Pixmania and Affiliate Window get discount codes completely and utterly wrong


Now I like Affiliate Window as I've mentioned many times on this blog. But the latest action of one of their merchants, Pixmania - and Affiliate Window's subsequent response to the whole fiasco has really annoyed me. The whole sordid sorry story stated when Pixmania sent our this absolutely ludicrous email to their affiliates a couple of weeks ago:

Pixmania are offering fantastic new codes on appliances and they have extended the expiry date for one TV code! Pixmania are also offering exciting generic codes for all affiliates, except vouchercode sites, and they have a list of their top products for you to promote!

So, to clarify: Pixmania are offering discount codes for affiliates to use. BUT not on discount code sites?!?! I'm sorry but this is the most absurd, ridiculous, backward-thinking nonsense I've heard in ages. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid. The "reasoning" - and I use that term very loosely. Is due to "complaints from content affiliates who feel cookie overwriting as a result of these pure voucher code directories is on the rise." Well dear me, some so called "content affiliates" - and I count myself as one btw - are moaning on that discount code sites are to blame for losing sales. Again, what nonsense. The "blame" if we must call it that - lies fair and square with the merchant for releasing discount codes in the first place. Why can't Pixmania, Affiliate Window and the moaning content affiliates see that? If merchants didn't release discount codes then we wouldn't have this problem. But no no, it's easier to blame discount code sites for having the audacity to - would you believe - actually display official discount codes, released to affiliates by merchants. I mean how dare they? What a cheek, that's worse than sypware isn't it??? Seriously guys, stop griping about a bit of competition. If you're sick of losing sales to discount code sites then either launch one yourself, display discount codes on your site (hey that's an idea isn't it, then your users wouldn't have to look elsewhere) or lobby merchants to stop issuing discount codes altogether. But do not - and I mean you Affiliate Window and Pixmania - launch some half arsed, cobbled together policy of such total and utter ludicrousness that it beggars belief. If you're going to issue a discount code to affiliates then play the game fair and release it to all affiliates and not just the the ones who don't operate a discount code site. Honestly, I'm writing this and yet I can't believe I'm having to. Words (almost) fail me. And Adam Ross, Client Services Director of Affiliate Window - I'm really, really, really disappointed at your statement on the A4U forum where you state:

"Merchants' concerns focus around sites built with the sole purpose of delivering voucher codes to users. The recent increase in merchants placing additional restrictions is down to serious question marks over the value of these sites"

I tell you what, if you have "serious question marks" over the value of my discount code site then why don't I remove all of your merchants? Then we won't have this problem. May I suggest that all other discount code sites also do the same too. Let's see how quick you change your mind when the likes of MyVoucherCodes.com, DiscountCodes.co.uk, VoucherCodes.com etc. drop all of your merchants. Or lets look at it from another angle shall we? As a discount code site I don't like the fact that my visitors can visit my site, find a discount code then nick off to a cashback site to use it. So I could argue that they are stealing my customers, so let's do something about that shall we? No? Thought not. Like I said above, discount codes were created by merchants so do not try to lay blame on enterprising, entrepreneurial affiliates who have put a lot of time and energy into creating valuable, user-friendly, content rich discount code sites that are of real use to users. Pixmania/Affiliate Window, this really is a backward step in the world of affiliate marketing. Reference: Frostie's original blog post on the subject. The A4U forum thread that features Affiliate Window's response. What I'm listening to right now: Joe – "Why Just Be Friends"

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30 Responses to Pixmania and Affiliate Window get discount codes completely and utterly wrong

  1. Elaine says:

    Wow Kieron – never, ever seen you this angry – you’re usually telling me to chill – got to agree with you though – ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ – this revenue model is here to stay.

  2. Adam Ross says:

    Hi Keiron

    I’ve just added another post to the A4U to hopefully add more clarity. I apologise if my comments and replies to date have infuriated you so much.

