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Threats to Internet Affiliate Marketing

Nov 13, 2007
Internet Affiliate Marketing is the method of marketing in which web based businesses are promoted. This is done by posting advertisements on the net and the affiliate is rewarded for every visitor, subscriber, customer and / or sale provided through the efforts of the affiliate. It is the person who undertakes the task of marketing the product (on the web in this case) but is not strictly controlled by the mother organization.

The owner of the website or the affiliate (publisher), uses their site for the promotion of the products of the merchant or the mother organization. This in done by inserting a link(s) to the merchant's website. When visitors visit a website and click on a link, which results in a purchase, the merchant will pay a commission to the affiliate. The payment is based on the pay-per-performance principle, so the merchant will pay the affiliates for every click on the link of the affiliate website that results in a sale.


In the early days of affiliate marketing, the main organization had very little control over what the affiliates did. This was misused by many affiliates who used many crooked means to generate more sales. False advertisements were one of these that included the use of false or exaggerated information for deceiving the potential customer. Many affiliates used the system of forced clicks to get tracking cookies set on user's computers.

Many affiliate programs were poorly managed and some used adware. Adware or advertising supported software is any software package that automatically plays, displays, or downloads advertising material to a computer after the software is installed on it or while the application is being used. In the early days, many affiliates used spam to promote the programs in which they were enrolled.

Spam is the indiscriminate sending of unsolicited bulk messages using the electronic messaging systems, and it made internet users develop a negative opinion about affiliate-marketing. Spamming is affordable because advertisers have no operating costs except the management of their mailing lists. In addition, it is difficult to hold the senders accountable for their mass mailings and the barrier to entry is too low. The costs of this such as low productivity and fraud are borne by the public and the internet service providers, who are forced to add extra capacity to cope with the extra volume.

Another threat is the practice of spamdexing. In this such methods are used which manipulate the output of search engines and provide links (that are displayed when a term for search is entered) which contain these ads. Spamdexing has emerged as the largest threat to organic search engines.

Apart from these factors, the lack of self-regulation, lack of industry standards with respect to training and certification are legal factors that encourage the aforementioned abuses by rogue elements in the affiliate marketing industry. Some steps are being taken in this direction and a Code of Conduct was released by affiliate network's Commission Junction / Be Free and Performics in December 2002.
About the Author
Stephen C Campbell (MBA, MSc, MCIM) is a business consultant and internet marketer who has conducted business throughout Europe, Far East & U.S. Learn
more about internet marketing at

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