PoachMark originally launched with search ad monitoring for Google, Yahoo and Bing. We've consistently heard our customers describe the challenge of detecting affiliates as similar to a game of Whack-A-Mole. Once they stopped affiliate abuse in one search engine they'd frequently find it in another engine.
Requests quickly followed to monitor Ask and AOL. While Google provides the bulk of the ads on Ask, Ask.com does sell its own listings. When we launched Ask monitoring several months ago, we found and continue to find significant abuse in those listings.
Last week, we launched monitoring of AOL advertisements. While there is a great amount of overlap between the search ads found on AOL and either Google or Ask (since Google provides ads to all three engines), we are finding abuse unique to AOL. We also expect to continue to find more abuse on AOL as AOL begins to sell more of its own inventory.
Along with the AOL monitoring, we've added a few new reports for sorting through your affiliate data. The most notable report is our Suspect Ads report.
While it is very hard for affiliates to hide their advertisements from our geographically distributed monitoring agents, we do find instances where affiliates are able to hide their affiliate IDs from our monitoring agents. We manually review these ads and include write-ups of our findings on the affiliate detail page.
Many of the affiliates added to the Affiliate Watchlist were uncovered through this manual analysis (in fact the quickest path for an affiliate to the Watchlist is to have been picked up by this review process). Much of the data we use for this analysis is surfaced in the Suspect Ads Report. You may never need to review the report (and not every ad shown is affiliate abuse), but we think it provides interesting insight into the techniques used by cutting edge affiliates.
For customers that are particularly sensitive, the Suspect Ads report will provide a mechanism for quicker review and detection of abusive affiliates.
Please feel free to contact us with questions and comments.