There are three certainties of life: death, taxes, and affiliate forums hating parasites.
But what is a parasite? It depends on whom you ask. According to DOXdesk, they coined the term “as a catch-all term to cover the range of unwelcome software” or “unsolicited commercial software.”
Generally, affiliates consider an attribute of a parasite to be an application that redirects affiliate links and/or overwrites affiliate cookies.
This interpretation of a parasite erroneously includes user installed customer retention programs, such as RemindU from Upromise. However, the DOXdesk database of known parasites does not include RemindU and many of the other programs that are often targeted as being parasites by affiliates.
The key to the DOXdesk defintion is that a parasite is unsolicited, where “it is for the most part being installed without the affected users having specifically asked for it.”
Many of the DOXdesk type of affiliates have been identified and purged by the affiliate networks. However, the user installed customer retention applications being distributed by affiliates are largely still in the networks, much to the chagrin of some affiliates.
The reason affiliates don’t like these applications is because they enable the consumer to choose which affiliate will be rewarded a commission, and that means the affiliates with the customer retention applications that provide a value proposition for the consumer will generally win out.
In the case of RemindU, Upromise will “let you know when you’re shopping at a Upromise contributing company and give you a quick way to make sure you get college savings back on your spending.”
Some affiliates see New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer as the guy to exterminate parasites once and for all, And he’s on his way, but it looks like the parasites he’ll be tackling are the DOXdesk variety.
I recently chatted with a “super affiliate” who said he was considering the incorporation of a customer retention program to his already successful affiliate sites.
When I asked what he thought about the backlash he’d get from his affiliate peers, he said, “I don’t care what they think. I care what Eliot Spitzer thinks. I will create a clean piece of software that serves the customer and complies with any and all laws.”
As far as the reception such a piece of customer retention software will receive from the affiliate managers, it looks like they are taking an individualized approach to these applications.
According to a recent poll on the AffiliateManager.net forum, 54% of affiliate managers stated that some affiliates using applications are dirty and some are clean.
Unless a law is put on the books to ban consumer choice, it looks like this will be a hot button issue for some time to come.