Affiliate Agreements and Next Steps

What to Include in Affiliate Agreements

Merchants can promote healthier economies in their programs by providing clearer regulations. With more comprehensive guidelines, affiliates will be less tempted to cheat—and will have fewer bad examples to follow. We recommend including clauses that address the following issues:

  1. What Types of Codes Your Affiliates Can Post — for example, specifying that affiliates are only allowed to post codes distributed through the affiliate channel.
  2. Distribution Restrictions for Coupon Codes — clarifying where the codes are allowed to be posted. In particular, these can include clauses that prevent distribution of codes to third party sites.
  3. Responsibilities Regarding Expired Codes — both the merchant and affiliate should do their part. Merchants can be expected to provide valid expiration dates for their coupons, and affiliates should be expected to take codes down when this date comes.
  4. Policy Regarding Fake Codes — this almost always merits being removed from the program, especially if your program only allows the posting of codes that originated in the affiliate channel.
  5. Responsibility for User-Generated Content — the agreement should make it clear that the affiliate bears responsibility for removing any unauthorized, user-submitted codes.
  6. Penalties for Violations — including how an affiliate’s program status, commissions and privacy may be affected.

Next Steps

Given the sophistication of the online coupon industry—and the ease with which such codes can be distributed—it’s essential for merchants to proactively monitor their codes. Early detection offers many advantages over prolonged exposure: lower payout of unearned commissions, more precise targeting of coupon promotions, higher customer satisfaction, and better relationships with productive affiliates.

We recommend starting with manual search. Do a quick investigation into your most recently released codes. Are unauthorized sites posting the codes? Are they affiliate or non-affiliate sites? Have any fake codes appeared, or have expired codes shown up on the sites? Then, after that initial evaluation, it might make sense to start ramping up your monitoring with Twitter Alerts and Google Alerts. These can cut down the daily time investment of tracking your codes.

If you need a more comprehensive solution, BrandVerity’s Coupon Code Monitoring service can reduce the noise and investigation workload of other methods. Automatically crawling all sites that meet the user’s criteria, the service includes sophisticated tools for whitelisting authorized sites, identifying affiliate relationships with the sites that post your codes, and ensuring actionable steps toward compliance.