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Another Parasite Exposed

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.

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Rast November 18, 2008, 12:59 pm

    Millions of dollars in 2 weeks? Can you send me the info on this? The onecause toolbar launch in October of this year – how did they get millions of dollars?

    Have you seen the upromise toolbar? Upromise uses the same one.

  • Melanie November 18, 2008, 2:29 pm

    Hi Rast, thanks for stopping by.

    The over $211 million is the amount they claim to have been donated since 1999, I didn’t mean to indicate it’s been over the last 2 weeks. To find out more about their history and the “management team” go to One Cause and at bottom of any page go to “About Us”.

    I also encourage you to go to ABW and read through the entire thread. Watch a couple of the short videos to see how the redirection occurs. It is a long thread but very worthwhile. It is scary to think that 462 merchants are affected by this, imagine how many affiliates?

    Upromise is also an issue, worth a whole post of its own.

    A few merchants have removed One Cause from their programs but there are still hundreds left to take action.

    Thanks again, I’ll try to update as more information becaomes available.

  • Melanie November 20, 2008, 10:42 am

    Thanks for stopping by, Sick of This, but what are your feelings on the parasitic toolbar endorsed by LS?

    It would be nice to think that everyone could put the politics and or personal issue aside and address the real issue at hand ie the toolbar stealing commissions from affiliates and grabbing additional unearned commissions from ~462 merchants.

    Sick of This, feel free to repost using an accurate email and without attacking any individuals. Productive comments are welcomed.

  • Melvert November 20, 2008, 11:13 am

    Looks like LinkShare took a position on this: linkshareblog.com/2008/11/19/toolbars-and-network-quality/

  • Rebel January 23, 2009, 11:04 pm

    This is like when you suspect that you have 1 or 2 rats in the attic, then when you look into it further you discover you have 1000’s of the little pest!And like rats, affiliate parasites are breeding like crazy!They have discovered a great loop hole, to make millions…and all at our expense.But like a rat, they can be caught out, and exposed to the proper authorities.What authorities I speak of, I’m not sure.You see, many affiliates want to do something about this, yet it’s all new territory to them, and they also fear that they will be terminated from programs that enlist this type of unethical practise if found out.Many affiliates have the attitude of….let the others take care of it….I don’t want to jeopardise my affiliate account…I don’t want the hassle.

    My personal opinion, is that I can care less if I get booted from a program that may discover that I’m a fighter for just causes.It will make me 10x happier to see them get their just desserts, when they go tumbling to the ground.Besides, after all the dust has settled, you may find that a line will be drawn between those programs/merchants that have good ethical practise, against those that are thieves…..which eventually they will dry up and fade to dust hopefully.Anyway….keep up the good work, and anyone that cares to check out my blog, please do….it’s a new blog dedicated to this cause!We all need to come together and create a rain of fire and momentum…and this can only succeed through unification….we are the gurus of marketing…so lets market this cause…our futures depend on it!Lets take the battle to them!

  • Melanie January 27, 2009, 8:41 pm

    Great analogy Rebel, it is just like a bad infestation of rats!

    There has been a fear of speaking out but many are now seeing that we need to. Thanks for stopping by, I’ll check out your blog shortly. I’ve had a hectic few days. Never enough hours in the day.

  • Tom Estrus February 1, 2009, 4:53 am

    Toolbars are like the stupid tax on the well…stupid.

  • Glenn Cowbriski February 18, 2009, 2:20 am

    I don’t see a good end to this for the networks who support parasites.

    1st they P/O their loyal affiliates

    2nd they P/O their customers (merchants) once they catch on.

    3rd the toolbar affiliates and merchants who are left after all this, then realize the networks are just a middleman taking a cut and not supplying any needed service. (what kind of support does a toolbar affiliate need anyway?)

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