Cookie Survival: A New Standard

Typically, in the affiliate marketing industry, a contract between a merchant and affiliate can be changed with seven days notice. While it is good business ethics to provide such notice, isn’t it also good business ethics to honor all contract terms prior to said change?

Let’s say a merchant decides to decrease commission from 10% to 5% of a sale. They do so with a seven-day notice to affiliates. Upon such notice, an affiliate must adjust their promotional method to account for the pending decrease in earnings, eliminating any traffic that might no longer be profitable under the new offer. For example, a search affiliate may decide the new maximum bid should be $0.50 per click. But, what about the $1.00 per click the affiliate spent the day before the notice of change?

In our industry, a contract change generally applies after seven days regardless of when the promotion (click) occurred. However, the affiliate could have been making promotional (expense) decisions based on what is now bad information. Or, at a minimum, with the knowledge that a paradigm might shift, there is a constant need to include an expense buffer. Is this good for either party?

In an effort to alleviate this industry issue, earlier this week, LinkConnector added a new protection measure called ‘Cookie Survival’ to its Merchant Terms and Conditions. Now, when an unfavorable change is made to a merchant’s campaign (e.g., decrease in cookie duration, decrease in commission, etc.), the terms that apply when a sale or lead occurs are those that were in place at the time of the affiliate promotion—up to 60 days back.

In the previous example, $1.00 per click was spent by the affiliate to send a prospective customer to the merchant site the day before a merchant changed its campaign terms from 10% to 5% of a sale. If the sale occurred by the prospective customer 14 days later (for a campaign with at least a 14-day cookie duration), the LinkConnector affiliate will now make 10% of the sale, versus 5%; a situation which tends to be the industry standard.

LinkConnector implemented this change to protect the investment an affiliate makes at the time of promotion of the merchant’s products or services.

What do you think? We would love your feedback and response to this policy change. It is intended to be fair to both parties. Is it?

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