Recent Posts

Beware of Black Friday Brand Bidding

The holiday shopping season can be a great boost for merchants, but it's not without its compliance challenges. Because of the tremendous uptick in demand, affiliates have more incentive to employ non-compliant tactics. Furthermore, since affiliates know that merchants' marketing teams will be swamped, they might be expecting to get away with such violations.

Nov 27, 2013

Affiliate Uses Screenshot to Create Phony Merchant Site

Affiliate Copies Merchant's Site

Blackhat affiliates frequently come up with new tactics for driving traffic. While the specific details of these tactics may vary, they're all based on similar concepts: brand imitation, misrepresentation, or other attempts to confuse customers. During the course of our brand monitoring, we catch a wide variety of affiliate abuse—from ad hijacking to the republishing of exclusive coupon codes.

Nov 21, 2013

Display URL Violations Continue to Slip through on Bing

Whenever we come across particularly suspicious-looking ads in the course of our monitoring, we flag them for investigation. These ads often turn out to be affiliates cloaking their links, laundering their referers, or running a questionable script on their page.

Nov 13, 2013

The Endless Chain of PPC Arbitrage: Lessons from Monitoring SaveSmart

How is PPC arbitrage similar to Six Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon? It may sound like the setup to a bad joke, but here's the point I'm hinting at: PPC arbitrage can produce multiple layers of removal from the user's intended destination. Arbitrage can essentially take a user from intermediary to intermediary, potentially without ever resolving on a landing page with any useful content.

Sep 18, 2013

New Ad Hijacking Tactic: Redirects through Dropbox

Affiliates who violate their programs' PPC policies are always trying new ways to hide. One of the most common tactics employed by ad hijacking affiliates(who display the brand's domain in their ad, pass the user through their affiliate link, and then send the user directly over to the brand's site) is to redirect through disposable URLs or front sites. This enables them to hide their HTTP referrer, preventing the true source of the traffic from showing up in the affiliate manager's reporting tool.

Aug 21, 2013

Diverted Traffic on Google Mobile: How LINE App Is Growing in the US

As we've learned from a number of investigations in the past, popular branded searches can often become the target of search arbitrage or other brand bidding schemes. Advertisers choose to poach these terms because they're searched frequently, relatively cheap to bid on, and associated with a trusted brand (thereby easing users' skepticism and luring them in).

Jul 31, 2013

Search Arbitrage Site "5earch" Goes Silent

When it comes to brand bidding and trademark abuse, the breaking stories often center around new schemes and tactics. But today we have some more positive news. no longer seems to be actively engaging in search arbitrage. And furthermore, the site doesn't seem to be active at all anymore.

Jul 22, 2013

Law Professor Eric Goldman on the New FTC Disclosure Guidelines

FTC Logo

The latest FTC disclosure guidelines (or .Com Disclosures) issued by the Federal Trade Commission have left many marketers wondering how they should respond. Expanding on the original FTC disclosures from 2000, these 2013 guidelines have been updated with new requirements for blogs and social media, among others. Early indications suggest that these requirements are rather stringent—which should pose some interesting challenges for the affiliate marketing industry, particularly in the area of compliance.

Jul 11, 2013

Fireworks and Paid Search: Advertisers Breaking PPC Rules?

July is the month for fireworks. Not just as an American ritual, but also in terms of search engine queries. There are far more searches for terms like “fireworks”, “firecrackers”, “bottle rockets” and other patriotic explosives in July than in any other month. Just check out the very consistent July spikes in this Google Trends graph:

Jul 3, 2013

Exposing Some New Trademark Poachers

We've recently completed a pair of investigations: one centered around coupon sites and another on the URL shortener ADFly.

Jun 27, 2013
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