The voucher code debate is back in focus again this month with an interesting discussion on an interview with a well known VC siteowner and another about having some kind of register for merchants who give exclusive codes. The former has a link to what can be best described as a case of seeing the truth from a selective viewpoint whilst the latter got me thinking.

Is there more to exclusive voucher codes than meets the eye?

We all know codes get shared around the internet on places like Moneysavingexpert and Hot UK Deals. Now if “exclusive codes” are posted in those places (by users or even seeded perhaps) and then used by consumers who gets the commission for the sale?

For example let’s say my user shops with the infamous Merchant X. They’ve visited recently from my site but whilst on a consumer forum spot what turns out to be an exclusive code posted from voucher site. They go shopping and use that code. Now, do I get the sale or is it declined? Does the VC site get the commission?

To tie in with this The Sun recently published a set of codes, some I’m guessing are exclusive to some of the major voucher code sites. So, what happens if my user is reading The Sun and goes shopping with the exclusive code – again who gets the commission?

Of course there’s an argument that it should be The Sun who “completed” the sale, but then perhaps they should be taking Clarke’s advice to Jason Manford and use affiliate links themselves? However, we’re in last click wins country and for the sake of argument that’s from my site.

Now picking up extra sales (or denying sales to other affiliates) may just be an added bonus of having an “exclusive code”! On the other hand do some of these affiliates know they can pick up extra sales off their site with this methodology?

Also do all affiliates really know how commissions are being paid out and/or rejected when these exclusives are being used? In fact do merchants and networks have rules or guidelines for these scenarios?

One way to overcome any concerns or doubts in this area is for merchants to not issue actual codes but instead make sure an exclusive discount is only activated via an affiliate link on the code site. This would stop seeding (if it happens) and any confusions when it came to exclusive codes being used in association with other affiliate links.

The one piece of good news on the horizon is that Affiliate Window, who have also released a document for merchants called Understanding the Voucher Code Maze, say that they would “always encourage merchants to offer exclusive discounts via a more secure method than a simple discount code” (A4UForum).

Perhaps the times has come for ALL exclusive codes to become activated via links?

To take this a step further, if exclusive codes were to become “click here to activate” then perhaps we could then move to a scenario which would eliminate the need for “click to reveal” for generic “enter at checkout” codes, that are available to all affiliates?