Merchants Bidding on Affiliate’s Names?

While checking on Google today, I found a merchant of mine that I haven’t been active in a while with that was bidding on the name FlamingoWorld in Adwords. When contacted they had this to say:

“Connie,
I never bid on partner’s names. Your traffic died a couple months ago.

Bidding on your name was not meant to offend, this is business so we bid on keywords that bring converting traffic for printable grocery coupons.

I have pulled your keyword in anticipation of getting you back in our program.”

I checked and see they are also bidding on several other affiliates’ names. Usually you see this happening with affiliates bidding on merchant’s trademarks. This was the first time I have come across this scenario. I find it very disturbing.

About Connie Berg

Connie Berg is the Founder of FlamingoWorld.com and iShopDaily.com. Founded in 1998, FlamingoWorld.com offers discounts and coupons from online retailers, while iShopDaily.com focuses on price comparison and product search. ForMeToCoupon.com is a new venture which offers an automated, customized affiliate coupon feed which consolidates coupons and deals across all major affiliate networks in a standard format. You can find Connie on Twitter @connieberg.

41 Responses to Merchants Bidding on Affiliate’s Names?

  1. Wayne Porter says:

    Connie,

    Send them a C/D. That should get their attention.

    -wayne

  2. Connie Berg says:

    They did stop, if I promise to be an active affiliate. They don't bid on active affiliates names.
    My CJ account manager has been notified, and she is not happy about it either.

  3. Someone says:

    You act like 5 years olds. Stop crying! This is ridiculous. "Don't play in my sandbox.."

    Grow up. If you going to chase every keyword out there and who is bidding on who's trademark you'll end up with crappy sites like FlamingoWorld.

    What a joke..

  4. Connie Berg says:

    Yeah, really crappy site isn't it. So crappy that many people will do anything underhanded to try to compete.
    My CJ account manager didn't think this was ridiculous at all.

  5. Wayne Porter says:

    Don't be distracted by the drive-bys Connie. The real issue here is your trademark (do you have it trademarked?) and how you plan (or if you plan) to police it…

  6. Jim Kukral says:

    Tag. I'd love to see "someone" exposed as well. Certainly we have the investigative tech team reading here at ReveNews who can dig in and expose the cowards!

  7. Beth Kirsch says:

    Jim,

    Why don't you check that IP against all the IP's of comments on RN. Bet you can find that Someone.

    I checked my comments, Someone clearly is not intelligent enough to post on my blog it seems. :o)

    Beth

  8. Jonathan (Trust) says:

    "Trust, you collecting bar signs?"

    ? No, I don't even drink. You're in the right thread?

  9. I don't think the merchant will get a lot more "active" (super) affiliates by doing things like this.

    Connie, IMO is the merchants answer to your inquiry pure blackmailing.

    How about that? I bid on the Merchants Trademark until he accepts me into his Program. Until then is it okay for me to bid and divert the traffic to his competitor. How does that sound?

  10. Jonathan (Trust) says:

    “They did stop, if I promise to be an active affiliate. They don’t bid on active affiliates names.”

    That’s just ridiculous. If you tell me who they are , I can give them a little taste of their own medicine 🙂 And to see if they’re bidding on my name, some other affiliates like bidding on it (Dealcatcher) But haven’t seen this from a merchant.

  11. Wayne Porter says:

    “They did stop, if I promise to be an active affiliate. They don’t bid on active affiliates names.”

    oh just inactive ones… hmmmm I guess that makes it ok? 🙁

    -wayne

  12. Beth Kirsch says:

    Hey Someone!

    First, post with your real name…gezzz. And you did not use your name because you knew it was a jerky thing to write. Gezzzz.

  13. Connie Berg says:

    And the poster’s ip address is very, very close to where the merchant is located too. Coincidence? I think not.

  14. Trust, you collecting bar signs?

    Hey Someone, lets see your site.

