Should You Feel Guilty Pushing Slightly Shady Affiliate Offers?

One of the many decisions you will have to make as an affiliate is what type of offers you will run to make money. The good thing is you literally have a limitless supply of offers to choose from. Offers range from anything as simple as entering a sweepstakes, completing a free trial offer or even earning a commission on a purchase. On the flip side, you also have offers which bring little value to the user, but are still good money makers.

Below is a breakdown of ad campaigns which some may consider shady or offer a bad user experience. Don’t feel too bad about pushing these offers, because if you aren’t, someone else will.

ZIP / EMAIL Submits – These campaigns have been around forever and have always been very successful. You, the affiliate, will earn a commission around $1 every time someone submits their zip code or email. In all honesty, the great majority of people who sign up for this offer will never get the freebie or special offer as it’s a very long process and actually will cost the user a few hundred bucks and a lot of time and tracking of offers that have to complete. Back in 2007 I completed one of these email submit offer in whole, I did get the TV, had to cancel all of my free trials, then also had to pay tax on the “free” $800 TV I later received. Was it worth it in the end… In my opinion, NO! Since 2007 the terms and conditions for these types of offers have gotten much harder and stricter to accomplish.

Free Trial Offers – One of the biggest makers for affiliates in a long time, and still is, are the free trial offers. In short, you can make anywhere from $35-$70 for every new customer you send to a site that pays a low trial or shipping fee to “try” an offer, which is usually a weight loss or enhancement product. Since the FTC started cracking down on these offer, and many affiliate networks got burned, they are now a bit more legitimate and there is less shady companies behind these programs as it’s been much harder on companies to handle the CC process and complaints. Not as shady as they used to be… but still slightly misleading.

Free Game Downloads – Everyone loves playing games, but no one likes the pop ups or installs that come with them. In most cases, why would an advertiser pay you a buck or two for someone to play a free game. A great deal of free gaming downloads include some type of nasty install that the end user really doesn’t want. The ad company then makes money off serving ads, such as popups, on the users computer in exchange for offering a free game download to play.

Personally, I don’t care what type of offers you decide to push and I’ve run campaigns for all of these types of offers in the past. Business is business, and if you aren’t advertising a specific product, someone else will. My question to you is, are you aware of the services and offers you are pushing to internet users, or are you just looking at the bottom line?

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  1. I trust that my favorite CPA network (Neverblue) will screen the offers before they make it available to affiliates. Once that is done and I promote the offer in an ethical way, its up to the consumer to read the fine print, and they decide whats best for them.

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    1. Neverblue is a great network and have a great selection of offers, though some of their offers (like all networks) may fall into these categories. The end responsibility does and should fall on the end user, but they shouldn't be misled in the process.

  2. You know, I always used to feel bad about promoting crappy offers, but honestly at this point I don't even care anymore. I look at an offer like a piece of stock and nothing more. Sure, if I have the choice between 2 offers and one is a total scam, then I'll push the "legit" one. Reason I say this is because I had this dilemma with an acai berry offer. The higher converting one I found out was a total scam – customers wouldn't get refunded and would get no product in some instances. Once I found that out, I changed to the better offer, although I think you could call all acai berry offers shady (in the CPA networks at least)
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  3. Hi Zac,
    CPA has always been shady in my opinion, I used to do a lot of it. Made good money, but I guess I just started to look at it from how I would feel if someone I trusted bombarded me with lots of "Free" offers only to find my details were being shared with everyone. That's when I stopped. Never the less the money was nice.
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  4. "Don’t feel too bad about pushing these offers, because if you aren’t, someone else will."

    Really???? How about "Don't feel too bad about pushing crack, because if you aren't someone else will". "Don't feel too bad about pushing nuclear arms, because if you aren't, someone else will"

      1. Agreed, but it's a slippery slope. And using the excuse that someone else is doing it makes it OK doesn't work for me. You have to decide for yourself if you want to push certain offers.

  5. I agree on the fact that each one of us can be free to chose; it is important however to be aware of what lies behind certain offers so to be able to make an educated decision…
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    1. There is also a nice feeling of knowing your landing pages or offer won't result in the FTC or legal documents ending up at your house. This also falls into the risk/reward area.

  6. I agree that the prime responsibility rests on the user. The publisher just have to make it clear and indicate that this are sponsors or advertisements. – Claire
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  7. It's funny, anytime I hear someone tell me that they don't feel right promoting a certain product or service, I tell them either (A) don't do it, or (B) do it in a way that recognizes how you feel about it. Money is nice, but it's more important being able to go to sleep at night knowing that you've done the right thing. If you don't like what you're doing, you won't come up with ideas to properly expand your business. AND I think people have a responsibility to do as little harm to others as possible.

  8. It's true that there are two main paths when it comes to advertisement, make quick money in a shady manner or possibly slower with more controlled ads. It's obvious which one gets returning visitors 🙂
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  9. I try my hardest to only recommend products to my list that I have personally used. Not everything but the mass majority of them. If I haven't actually purchased the product I am recommending to my list I make sure I research it mainly through the Warriorforum and make sure the mass majority of the reviews are positive. Do not churn and burn your list they are real people build that relationship and everything else will fall into place. Anyhow good post!
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