The Nitty Gritty of Affiliate Marketing Compliance


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We’ll review the ground-up approach for implementing compliance methods for your affiliate program, from setting policies to how-to’s of monitoring and detection.

Experience level: Beginner
Target audience: Merchants/Advertisers
Niche/vertical: Compliance

Kellie Stevens, President, (Twitter @KellieAFP)

Published in: Technology, Business
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  • Poll: The Nitty Gritty of Affiliate Marketing ...Press F5 or use the tool bar to enter presentation mode in order to see the poll.\r\nIn an emergency during your presentation, if the poll isn't showing, navigate to this link in your web browser: you like, you can use this slide as a template for your own voting slides. You might use a slide like this if you feel your audience would benefit from the picture showing a text message on a phone.
  • Poll: The Nitty Gritty of Affiliate Marketing ...Press F5 or use the tool bar to enter presentation mode in order to see the poll.\r\nIn an emergency during your presentation, if the poll isn't showing, navigate to this link in your web browser: you like, you can use this slide as a template for your own voting slides. You might use a slide like this if you feel your audience would benefit from the picture showing a text message on a phone.
  • The Nitty Gritty of Affiliate Marketing Compliance

    1. 1. Kellie
    2. 2. The Compliance Mind Set: The Name Game Compliance Monitoring Your Program Policing Your Program Quality Assurance Cleaning Your Program Best Practices Fraud Detection A Legal Term Avoid Affiliate Fraud Unless It Really Is Different Meanings But We Use Them Interchangeably
    3. 3. The Compliance Mind Set: Purpose/Goals Integrity of Program Regulatory Guidelines Accurate Channel Attribution Quality Improved Quality Inherently Brings Growth Attract Affiliates To Program Improved Performance (Cost Effectiveness) Improved ROI/ROAS EPC, Conversion Rate Are Wrong Stats! Improve Statistical Data For Decision Making Garbage In Garbage Out
    4. 4. The Compliance Mind Set: The Hard Part You Must Change Your Mind Set When In Compliance Mode Put On The Compliance Hat Focus On The Goals Of Compliance Forget The Bottom Line Questionable Practices Can Equal Increased Revenue Someone Will Be Ticked Off Be Consistent, Fair And Systematic TOS Are Meaningless If Not Enforced
    5. 5. The Compliance Mind Set: Those Bad Affiliates Where Can I Get The LIST? Most Frequently Asked Question Static List = Ineffective Compliance False Sense of Security Not Tailored Specifically To Your Program Quickly Out-Dated Affiliate Marketing & Compliance Are Dynamic Lists Can Be A Tool When Understood And Used Correctly
    6. 6. Fundamentals: Concepts To Understand What Is Affiliate Marketing?
    7. 7. Fundamentals: Concepts To Understand What Is Affiliate Marketing? Performance Based Unique Visitors Incremental Sales Don’t Lose Sight Of The Channel
    8. 8. Fundamentals: Concepts To Understand Understand The Network’s Affiliate TOS What Types of Affiliate Promotion/Behavior Does Your Network Allow? If the Network Allows It Then It’s “Compliant” for the Network
    9. 9. Fundamentals: Before You Can Police A Program Understand How Affiliate Tracking Works Link Structure, Tracking Domains, Encryption, Type of Tracking (Cookie, Flash, Session, etc) Commission Tracking vs. Impression Tracking Develop Your TOS Legal Document Framework For What You Monitor Let’s Your Affiliates Know What Promotions Are Allowed Or Not
    10. 10. Fundamentals: Before You Can Police A Program Develop Policy & Procedures For TOS Violations Document All Activity: Behavior, Communications, Actions Establish Protocols For Different Violations Warning: How Many? Time Frame To Come Into Compliance Termination With Outstanding Commissions Paid Termination Without Paying Of Outstanding Commissions Ignore The Behavior Establish Protocols For Different Violations
    11. 11. Fundamentals: Before You Can Police A Program Develop Policy & Procedures For TOS Violations If Affiliate Remains In Program, Probation Period Is Warranted (Increased Monitoring) Use All Instances Of Known Violations To Establish Indicators For Future Violations By Others
    12. 12. Fundamentals: Red Flags Only Indicates a Possibility of Bad Behavior Red Flag Traffic Can Be Legitimate For Every Rule There Is An Exception Affiliates May Utilize Techniques To Minimize Red Flags Use Known Offender Statistics To Develop “Footprints”