  15. Connie Berg says:

    The IP on “someone” is 67.180.88.118. I’m not deleting the comment (it’s within my rights if I wanted to). I wonder if I have a competitor out there with some sour grapes??? Although, I’m not sure how to investigate IP addresses, anyone?

  16. Jonathan (Trust) says:

    I actually started a thread last year at ABW asking about them. Connie, if you want me to bump that thread up with what they’re doing now, let me know.

  17. Jonathan (Trust) says:

    Connie, it got the bump:
    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?p=565456

  18. Don't think so, your Dealcatcher comment pretty much cemented it, but if you say I am, then I must be. 😉

  19. Jonathan (Trust) says:

    "Don't think so"

    You are, which is funny. You seem to have some sort of interest in me to derail a thread. Wonder why that is. Check your gmail, I'll answer any questions you might have.

  20. Steven Boal says:

    From Steven Boal, CEO, Coupons, Inc. I found out about this personally when Connie wrote to us. I have addressed it internally. I was frankly surprised that we were bidding on anyone elses names, particularly our own partners. I have taken immediate action here and have asked for a full internal review of all bids by no later than Tuesday. We have quite a bit of automation, and I will make personally sure this does not happen in the future. Please accept my apologies.

  21. Connie, that ip address is in the Comcast cable range of ip’s, not sure if that is any help to you.

    Trust, pretty sure I am. 😉 Saw an ebay user with your site name, assumed it was you…

  22. There you go.

    See, there is nothing that can't be solved in a civilized manner without screaming and yelling.

    I am sure that Steven will do what he promised. Cheers!

  23. Linda Buquet says:

    Connie, amazing this happened. Thanks for bringing this issue to light. Stephen, nice to see a company fess up, not make excuses, apologize and correct the problem instead of just trying to sweep it under the rug like some companies do when they get caught doing something unethical.

  24. Jonathan (Trust) says:

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?p=565520

    Not the first time this problem was brought up it seems. And coolsavings is doing a little too it looks like.

  25. Jim Kukral says:

    What is it about your blog entries Connie? Every one always gets tons of comments. Good to see you back.

  26. Jonathan (Trust) says:

    ? Sorry Jimmy, I think you have me confused. Wouldn’t be the first time.

  27. Wayne Porter says:

    It is good to see proactive action instead of excuses. When you are in a big company things like this can get overlooked without the right people knowing about it.

    The test of fire will be how well it is executed.

    -wayne

  28. Connie Berg says:

    I find it sad that others can't just let hard work make them successful.

    Now I have several new competitors bidding on my name. If their sites were so great they wouldn't have to try to ride on my coattails. Every day I spend time blocking ips of competitors from scraping my site and eating up my bandwidth.

    Dudes, you don't need to do business like this. You can be successful with just hard work and being ethical.

  29. Steven Boal says:

    Update: We have stopped ALL search engine marketing initiatives until I personally can guarantee that this does not happen again. We have also notified all of our affiliates who appear to be practicing this method of advertising that they will be removed from our program with a single complaint. I do apologize for this, as we grow it becomes more and more important that we are able to respond quickly and effectively to this type of complaint. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
    Steven

  30. And the power of RSS Feed Syndication, Aggregation and Re-Syndication and email and Computers and TCP/IP and … People … okay that's enough 🙂

  31. Beth Kirsch says:

    Sometimes you just have to appreciate the power of the blogosphere. 🙂

  32. Jim Kukral says:

    And ReveNews Beth… and ReveNews… 😮

  33. Jonathan (Trust) says:

    And Connie notifying her CJ account manager and ABW 😛 Had to do it. I did notice a Brian C. from CJ checking out the ABW thread and probably checking this out over here too. It’s the power of the web 🙂

  34. Connie Berg says:

    And thanks to Al Gore for starting this whole powerful internet thing to begin with.

