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Question about affiliate marketing — do you offer incentives?

As I roam the halls of the wonderful world of affiliate marketing, I come upon ideas I clearly do not understand — so this is a question for those of you out there who have been doing the work longer than I: Do you have any affiliate sites that offer incentives? If so, how do your merchant partners feel about that?

I ask because most of the merchants I’m affiliated with do not allow “incentivized” sites as affiliates.

In fact, I’m not entirely sure I know what such a site would be — but I’m sure I don’t have any. Someone out there, please enlighten my ignorance. What are incentivized affiliate sites and why are they objectionable to merchants who run affiliate programs. I can sort of guess why merchants wouldn’t want me offering some sort of custom promotional product to draw traffic to my site. I assume the problem is that such traffic would not be likely to be customers, rather they would be people eager for “freebies” and just browse around.

But what I don’t understand about the whole issue is this: If someone came to my affiliate site because I was giving away a download or even a product of some sort — why would that be a problem for the merchant I’m partnering with? So what if I give ’em a freebie — if they click through to a merchant and buy, that’s still a legitimate sale for the merchant, right?

Probably I’m getting into far too much on this subject already. But perhaps one of my readers who really DOES understand all this stuff will come along and clarify my misunderstandings and enlighten us all — I hope.

One Response to “Question about affiliate marketing — do you offer incentives?”

  1. Mike says:

    Incentivized sites would be sites like Ebates that basically split their affiliate commission with the person that buys a product via their affiliate link.

    For example, the merchant offers a 10% commission and the incentivized site might offer to give a 5% rebate to the buyer. So a $50 item would result in a $5 commission. $2.50 would go back to the buyer and they would get a discounted price of $47.50 and the incentivized site would get the other $2.50.

    Merchants don’t like this because the incentivized site can offer discounts that even the merchant can’t offer.

    There is more however. Many incentivized sites will offer toolbars or software that will automatically pop up their offers if the buyer goes to the merchant site. So the merchant (or another affiliate) might obtain a customer via a costly pay per click ad, only to have the customer’s tool bar or software pop up a “reminder” with an affiliate link offering savings. So the merchant would pay money to get the customer and then pay out some more money to the incentivized site as a commission. But really, it was the merchant (or another affiliate) that paid the money or did the work to get the customer. It is this feature of incentivized sites that lead to many in the affiliate marketing industry to call them “parasites”.