Do You Really Know The Company You Keep?

If you're in the online marketing/advertising space, then you'd better listen up: you may be keeping some unsavory company. I know, I know, you say you're SPAM complaint. You represent legitimate brands. You don't get involved in adware or deem your campaigns intrusive. You even ask permission.

Well, let me ask you this: Do you rent online lists? Do you use co-registration? How 'bout affiliate marketing? If the answer is yes to any one of these questions, then you've got to read on.

The Federal Trade Commission, stepping up to protect the Internet as a result of a recent settlement with operators of several porn sites, has issued new affiliate-monitoring requirements. This should be a heads-up for all sites--not just those with porn. The new requirements can make all of us responsible for an affiliate's actions.

Hey, I'm all for it. There are no standards, rules or protections in this environment. When I look for lists, co reg, CPA deals and the like, I err on the side of caution. I absolutely, positively, cannot and will not jeopardize any sort of negative brand association for any of my clients.



That being said, I thought I'd share 10 things to think about before you engage with affiliates:

  • Don't assume all affiliates (sites that market other sites) have a bad rap. There are some very good companies out there.

  • Do your homework. Ask many questions. A good partner will have no problem appeasing you.

  • Ask who the company does business with.

  • Do they have compliance policies? If not, consider it a red flag. Several companies have a compliance group.

  • Where is your content being placed?

  • Could it be next to something unsavory? Do you have any protection from this?

  • How many sites are in its network?

  • Will they provide you with a list of affiliates in the network? I keep running into this issue. Many do not. See what you can find out. They may own some sites and broker out to others, but still control messaging. On the other hand, they may not.

  • How deep does the network drill down? If it is too deep, users can be a long way away from the original place they gave their e-mail address and their permission.

  • If you are not promoting porn, make sure to ask if there is any way your messaging can be associated with any adult content. Make sure this is clearly written in your insertion order.

    I know this list may seem pessimistic. However, we work hard to represent our respective brands. Such associations could not only disable your client but bury you. I personally don't like to be confined or limited. However, protective guidelines aren't so bad. We need to protect our (or our client's) brands. We need best practices.

    Under this new policy, the FTC could deem any of us guilty of violating the CAN-SPAM Act if an affiliate sends out messages with misleading subject lines and/or header information or sexually explicit content. Will this weed out all those knockoff erectile dysfunction ads I always get? Perhaps it will provide us online advertisers and marketers some form of protection? Or maybe the red tape will push out some of the smaller legitimate guys, due to the heightened need for enhanced privacy and compliance policies?

    When you think of affiliates, who are the best? The worst? Do you think the FTC is headed in the right direction enforcing such guidelines? When it comes to affiliates, do you really know who you are dealing with?

Next story loading loading..