As I was writing Silence is Not Golden and worrying about where the industry is heading because of lack of actions, Haiko de Poel Jr of ABestWeb was hard at work. He was exposing yet another parasiteware that is stealing millions of dollars from affiliates. This parasite is particularly disturbing because it has a network angle. Although the knowledge that there is yet another parasitic toolbar out there stealing commissions deeply angers me, I am encouraged by one thing. It is reassuring to know there are many in this industry who are working at moving the industry forward. Haiko is one such person.
I think it is crucial for every person involved in affiliate marketing to go over to ABestWeb and read the entire thread; it is all explained in great detail and with a clarity that I can not duplicate. Read One Cause Parasite. Also provided at ABestWeb are short videos demonstrating the parasiteware in action. One Cause is affiliated with approximately 462 merchants from all networks. Affiliates can watch the millions of dollars being stolen. Merchants can watch millions of unearned dollars being stolen.
As reported at ABW, Haiko explains that there is parasitic toolbar (BHO) called One Cause that is stealing millions of dollars from affiliates. One Cause acts as an affiliate and they use a toolbar. They state they donate a portion of commissions to charities and under that pretense they encourage people to download the toolbar. Once the toolbar is downloaded onto someones computer, this toolbar overwrites cookies and redirects on 462 different merchants. This means that no matter how a customer arrives at any of the 462 merchants sites, One Cause will grab the commission. So if you, an average affiliate, sends a customer to a store such as Ebay or Dell or any of the other 460 merchants you lose your commission. One Cause steals your commission, if your customer has One Cause on their computer. If you are one of the 462 merchants and a customer types in your website and then makes a purchase, One Cause earns a commission for doing nothing! One Cause gives half or so to charity and pockets the rest. Over $211 MILLION is claimed to have been donated. This means well over $211 MILLION stolen from affiliates and from merchants. Haiko has posted videos of the redirection, you have to watch at least a few to truly understand how horrendous this is. Time after time affiliate commissions stolen.
Aside from the over $211 MILLION stolen from affiliates is the extra area of concern. One Cause is a subsidiary of RakutenUSA, Inc who also owns LinkShare. On Friday, a Linkshare moderator said that they will look into the situation and if this was happening they would take appropriate action. Meanwhile, One Cause is allowed to continue to operate over the weekend.
Whether you are an affiliate, a merchant or program manager you need to read the posts at ABW and watch at least a few of the videos. If you are an affiliate be sure to let your merchants know what is happening. This hurts both affiliates and merchants.
Once again this is not a time to be silent.