    Cookie overwriting of content affiliates is just one of a number of reasons why Pixmania, and other merchants, have concerns over voucher code sites. Whilst we can all pretend these concerns don’t exist, as with any new sales medium driving significant volume, questions will be asked over its value and modus operandi.

    I must stress this is not a network stance and we are working closely with merchants and affiliates to come up with fair solutions that benefit all parties. Affiliate Window remain fully engaged with voucher codes sites, and recent releases of voucher tracking technology, voucher management systems as well as a dedicated voucher code category on our offers blog are testament to that. We recognise the value voucher code sites bring but we must address merchant concerns at the same time. In doing so we are trying to protect all parties. If we fail to listen to merchants, they may cease all activity with voucher code sites which is something we all want to avoid.

    Ultimately merchants want to feel they can control where codes appear and who uses them. This is almost impossible on the internet so they lean on networks to provide solutions. Ideally, merchants should apply discounts on clickthroughs and not use codes but some do not have the technical capability.

    No one is trying to lay the blame on anyones doorstep. Nor is anyone saying we have found the solution. There surely has to be a way that voucher code sites can still offer great deals to their users whilst reassuring merchants that the right codes are displayed in a manner that is in line with their online strategy.

    You mentioned this is a backwards step however, I see this as an excellent opportunity for us all to work together to ensure the long term development of the voucher code channel. If the channel is to succeed, it has to offer some level of protection to merchants and it is the responsibility of all parties, affiliate, network and merchant to come up with solutions.

    As a voucher code affiliate, I am keen to hear your thoughts and suggestions as to how we can handle this situation.

    Adam Ross
    Client Services Director
    Affiliate Window

  3. matt says:

    So Pixmania don’t want their codes on ‘code bank’ sites.

    They’re the customer, that’s their privilege.

    Presumably they don’t believe code banks bring incremental sales, and could even be detrimental by discouraging content sites to promote them.

    They’ve backed that up with action.

    Maybe they’re right.

    Why so defensive?

  4. Richard says:

    Hi Kieron
    I don’t like them either but it is being driven by the ecommerce software vendors sticking the promotional code box on the check out page

    There’s also the consumers’ side!

    http://brands-uncovered.co.uk/john-lewis/do-you-like-discount-or-voucher-codes-61

  5. Pingback: Get A Voucher Code Site In An Instant! | One Little Duck - Affiliate Blog

  6. Ash says:

    Richard, do you seriously think companies such as Pixmania and Evans, would have the technology or skill to remove the code boxes if that was the issue?

  7. KGP says:

    Ash i dont know about evans but pixmania is a textbook case on how NOT TO create an “ecommerce site” like they have… (from the backend perspective ;-) -i am sure some people from the industry know what i mean… although lately they have improved a little bit)

  8. Kieron says:

    Adam – nobody is pretending that concerns around discount codes don’t exist. My point is that for Pixmania to release discount codes to all affiliates bar discount code affiliates is plainly ridiculous. Sure there are issues with last referer etc. and there are certainly challenges which I don’t pretent to know the answer to. However, to penalise discount code sites – which lets face it wouldn’t even exist if merchants didn’t offer discount codes – is the wrong way to go about it. I’m very concerned that Affiliate Window are possibly offering this type of advice to merchants as a solution and I hope that isn’t the case.

  9. Joe Connor says:

    Just wanted to add my own stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid to yours Kieron. The stupidist thing is the codes are in the spreadsheet of codes sent out to code affiliates – that erm can’t use them – stupid.
    Even stupider (AIUI) Pixmania are not using the AW voucher tracking they can’t see the referring URL so they won’t know whether sales were referred from my code site or my content sites on the same AW ID – and NO I won’t add yet another account and yet another ID just for Pixmania.
    As an honest affiliate my patience and honesty is being stretched to the limit ATM.
    To repeat what I’ve said elsewhere it is utterly ridiculous to release codes for affiliate use but not code affiliates. If they want to go this route they can issue exclusive codes to so-called content affiliates and leave code sites without them, misguided IMO but at least means there’s no conflict between content and code sites on the same AW ID.

