IAB affiliate council strengthens voucher code guidelines


Council aims to make 100% of the leading voucher code affiliates in the UK fully compliant by April 2009.

Open quote Having only come into effect some two months ago, the guidelines are already a success with almost 100% compliance from the country’s leading voucher code affiliates. It’s important to note that the aim of these guidelines was not to catch people out or ‘name and shame’ those who do not immediately comply, rather the over-arching objective is to ensure merchants are more comfortable using the voucher code channel.Close quote - Matt Bailey, head of affiliate at i-level and chair of the IAB Affiliate Marketing Council

The IAB’s Affiliate Market Council (AMC) has updated its best practice guidelines on the use of online voucher codes. Since the guidelines officially came into effect on 1 January 2009, over 95% of publishers are now fully compliant, and the AMC aims to have achieved 100% compliance within the next month.

The revised, stricter guidelines provide more concrete definitions of offers and sales and include further restrictions on the promotion of expired vouchers. It also now includes further information on the compliance procedure, within which all complaints will be upheld by the AMC with its members agreeing upon a course of action, to include suspension from the list of signatories.

Open quote The new IAB Code of Practice is giving merchants more confidence to embrace voucher codes which is exactly what the industry needs. With the consumer demand for voucher codes growing rapidly it's great that there is a now a solid, ethical stance, for all sites to adhere to safeguarding the future growth of the space. We are already seeing the fruits of this with many new merchants issuing voucher codes on a daily basis.Close quote - Duncan Jennings, founder of VoucherCodes.co.uk

The aim of the guidelines is to provide reassurance for merchants wishing to offer codes through the affiliate channel, that they will be presented in a way that does not misinform or confuse the consumer, and will enhance their journey to sale. Following their launch in November last year, the AMC has been working with the leading voucher code affiliates in the UK to ensure that traffic from affiliate sites sent to merchants is not done so in a misleading or confusing way. Following their initial publication, the AMC has received extensive feedback and recommendations from publishers, and plans to tighten the guidelines on an ongoing basis as the industry develops.

In order to further clarify the code and assist affiliates in achieving compliance, the AMC has once again collaborated to further clarify and strengthen the guidelines. All networks signed-up are committed to enforcing the following:

  • Affiliates must not use a mechanism whereby users are encouraged to click to interact with content where it is unclear or confusing what the outcome will be. For example:

- Using “click to reveal code” and opening the site when no valid code is present or an offer/deal/sale is presented instead, without this being made clear before the click

- Using “click to copy code” and opening the site when no valid code is available.

- Opening the merchant’s site without making it clear that this will occur

  • Voucher code affiliates must clearly detail the nature of the voucher or offer/deal/sale before a user clicks to interact with it (by revealing, copying, visiting the merchant site etc)
  • A valid code is defined as a code that has been legitimately issued by a merchant for your use online. This code will have an activation date and, where provided, a deactivation date. When a code has expired it must either be removed or the fact that it has expired must be clearly stated in writing, not simply by listing the expiry date.
  • Sites displaying voucher codes must contain clear categorization and separation between deals/offers/sales and voucher codes.
  • Any affiliate judged by one of the participating networks to be contravening the code will be referred to the IAB’s Affiliate Marketing Council and all members will agree on a course of action. The discretion of the council will be used when determining what is judged as misleading or confusing and is not confined to the examples above.
Open quote With the recession and economic downturn voucher codes have received phenomenal press coverage and has been a strong catalyst to convert customers both online & in-store. However, marketing departments have to ensure this activity remains highly profitability with these offers, and not deviate away from strict cost per orders.Close quote - Chris Bishop, online acquisition manager at House of Fraser

With full backing from the wider affiliate industry – including voucher sites and merchants – this initiative is the first of a best practice programme which the AMC aims to implement throughout 2009.

The way the IAB and all the affiliate networks have collaborated together for the benefit of the industry has been refreshing and demonstrates the maturity of the channel. By driving best practice in the industry this will alleviate advertisers increasing concerns, ensure a clear, guided and fuller marketing campaign whilst ensuring the affiliates are adding value to the customer journey.”

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