Saturday, May 9, 2015

Word from the Herd--Affiliate Links...the Good and the Ugly

Ahhh affiliate links. Something everyone--especially bloggers--should keep up with. They can be a huge help in paying for blog expenses and giveaways but they can also be used in a pretty underhanded way as well. They're fantastic when used right--on your own personal blog/pages, disclosed and in a straight forward way. But they can also be used in a rather slimy way that's actually against most TOS and can get bloggers, authors and tour companies in trouble. Which is where my problem comes in and the reason behind this post. 

I use affiliate codes on the blog. I've got no prob with others using them. I think it's great. On here if it links to Amazon, All Romance or Book Depository I use the blog's affiliate codes in the html and any purchases made with them earn the blog a commission--at no cost to the shopper--of around 7% of the purchase price. This keeps the blog going and I really appreciate everyone who shops via us.

So. What does an affiliate look like? For the most common--Amazon--it's similar to the below. If the blog/author is based in North America they'll have a {user name-20} in the link. Other countries have different numbers following their user name.

So my problem. 

A bit back I was participating in a tour and noticed something. I always switch out Amazon links for the blog links but what I noticed was the tour company trying to slide their affiliate code into the blog post that would be on MY blog. They'd listed out each of the places the author's book was with full links...except for the Amazon one which included their affiliate link. That one they used a url shorting site like tinyurl that masks the actual link being used. 

Then a week-ish later I was helping out with another tour company at the request of an author and they sent just the html to the post and guess what? Yeah. The tour company snuck their affiliate code in that way as well!

Ooo I was NOT liking this.

I hadn't worked much with tour companies at that point because they just weren't a fit for my blog but that's when I stopped working with tour companies near completely even upon author request. I think this is incredibly rude and dishonest behavior and it's illegal as well. Affiliate code use has to be disclosed on a blog and the affiliate is only supposed to use the codes on their own personal pages or Amazon can come after you. 

I don't like being used. I don't think most do. And to me that's kind of what this amounts to.
Tour hosts (and some times the publisher) are asking for free hosting on blogs while being paid by the author to run the tour. No prob there. I set up tours and it can be a lot of work. But then any purchases made during the tour...the tour company makes even more money off those bloggers if anyone buys the book via those links. And if they click through those links any Amazon purchase for 24 hours would be credited to the affiliate in hiding.  And it's being hidden by the tour company that they're doing this.

And that's a bit problem to me. 

It just doesn't sit well. 

It's the underhanded way it's being done. If I'd been told 'hey! I'm including our affiliate links if you want to include them please do or switch our for your own if you use codes' maybe it wouldn't be such a big issue for me. I've had one do that and...sure. I switched them out but it didn't leave a dirty taste in my mouth. Even if it still wasn't legally okay for them to be doing it. But hiding that you're sending out those codes...not so cool.

But maybe it's not a big deal to others.

You've heard my 2 cents. What do YOU think?Does it bother you or eh not a big deal?

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