I took calls from presidents, V.P.'s and P.R. representatives of Adult Friendfinder and Zango last week after a number of my blog posts related to their activities attracted attention.
(Talk about the effectiveness of blogging for traffic! Have you joined BlogClassroom.com yet?)
Although the situation isn't likely to be resolved any time soon some very interesting discussions ensued.
Basically, we're up for a tough battle with Zango which supplies merchants with lists of URL's relevant to their industry upon request. Because Zango will not entertain requests to have specific URL's removed from their ‘keyword lists', it will require continuous vigilance to make sure that your merchants are not bidding on your domain names.
I understand a merchant's desire to use Zango when competitors are bidding on their domain names and diverting traffic from their sites. They need to bid highest on their own domain names to make sure that the Zango popover keeps the visitor on their own sites.
But quite frankly, they're playing right into Zango's hands, spending ridiculous amounts of money to ‘re-advertise' their site when the visitor is already there. Zango is the only winner in this game.
So what's an affiliate to do?
First of all, I suggest that you find out whether your domain names are being advertised by your merchants through Zango and if so, ask your merchant to remove them immediately. (Adult FriendFinder removed my site URL's from its Zango advertising campaign. Thank you, AFF!)
Names of those merchants that do not comply with such requests then need to be made public on affiliate forums. Let affiliates decide whether or not they want to support merchants that knowingly divert traffic and commissions from affiliate sites.
Furthermore, at very least, we need a policy from the affiliate networks that agrees not to work with merchants that use this type of advertising. (You'd be amazed by how many Commission Junction merchants are using Zango.)
That would be a good start. The best result would be an end to Zango, however.
I'll have more thoughts on the matter in the next issue of Revenue Magazine.