As expected, the subject of “click to reveal” popped up in the voucher code session at A4UExpo. Click to reveal is where a user clicks a link to get information from a website AND open up an affiliate link to the website in question. Voucher code sites use this methodology to stop code copying and also ensure click and cookie as “if the shopper wants the code they’re obviously intent on shopping”.

From the Expo session it does seem that when there’s no code available using “click to reveal” (and so reveal nothing) is a forced click. Yet, if there’s a code available – it’s not a forced click, it’s a “grey area which perhaps bends the rules slightly”.

It’s hoped (because I’ve not heard one network say they’re going to enforce this) that affiliates will develop their voucher code sites accordingly to distinguish between a deal (no code, therefore no forced click allowed) and a code (click to reveal allowed, provided you tell the user what happens when they click).

The question I raised at the session was “at what point does click to reveal become unacceptable”. Geoff commented on the blog did I feel that I got “a satisfactory answer to that question”!

Well, Geoff… no I don’t think so!

The point of my question was that as it’s not ok to use click to reveal if there’s no code, but ok if there is a code – what about using the same mechanic for other site content!?

We can’t force clicks with pop unders or with pop overs… it’s in the network ts&cs and even The IAB say so, but we do now have “Click to reveal Merchant X and Discount Code” as a new way of linking in AM. If this is acceptable (and as it’s neither a pop under or pop over I’ve dubbed it a pop onder!) then what happens next?

Let’s say a consumer is searching for washing machines. They land on a page of washing machine offers and select “hotpoint washing machines” – where we’ll show them some more specific deals. Provided we inform that consumer before they click something like “see hotpoint washing machine offers and a shop that sells them” then woohoo we can start cutting cookies as if it was a voucher site – assuming the same theory as click to reveal!

The consumer is getting information (instead of a code) and they obviously have “intent” to buy (well they wouldn’t be looking otherwise would they?). As an affiliate I’m also protecting my interest by making sure the consumer sets a cookie in exchange for the information I’ve provided too.

Is that an acceptable mechanic in affiliate marketing?

And how long will it be before the “click to reveal” link cuts more than one cookie? Perhaps the next stage in the evolution is “click to reveal a discount and open store, plus make sure you check their competitors for price comparison – to help you we’ve opened up 10 further stores for you”?

Ok, perhaps slightly facetious, but why not? Dub it a “grey area” and “rule bending” and you’re onto a sure fire winner!

The solution therefore is simple… put a stop to “click to reveal” for all affiliates across all networks – and that includes opening up windows with mouseovers and right clicks too. If there are people digging holes that may cause problems in the future, you don’t go outside and hand them shovels!

However, I’d be very surprised if the click to reveal mechanic was stopped where a code was on offer – it’s not something a network would do unilaterally, understandably for business reasons.

Pop onders and “click to reveals” are essentially here to stay!