13th June 2007

CJ Network Quality at Commission Junction Needs Taking Down A Peg or Two : www.cj.com

posted in Affiliate Marketing |

It really is about time CJ’s Network Quality was brought down a peg or two with regard to their attitude which can only be described as a draconian dictatorship with an approach alikened to a Kangeroo Court. They epitimize some of what can be wrong in a network by dragging the reputation of the whole network down with them. Affiliates are immediately deemed guilty via intimidating emails & internal mail correspondence & have to prove their innocence. Even after that Commission Junction’s Network Quality fail to acknowledge their own errors and fail to have the common courtesy to take telephone calls.

If you are disatisfied with their Guantanamo Bay interrogation techniques, simply don’t tolerate it and the inform merchants you work closely with, with enough collective effort from affiliates they will have to reconsider their approach.

There are quite a number of instances we could refer to, a few we shall list a little later, but here is the latest episode :

We have just had another issue with Network Quality whereby they were wrong yet again for a merchant called Freemans, we don’t even use CJ links for that merchant nor promote them via MSN. It looks like either CJ Network Quality have balls’d up again or it’s ineptitude from the new ppc company Freemans are using. And, yet again the manners of Network Quality at Commission Junction, the dismissive attitude & refusal to take calls or provide contact names is denied, by remaining anonymous behind this pathetic & mysterious charade. I’m glad I’m not the one calling in, whilst I play the good cop, I have sent bad cop in instead. So, please explain to me why are CJ getting involved when we don’t even use CJ links for this merchant, albeit we were signed up to the program, but we have just deactivated the merchant because of this. Now, we do intermittently appear for the the keyword freemans.co.uk but that is a broadmatch on the word “uk” going to the homepage of our site, not a merchant landing page or category specific or direct to merchant. We have hundreds of campaigns and don’t use CJ links for this merchant on the site. We prefer to use Paidonresults for obvious reasons.

After speaking with MSN Adcenter (very polite), they acknowledge, after searching our account for themselves, that any keywords relating to Freemans or Freemans.co.uk are NOT in our account, we explained to them the issue we had & requested an email to be sent to us mentioning to the effect that no Freemans related terms were in our account, they duly obliged that afternoon without hestitation. I have so far been quite impressed with MSN Adcenter’s customer services.

Since CJ Network Quality refused to speak with us, we proceeded to forward the email to a representative at the Otto Group, who own Freemans, who said they would forward on to get Commission Junction in order to get them of our back. Now, if you have been an unfortunate victim in the past, you’ll find that your whole payment cheque gets held back, affecting your relationship with ALL the merchants on the network, not just the one merchant in question.

Being in Portugal at the moment, and having to refer to the UK to conduct searches for us, the ad shows intermittently but it must be a broadmatch issue. However, why is their ppc agency or associates wasting their clients spend advertising in foreign territories for other keywords I can see here in Portugal? The broadmatch issue is not our problem, otherwise we could ask them to append our brands and or domain names as negative keywords to all their kpaid search activity when a search for their “generic term + our brand term” are searched for, in fact let’s insist on all those belonging to all affiliates.

Once again reiterating, we don’t use CJ links for this program (albeit we were signed up via that network, however have now deactivated the relationship), we use Paidonresults, so why are CJ getting involved with this?

As you can see these are indeed familiar problems that occur occasionally & something you just have to get used to when dealing with clueless / ignorant parties in the industry & it goes with the territory like a mosquito in your room at night that won’t stop bothering you and go away. However, should we have to tolerate this? No we shouldn’t!

Unfortuately in my opinion CJ Network Quality will always be a Kangeroo Court, but if you can get communication via the UK office this might help & insist to them that any communication from CJ Network Quality HAS to come via UK office first or your account manager. But, this still doesn’t resolve the issue of a courteous apology from Network Quality or acknowledgement of error, and the only way to see is to put the UK office to the test. But, the UK Office seems to have failed us on this one again and I am beginning to wonder if there is also a Network Quality department at the UK office which is just as incompetent as the USA, I will have to verify if that is so.

Previously I have suggested it would be prudent to acquire a dedicated account manager at the UK office, so that communication comes via them, rather than the US Network Quality team that leaves a lot to be desired, it might help channel concerns & diffuse situations.

Myself & other affiliates have been through similar experiences. The latest was when we were being vocal about Ebay’s url brand infringements, then Ebay UK complained to CJ that we were brand bidding where ads showed on a small search engine that was only a couple of weeks old, we offered to acquire communication from that search engine to confirm we were not brand bidding… however what they failed to realise was that we actually owned that search engine, which left egg on Ebay & CJ’s face.

