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"New Businesses Sharing New Business News "

Linkshare Affiliate Programs Under Scrutiny by Webmasters

By Damon Marturion
New Business News Staff Writer

New York, NY -- LinkShare.com has had a successful run in the e-commerce world of the Internet by luring businesses with products to sell via the World Wide Web and webmasters who maintain popular Web sites into their lair.

For the business community seeking to harness the power of the 'net, LinkShare.com provides clients with software to manage their online sales. By incorporating a business model successfully initiated a year earlier by Amazon.com, LinkShare.com's clients agree to pay webmasters of popular web sites a "piece of the action" based on their performance. For example, if a Web site sends a number of visitors to the client's site, then the webmaster is paid an amount based either on a cent-per-visitor or a percentage-of-each-sale amount that accrues and is paid on a regular basis.

LinkShare.com charges their client - the vendors - a $5,000 sign-up fee to set-up the merchant's account, plus a $2,000 per month maintenance fee and an amount equal to 3-to-5 percent of all sales attributed to the merchant's business that is referred via the various participating Web sites. The webmasters (referred to as affiliates) receive their referral fees based only on their performance. LinkShare.com provides the software to track the sales, volume, link methods, and commissions and may insist on the merchant's changing their software to enable the integration of their software that could initiate an added cost to the participating vendor(s).

Webmasters are allowed to join the network of affiliated participating Web sites for free. The webmasters, in turn, promote the merchants - in a variety of ways - in hopes of producing the elusive sales sought by the participating vendors. The idea is sound. The software is rather good. The actual performance seems somewhat lacking.

We have received a number of complaints about LinkShare.com and their participating vendors that indicate that the plan does not work as promised. The vendors obviously incur certain costs to participate. The Web site owners obviously incur costs to promote the vendors. LinkShare.com covers it costs in up-front start-up and maintenance fees. While the vendors make the sales and (hopefully) fill the orders, the Web site owners patiently wait to reap the small portion of sales that they have worked so hard to produce... and wait... and wait...

Reports from owners of Web sites include claims that

  • LinkShare.com does not pay as agreed
  • Participating vendors may elect to cease participation without paying affiliates
  • Merchants punish successful marketers by claiming a violation of rules and regulations and suspending their participation
  • Merchants may suspend any relationship - at their discretion - at any time - without notice
  • LinkShare.com maintains that it is the merchant's responsibility to pay (relieving LinkShare.com from any responsibility)

It is easy to see that webmasters left in the lurch could feel as though they've been left out to dry...

Our research is ongoing and we will keep you abreast of all information as it becomes available to us. If you have information that could be useful in our investigation please let us know by sending an email to linkshare@althits.com and tell us your story.

. . . watch for more stories coming soon  

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