The IAB Affiliate Marketing Council’s significantly updated Voucher Code of Conduct has been in the marketplace since June 2013. Its message is clear. Deliberate efforts to use voucher codes to mislead consumers, or the unauthorised monetisation of codes, will not be tolerated and sanctions against such practices are clearly laid out in the IAB’s procedures document.
Secondly, and a reflection of the growing importance of voucher codes in digital marketing channel, is that advertisers are the ultimate arbiter of where and when their codes may be published.
What is the aim of the voucher Code of Conduct?
The code aims to encourage the ongoing development and success of the voucher code space within a controlled framework that is good for both consumers and advertisers alike. Achieving these aims should ultimately ensure that the voucher code space continues to thrive.
Which voucher codes must comply with the Code of Conduct?
All voucher codes which are published must comply with the Code of Conduct; irrespective of whether they have been sourced from the Advertiser, Affiliate Network, Agency or the general public.
What is the correct way to list vouchers?
When listing or publishing voucher codes, the following must be included:
- Terms & Conditions – a description of the key T&Cs must be immediately visible to the customer when viewing a voucher
- Validity – all vouchers must be kept up to date with expiry dates included, any vouchers which have expired must either be removed or clearly shown on-site that they have expired
- Advertiser linking info – the customer must be made aware that they will be re-directed to the Advertiser website once clicking through on the voucher
- Differentiation of discounts – it must be clear to the customer whether the discount is obtained by the use of a voucher, daily deal or just a general on-site sale.
Which voucher codes can be published?
Affiliates may publish non-monetised vouchers in the absence of any instructions not to do so by the Advertiser. Even where codes are not monetised, they remain the property of the Advertiser and so affiliates should check whether the Advertiser has stated restrictions, for instance in their T&Cs posted within Affiliate logins. Affiliates should also respect reasonable requests received from Advertisers regarding the publishing of their codes, specifically where they do not wish their codes to be published.
Which voucher codes can be monetised?
The key message here is that vouchers must only be monetised with the permission of the relevant advertiser, or through the advertiser’s respective licensor or licensee – but not on voucher-by-voucher basis. Affiliates must not monetise vouchers which are exclusive to other Affiliates and Affiliates must immediately cease the monetisation of an Advertiser’s code, once contacted to do so by the respective advertiser.
If a user posts a voucher on behalf of the Affiliate, can it be published?
Yes, however the Affiliate must ensure effective moderation of any user generated content it permits to be published. Once again, the Advertiser has the right to request for removal of any of the respective Advertiser’s vouchers, and the Affiliate must respond to this request as soon as reasonably practical.
If a user posts a voucher on behalf of the Affiliate, can it be monetised?
It depends… user generated content and vouchers can only be monetised once permitted to do so by the relevant Advertiser. Without permission from the Advertiser, any monetisation of a user generated voucher will be a breach of the Code of Conduct.
What happens if an Affiliate doesn’t stick to the Code of Conduct and what are the repercussions, if any?
This is very much down to the Affiliate Network and the Advertiser, where both should make it clear in their T&Cs what the stance and repercussions are on breaking the Code of Conduct.
The Code has been signed by most major affiliate networks and is an example of industry collaboration and constructive self-regulation. The success of the Code lies in its set of defined standards and commitment to consumer transparency but also in its ability to accommodate variation, notably with the way that Advertisers want to issue, promote and control their voucher codes. Accordingly whilst the Code should be applied consistently between Affiliate Networks, it is also designed to allow variations of specific rules between Advertisers.
How can user generated content be controlled?
There are lots of things that Advertisers can do to control their content, for example:
- Providing single use codes
- Implementing voucher tracking
- Building unique codes for each affiliates
By implementing a few of these strategies, especially single use codes, Advertisers will have more control over whether their offers to go viral or remain with a closed user group.
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