On Tuesday the IAB’s affiliate marketing council announced that it was tightening its regulation of vouchers and launched a revised version of its Voucher Code of Conduct guidelines. This wasn’t a complete overhaul, but more a tightening up of wording in order to avoid any disputes and to future proof the guidelines.
Voucher codes are an increasingly vital part of the affiliate channel, accounting for increased investment, and it is important that everyone involved plays fairly. The purpose of the new guidelines, from what I could see, was to specifically clamp down on voucher code sites picking up codes that have been allocated to other affiliates and monetising them. Previously the wording might have opened the door for some ambiguity making it harder to take action. But if the rules are clearly spelt out, well then, who can argue?
It is only right to point out at this stage that 99.9 per cent of voucher code sites act honourably, but we all know the saying ‘there’s always one.’ The point is that even if you have a couple of affiliates blurring the lines, it simply isn’t fair on those that abide by best practice. Especially if there are no repercussions.
It would be easy to scoff and say that the affiliate council is limited in terms of the action it can take, but this wouldn’t be accurate. There is a process in place for reporting misconduct and this is kicked off when someone reports it to the affiliate marketing council, this is then picked up by an overseeing body, a ‘voucher council’ if you will, made up by the affiliate networks. Once a referral has been made, they then discuss what action should be taken. And the implications for a voucher code site flaunting the rules can be serious. A few years ago the networks all agreed to remove one affiliate across multiple networks as they would not abide by the code of conduct.
The challenge is that every advertiser has a different strategy for how they approach voucher codes. Some allocate a specific code to particular affiliates, others use a code en masse and use it widely across the programme so there is an element of reviewing each situation on a case by case basis. However the IAB has a longer-term vision. It knows that to evolve and maintain its momentum affiliate marketing has to be a leading light when it comes to self-regulation. We’ve come so far that we don’t want – or need – a few rogue sites creating headlines that undermine all the sectors progress.
Tuesday’s announcement shows that the industry remains proactive when it comes to ensuring that all affiliates are adhering to the highest standards. And that can only be a good thing.
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