  35. Steven Boal says:

    Follow-up from Coupons, Inc. I've just sent the following note directly to Todd but thought I'd post it here as well. Steven

    "Todd,

    I've been very aggressive internally researching this and I have just received the following from the person responsible for all this. I'd appreciate a public posting from you if you see fit here as in this particular case the error was innocent.

    'I was not bidding on Alex's Coupons (or Alexs Coupons). Yesterday after you forwarded his email I checked Google. Alexis Coupons was showing if I searched Alex's Coupons. Google search was assuming an i was the same thing as an apostrophe. Alexis Coupons is from one of my US cities campaigns.

    I bid on a huge list of US cities, plus the word coupons so we show for someone making a local search for coupons. Alexis is in Illinois

    It's true I did speak with Todd months ago. When he informed me of the problem, I pulled any reference to Alex's Coupons from search and apologized. I did not circle back and bid on his name. The US cities lists were added about a month ago.'

    Thank you in advance.

    Steven
    "

  36. Todd Martini says:

    Steven, the phrase that was being targeted was Alexs Coupons, not Alex's Coupons as you can tell from the original search string that I posted:

    <a href="http://www.google.com/search?hs=nH&hl=en&lr=&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&q=alexs+coupons&btnG=Search&quot; rel="nofollow"&gt <a href="http://;http://www.google.com/search?hs=nH&hl=en&lr=&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&q=alexs+coupons&btnG=Search” target=”_blank”>;http://www.google.com/search?hs=nH&hl=en&lr=&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&q=alexs+coupons&btnG=Search

    …so the whole "Google search was assuming an i was the same thing as an apostrophe" is bullsh!t. Either google assumes that "alexs coupons" and "alexis coupons" are the same thing, or your person is lying or incompetent. Either way I'm removing you guys completely from Alex's Coupons. Please remove ASAP the cobranded signup form at:

    <a href="http://print.coupons.com/alink.asp?go=11541cp1710&quot; rel="nofollow"&gt <a href="http://;http://print.coupons.com/alink.asp?go=11541cp1710” target=”_blank”>;http://print.coupons.com/alink.asp?go=11541cp1710

    Thanks for your cooperation.

    — Todd

  37. Todd Martini says:

    Steven,

    As am I (re: trying to be professional), which is why I'm asking you to remove the co-branded page and leaving it at that. I could do a lot more considering Alex's Coupons is a trademarked term.

    — Todd

    P.S. Oh and the last time I checked bullsh!t isn't profanity. It's the equivalent of $#%#. 😉

  38. Todd Martini says:

    One last thing. I did a little test. I did the following searches in Google:

    <a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=alexis+coupons&quot; rel="nofollow"&gt <a href="http://;http://www.google.com/search?q=alexis+coupons” target=”_blank”>;http://www.google.com/search?q=alexis+coupons
    (shows two adsense ads – one for coolsavings & one for i4vegas.com)

    <a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=alex's+coupons&quot; rel="nofollow"&gt <a href="http://;http://www.google.com/search?q=alex's+coupons” target=”_blank”>;http://www.google.com/search?q=alex's+coupons
    (shows no adsense ads)

    <a href="http://www.google.com/search?q=alexs+coupons&quot; rel="nofollow"&gt <a href="http://;http://www.google.com/search?q=alexs+coupons” target=”_blank”>;http://www.google.com/search?q=alexs+coupons
    (shows one coolsavings adsense ad)

    …and Google Adsense does not see them as the same query, so there is no way the ad was targeting "alexis coupons". It was targeting "alexs coupons".

  39. Steven Boal says:

    Todd,

    As you can see I am trying to resolve this in as professional a manner as possible. I apologize for what appears to be my clear lack of search engine marketing intelligence. Please recall I stopped all search marketing until I was able to fully understand this. My follow up to you was an attempt to better understand this. I’m sorry you feel the need to react this way. Certainly profanity does not make your point come across more directly.

    Steven

  40. Connie Berg says:

    I am going to close comments, as "someone" keeps posting inappropriate comments and I don't have time to play childish games.