  10. KGP says:

    Joe connor is quite correct ;-)

  11. c905 says:

    I don’t see the problem here – surely consumers who are after discount codes will not expect to find them on a discount code site? That would just be stupid of them.

    On a serious note, I nearly spat my cup of tea all over my srceen when I heard about this. Ludicrous.

  12. Adam Ross says:

    Kieron do you feel this might be more an issue of how they distribute the codes than the policy itself? i.e. If Pixmania only supplied codes to the sites it wanted to work with, and did not announce this publicly, would this cause less upset from voucher code affiliates?

    Let me assure you Affiliate Window is 100% committed to working with voucher code sites. It would be quite ridiculous for us to on the one hand, advise merchants not to work with voucher code sites whilst at the same time developing technology to manage codes and promotional tools to distribute them. This action has been taken by 1 of the 800 merchants live on the network so this is certainly not an indication of us offering this type of advice to merchants.

    What I must reiterate and what this is truly an indication of is growing concerns amongst merchants about how they work with code sites. It has reached a point where solutions will have to be developed by all parties or we risk merchants pulling out of the voucher code channel entirely.

  13. HD LCD TV says:

    What do merchants class as a ‘Voucher Code Site’?

    What about a Price Comparison site that also lists available voucher codes applicible to the products featured?

    Looking at it the other way round, what about a voucher code site that has price comparison of products that you could use the voucher code on?

    Product review sites where voucher codes are also listed after the review?

    It seems a little vague to me. Also a bit of a pain in the ass for those running these kind of sites.

  14. Richard says:

    Like iCodes, I too am building a website & database of offers but this content will also be pulled in to my other content websites to give my users a better experience.

    As I only want to maintain one database, Pixmania’s decision would prevent their offer from being publicised across on my other content sites that pull targeted data in from the discount website.

    If companies insist in offering vouchers then they should create a dedicated checkout page with a promotional code box for those customers coming from a website offering a discount code. Tracking software that directs users depending upon their origin is widely available.

    Customers that are not aware of any live promotions can continue through the check out process blissfully unaware that they could buy the product cheaper as they would not be alerted by the ubiquitous promotional code box.

    In this scenario, all parties win:
    Pixmania gains higher profits as fewer customers redeem the offer,
    the customer is satisfied with their decision to buy, and
    affiliates don’t lose their cpa as customers don’t go off and hunt for codes that they were not aware existed until they were about to part with their credit card details.

  15. Chris says:

    What I find very disappointing is that last year, I worked with Awin and Pixmania when they first introduced Discount Codes. I advised Awin and Pixmania on different ways of doing things, and was the person who suggested that they have a dedicated landing page, so that they could control the expiry of discounts etc.

    Sadly I didn’t bill Awin or Pixmania for my consultancy, but have learned a lesson. I will not be providing free consultancy, advice or guidance again.

    I think “content” affiliates should stop their bloody winging and adapt to an ever changing business model. I think its sad that Awin have been bullied into making recent decisiions. I appreciate they will deny they are, but from my point of view, there is no other reason.

    Webgains seem to have taken a perfect stance and embrace voucher code affiliates working with them and all other channels (i.e. content, cashback) in exactly the same way.

  16. Chris says:

    Forgot to mention/ask… What is the difference between a voucher code site and a cashback site?

    All this crap about content sites losing out blah blah sob sob, or consumers going direct to merchant without affiliate commission being paid etc. I just think its a load of old b^&*]cks. A few upset content affiliates who can’t be bothered to change with the times, have got the backing of a network. Ho hum…

  17. Adam Ross says:

    Richard – Many thanks for your suggestion. It’s a simple solution that could prove quite useful.

