Before you read this, please remember I am not a Lawyer, cannot give legal advice and this is just my opinion. I am not saying that I am correct or to follow my advice but just giving an opinion. I am also encouraging you to respond here but please do not mention company names, etc… The purpose of this post is not to be a witch hunt, out anyone or create a Parasite list. Those are available elsewhere. I just want people’s opinions on one thing and if you want, to have a proper discussion on a topic that is really bugging me.
So something that has been bugging me and eating away at me, but I have not said anything about, is the fact that it seems like Parasites have become accepted by many. There are a quote a few “reputable” Affiliate Program Management companies out there that not only partner with these adware thieves, but they also manage Affiliate Programs for them and endorse them as being great Affiliates to have in your program.
I was talking to GrowMap.com (a great place to learn about Word of Mouth Marketing and Supporting Small Business) and they definitely have a lot of the same views as I do when it comes to Parasites. I guess what I am trying to figure out is what you all think about a trend I see happening which is Partnering with Parasites, whether their adware applications are active or not, how you feel about it, if you are noticing this to and if you are not, then it is time to start opening your eyes because I am watching adware ethics begin to cross another line that is so fine and being kept so quiet that it is scary.
The question is, Parasite Resistant Networks have begun or have always allowed Parasitic Affiliates into their Networks. They do however require the adware to not be active while promoting Merchant’s through their Network. Do you think it is ok to allow these types of Affiliates in your program because their adware is not active or do you think it is wrong because they still have and use adware, just not with that Network?
I also have a follow up question.
Suppose you found a Parasite applying to your program, but they disabled their adware and got rid of it 100%. Do you work with them now because they are clean and will hopefully stay that way, or do you keep them out because of past actions or because they could turn their adware back on at any minute?
You could reward them for doing the right thing and getting rid of their Adware, but at the same time one of the reasons they grew so big was by growing budgets by stealing from Merchants and other Affiliates. What do you do? y don’t start being allowed into programs, then there was no reason to get rid of their adware in the first place. If they do get in, you risk losing other Affiliates and could be known as Parasite Friendly or ripped apart on different White Hat forums. I can tell you my opinion, but I think you all already know so what I want to know is what is your opinion and what do you think?
First lets go over what a Parasite is.
I first learned about Parasites on a forum called ABestWeb.com, then continued reading at AffiliateFairPlay.com and now look at sites and Affiliate Marketing Forums like Affiliate Trust for more information. By my definition of a Parasite is an adware application that has the ability to set an Affiliate Tracking cookie without having the end user click a link or visit the Affiliate’s website first or can show an ad or coupon or distrupt or take the shopper off of the Merchant site or interfere with the end users shopping experience. Parasitic adware applications come in many different forms including Toolbars, BHOs, Pop Ups, Layovers, PPV ads, Contextual Searches, Shopping Windows, Loyaltyware, Reminderware, Couponware, etc… They can set and overwrite Merchant’s own traffic and Merchant paid traffic as well as other Affiliate’s traffic. They make it difficult to properly determine which channel is the most effective ROI wise since it interferes with where the sale originated and who closed it and also, in my opinion, could easily set you up for a large class action lawsuit if you are stealing traffic, allowing your Affiliate Partners to steal traffic from your competitors, other Partners who you agreed to pay for their traffic, etc… to have their traffic stolen and overwritten by another partner or thief.
One of the arguments that Parasites almost always give is that the end user opted in so it is ok, but the question you need to ask, did the webmaster whose traffic you are stealing from opt in? Did the Affiliate whose cookie you are overwriting and did all the work opt in (and did you tell them that you are partnering with Parasites so they may not get credit for their traffic like you had both agreed to) and did you tell the Merchant you will be overwriting and poaching their own internal and paid for traffic? Did the Merchant opt in to that as well? So what if the end user opted it, it doesn’t make a huge difference to them (except they may see a coupon, but that coupon Affiliate did nothing to drive the sale), it is the people these applications steal from that never opted in to being stolen from and those are the ones that should be complaining. (Please remember I am not a lawyer and this is just my opinion, but it is easy to prove this stuff and I think you would have a very valid case if you would want to try a lawsuit). Now that you know how I define a Parasite, lets go into the issue that is bugging me.
So here is the issue that is bugging me that I would love to hear what you think.
1. Do you think it is right for a program to be called Parasite Resistant if they allow parasites in because the adware is not active?
2. Do you think it is ok to partner with a Parasite, with active adware, if the adware is not active for your program?
3. If the parasite closes out and gets rid of its adware 100% to try to move forward in the right direction, is it ok to partner with them to show the benefits of going in the right direction?
Me, I choose to not partner with them at all. If they have adware but it is not active, I usually do not partner with them and if I find them active they get removed. Unfortunately I am seeing more and more OPMs and Managers that used to feel this way change and allow them in because the adware isn’t active for their program (which isn’t always true) and because they think the networks are testing it for their programs (which I have also found to not always be true as I have found the adware active in the campaigns and the Network cannot patrol everything on every program, that is why they were hired as the Manager or OPM). So what do you think? Congratulate and welcome them for removing the adware, allow them in because they have some traffic but also can remove you from their adware and is it right to call a program parasite free or parasite resistant when there are clearly parasites in there, they just may not have their adware active. You have to also remember that if there are no benefits from going clean and they cannot get into other programs then there was really no point in cleaning up in the first place.
Please remember this is not a witch hunt and I will not be posting anyone’s name, any company names or any parasite names. I just want to hear what other people think.
As always, these are just my opinions and should not be used to make judgments for your own company or campaigns. I am also not a lawyer so please seek legal advice instead of thinking that this counts or is legal advice. Thank you again for reading and looking forward to hearing what you think.