    13. 13. Fundamentals: Common Red Flags Sudden Increase In Traffic Higher Than Normal Conversions Short Duration Between Click Time and Transaction Time Short Duration Between Click Time and Arrival From Another Source No Referral Information
    14. 14. Tools: Network Log Analyzer Most Important Tool Logs All Traffic On Your Network. You Can See Everything Coming Through Your Internet Connection More Robust Software Gives More Info But Is More Technical WireShark My Personal Favorite. Not Browser Dependent LiveHTTPHeaders Captures Header Info Only FireFox Fiddler Now works with multiple browsers IEWatch
    15. 15. Tools: Using A Network Log Analyzer Turn Off All Software Running In Background You Don’t Need! Set Filters For Traffic If Possible Save All Captures For Documentation
    16. 16. Tools: Network Log Analyzer WireShark
    17. 17. Tools: Network Log Analyzer WireShark
    18. 18. Tools: Network Log Analyzer LiveHTTPHeaders
    19. 19. Tools: Competitive Intelligence Not All Affiliates Fully Disclose Their Web Sites Can Assist You In Determining Where/How Affiliates Are Promoting Assist In Building An Overall Picture Of Affiliate Promotion
    20. 20. Tools: Competitive Intelligence Resources DomainTools Basic Whois Information (free) Name Server & Whois History (paid) Reverse IP (paid) All Sites Registered On Same IP Address. Shared Hosting Accounts May Not Be Owned By Same Person
    21. 21. Tools: Competitive Intelligence Resources Reverse Internet Backlink Checker Can Show If Affiliate Is Spamming Blogs/Forums Will Show If BackLink Is A Frame Or A Redirect Affiliates Framing Your Site May Show In Your Own Backlinks Reverse Affiliate ID, Google Analytic, AdSense Search Organic SERP’s, Anchor Text Caution! Some Info Is Outdated & Data Is Still Being Added To Site
    22. 22. Tools: Competitive Intelligence Resources EWhois Free Site Whois Lookup Reverse IP Lookup Reverse Google Analytics Organic SERPs Free Account Allows For Downloading Reports
    23. 23. Tools: Competitive Intelligence Resources Push2Check Free Site Aggregates Several Competitive Intelligence Sites Site Traffic Resources (e.g. Alexa, Compete) SEO Sites (e.g. SEMRush, KeywordSpy, MajecticSEO)
    24. 24. Tools: Competitive Intelligence Resources Google Be Creative In Your Searches Company Names Footer Info Add Relevant Behavior To Search (eg “spam”, “adware”, “spyware”, “toolbar”, etc)
    25. 25. Affiliate Behavior Automated Clicks: Cookie Stuffing, Forced Clicks Trademark Infringement: Trademark Bidding, Typosquatting Software Technology: adware, malware, spyware, apps, toolbars, plug-ins, extensions False/Misleading Advertising Disclosures
    26. 26. Affiliate Behavior: Automated Clicks Cookie Stuffing, Forced Clicks, Hidden Forced Clicks End User Did Not Physically Click On The Affiliate Link Many Different Flavors: End User Can’t See The Merchant’s Site (Hidden) End User Sees Merchant’s Site But Framed Within A Web Page Automatic Redirects Of Browser Of Affiliate Link (Meta Refresh, 301/301 Redirects, Software)
    27. 27. Affiliate Behavior: Automated Clicks Many Different Methods: Frames Seen On The Affiliate’s Site And Through Adware Being Seen More Often On Blogs With Numerous Scripts/Plug-Ins Available to Automatically Add Code To Site With Hidden Forced Clicks Frame With Affiliate Link Is Sized Smaller Than Can Be Seen By Naked Eye Frame May Be Viewable But Embeded In Other Content (Affiliate’s Site, Press Releases, Classified Ads)
    28. 28. Affiliate Behavior: Automated Clicks Legal Cases Wire Fraud? Civil Case Ebay Vs Digital Point Solutions et al 08cv04052/206526/ Criminal Case United States Vs Shawn Hogan pdf Criminal Case United States Vs Brian Dunning t.pdf Criminal Case United States Vs Christopher Kennedy cookie-stuffing-code-seller/ Guilty Plea Sold Cookie Stuffing Script Pled Guilty
    29. 29. Affiliate Behavior: Automated Click Detection Must Visit Where Behavior Is Happening Viewing Your Cookies Is The Least Reliable Method Run A Sniffer When Testing For Most Accurate Testing Clear Cookies, History First Use New Browser Session Use Proxy If Necessary Note! Some Will Look For “Proxy” In HTTP Header Info To Suppress Behavior
    30. 30. Affiliate Behavior: Automated Click Detection Finding Code That Shows “How” They Did It Isn’t Necessary! If Affiliate Tracking Link And Redirect To Merchant Site Shows On Sniffer The Test Is Positive
