Tuesday, March 06, 2007

[ethics]Affiliate Programs


I wonder what everyone's view of affiliate programs are with respect to ethics. Some of you know that I spend far too much time thinking about ethics, and it struck me about nine months ago that affiliate programs are basically kickbacks for promoting a product. I discontinued my affiliation links at that point. What are other bloggers' thoughts?

This Post was written by Derrick from An Obsession with Food


cybele said...

As a product reviewer, I thought about affiliate programs at one point but decided it would be too tempting to recommend things that I wasn't that enthusiastic about because I would profit from it. But that was a personal thing ... I know myself well enough.

The only thing I caution bloggers about is to be transparent about their affiliate links. Many blogger ethics groups say that you should put an "AFF" after any affiliate link to notify the reader that it is such.

I know for some reason I feel used when I click a link that isn't well labeled that maybe I think is going to take me to a product home page only to find out that I've just clicked through to some sort of store.

I'm glad you brought the topic up, Derrick, I'm curious to hear everyone's thoughts on it.

Andrew said...

The only reason I have not used them (except for amazon) is that in the couple of months I experimented with them they returned zero income.

I have began a limited experiment on one of my blogs to see if they are worth trying agin with.

Personally if a blog I know and respect (ie I actually read) introduces them/uses them I dont have a problem; their credibility has already been established.

I know how hard it is to make a penny (cent) or two from a blog so I dont begrudge someone trying to cover their hosting costs.

Amy Sherman said...

I have no problem with affiliate links whatsoever. I only have Amazon links and that's because it is convenient and usually an inexpensive source for products, when compared with other sources. Plus their links rarely disapear and I found they often did when I linked directly to publishers.

Bottom line? I would NEVER recommend a product I didn't like. And I recommend products all the time that I have no affiliation with (like stuff from Trader Joe's, restaurants, etc.) I have turned down tons of affiliate offers because I didn't believe in the product or didn't think there was sufficient value.

cookiecrumb said...

I avoid anything commercial on my blog because I want everything that appears on it to be my own intellectual property.
Which doesn't mean I'm a snob.
I mean that if I allow commercial content on my site, do I still own it? Or would I at any time be censored, blocked, dismantled because of the power of the advertisers? I don't want to share my content with anyone, especially anyone with more money/power than I have. Too risky.
(OK, maybe too paranoid. But the freedom of expression on blogs has been challenged.)

Sam said...

I agree with Cookie crumb except for the fact I do admit to being a snob. (sometimes)

How about if you choose to have affiliates you explain your policy on youe about page?

If you don't have an about page I can highly recommend them as a vehicle for peace of mind in everything you choose to do.

David said...

I've had practically zero results from affiliate ads. I had some for travel sites, like Travelocity & Air France, and a few for products I use and recommend, namely Timbuk2 and Richart chocolate.

I thought they'd do ok, but I've since taken them off my Home Page since they were just taking up space. I think readers tend to blank out the ads unless they're more specific, like Amazon and Google ads are (and which change frequently.)

I liked the idea I could choose specific companies (I use Commission Junction, which has a pretty large roster of companies, like Chef's Warehouse, Skype, etc), but I think I've made $40 in the past 2 years on them, total.

Kevin said...

The Chinese wall between publisher and editor is a bit hard to maintain when you're both. It's also complicated by the fact that most blogs are personal expressions and for this reason I decided that in the case of a blog there is at least an implied editorial recommendation of any product appearing on the blog.

What this means to me is I want explicit control over any advertising. My solution, just implemented, is an Amazon store. The store contains only products I can and do personally recommend because I use them.

McAuliflower said...

As previously stated on Food Blog S'cool, I like Powell's ethics over amazon's so I use them for my book links. I also use an affiliate code to earn a 7% return.

I've never thought of these links as anything needing disclosure about- probably because like Amy's sentiments, my motivation is a genuine one of sharing. If I get something back, that's great, though not necessary.

I don't flog these sorts of links at all. I earn approx $10 per quarter (which I burn up in store credit).

ByTheBay said...

I don't believe that affiliate links are promotion of products any more than Google ads or any other type of ads are. Ads are ads. Some pay you per click, some per order.

As for affiliate links embedded in posts, like Amy and others I do not endorse any product that I haven't used myself or that I don't think it is worth promoting to my niche audience (gluten-free folks). My readership is eager for new products and equipment to make gluten-free cooking easier and tastier, so I see it as doing a service of sorts as long as I'm being honest about my opinions on these products. I periodically mention that if someone clicks a certain link, it will help support my site financially. But I don't feel the need to mention that every time I post an affiliate link. I figure my readers are mostly fairly web-savvy, many are bloggers themselves, and it's no secret that even the humblest of bloggers need or want to make a few pennies off their blog. I try not to be heavy-handed with the affiliate links or ads, though.

Meeta said...

WOW! This was really interesting. This weekend I decided to join up at Amazon.com as an affiliate. My main reason to do so was basically to offer items (books, music and maybe in the future other products) that I use myself and have mentioned on my blog. Making a few dollars out of it in the run sounded like a good idea although it was not my main motivation. I was happy to read Andrew's comments too as I am planning to get my own domain in the future and figured the money would go directly back into the blog.

I'd love to read more about such ethics so if anyone has a helpful link it would be

I never thought that there would be ethics involved in this type of thing. The recommendations (items) are exactly that ... genuine recommendations and I leave it to each person's choice to act upon it.