    Chris – I’m not sure if you have managed to catch up with Rachel (the Pixmania account manager) about your personal situation. I’m sure they’re grateful for any support you’ve given them in the past and want to continue working with you.
    You have focussed on just one of many concerns held by the merchant. Content affiliates are fairly quiet on this issue, this is a merchant concern.

    No bullying has taken place that has led us to make recent ‘decisions’. We have to respect the wishes of our clients and help build their affiliate campaign in line with their overall online strategy.

    This seems to have blown completely out of proportion. We are discussing 1 of 800 merchants on AW changing their policy on voucher codes. This is not a change of network policy, it is not content affiliates getting the backing of a network, it is a merchant expressing concern over a growing channel. Let’s put things into perspective.

  18. Richard says:

    Adam
    “Simple solution”
    What else would you expect from an accountant :)

  19. Chris says:

    After discussion with Adam, I am confident that this is 100% merchant decision that has been made with the correct input and guidance from Awin. Pixmania have decided to proceed down their intended route and I guess time will tell in the end.

    Adam pointed out that a large cashback site left Awin after it failed to meet its demands, and therefore bullying isn’t an issue on this particular case.

    Still unable to understand Pixmanias decisions and sincerely hope they correct it in the very near future. If not, then dont come running to me asking me to push cameras over Christmas time!

  20. Winston says:

    I’ve made this point before, somewhere(!), but I still think the the voucher code thing has got silly. As a user it’s a total pain. I go to a site find something I like. Then I go looking for the discount code. As more and more people become aware of discount code sites more and more of us will work in this way.

    It becomes a chore and an inconvenience. The discount code sites arent actually doing anything to help make that sale.

    Personally I’d like to see discount codes scrapped altogether and the savings passed on to the consumer. Wouldnt it be great if I knew merchant x was always 5% cheaper than its competition. I’d just go straight there. And this is actually the case in some sectors!

  21. Karel says:

    I’ve never joined into one of these discussions before but have read alot over the last few months on the forum. We are a price comparison site and still do not offer voucher codes to our users – I am sure that we are indeed losing out on the occasional sale when they go off in search of that code. But in my opinion – good for them, shame on us! I think its up to us to try and save those sales by offering our visitors the codes, so they need not go looking else where for them – this is something that we hope to have implemented asap – manpower being the main problem.
    As for Pixmania, we have recently moved them to Awin and subsequently lost the voucher codes that were attached in the feed – something I would love to see again, but unfortunately not available through the awin feed. If all networks/merchants added the codes directly into the feed – it would make my life a hell of a lot easier :)
    All in all I agree with you Kieron, its a dog eat dog world and this is business – seems to be far to much moaning going on and (maybe) not enough doing.
    Just my ten cents..

  22. I don’t see the problem with voucher sites myself. There is nothing stopping content owners adding vouchers to their site next to the content so where is the problem?

  23. gadget says:

    Me thinks this would make a lively session at the a4u Expo..

  24. James says:

    gadget – I believe there is a session on Voucher Codes at the A4U, so could be a good one!

  25. John Jupp says:

    Yes content affiliates do need to adapt to the ever changing market as do affiliates operating in other ways. One adapts to the market or one fails to achieve.

    Merchants also need to continually refine the way they do business so I can understand Pixmania’s view. I just think they’re going about it the wrong way. However what is right for one merchant may be wrong for another. All depends on their business model.

    Some merchants when faced with a difficult trading cycle (and the UK is certainly facing such a trend) will cut margins and offer reduced prices and discounts on those prices. Others offer a discount code. Some do both so they effectively offer a double discount. However those promoting the merchants do need to adapt to the business model being presented.

    If a merchant wishes to control the manner in which they are promoted that is the merchants choice. From an affiliates perspective it may be the wrong choice but ultimately the decision rests with the merchant and if they get it wrong they only have themselves to blame.

  26. MarcG says:

    “There is nothing stopping content owners adding vouchers to their site next to the content so where is the problem?”

    This gets to the heart of why Kierons comment piece is so obviously wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

    I have content sites, a discount code site and merchant sites so I can see all viewpoints. I have ‘adapted’ to the competition as kieron suggests.

