while you will save money on the violator’s “referrals,” you will often hurt the other (good!) affiliates in the process (preventing them from earning their well-deserved full commissions).

5 thoughts on “Setting Violator's Commissions at Zero Hurts Other Affiliates”

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  2. That’s why I’ve changed our affiliate program to the first cookie rule. Affiliates with coupon sites and PPC campaigns were actually stealing orders from other affiliates and from other traffic sources like organic or our own PPC campaigns. After this change all coupon sites had a drastic drop and the orders were redistributed to the right affiliates. Besides this, the first cookie rule seems more appropriate and right to me. If you promise a 90 day cookie… then let it be 90 days. If you overwrite it you’re actually giving a “5 minutes “ cookie… until the user goes to find a coupon.

    1. Have mixed feeling about first cookie rule, imho it’s better to create rules via Leapfrog on ShareASale or setup a rule to reward the last affiliate after add to cart action is completed (when customer decides to add stuff to their cart).

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