There is a post on affiliate blackhat PPC on the PPC Blog that any affiliate manager should read as a primer on cheating affiliates.
The tactics are focused on things like geotargeting and dayparting to hide forbidden affiliate PPC campaigns from affiliate managers.
There are a number of tricks I have seen used to bend completely flaunt many affiliate programs terms & policies. One of the most common PPC policies is to disallow affiliates from bidding against merchant brand terms, as the merchant will generally get that sale 99% of the time anyway not having to pay a premium to an affiliate for it. From the other side, obviously it makes sense for an affiliate to bid against brand as it cuts away the hard work of finding a niche as & they know it will convert. It’s a low hanging fruit.
Another popular affiliate network policy is to ban affiliates from sending traffic direct to a merchants site because the merchant or ad agency are already running a paid search campaign, the merchant does not trust affiliates to uphold their “brand image” within adverts or perhaps for a variety of other reasons.
Here are the areas detailed in the post, Flaunting Affiliate Network Rules With Blackhat PPC:
- Bidding At Certain Times
- IP Exclusion
- Advert Tricks
- Masking Affiliate URLs
- Sending Traffic To A Different Domain
- Using Broad Match To Bypass Trademarks
If you don’t already cover these issues in your affiliate agreement, be sure to revise it now.
And don’t just file this away. I know a lot of affiliate managers are already monitoring this sort of behavior – if you manage an affiliate program and don’t keep an eye on this stuff, it’s time to start.