Affiliate Marketing Does Not Have Borders

Looking back at Affiliate Summit one of the things that kept surprising me was how we can so often think in terms of our own country and borders and not in terms of the internet without borders. Let me explain a bit with two standard conversation I had in Vegas with exhibitors, merchants & networks.

Network: Hi, good to meet you
Me: Nice to meet you too
Network (look at my badge): Cool – you are from the UK
Me: Yep – well Scotland specifically
Network: Great! Unfortunately we don’t have many UK offers at the moment but we’ll let you know if we get some.
Me: eh….mmm… ok then.

or the other conversation

Me: Hello
Merchant: Hello nice to meet you
Me: Do you auto reject all affiliates because they don’t live in the USA
Merchant: Yes we do
Me: Why?
Merchant: I’m not very sure….

Ok so I’m being a bit over the top to make the point but I did have conversations that were pretty much like this. I don’t think an affiliate needs to live in the country to promote a merchant or to target people in that geographical area but people seem to be pretty closed off to this idea.
7638604thb.jpgI think the second conversation shows a particularly bad error. I’ve seen this happen mostly on CJ but it might happen on other networks too. The merchant sets up the program and decides that they only want affiliates from the USA. A UK based affiliate comes along and applies to the program because they might already be operating a website in that area and they are auto rejected. The merchant then doesn’t even know that this affiliate was interested in promoting their program and the affiliate would have to make contact some other way and then try to get added to the program manually. I can tell you from experience that instead of doing that the affiliate just moves on to find some other merchant that is a little more open minded.

So in summary – in the affiliate marketing world every affiliate has the potential to reach every market and geographical area. Think very carefully when setting up your program and don’t put yourself in a position where you are auto rejecting affiliates that could be prepared to work hard for you.

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  1. [...] It’s fantastic to have a magazine devoted to affiliate marketing so it makes for a good read. I answered a few questions for an article in this issue about affiliate marketing having no borders so that was good although they didn’t manage to mention the blog URL and I got called Edwards which seemed weird! [...]

    Pingback by Revenue Magazine - May/June Edition - Fraser’s Affiliate Marketing Blog — June 8, 2007 @ 12:23 pm


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Feb 6th, 2007 at 12:31 pm | #

imagine what happens with me…as a greek i have great autorejects from US and UK merchants…

not to mention that i have all the time to make sure that they accept (!!!) sales comming from europe -in case of US merchant) and overseas (in case UK merchant)…

try to figure

Feb 6th, 2007 at 1:06 pm | #

It’s time the companies woke up to the global nature of their publishers. If Google can geo-target AdSense in a fairly accurate manner, why not companies like affiliate companies like CJ?

Take ebay or amazon as a perfect example. Currently, I have to join both the and .com versions to target my visitors. Now, I’m not personally smart enough to make and use a system that allows me to pull in the right programme depending on where the visitor comes from. It should be a breeze for them though.

How cool would it be to just join up with ebay, then get a bit of html or Javascript like AdSense that pulls in which ever nations Ebay that’s appropriate to the visitor? It’s not rocket science and well overdue. In my opinion they’re throwing money away at present, as I target my largest audience rather than being able to target *all* of them.

Feb 6th, 2007 at 2:04 pm | #

Konstantinos, I have exactly the same problems. My company is based outside of UK so promoting UK/US on CJ is really difficult and I need to message merchants to be approved after auto-rejections.

Feb 6th, 2007 at 2:13 pm | #

Cclapper i am in the middle of launching my UK company and this -besided the eBusiness enviroment- one of the reasons.

the issue is not getting accepted or not, but also if they will accept the affiliate sales from this “type” of traffic.

your will be amazed if you search how many companies will allow this type of traffic but will not honor the sales!!! (i am not talking for gambling companies) dont ask me why they do it… i have no clue!!!

btw its not only CJ, Linkshare, Performics etc … even on some UK networks there are merchants (very few though) that fall on the above.

last but not least… i cant understand why companies who deliver on half of european countries they say “we dont deliver there because of mail fraud”…and when you search a little bit, its because they dont send their products via registered mail…

anyway i can talk for hours, Frazer can remember that i have contacted him (KGP from a4u) in the past in order to see if he can pursue these issues with the people participating in his podcast.


Feb 6th, 2007 at 2:17 pm | #

I’m facing the same problem. When I was trying to sign up with some CJ merchants in the UK recently I got auto-rejected. It took me only a few seconds to realise what the reason might have been: I’m not from the UK.
Not only that I think it’s stupid for merchants to do this but also for a network like CJ which is comunicating their internatinal orientation as a big advantage (which it is).

