You will hear them called “adware,” “malware,” “parasiteware,” and “spyware;” you will see them come in forms of toolbars, browser plugins, BHOs, pop-ups, and pop-unders. As Harvard’s Ben Edelman would say, “the techniques vary, but the key tactic is the same” — “finding a way to get between the user and the merchant, in order to claim commission that wasn’t actually earned.”
Some advertisers would call them “invisible thieves,” others would have them pocket a large chunk of the affiliate commissions they pay out — often unknowingly loosing millions, misattributing conversions which really stem from other marketing activity.
I often urge brands to take a strong stand against affiliate adware, but too many are still lacking education on the subject and do not fully understand the seriousness of the problem. In hopes of straightening this out, I hereby bring you my compilation of resources on affiliate adware and toolbars.
- Affiliate Theft Could Be Costing You Millions by Jabez LeBret on Forbes.com
- Malware and Adware section of BrandVerity’s Guide to Affiliate Compliance
- Q&A: Ben Edelman of Harvard on Adware & Affiliate Commission Fraud by yours truly on Econsultancy.com
- Toolbars: The Greatest Threat to the Affiliate Marketing Industry by Phil Ayres on his blog
- Toolbars, Pop-ups and Parasites in Affiliate Marketing by yours truly on Econsultancy.com
- The Dangers of Toolbars and Adware in B2B Affiliate Programs by Matt Wool on PerformInsider.com
- Adware Affiliate Interferes with Other Marketing Channels video by yours truly on YouTube.com
- Adware, Spyware, Greynets, & Internet Fraud section of ReveNews.com
- Affiliate Loyalty Toolbars Exposed by Linda Buquet on 5StarAffiliatePrograms.com
- How Affiliate Adware Affects Your Revenue by Adam Riemer on Sugarrae.com
- Merchants and Affiliates, Beware Cashback & Loyalty Toolbars by John Cheshire on SarahBundy.com
- Newest Adware and Affiliate Marketing Abuses From #AMDays by Sarah Bundy on SmallBizTrends.com
- The Online Ad Scams Every Marketer Should Watch Out For by Ben Edelman at Harvard Business Review
- ParasiteWare section of ABestWeb.com
- Spyware & Parasites section of AMNavigator.com
- Q&A: Wesley Brandi of iPensatori on Affiliate Marketing Fraud by yours truly on Econsultancy.com
- Adware and Spyware sections of AffiliateFairPlay.com by Kellie Stevens
- Research and presentations by Ben Edelman
- Adware articles and investigations by Wesley Brandi
If I have missed a resource that belongs here, please do mention it via the “Comments” area below, and I will definitely consider adding it as well.