In theory establish communication with the UK office who are maybe more amenable than the US .. it’s a shame that the US Network Quality team hasn’t improved .. we have a number of stories we could tell .. it’s just a shame that the US approach is guilty first, then proving your innocence .. and then when you are correct, no apology. They need to work on informing affiliates properly when keyword policies change or are added. Fortunately, most UK networks send out courteous emails allowing for genuine errors (which do happen) or give adequate notice to changes, then you get the odd one (not CJ) who cowardly slag untruths about you behind your back, even to your good mates, this individual at a certain network will be blogged, no prizes to guess who.

Back on track, it’s been requested for years that keyword policy changes & program closures, need to be effectively communicated and not be inserted after the event or not communicated at all.

Now whilst out here in Portugal, it looks like I am not making any significant headway at all, now I only live a short drive from their CJ’s UK office I just hope it doesn’t neccesitate that requirement to get hold of the CEO or Office Manager where CJ UK are currently refusing to discuss further. The last time, earlier this year we had an issue, and we were vocal, CJ suggested that we shouldn’t work with them anymore, which amplifies their approach to how they deal with issues & the deplorable network they are in our opinion.

Here is their latest email, but you just have to love the slant on it

“”Response (CJACCESS) 06/13/2007 05:02 AM
Dear Affiliate,

It was brought to our attention that you are requesting an apology from Commission Junction. I am sure that you will understand that we are only doing our job here in order to maintain a compliant and quality environment to all parties.

We will be willing to void the warning sent to you if you can explain why your sponsored link was triggered by the keyword “freemans.co.uk” on MSN. Furthermore, we will also need to contact your MSN rep to make sure that this was not due to a brand bidding issue.

Regards,

Network Quality”"

  • If there ever was a misuse of the word quality this was it.
  • They have no right to speak with our MSN Adcenter rep when firstly an email was received & forwarded to merchant clearing us. Also as mentioned CJ Network Quality don’t allow you to speak with a real person.
  • They Say “I am sure that you will understand that we are only doing our job here in order to maintain a compliant and quality environment to all parties.” So please explain why they always seem to accuse affiliate first before establishing the facts, holding back the affiliates payments so that “to all parties” wording is so inadequate.
  • If they are saying it was the merchant or their ppc agency making a complaint then an apology would be required form them also.

This illustrates the different approach in politeness & etiquette between networks to enquiring whether an affiliate is bidding on a brand or not. However when you are dealing with unhelpful imbeciles, you can’t help but bang your head against a keyboard & get irrate. Now granted errors can happen both sides & affiliates will inadvertantly make mistakes, but the way CJ Network Quality deal with matters is the how things should NOT be done.

My suggestion, possibly, is if CJ Network Quality is holding your cheque back without due reason for all your earnings, then email every merchant you deal with on the network, explaining to them that you are unable to promote them further for the time being or ask if they are on an alternative network or deal direct. A network cannot be allowed to treat you like a second class citizen and I look forward to the day when an affiliate takes on a network in a court of law, the way things are going it could well be us and we have been that close before. Perhaps only then will CJ Network Quality get the message. Because every previous occasion they have failed to deal with it fairly & amicably.

If there is an issue, CJ should only hold back the payment elements of a particular merchant, not the whole lot otherwise potentially hundreds of relationships are being jeopardised. So as a suggestion to merchants, is this how you want a network to alienate affiliates? Are you losing the full marketing potential of your affiliates as there are probably a number of affiliates who would like to promote you, but because you are on CJ, they are reluctant to push to any great degree because of this type of attitude & continual cloud of threats.

To reiterate, it’s not as if this is a once off occasion, but a number of times.

I will expand on this later tonight or tomorrow morning, as I am still away on Affiliate Fat Camp in Portugal.

btw if you are unfamiliar with their initial standard email, here it is.

“Dear XYZ,

Your promotional methods have been identified in breach of the Commission
Junction Publisher Service Agreement, specifically the misuse of trademarks or
copyrights.

Search Engine: xyz
Keyword: xyz

You are obligated to immediately cease all promotional methods that result in
such breach, including but not limited to securing the delisting of any paid
placements in search engines and delisting in any natural searches (or natural
search caches). Also realize that any confirmed future trademark violations
may result in account deactivation and/or the reversal of all commissions.

An immediate response is required to return your account to good-standing.
Please respond by replying to this specific e-mail or if you are reading this
notice through your CJ Account Manager (Mail tab) and do not have access to the
e-mail notice, please respond using the Ask a Question, available through the
“Contact Us” link available in account manager feature available in your
Account
Manage>Contact Us and include this original message.

