Campaign Sabotage And Other Scumbag Tactics

Do you ever get the impression that you’re fighting for survival in an industry full of complete and utter arsewipes?

No, I never got that impression either. Until seeing first hand the depths some “marketers” would plummet to stay ahead of the competition.

Campaign sabotage is something that happens a lot more often than you would care to think. It’s something you probably don’t even realise is happening. But it is. A lucrative industry with such low barrier-to-entry guarantees one commodity by it’s very nature; an abundance of dickheads.

There’s very little regulation in affiliate marketing. You don’t have to get the go-ahead from above, or the sign-off from a superior before blazing ahead with a new project. This creates a community of undomesticated outlaw entrepreneurs, willing to do any and everything to keep making money.

This is fine. Most affiliates have to utilise aggressive tactics to stay competitive with more and more hungry hands bidding for the same traffic. We can take action to game traffic sources, or to enhance our search engine rankings with black hat methods, but where I draw the line is purposefully – and directly – fucking with somebody else’s business.

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to prevent somebody driving a stake through your profitable campaigns if they really want to. There are always methods to fuck with your competition. And while preventative measures are available (redirecting affiliate IPs from your landing pages, for example), none of them are foolproof.

I’ve just recently received some raw data feedback on one of my dating campaigns. Most of it was to be expected, but I noticed several batches of fraudulent leads being posted by some bell-end out of Nigeria.

That’s weird, I thought. I’m pretty sure I would have remembered not to select Nigeria in my targeting options. There is such a thing as a niche too far, people.

Sometimes, users signing up to offers from countries outside your targeting can be explained by a perfectly genuine reason. The user could be an expat, somebody on holiday abroad or just the victim of IP scrambling.

But when a series of leads are posted from the same IP, in a country like Nigeria, you just know there’s a little arsefeeder rubbing his hands somewhere. Probably salivating at the thought of how much cheaper his traffic is about to become when you get booted from an offer for fraudulent leads that you had literally no control over.

I’d like to say a giant “fuck you very much” to whichever mopes happen to be guilty of spending their days cruising the web resorting to such bum tactics. I’m almost grateful. It’s prompted me to spend the afternoon combing through campaigns and planning out some preventative methods to handle these kind of tactics. But there’s no such thing as an airtight strategy.

You can’t stop a scumbag from making your business his own. But what you definitely can do is maintain a good relationship with the companies you work for. By ensuring that your campaigns remain transparent, you can limit the damage when shit turns hairy. In my case, inviting chargebacks on the fraudulent leads was the best option.

I think affiliates can be too quick to adopt a Me against the World attitude when it comes to receiving chargebacks. We assume that every lead posted is genuine, and that any chargeback is the result of a network or merchant giving us a stiff one up the jacksy. Personally, I would much rather accept the fraudulent leads than receive a blanket notification that I’ve been kicked off an offer.

Much of the time, the affiliate marketing community manages to regulate itself. We have some pretty loose rules against “outing” other people’s campaigns. The shadow of the FTC has cut short many of the renegade marketing ploys seen everywhere at the height of the flog phase.

But campaign sabotaging smegheads do exist, and you should be ready to deal with them. If you’ve ever played a game of Whack-a-Mole, you should be well prepared for the task of maintaining a profitable campaign.

The broader those campaigns become, the more likely they are to be seen by scheming little tricksters with less ethical latitude than yourself. Keep it in mind when you’re crying wolf at the next batch of chargebacks.

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About the author


A 29 year old high school dropout (slash academic failure) who sold his soul to make money from the Internet. This blog follows the successes, fuck-ups and ball gags of my career in affiliate marketing.


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  • Great post. That’s the funny thing with this industry if someone wants to knock your site down. Or send you a ton of fraud lads they easily can. Even seo Google punishes you if u get a ton of links fast but you have no control who links to you.
    I’m surprised there is not constant chaos online with everyone just dos attacking each others sites.

    Why do you think there is not constant sabotage from competitors online? Smart guys don’t throw rocks in a glass house?

  • Great post – this has been happening for years and until someone comes up with a fool proof way of preventing this from happening – it will continue for sure.

    I am not certain regulation is the answer but it is a start none the less.

  • You said you can block out affiliates do you know who is an afiliate and who is not based from IP alone? I mean if someone is just clicking on your popups or adwords ads… i’d like to protect myself as well but not sure how to start.

    I’ve secured prosper but what other steps should people take…followup post possibly?

  • @Constantine – an example, uploading a tracking pixel in a forum sig frequented by affiliates & then recording IPs.

  • All Affiliate Networks should integrate IP filter just like a Poll or Voting platform. Basically, apply as a lead or for a trial offer, but if done again with same IP, won’t register pixel fire after. Perhaps a 30-day block? May ease up scrubbing ratio on many too.

  • One I have heard that is gaining more popularity is taking down social pages that rank higher for terms you are targeting. People are reporting these pages and getting them taken down. Another scumbag move.

  • @ constantin how do u secure prosper? If u put it on a secure domain, SSL https, the links will not work in internet explorer. How did u get prosper on https to work for users who click your links in ie? You better check u might be losing a ton of traffic if u only tested your p202 lnks in firetfox.

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