    31. 31. Affiliate Behavior: TypoSquatting Affiliate Buys Domains Which Are Misspellings Of The Merchant’s Domain. Typically Will Automatically Redirect Through Their Affiliate Link (301/302 Redirects, Meta Refreshes, JavaScript) Less Frequently May Display A Minimal Landing Page For The Merchant Some Affiliates Partner With ISP’s To Automatically Redirect Unregistered Typo Domains And DNS Errors (eg merchant.cmo) Should Normally Be Free Traffic For Merchant
    32. 32. Affiliate Behavior: TypoSquatting Detection Check Your Referral Information For Domain Mis- spellings (least effective) Run Sniffer While Loading Typo Domains Typo Domain Tools Domain Typo Tool SEOBook Keyword Typo Generator (Enter Your Domain) typos.cgi SEOChat Domain Typo Generator generator/
    33. 33. Affiliate Behavior: TypoSquatting Detection Automate Loading Of Domains With Sniffer Running I-Macros WebReplay Consulting Firms Citizen Hawk
    34. 34. Affiliate Behavior: Trademark Bidding PPC Search Campaigns Using Your Trademark Company and Products Be Clear With Affiliates What Is Allowed Or Not Allowed Trademark + Additional Terms? Not Setting Up Negative Broad Search Matches Is No Excuse May Geo-Target & Day-Part
    35. 35. Affiliate Behavior: Trademark Bidding Detection Consulting Firms BrandVerity Specific To Affiliate Marketing Investigates Techniques To Thwart Dection AdGooRoo The Search Monitor nitor ITrademarkBidding Script By An Affiliate
    36. 36. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Behavior Can Be Benign To Malicious Low Threshold For Affiliates To Acquire Software Technology Hundreds of Thousands of Apps Out There & Not All Monetize Through Affiliate Marketing Rapidly Changing Affiliate May Own Software Or Buy Traffic Through 3rd Party
    37. 37. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Considerations FTC Compliant? Consumer Consented To Installation Accurate EULA Accurate Privacy Policy Ability To Uninstall Disclose If Bundled With Other Software Ads Must Be Labeled As Coming From Adware
    38. 38. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Considerations The Consent Debate End User Agreed To The Installation Some Networks Deem Click To Install As On-Going Affirmative Action By The Consumer Counts As Clicking The Affiliate Link Anytime In The Future How Far Does End User Consent Cover Revenue Generation Tactics? Ultimately It’s The Merchant’s Decision To Allow Or Disallow Tactics
    39. 39. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Considerations Distribution Different Versions With Different Behaviors Depending On Distribution Source Most Aggressive Behavior Typically Installs Found In “Wild”, Bundled Or Pay-Per-Install Distribution Methods For “Loyalty” Software Incentive and Coupon Sites Remind Consumer About Incentive or Discount Bundled and Pay-Per-Install Software Becomes Mechanism To Obtain “Users” Are They Bringing You Loyal Customers?
    40. 40. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Revenue Tactics Contextual Adware Also Called PPV/CPV Affiliates May Buy Traffic But May Also Act As An Affiliate Themselves Low Cost Traffic = Lower Barrier To Entry Ads Displayed Based On Page In Browser Can Target Domains & Keywords Used To Cookie Stuff At Times On Merchant’s Shopping Cart Page
    41. 41. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Revenue Tactics Contextual Adware Companies Zango, LeadImpact, Hotbar, ShopperReports Pop-ups, Sidebar, Browser Toolbar MediaTraffic, Vomba Pop-ups TrafficVance, PlaySushi, GameVance Text Link Injection DirectCPV Interstitials AdKnowledge Text Link Injection
    42. 42. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Revenue Tactics Contextual Adware Capabilities Geo-Targeting Day-Parting Remove User Agent References Will Suppress In Virtual Testing Environments
    43. 43. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Revenue Tactics Static Toolbars/Plug-ins Least Invasive No Automatic Behaviors All Actions Require A True Click From End User Used By Affiliates For Branding And Stickiness Think Google Toolbar
    44. 44. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Revenue Tactics Automatic Redirects Will Automatically Redirect The Browser Through The Affiliate Link Under Set Conditions, Usually When Arriving To Merchant’s Site May Suppress Automatic Redirections For Certain Conditions Some Traffic From Other Affiliates Paid Search Listings If End User Returns To Site Via A Different Source Will Automatically Redirect Will You Pay For Traffic That Is On Your Site Already?
