E-commerce Link: Generate Traffic Without Getting Run Over
• Damage to your brand through misrepresentation of products/services and/or exposure on inappropriate or illegal Web sites.
I have seen an example where publishers, working on a pay-for-performance basis, were marketing credit cards for a major card issuer. Unfortunately, they were using a lower APR rate in their marketing materials than the advertiser had authorized. These publishers even went so far as to modify creative copy. Luckily this advertiser had a team devoted to monitoring what sites were doing and caught these infractions early. Otherwise, it may only have found out when its customer service phone started ringing off the hook.
• Legal risk through violations of privacy, Can Spam, etc. With the release of Can Spam, marketers working in the online arena are either ignoring their responsibilities, or panicking because they fear they cannot effectively police what their hundreds or thousands of publishers are doing with regard to sending e-mail on their behalf.
(This topic has recently come up in a New York case against two Internet marketing companies. These companies have been accused of sending spam. In their defense, they claim it was not them but their affiliates who violated the act, and without their knowledge. It will be interesting to see how this case pans out, as it will set a precedent for future lawsuits.)
Unfortunately, an advertiser would not know if its publishers violated this act until it was too late (until after the e-mail was sent and reported as spam). If steps are not taken to fully protect advertisers, then they either leave themselves open to legal risk or they shut down this channel completely.
Protect Your Program
An affiliate/pay-for-performance marketing team can minimize exposure to these types of risk and improve the safety of this channel by following 10 principles:
1. Know your publishers. Establish guidelines for acceptable publishers, and be selective when choosing working relationships. Manually review all sites from publishers that apply to participate in the affiliate program.