27 Sep

New Software Quietly Diverts Sales Commissions

NYT:

"Some popular online services are using a new kind of software to divert sales commissions that would otherwise be paid to small online merchants by big sites like Amazon and eToys. […] In many versions of the software, a purchase will look as if it was made through the software maker’s site even if the shopper came in through another site that has its own affiliate agreement with the online store in question. Those affiliate sites include small businesses and even charities that use affiliate links as fund-raisers."

You can credit Amazon.com for always having stood on the right side of this issue. When this kind of hijacking practice first occurred about 3 or 4 years ago (was it DealTime the first to do this?), some sites such as Reel.com (RIP) washed their hands, while Amazon demonstrated they understood what it takes to build a channel.
Why is it that I’m not surprised to see the guy from CJ not getting it? I do the sale, but someone else gets paid for it? HELLO! If your public service statement doesn’t forbid this, change it. It’s nothing to do with legality, and it’s all about the sound business judgment needed to build lasting relationships. Mister Jeff Pullen (provided you’re quoted accurately and in context, but that’s how it looks), you just demonstrated you’re severely lacking in that department. In the "physical world," that kind of bullshit would get you kicked out of the office of any large reseller if you were to take it to their face.
If you’re managing your affiliate program with Commission Junction (big sites such as eBay are), I urge you to pressure them to reconsider their position, and if they fail to, to take your business elsewhere. If your affiliates are hurt, you’ll feel the pain too. Alibris recently moved to Linkshare, I witnessed it was a bumpy ride but they eventually made it, and I guess their experience must now be documented. Don’t let a technical provider like CJ damage your brand.
09/30/02 update: I think Dash.com is the precedent I was half remembering.

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