Code of Conduct (affiliate marketing)

Code of Conduct (affiliate marketing)

The Publisher Code of Conduct or Code of Conduct is a guideline for ethical online advertising. It was released by the affiliate networks Commission Junction, now part of ValueClick (NYSE:VCLK), but an independent company at that time, BeFree, a ValueClick company, and Performics, a DoubleClick company, on December 10, 2002. It was created to guide practices and adherence to ethical standards for online advertising in the affiliate marketing industry.

The original code of conduct is titled "Publisher Code of Conduct", because it only included rules that affected publishers or affiliates. Commission Junction extended the code in its fourth amendment to included rules for advertisers (merchants) as well and dropped the word "publisher" from the title.May 9, 2007, [ Code of Conduct (Update May 9, 2007)] , "", retrieved September 25, 2007] The original core of the code was brief and generic, consisting of only four small paragraphs.December 10, 2002, [ Online Marketing Service Providers Announce Web Publisher Code of Conduct] (contains original CoC text), "", retrieved June 26, 2007]

Historic Background

In New York City, New York on November 7, 2002, affiliate marketing industry leaders convened at the Yale Club. They held a debate and fact finding mission to better understand the nature of adware and to assist leading affiliate networks like Commission Junction, BeFree and Performics in preparing a policy that would be fair to all partiesWayne Porter (2005), [ Code of Conduct and Adware Guidelines] , "", retrieved June 26, 2007] November 7, 2002, [ Meeting Minutes - Performance Marketing Summit] , retrieved June 26, 2007] .

The goal of the meeting was to set up a unified ethical standards for online advertising between the major networks at the time as to what were acceptable methods for affiliates/publishers using adware to operate within the affiliate marketing channel.

The code is a direct result of the meeting the month earlierDecember 10, 2002, [ Online Marketing Service Providers Announce Web Publisher Code of Conduct] (contains original CoC text), "", retrieved June 26, 2007] . The other big player at the time, LinkShare, now a Rakuten company, did not join the Code of Conduct and published two days later, on December 12, 2002 in New York City, NY, its own version of the Code of Conduct called: “LinkShare's Anti-Predatory Advertising Addendum”December 12, 2002, [ LinkShare's Anti-Predatory Advertising Addendum] , "", retrieved June 26, 2007] .

The Code of Conduct over time

Many do not consider the Code to be a final solution and consider it only to be a step in the right directionDeclan Dunn (January 10, 2003), [ Regulating Chaos, Part 1: Adware and the Affiliate Code of Conduct] , "ClickZ Network", retrieved June 26, 2007] . Commission Junction amended the Code of Conduct three times since its introduction, while Performics only did so two times. The first amendment was made on February 10, 2003,Performics (February 10, 2003), [ Performics Comments On Its Findings Since Release of Publishers' Code of Conduct] , "" (via WayBackMachine) , retrieved September 24,2007] The second amendment was made on July 25, 2004Way-Back-Machine at [ Code of Conduct] at, July 25, 2004 version] , first only by Commission Junction, but then followed by Performics on August 12, 2004. The third and last amendment was made on May 9, 2007May 9, 2007, [ Code of Conduct (Update May 9, 2007)] , "" and [ PDF Version] at "", retrieved June 26, 2007] . It was a unilateral act by Commission Junction. Performics still uses the previous version from 2004, which they updated on 12 August, 2004. This means that there exist three different versions of the original code at the moment, Commission Junctions version from May 2007, the Performics version from 2004 and the LinkShare addendum from 2002.

The changes to the code are considered bad and weakening the codes effectiveness.Scott Jangro (October 5, 2005), [ Comparison of CJ's new and prior Publisher Service Agreements] , "", retrieved June 26, 2007] Kellie Stevens (May 24, 2007), [ CJ Updates The Code of Conduct] , "", retrieved June 26, 2007]

=The ”afsrc=1” URL-parameter=

The code addresses specifically the behavior of software (desktop software or browser plug-in/BHO) such as shopping plug-ins by rewards and cash-back shopping sites and adware that was bundled with other software programs. In order to comply with the code, was it necessary for that kind of software to implement detection mechanisms to determine if the user clicked on another affiliates link or not and "back off", if it is the case. The software cannot detect affiliate links hidden behind local redirect scripts.

As a solution was the optional "afsrc=1" URL-parameter introduced. The parameter stands for "affiliate source" and is all lower-case. The parameter is not necessary for normal affiliate links provided by the affiliate networks. Scott Jangro (July 28th, 2005), [ afsrc=1 Frequently Asked Questions (unofficial)] , (former BeFree employee who worked on the specs), ‘’’’, retrieved September 25, 2007]

Sample URLs with afsrc=1 parameter


External links

[ Original Publisher Code of Conduct] and its different versions

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