Thursday, January 31, 2008

Affiliate Links: to Disclose or Not to Disclose?

There is a lot of debate as whether or not to disclose your affiliate links when you are writing reviews about a product you would like to earn commission from.

Some may argue that it is unethical not to disclose the fact that you will get a commission if someone buys a product you are reviewing, as a product review written by an affiliate has a higher chance of being biased.

On the other hand, affiliate links don't look very appealing to prospective buyers and only very inexperienced online buyers wouldn't know the difference between an original website link and an affiliate link. Some people, when interested in buying a product you are promoting, will click on a link and when they notice your affiliate link, will delete it from their browser and buy directly from the website; there is nothing to gain from this, as the product's price is the same, whether accessed directly or from an affiliate. This is called bypassing. Some, who are affiliates of the same product, will even replace your affiliate ID with their own in order to get the commission for themselves; this is called hijacking; I think it is very dishonest but unfortunately very common among clickbank affiliates, as you can spot a clickbank hoplink a mile away.

There are ways you can try and hide your affiliate links. I have not tried any so I cannot vouch for their efficiency. There is a lot of information on the Internet on how to do this but it is often a little too complicated for me; however, I just came accross Mouseover Link Hider/Status Bar Message Generator, which is very easy to use, doesn't require any sign up and best of all, it is free! Be aware, if you decide to use some of the hiding or cloaking methods, that search engines might react differently to these and also make sure that your affiliate program allows you to do this; I don't think I can ever say this enough: READ ALL THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS!

As I outlined in Write Clickbank Product Reviews that Will Sell, I think that once you do the hard work promoting a product, it is fair to expect some kind of commission if your review prompts people to go and buy it. When you visit a car dealer and the salesman convinces you that a certain model is the right one for you, do you say (supposing the price stays exactly the same): "Thank you very much, now I will go to the manufacturer and buy this car from him because I don't want you to earn commission on this sale"?

I haven't been hiding my affiliate links simply because I didn't have the technical knowledge so far and it seems like too much of a hassle (you can call me lazy if you like) so I am not sure whether I will or not.

I would just like to end this post saying that just because you can't see an affiliate link doesn't mean it's not there. The information found on the Internet is not 100% reliable so before buying anything, trust your own judgement.


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