Scott Jangro
Feb 6th, 2007 at 3:26 pm | #

Part (not all) of the cause for all this is fraud. Some programs have such a bad time with fraudulent affiliates overseas (mostly Asia and Eastern Europe) that they just have to lock it down. You wouldn’t believe some of the fraud that is pushed through affiliate programs.

It doesn’t make it right, but it does make it easy for the affiliate managers. Some probably save more time and money throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

It’s frustrating for sure to be on the receiving end of those rejections. Sometimes, a quick email back that says, “hey, I’m for real and here’s why…”, is all it takes to get through the gate.

Feb 6th, 2007 at 8:23 pm | #

Konstantinos – you are right, we have exchanged emails on this before and I haven’t managed to follow it up as much as I hoped to on your behalf and for that I apologise. I’ll see what I can do in the future podcasts and I hope this post and your comments reach the people that make the decisions.

Scott – I see your point and I can understand why this is the way it is but it’s just a suggestion for affiliate managers so that they don’t all think their own home country is a safe haven and every other country is full of spammers :-)

Feb 7th, 2007 at 3:53 pm | #

I’m fully in support of merchants enforcing those artificial bounderies, we have some great partners from around Europe, Asia and Australia….and we want to keep them :)

Seriously though it’s really quite amazing how many merchants reject affiliates off hand based on the country they register from. They really seem to have no idea that people based in Hong Kong are building sites targeting US consumers and hosted in the US.

Fraud, can happen from any country, US, UK, Hong Kong, where ever, just takes a little time from the AMs day to review overseas affilates orders, or even ask for references from other merchants or networks.

Brian Littleton
Feb 10th, 2007 at 6:20 pm | #

I have to agree with Scott, Fraser and Chris at the same time…

Yes, bad stuff does occur in every country… if looking a pure volume from our perspective, the US likely leads the way in total number of “bad” applications that we receive.

However, in aggregate if you take some places as Scott has mentioned, the problem of “bad applications” is not only large but also has a much higher percentage, which leads to perception. “Locking down”, as Scott suggests is a very common solution.

Finally, I will strongly agree with Scott on this point, as he and I likely saw similar things in our roles… if you want to get through the perception and the barriers, just send an email that basically says as above “I am here, this is what I do, here are my plans”, etc… and it will go a very long way.

Feb 15th, 2007 at 12:53 pm | #

Brian – I think you have summarised the issue very well :) Thanks for posting.

Mar 4th, 2007 at 4:29 pm | #

I don’t think any of the networks should reject a potentional affiliate with them because of whichever country they’re from. It’s a big world out there and so many affiliates have different ways they reach their visitors just doesn’t seem to make any sense at all to not allow them to participate. There are plenty of sites in a network that have international delivery that I’m sure there would be potental sales they could be missing from those that have applied and gotten rejected. Pay per click has options for choosing which countries to target so there’s many ways they can be targeting their visitors. You can’t judge everybody from a few bad apples there may be from certain countries. Being from the US it’s easy to take this for granted and I read a cute comment from a UK affiliate delighting in the umm concerns for payment us US guys were encountering. lol :) Guess it was nice seeing others for a change experiencing the problems you guys have all the time. Hope it gets easier for you guys to apply soon:)

Andy Beard
Mar 4th, 2007 at 6:37 pm | #

I hit this problem all the time. Most of my sites are targeted to US traffic, even my blog gets 50% US traffic. As an example the Ebay affiliate program is US only – you only find that out when you read their FAQ after being rejected multiple times. No emails are issued regarding the rejection, and CJ don’t seem to have a way to list only sites you are eligible for. There are frequently other problems like affiliate networks not allowing you to set a personal limit on checks being issued in USD, or for such functionality to be easy to locate. There are umpteen reasons why many affiliates stick to affiliate programs that pay them through Paypal by default.

Jacob Schlottke
Mar 4th, 2007 at 11:00 pm | #

I cannot see how it benefits a merchant to prevent affiliate marketers from other countries. Every major website gives just as much credence to a URL from as it does to a .com, and does not necessarily (i say necessarily because in some cases they do) localize their search traffic to the geolocation of the URL. This means that a UK domain has just as good of a marketing effect as a .com based in the USA.

The only valid reason I can think of for refusing anyone based on location is the necessity to then learn a little about another country’s tax law… and what would be the harm of that?

Mark from
Mar 6th, 2007 at 5:57 pm | #

9 + 0 = 90 right?

Right – about the article. I guess I have figured in the past that the fraud angle had something to do with rejects outside of the U.S., but as mentioned above, I have to believe there is a higher percentage of fraud inside of the U.S.

With Google allowing you to target PPC to specific countries though, it seems that it may be worth the affiliate managers time to confirm or “interview” folks who want to participate from other countries.

Just a thought.

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Fraser Edwards has been involved in affiliate marketing for more than 10 years after starting out in business as a website developer and stumbling into affiliate marketing instead.

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