    45. 45. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Revenue Tactics Automatic Prompting End User Is Visually Prompted When On Merchant Web Site Affiliate Link Is Not Automatically Set Less Likely To Suppress Based On Traffic Source When Prompt Is Clicked Affiliate Link Is Set Or Consumer Is Taken To Affiliate Site (In Same Browser Window Or New Window/Tab) Do You Allow Affiliates To Promote Once Consumer Is On Your Site?
    46. 46. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Revenue Tactics Automatic Prompting Examples
    47. 47. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Revenue Tactics Automatic Prompting Examples
    48. 48. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Revenue Tactics Ad Injection High Profile Companies Did This In Early Days Of Adware (Gator, Ezula/TopText) Increasing In Prevalence The Last Few Years Inject Banners, Text Links, Images, Overlays Onto Sites Not Owned By The Affiliate Some Networks Seem To Allow This Behavior Affiliate Owned and 3rd Party Do You Allow Promotion On Sites Not Owned By The Affiliate And Not Approved By The Site Owner?
    49. 49. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Revenue TacticsAd Injection Examples
    50. 50. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Revenue TacticsAd Injection Examples
    51. 51. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Testing Must Have The Adware Installed Use A Secure Testing Environment! Virtual PC or Sandboxed Always, Always, Always Isolate Testing System VMWare VirtualBox Parallels Symantec
    52. 52. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Testing Appropriately Set Up Sniffer & Run During Testing Ideally Run From Host Not Guest Computer One Application Per Testing Environment (VPC) Don’t Assume When Affiliate Link Is Set By What You See On Screen. Verify With Sniffer Logs. Don’t Test From Company IP Address If You Have Dedicated IP Use Proxy If Needed But Avoid Encrypted Proxies Test For Link Injections On Your Site And Other Sites
    53. 53. Affiliate Behavior: Adware Testing Test What Happens For Different Traffic Sources Direct Type-Ins Organic Search, Paid Search Traffic From Other Affiliates Shopping Comparison Listings Emails Blasts Bookmarks Is End User Surfing Being Tracked? Is the URL the End User Browsing Sent Back To the Adware Servers? If So, Is That Behavior Disclosed In The EULA/Privacy Policy
    54. 54. Affiliate Behavior: False/Misleading Advertising Regulatory Agencies Focusing On Online Marketing FTC and Law Enforcement Compliance Several FTC Guidelines Available Can’t Make Claims That Aren’t True Can’t Misrepresent Yourself (e.g. Fake Comments, Fake Authority Sites) If You Aren’t Sure, Then Better To Not Do It Is Affiliate Misrepresenting Your Brand?
    55. 55. Affiliate Behavior: Disclosures Focus on Blog Disclosures But Any Site Must Disclose If Endorse or Give Testimonials FTC Guidelines mentguides.pdf If Disclosure Is Such That Consumer Won’t See It, It’s Probably Inadequate You Can’t Bury The Disclosure In Small Text As A Link In The Footer Of The Page
    56. 56. Covering Their Tracks Day-Parting Behavior Is Seen Only At Certain Times Check For Behavior Outside Of Normal Business Hours Geo-Targeting Displays Or Suppresses Behavior In Certain Geographical Locations Use Proxies If Suspect Geo-Targeting Suppression Based On Header Proxy Information
    57. 57. Covering Their Tracks Dynamic Site Generation Scripting For Conditional Web Page Generation Geo-Targeting, Day-Parting, Cookie-Based, Browsing History Signs: Inconsistent Behavior Adware Multiple Software Versions May Behave Differently Will Not Work In Virtual PC/Sandboxed Environment Geo-Targeting Programmed For Inconsistent Behavior
    58. 58. Covering Their Tracks Obfuscation/Encryption Of Code Offending Code (When Affiliate Link Is Called) Is Not Easily Read By Human Eye Many Ways To Accomplish This Indicates They Know They Shouldn’t Be Doing It! You Don’t Have To See It Since The Electronic Trail Will Still Be There
    59. 59. Covering Their Tracks: Obfuscation/Encryption Decimal HTML Encoded
    60. 60. Covering Their Tracks: Obfuscation/Encryption Base 64 Encoded
    61. 61. Covering Their Tracks: Decoding Opinionated Geek Hashemian
    62. 62. Presentation Resource List