    But…what you say is largely bollocks. no content site of any worth wants to clog up their site with a load of voucher code stuff – it can and does absolutely ruin a good content site. So telling content site owners to just deal with it isnt an answer at all.

    far better for the whole ridiculous shebang of voucher codes to be brought into line – which is what will take place and what is evidently upsetting interested parties.

    Furthermore, the dreadful business practices of many (NOT ALL) voucher code sites, such as myvouchercodes – who nick a cookie even when 90% of the time they know they damn well havent got a code for the customer……means that ultimately the voucher code sites are just starting to get what they probably deserve.

    I also say that as an owner of a voucher code site and someone making quite a lot of money from the whole business. I can still see the bigger picture – for the majority of decent merchants the whole voucher code site stuff stinks – they bring very few incremental sales and eat into margins

    Cheers

    Marc

  27. Kieron says:

    Marc – I disagree, I would say that adding some discount codes to your content site would add real value to your visitors. Not “clog” it up as you put it, and I don’t see why on earth it would ruin your site. I agree with your point about some discount code sites that say they have codes when they don’t and force visitors to click to find out if any exist. That is bad practice.

  28. Richard says:

    Hi Marc

    I’m concerned about the
    “for the majority of decent merchants the whole voucher code site stuff stinks – they bring very few incremental sales and eat into margins”

    Traditionally (pre internet), discounts & offers were used to stimulate incremental business and were distributed with some care and attention.

    Foolishly, retailers stick the discount box in front of all purchasers so everyone knows that there is a 90% chance of finding a valid discount code if they search for five minutes.

    The sooner retailers realise that e-commerce does not throw out established retail practice the better. It is plain stupidity to advertise to buyers that they could buy the same product from the same retailer cheaper if they can find a voucher code!

    The big supermarkets don’t send money off pizza coupons to regular pizza buyers, they are sent to potential new buyers to try the product.

  29. mYabsley says:

    Too many consumers now think, oh, wonder if there is a discount code, or i can get cashback on this, which ultimately means the person that sold the product/idea to them or greatly contributed to it’s sale don’t get paid.

    Each sale of an item is unique to that individual. How many people casually go to a discount code site and just buy “anything” just because there was a discount code??? Probably not many.

    How many look for a specific item or type of item and use sites that aid in that sale for the hope of some kind of renumerance? i would bet a 1000% more than the other way round but because of a let’s find a discount code culture the people that contributed to that items sale won’t get paid.

    Example, sony xyz player, customer researched, looked at price comparison sites etc (at a cost to everyone but discount code site) reviews etc. Now customer visits Kierons cashback inc with a measly “get xx off at pixmania”. Sorry Kieron but i think your contribution to that individual sale was next to nothing and should be rewarded in the same way.

    It is not the job of a merchant to keep discount code sites alive (self invented mainly by the affiliate anyway) Surely it is in the interest of merchants to reward and promote genuine content sites and genuine affiliates that promote a sale rather than a discount!

    My personal feeling is that both sides of the coin will throw scenarios at each other to justify their own existence whether right or wrong and in an industry where you can spin anything as you like it the rights and wrongs could be argued until doomsday. Personally i do not see any “value” in discount code sites to the merchant when they could reward content and genuine sales based sites to get their products into search engines etc and build up much more value in their affiliate scheme than a bunch of discount code sites that just want to hijack sales that were going to the merchant anyway via their affiliate cookies.

  30. Kieron says:

    “Each sale of an item is unique to that individual. How many people casually go to a discount code site and just buy anything just because there was a discount code??? Probably not many.”

    Matt – you’re very wrong on this point. I get most of my traffic from generic terms like “discount codes”, “offers” and “special offers” – these are people just browsing online for great deals and will impulse-purchase when an offer is presented to them. So, my site and other discount code type sites DO add real value to the sector and my contribution to the sale is valid.

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