Should you put your Affiliate Program on Auto Approve?

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Something that most new Merchant’s or ones who haven’t been trained in Affiliate Marketing or ones who just don’t know any better sometimes think that it is ok to put their Affiliate Program on Auto Approve.  Sure there are some controls that some of the networks put in place like no approving Affiliates from certain countries or no loyalty sites, etc… but are you really actually safe or are these controls doing a good job?  Truthfully it depends on the goals of your program, but in reality many legit Affiliates will never join or will never work with you because you are on Auto Approve and you may find that you actually have no real control or clue what is going on with your program if you have it on Auto Approve.  Furthermore Affiliates can lie about the country they are from or the types of sites they have meaning they can also get around those controls.  Let’s go into a bit more detail about the dangers of having your Affiliate Program on Auto Approve.

Who joins Affiliate Programs on Auto Approve first?

Affiliates who only bid on trademarks or whose goal is to only optimize for + coupon codes are usually the first to flock to new programs and tend to be the ones who typically join auto approve Affiliate Programs first.  Even if you are being managed by an Outsourced Affiliate Program Management Company or you have an in house Affiliate Manager, their most important job is to screen your Affiliates, not take a “hands off approach” and let whomever and everyone in.  Affiliate Marketing should not be a free for all and when a program is on Auto Approve the sales poaching Affiliates jump at these because they look like they are unmanaged since they will not have to have their “sites” reviewed.  Also since no one is reviewing them, whose going to be there to catch them when they begin to poach your trademarks and sales by optimizing only for your trademark + coupon codes in the search engines or using adware?  By not having that first line of defense in knowing who your partners are and by not contacting each Affiliate before they are approved into your program you not only have no access to be able to tell if they are even real or have real sites, but if the FTC ever comes knocking on your door to ask why your Affiliate Partners have review sites without a proper Advertising Disclosure you may find yourself in trouble since you have not made a solid effort from the beginning to know who your Affiliate Partners are, how they are promoting you, and that you have been very clear in enforcing that if they have any reviews they need to have an advertising disclosure.  With that said I am not a Lawyer and cannot give legal advice so I highly recommend you contact your licensed Attorney and get their opinions on this instead of taking my opinions.

I don’t want my Affiliate Partners to lose interest by not enabling them to have access to our creatives immediately.

This is one of the only good arguments that I have ever heard with regards to why you should be on Auto Approve.  The problem with it is that you will not get as many legit Affiliates and many of the content and value adding Affiliates will avoid your program due to the fact that you let anyone in.

When I am looking for Merchant’s to put on my sites, one of the first things I look at is if I get auto approved in.  If they auto approve me into a program it not only takes away from my knowing that someone is there on the other end in case I have a question or problem, but it also makes it so that I know tons of Affiliates that I would never allow in any of the programs I manage can get in as well.  This includes Adware Affiliates (parasites, contextual, PPV, loyaltyware, reminderware, couponware, etc…), trademark bidders, typosquatters and other Affiliates who not only thrive off of legit content driven Affiliates, but who may also have the ability to poach and steal sales from you as the Merchant yourself.  The sales will however look legit and you probably won’t notice the difference, except your other channels will be shrinking as the Affiliate one grows, until you hire someone like myself or Kellie Stevens from Affiliate Fair Play who can show you what may actually be happening within your Affiliate Program.

My Affiliate Manager or Outsourced Affiliate Program Management Company says its fine, they take the “Hand’s Off Approach”.

Then why are you even bothering to pay them?  What are they actually doing for you besides taking your money?  If you are on auto approve and just set the banners up then guess what, you’re almost done and don’t really need to hire someone to manage it if you want a “hands off approach”.  If you’re paying someone, even just on a commission basis, you should be expecting them at the bare minimum to hand screen every single application.  You should expect them to write or call every single application that comes in because that is why they are getting paid to do.  You may not be paying them to recruit for you, write you monthly newsletters or answer every question within 24 hours, but you need to make sure that they are screening everyone carefully so that they don’t allow trademark bidders, parasites, etc… in which only steal from you by going after people who are already on your site or know about your site and company and typed your url in directly.  You also may need to show that you have made an effort to ensure that any review sites, etc… have disclosures in case the FTC decides to audit your program.  (Again, talk to your Lawyer to find out for sure.  This is just my opinion and what I highly recommend doing.).  If your Outsourced Affiliate Program Management Company or in house Affiliate Manager is not hand screening every Affiliate, what are you actually paying them for then?  Taking sales for doing nothing?

There are a lot of other reasons that you should never put your Affiliate Program on auto approve, including credit card fraud Affiliates getting in, sites that have hate messages or bigotry or porn and are not within your company’s branding guidelines.  Because you have the idea that you can just remove them a couple days later if they aren’t within your guidelines which can become a nightmare if the Affiliate got in, did the work to add you to their site and then you remove them.  If they are active on the different Affiliate Marketing Forums, they may end up blasting you and your program to the entire community which may also end up showing up in the Search Engines ruining the chance for legit Affiliates to want to partner with you.  Auto Approve is never a good idea and something you should not do.  If someone tells you otherwise I highly recommend finding a new Affiliate Manager or Outsourced Affiliate Program Management Company.

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1 thought on “Should you put your Affiliate Program on Auto Approve?”

  1. I truly and 100% agree with you. It took almost 3 yrs for me to understand that the Programs should not be left open for all the Affiliates. I’ve recently updated my Network to accept individual Affiliates after they applied for Individual programs. That way I will have much control over who will run my Programs.

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