Affiliate Fraud? No Way! What to Look Out For


Fraud – we have all experienced it in the real world – but affiliate fraud it is quite rampant in the affiliate world as many of us in the EDU space know all too well. No name dropping here but Google two vowels and the 7th letter of the alphabet and you will know what I mean. There are entities on the “interweb” that solely exist to take advantage of the not so swift and truth be told use a lot of creative techniques to bypass the unknowing eye and commit advertising fraud. Have no fear, there are quite a few weapons and bits of knowledge at our disposal that can come in handy when trying to counteract these attacks from these, pardon my language, bullshit companies and DBAs.

Things to Look out For

It’s easy for marketers to defraud their clients by generating false visits and sales to a website.  Here are some pointers I came across in a conversation with Evan Lovett, a senior member of Media Trust:

1)      Viable English. A must for clear communication. Affiliate marketing is so nuanced – and vulnerable – that a clear, concise understanding/dialogue is mandatory for proceeding with a relationship.

2)      Transparency. Increasingly imperative, especially as the “black-hat” movement has become exposed, and cheats/frauds are becoming more deceptive. If you can’t see the ad (display), referrers (content), or creative (email), it is fair to wonder if the affiliate/partner is hiding something (no, not his ‘secret sauce’). Viable, long-term partners share their business as again, a mutual understanding can only enhance a relationship.

3)      Over Communication. This may seem counterintuitive to the above points, but when (potential) affiliates are TOO persistent, specifically regarding finances – how fast can you pay? Do you have my correct wire info? Can you do ACH? How about PayPal? – It sends up a red flag.

4)      Multiple Channels. A jack of all trades is a master of none. Rarely, if ever, do singular affiliates specialize in more than one method of distribution. If a prospective affiliate has email, search & media buying at their disposal, it’s another reason for caution.

5)      Eagerness. Generally, affiliates have more than enough options of where to run offers, eg buddy, I hear from 50 networks/day – why should I work with you guys? Thus, when a new partner wants to run “all of your best offers” immediately, that could be a sign that they are out of options, perhaps due to nefarious behavior at other advertiser/networks.

Protecting Yourself

You might also consider a good software program that runs an audit for you.  These programs are designed to check your traffic patterns and conversion rates, as well as all the details that bring visitors to your site.  There are many great options available out there: ScrubKit, CPA Detective to name a few.

None of the above items are 100% fool proof, however, it will help ensure your marketing is working to your advantage and your traffic is performing optimally.  Such a program is a sound investment for any site owner.  Affiliate marketing can bring you the visitors you need, but only if you monitor your traffic well.


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