Our compliance department handles the review/acceptance/denial process for all new affiliate applications. This overview provides for an in depth view of affiliates applying to the network, and those who get activated.
We use a mix of internal and third party tools to identify violations. Because we have always required strict validation and qualification of affiliate accounts, it mitigates the challenge of finding, contacting and (if necessary) removing violators.
Our compliance staff is paid on a fixed salary and their compensation has no direct ties to commissions earned from the affiliate base.
The following internal compliance tools may be applied to any affiliate’s “account” or “website” level when appropriate:
- Partial Access: An affiliate account may be "locked down to one or two merchant programs for compliance reasons or because this was requested by a merchant partner.
- Merchants Sign-Off: A merchant must sign-off on special terms (listed in notes) when recruiting or accepting certain affiliates / websites into their program.
QUALIFYING NEW AFFILIATES
In order to ensure an individual owns (or is directly associated with) the website they apply with, we authenticate all applications. Once ownership is authenticated, each application is then reviewed by our compliance team. Due to the sensitive nature of our qualifying standards, and to protect the integrity of the network, we do not disclose the details of the application review process.
Applicants with the following classifications or characteristics are not accepted:
- template driven coupon sites.
- generic duplicate content sites.
- website banner farms.
- websites with deceptive promos/content.
- exclusive email marketing firms.
- CPA or lead generation networks.
Affiliates can drive traffic in a variety of illegitimate ways (e.g. PPV/CPV networks) that adversely impact a merchant's ROI. It can be difficult to determine which methodology an affiliate is using to violate terms, especially when they knowingly mask referring URLs. Our compliance team monitors sale affiliate traffic closely, and are trained to identify red flags that indicate possible terms violations. Red flags include, but are not limited to:
- hidden or masked referring URLs on affiliate traffic.
- sudden increase in sales volume for many different merchants.
- sale affiliates from thin affiliate websites with limited traffic.
The majority of our compliance efforts focus on rogue/questionable traffic, paid search violations and fraud. Due to strict qualifying standards we rarely see email abuse, software abuse, cookie-stuffing or malware violations. If a merchant suspects a affiliate is engaged in these or any questionable activities they can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We use third party monitoring services to enforce paid search violations of network terms. It is up to the merchant to enforce most paid search compliance, but by default we do not allow affiliates to bid on company or domain names. If we identify an affiliate engaging in this activity, we reach out and require immediate compliance and confirmation. If they do not respond within 48 hours, and continue to violate terms, we deactivate their account.
If we suspect there is a affiliate engaged in fraudulent activity we reach out to affected merchants and request they review the appropriate sale transactions. If the merchant confirms fraud we assist with the reversal of sales from the last 30 days, and we deactivate the affiliate account immediately.
MERCHANT PROGRAM TERMS
RULES & INFORMATION
All affiliate websites in the network must conform to generally acceptable advertising practices. Affiliate websites must not support, advertise or promote downloadable advertising software (commonly known as “adware” or “malware”) that initiates or installs without the end user’s consent. Affiliates found to be using any adware, malware or spyware will be immediately removed from the network and commissions voided.
Affiliate Contact Information
Merchants have access to the following information for active affiliates: full name, email address, phone number, state/province and country. We may share additional information with merchants when an affiliate is suspected of fraudulent activity or other violations.
Software reminders, browser notifications or alerts triggered by a merchant URL in a browser address bar are acceptable with restrictions. Reminders or notifications may include, but are not limited to, browser helpers, plug-ins and toolbars. We reserve the right to set passive click restriction on affiliate accounts or websites utilizing software reminders, browser alerts or notifications that knowingly or unknowingly undermine another valid tracking cookie. Additionally we require a merchant to “sign-off” for all software/toolbar affiliates that qualify.
Affiliate Tax ID
We collect affiliate tax ID’s when required and submit any necessary tax and payment documentation to the proper agencies for each country in which AvantLink is incorporated.
Due to important tax implications and other issues, any affiliates who initiate the sale of one or more website(s) configured under their account are required to notify the network on completion of the sale.
Forced clicks or practices otherwise known as cookie stuffing are strictly prohibited. Affiliates engaged in this type of activity face termination from the network and voided commissions.
Affiliates who use cashback, loyalty, rewards and/or rebates as part of their business model may qualify. If they do in fact utilize software (e.g. browser plug-ins) we notify merchants and require their “sign-off” before activation.
Credit Card Fraud
Merchants should report any credit card fraud associated with an affiliate transaction. Affiliates who directly engage in credit card fraud are subject to immediate termination as well as voided commissions. However it should be noted that it’s possible someone using a stolen credit card could have a legitimate affiliate’s cookie set on their computer.
Cyber, Domain or Typo-Squatting
Affiliates attempting to engage in cybersquatting, or practices otherwise known as domain squatting or typosquatting are denied access to the network during the application review process. If it is found that an active affiliate is engaged in this type of activity, we reserve the right to terminate their account.
Affiliates who choose to promote merchants by way of email lists must comply to CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 legislation and the applicable regulations governing email marketing. The CAN-SPAM Act, which became effective January 1, 2004, covers email whose primary purpose is advertising or promoting a commercial product or service, including content on a website. It should be noted that at this time we do not accept affiliates with the sole classification of “Email Marketing”.
Affiliates are required to follow the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising from the Federal Trade Commission.
Affiliates are not permitted to have multiple accounts active for the same website/domain unless there are special circumstances that are approved by the network.
Affiliates using paid search to drive merchant traffic may not bid on merchant company names or merchant domain names. Affiliates may not represent themselves as the merchant in PPC campaigns unless consent is given by the merchant. Earnings that originate from a company name or domain name bid violation are subject to withholding.
Any affiliate who operates a third party tool that functions as a sub-affiliate network must provide details as to what type of affiliates they work with and provide full transparency into the sub-affiliates driving traffic when requested by the network, or a merchant. Additionally, we require a merchant to “sign-off” for all sub-affiliate network activations.
If you have additional questions about the items discussed in this overview, please email email@example.com.