Affiliate marketing is a highly measurable way to drive targeted traffic to your site in a scalable, pay as you go way (CPA). As with all aspects of internet retailing though it is open to abuse from individuals that want to bend the rules for their own benefit.
We manage the affiliate programme for a client and noticed that one unknown Affiliate was out earning top sites such as My Voucher Codes, which seemed highly suspicious. After running a few reports in Hitwise it became clear the Affiliate was bidding on the name to hijack the brand which people naturally search for. This is against Affiliate practice and was excluded from the Publisher set of rules.
Using the brand name, he paid Adwords to place his link at the top of searches made, which people naturally clicked on. When someone clicked on the Adword it set a cookie on the viewer’s PC and immediately redirected to our clients site. You’d never notice.
Managing the Adwords account for the same client, the Affiliate recognised that we would see his rogue Adword links. His work around was to exclude his Adwords from being presented in the geographic locations of the Agency, the Client and the Publisher to make himself invisible to us.
This neat work around netted him thousands of pounds in Affiliate fees. Our client didn’t loose out completely as the business still converted in to sales but the cost of acquiring the sale went up.
When we looked through the data again it was clear that it wasn’t just our client that was being stung. There were some big names in there and this guy was doing the rounds.
It’s not unusual for Affiliate payouts to be huge. Search online and you’ll see plenty of Google AdSense cheques for over a million dollars but when it comes down to making your own business grow make sure you keep your eye on the ball. We cancelled this account and regularly check for similar anomalies. It’s important you do to.