Michelle Wood

Why Affiliate Marketing Network Compliance is So Important

Wildfire recently released a product, the Browser Extension Launchpad, which assures clients that any cashback browser extension they build using the Wildfire codebase provided in Launchpad, will have "affiliate network compliance." 

But what does that mean exactly? Well, let’s first revisit how cashback programs typically work. These programs rely on the user clicking or tapping on an affiliate marketing tracking link which "affiliates" that user to the publisher who referred them to a merchant/retailer. 

If the user in turn completes their sale at the merchant, the affiliate network tracking infrastructure will then associate that user to the referring publisher and pay that publisher an affiliate commission.

Wildfire is a publisher in the affiliate industry. When our clients’ end-user customers click on cashback offers in Wildfire-powered tools and then make a purchase, we turn the commissions we earn from those purchases into customer cashback rewards.

What's a Stand-Down Policy in Affiliate Marketing?

With this in mind, the affiliate networks require publishers to take special care respecting when a shopper has previously been affiliated. This concept is commonly described as "standing down." The spirit of this policy is to avoid confusing a shopper who may think that they can activate cashback through multiple products (like two different cashback browser extensions), and to require the publisher to act in good faith by not taking the credit away, so to speak, from the original referrer. 

The affiliate marketing networks' Stand-Down Policies state that cashback browser extensions cannot "market to" a user (that is, show them cashback rewards opportunities at merchants) if they have already been affiliated with another referrer or affiliate.

For example, if a user has two different Chrome cashback browser extensions installed, that person may think that they can activate cashback in both extensions and earn double the cashback. But according to the affiliate networks' Stand-Down Policies, the second browser extension needs to recognize that the user has already been affiliated, and must NOT market to that user.

Marketing to the already-affiliated user can include doing things like popping up any dialog box that has a call-to-action to activate cashback. In effect, the affiliate networks' Stand-Down Policies indicate that other affiliates should not try to "get the user's attention" with the intent to have them activate a different affiliate link and usurp the first affiliate's commission. 

Continuing our example of two cashback browser extensions, if that second browser extension did not stand down, and the shopper activated that second extension's cashback alert, the second one would "steal" the credit from the first one.

How Do Publishers Comply with Affiliate Networks' Stand-Down Policies?

To check for a user being previously affiliated with another publisher, cashback rewards extensions or cash back products and software should check for either of the following conditions in the redirect sequence the user might follow when coming from another link:

1. Some publishers add special URL parameters to the user when they come from an affiliate link. Browser extensions and other tools should avoid marketing to a user when those URL parameters are present. These URL parameters will indicate that a user is already affiliated:
    • afsrc=1
    • affsource=1
    • foid (set to any value)

2. Some publishers link to merchants that don't involve URL parameters. To account for this case, browser extensions and cashback rewards software should also look for any redirect sequences that go through one of the following URLs:
    • www.anrdoezrs.net
    • www.commission-junction.com
    • www.dpbolvw.net
    • www.apmebf.com
    • www.jdoqocy.com
    • www.kqzyfj.com
    • www.qksrv.net
    • www.tkqlhce.com
    • www.qksz.net
    • www.emjcd.com
    • www.afcyhf.com
    • www.awltovhc.com
    • www.ftjcfx.com
    • www.lduhtrp.net
    • www.tqlkg.com
    • www.awxibrm.com
    • www.cualbr.com
    • www.rnsfpw.net
    • www.vofzpwh.com
    • www.yceml.net
    • www.cj-dotomi.com

Simply put, if the cashback browser extension or cashback rewards software detects either of the two conditions above, that user should NOT be marketed-to.

Why Stand-Down Policies are So Important in Cashback Rewards Programs

The affiliate networks' Stand-Down Policies are important, because they help regulate the industry from being like the Wild West, where, in the worst-case scenario, it would be every affiliate for themselves, stealing credit from one another left and right. 

Instead, the networks require that their affiliate publishers respect these rules, and don't swoop in at the last minute to steal the commission that the first-affiliated publisher worked so hard to secure from the user. 

It's a way for all publishers in the affiliate marketing industry to be good marketing citizens, and  prove they are doing right by their fellow publishers. This, in turn, helps to keep each affiliate marketing network full of only high-quality publishers.

If a publisher is found to be in violation of the networks' Stand-Down Policies, the affiliate network may terminate the violating publishers' participation in their affiliate marketing programs, and may also withhold or forfeit any pending payments due to that publisher. 

And furthermore, that merchant may be blackballed from future affiliate marketing relationships with the networks - not just the one they violated! The affiliate networks work very hard to keep their services full of only legitimate publishers who do not violate rules, and the affiliate marketing industry is a small world. Believe me, they talk!

How Wildfire Assures our Cashback Browser Extensions & Tools Remain Compliant

Wildfire Systems' cashback browser extension products already comply with the affiliate networks' stand-down policies. We have a robust Merchant Development & Relations team that maintains excellent relationships with all the networks to be kept in the loop if rules change. 

Two of our browser extension products, Browser Extension Launchpad and Turnkey Browser Extensions, were developed with network compliance considerations already baked-in. Furthermore, the team continually updates our cashback products to build in any other functionality that might be required when affiliate network policies change. 

By using either of these cashback browser extension products, your cashback product will automatically be in compliance with the networks' stand-down policies. NOTE: our JSON Feeds and Transaction APIs do not include any network compliance. If you are utilizing our raw data to build a customer-facing cashback browser extension or cashback rewards product, YOU are responsible for ensuring affiliate network stand-down compliance for your own product. (But we can help guide you on what to do.)


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Published by Michelle Wood March 27, 2023
Michelle Wood