Sincerely,
Network Quality”

Don’t you love this part “delisting in any natural searches (or natural
search caches)”
they really do need a reality check.

If payment is held back then we will simply go via a small claims court with immediate effect & post accordingly, with a copy notification going out to all their merchants.

Additional Waffle : Beforehand there have been several broadmatch issues & false accusations of brand bidding, together with being accused of instigating a desire to deal a direct relationship with a merchant which I can expand on if anyone is interested but basically we said to merchant we couldn’t do additional business with merchant because we cannot trust CJ & invest heavily in any merchant on CJ because of this threat always overhanging affiliates. There are so many merchants we could serious revenue with on CJ, but we cannot take the risk & these merchants need to be made aware of this.

We were also accused of owning a domain name with a merchants brand in when a simply Whois search would have establish who owned the domain. Oh, and maybe not Network Quality related, I musn’t forget when our cheque ended up in somewhere like Croatia, fortunately the affiliate who received it was honest enough to inform us, however it took a while to receive a replacement & not even an apology. Late cheques on a number of times, but this is tolerable, several gone missing not so much. Plus 2nd tier override for over $100,000 which was never received. Remember eToys & KBToys, where a number of affiliates got stung, yet they remained on the network, look how unhelpful were CJ in that! The list goes on & on. However one of the best was about 3 or 4 years ago at CJU Santa Barbera when UK affiliates were fighting Adware & Spyware, I brought it up in one of the seminars, they tried to be dismissive of it & quickly change the subject by claiming it was not illegal nor anything wrong with it.

Which nicely points to these blogs.

Blog 1

Blog 2

Adware Class Action Lawsuit – Could You Make A Claim?

One problem is innocent merchants get caught in the crossfire with some affiliates reluctance to promote via CJ, perhaps this lends itself to the arguement to why merchant programs should be on at least two networks, so that affiliates can promote them via network they can trust.

Share with others: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Bumpzee
  • Netscape
  • SphereIt
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

There are currently 6 responses to “CJ Network Quality at Commission Junction Needs Taking Down A Peg or Two : www.cj.com”

Why not let us know what you think by adding your own comment! Your opinion is as valid as anyone elses, so come on... let us know what you think.

  1. 1 On June 15th, 2007, John said:

    CJ are probably one of the most despised networks around. No wonder if they treat affiliates like this.

    I try to avoid CJ wherever possible.

  2. 2 On June 15th, 2007, Paul said:

    Their latest email reply, simply isn’t good enough, because we know next time we will have to go through the same torrid ordeal, which they said on the phone wouldn’t happen last time. We require some answers otherwise it will continue to be a Groundhog Day.

    “”Dear XYZ,

    Note: The Commission Junction account warning for brand/copyright infringement
    sent on 07/06/07 has been voided.

    After reviewing your account, we have determined that you are in compliance with
    both our Publisher Service Agreement and our Code of Conduct. Your account is
    now considered in good standing and will remain active, provided you continue to
    drive compliant traffic.

    If you have any further questions regarding this or other issues, please use the
    “Ask a Question” feature available by selecting the “Contact Us” link in your CJ
    Account Manager. Sorry for the inconvenience caused.

    Best regards,

    Network Quality
    ————————————
    Commission Junction, a ValueClick company
    Phone: 800.761.1072″”

  3. 3 On June 19th, 2007, Affiliates Suffer From “Grubby Little People” Syndrome said:

    [...] Network Quality At Commission Junction Needs Taking Down A Peg Or Two [...]

  4. 4 On August 18th, 2007, How do you appeal a decision? - Affiliate Marketing said:

    [...] problem with affiliates. BTW Have you seen how lengthy their Special Terms and Conditions are CJ Network Quality at Commission Junction Needs Taking Down A Peg or Two : http://www.cj.com Affiliate Ma… __________________ Disclaimer This communication contains information which is confidential and [...]

  5. 5 On January 9th, 2008, The Big CJ Stitch Up! - Affiliate Marketing said:

    [...] had any further joy yet? Here is a little light reading to one of numerous problems we have had CJ Network Quality at Commission Junction Needs Taking Down A Peg or Two : http://www.cj.com Affiliate Ma… __________________ DisclaimerThis communication contains information which is confidential [...]

  6. 6 On January 23rd, 2008, Commission Junction - If You Pay Peanuts, You Get Monkeys » Affiliate Marketing Blog said:

    [...] CJ Network Quality at Commission Junction Needs Taking Down A Peg or Two [...]

Leave a Reply