Affiliate Agreement Essentials Presented by Deborah Carney Vinny O’Hare Eric Nagel
“If you don't write it down, if you don't say we can't do it, then a lot of times we're going to assume that we can. Affiliates are very imaginative. We're creative.”- Eric NagelPrint this slide and hang it over your affiliate manager’s desk
Know the Terms - SEM SEM = Search Engine Marketing Technically includes Paid Search and Natural Search Marketing In Affiliate Agreements many merchants use SEM to refer to only Pay per Click or paid search
SEM – SEO Terms to Consider PPC Trademark (Brand) vs. TM+ “coupon” “voucher code” “discount” “deal” Direct Linking & Display URL "Prohibited PPC Display URL Content" "Protected PPC Bidding Keywords" "Prohibited PPC Ad Copy Content” Something to consider: there are 10 paid spots on a search results page, do you want your site and your affiliates there, or your competition? SEO Source code Meta Tags On Page Be Careful here! You could hurt yourself more than help!
Domain names Domain name "Prohibited Web Site Domain Keywords" "Prohibited Web Site URL Keywords” Subdomains Sub Folders
Your Agreement Can Determine: Prohibited Web Site Content Adult Hate Controversial If you want your brand not displayed on specific types of websites, make that clear in your terms if it's a really big deal because, again, affiliates have more than one website than what they have listed in the network. Once they get approved by you, they can put it on any website they want. You need to make sure that if you don't want your baby tank top to be shown on sites with guns and whatever. That's pretty extreme, but again, if you really don't want your content to be on specific types of sites, again, you have to tell them ahead of time. You can't tell them later.
Your Agreement Can Determine: Unacceptable Web Sites – most common restrictions are: No Sites on Free Hosting No banner farms, no click-to-reveal. You only want to be on websites that have content. No traffic exchanges, auto surfing, paid to surf promotions. Some merchants say "Put me on any site that want to apply and wants to promote us, I don't care, we want the brand exposure and we want the affiliates to do whatever." Just be sure to put it in writing.
• Coupons Do you have a coupon prompt in your shopping cart? additional PPC restrictions (or not) Click to reveal Click that opens merchant site in the background Coupon sites can be a very valuable traffic source, but be sure to vet the sites you allow in Your Agreement Can Determine:
Next up is: Email Do you allow email affiliates? Do you allow them to have direct to merchant links in their emails? If you allow email, be sure to include that only double opt in CAN-SPAM compliant lists are allowed Ask to pre-approve Your Agreement Can Determine:
Social Media New and evolving Need to keep up and have appropriate terms in your agreements TM terms ex: merchantdeals with a RSS -> Twitter feed What platforms? Facebook, Twitter, anything else? Your Agreement Can Determine:
Framing Invisible iframe allowed Includes allowed? Pay per view – new, not allowed in some networks AdWare, Spyware & other shady stuff Some toolbars are harmless, others not Spell out in your Affiliate Agreement what is allowed or not If you don’t understand the differences, hire a consultant to explain Depending on your network they may encourage you to work with partners that have software downloads, so you as the Merchant needs to do your due diligence Your Agreement Can Determine:
Your affiliate agreement can’t cover them all, but be aware of what is out there, what you want to work with and what you don’t Be informed before you decide Don’t paint all sites of a certain type with one brush Coupon sites Reward & Cashback sites Review sites Disclosure Types of Affiliate SitesThere are a LOT out there
Blogs are Websites Too Blogs are the new way to build websites Don’t lump all blogs in the same basket Just like any other kind of site, take them on a case by case basis
Industry Changes Affiliates have asked for merchants to clarify their positions in the Nexus law states – keeping affiliates or kicking them out if one passes? Affiliates want clarification of whether company employees and contractors are allowed to be active affiliates of the merchant’s affiliate program Listen to your affiliates, watch your sales and conversions to determine if you need changes to your affiliate agreement
Things You Might Not Know How the network formats the terms – double check before you set them live Some networks require you to add html to have line and paragraph breaks Put the important points in plain English (not legalese) at the top of the agreement. Be sure affiliates can see the agreement before they apply so they can decide to apply or not based at your terms Email your affiliates when you make changes
From Affiliates that Couldn’t AttendFrom Nancy: Someone should let new merchants know that the network they sign up with does not "Manage" their program or their affiliates. If they do not have anyone to manage their own affiliate program, they will NEED an OPM - or they will not be very successful. You know that there are a boatload of merchants whose program description reads:"MerchantX has not added any terms...etc" and when you read the program description they describe it as "managed by SAS" or whatever network they are in. That tells everyone to do as they please because this program is not being managed. A year or so later when they need to close the program after paying for their own traffic all year, there is usually no notice given because they think the network will notify everyone. It is a failing on the network's part to not let merchants know what they are paying for, but someone needs to let them know.
Additional Resources http://merchantabcs.com - podcasts and webinars aimed at merchants plus a place for affiliates to sound off on merchant practices http://ericnagel.com - straight talk from an affiliate that knows his stuff http://affiliateabcs.com - hear from affiliates about what they deal with http://merchantabcs.com/?s=eric - Podcasts with info from Eric http://forum.affiliatesummit.com - come talk to others in the industry