When I wrote Click For Cookies Or Use Forced Clicks & IFrames? earlier in the month I really didn’t expect it to generate as much interest as it did. So a big thank you to everyone who commented, contributed and backed the article. The main point of the follow up is to comment on the network response to the use of iframes and forced clicks.

Often affiliates are quite quick to complain about networks, myself included, but often not so quick to praise them… so I’d personally like to thank Webgains, Affiliate Future, Affiliate Window, Buy.at, Tradedoubler and Paid on Results for taking the time to discuss the issues. Hero from Webgains and Adam Ross from Affiliate Window have both left comments on the blog regarding their network’s stance on forced cookies. So thanks for that too.

From an affiliate point of view, it’s quite reassuring that networks are prepared to listen and take action if it’s deemed appropriate. As I understand it, the issue of forced clicks is something all agree is unethical.

However, framing a merchant site is a contentious issue, as some discount code sites and networks argue that it’s ok in some cases (for example a user visits page 1, clicks on “Merchant”, goes to page 2, clicks on “Get discount” and then goes to an iframed page with information in the top bar and the merchant site below). I’m not so sure this is even ok. Whilst I can understand why frames are being used in this case, given the nature of merchants and their need to maintain branding some may feel framing their site is detracting from the brand?

However, fundamentally the whole issue returns to the management of discount codes within affiliate marketing. So many problems could be resolved if non-affiliate codes couldn’t be used if an affiliate link had been clicked, and if details of valid codes were displayed on the merchant site, landing page (e.g. Prezzybox) or automatically activated on click (e.g. Figleaves).

I blogged in June about Discount Codes: Affiliates vs Users vs Merchants about this point. This week Tesco have announced that affiliates can’t show any discount codes on their sites – perhaps because of the coupon harvesting reasons outlined at Plamer Web Marketing (link via Lee McCoy’s excellent and must read blog btw).

Management of discount codes isn’t just the responsibility of networks and merchants. Affiliates need to take responsibility! It may not be fair that you can’t use a certain discount code with your affiliate link, and it may not be fair that you can’t force a cookie on a user, but they are the rules you signed up too when agreeing to work with a merchant and network. And what happens when the rules are broken? Well, merchants will stop wanting to work with discount code sites – and that’s not good for the bank balance if you run a coupon site!