7 Reasons to Manually Approve Affiliates – By Wade Tonkin

by Colleen on May 13, 2013

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So you’re getting ready to launch a new affiliate program and you’ve heard that you should set you’re program to auto-approve affiliate applications to save time and strike while the iron is hot with new affiliates. This is a bad idea and here are some reasons why you should watch the front door and manually review applications.

FeedFront Magazine, Issue 22Avoiding Brand Damage – I manage programs that are very brand conscious, because they involve professional sports leagues and teams and some big apparel vendors, like Nike. All of the above are super protective of their brands. If you open the door to any affiliate who applies without review, you expose them to a ton of potential brand damage. Wait, you say… “My affiliate network screens affiliates for me.” Many of the big ones auto-approve applications themselves.

Toolbars and Adware – If you are interested in running a “clean” program with no toolbar or adware potentially ripping of ethical affiliates or cannibalizing other channel’s revenue internally, you need to manually review applications, and choose your network partner carefully. Read the information submitted and review the sites to see if they are high quality and appear as if they could generate SEO-based traffic. If you’re in a network that allows software affiliates, you need to be especially careful to insure that you understand how “traffic” and sales are generated.

Affiliate Nexus Tax – Some states either attach tax nexus to a merchant through affiliates, or require special paperwork to work around this. If you’re not using network tools to screen applications from these states or manually reviewing, you could be opening your company up to tax liability.

Coupon and Deal Sites – Depending on how you’ve decided to handle coupon sites and couponing, having an open door will let in numerous coupon sites, most of them low value. Be selective and work with coupon sites that match up with your audience, will respect your terms, and deliver incremental value.

Non-Compliant Affiliates – If you don’t allow PPC marketing, and you auto-approve new applications, you’re going to have issues with terms violations. If you manually review applications, you can catch the affiliates that self-identify as potential violators and avoid future issues.

Liability Risk– If an auto-approved affiliate spams emails or text messages with your offer; you might find yourself facing legal action.

The Spy Game – If you auto-approve applications, you can bet your competitors are as up to date on your strategy and creative mix as you are. This is tough to stop completely, but if you auto-approve, you don’t give yourself a chance.

To avoid hurt feelings, make sure to be thoughtful in your decline email and offer an easy appeal process.

A few minutes a day can save you a world of hurt when it comes to terms violations, brand damage, tax bills and cannibalized profits.

Build a process for reviewing applications that includes a scorecard of positives and negatives for new applications and don’t be afraid to err on the side of caution.

Wade Tonkin is currently the Affiliate Manager of League Programs at Fanatics, Inc.

This article appeared in isse 22 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in April 2013. Read issue 22 of FeedFront Magazine.

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