eBay addressed new allegations that its employees had assisted members of its affiliate marketing program engage in “cookie stuffing” before it reported two of them to the FBI for engaging in the practice.
In an unusual case stemming back to 2008, the Federal government took criminal action against eBay affiliates in what had been a civil dispute between eBay and three members of the program.
One of the affiliates, Shawn Hogan, alleged in 2010 that eBay employees he worked with knowingly allowing affiliates to violate the terms of service of its Affiliate program.
Last week, a second affiliate made similar allegations in a blog post. Brian Dunning wrote in part:
“The fact is that at the time of my involvement, cookie stuffing was widely practiced among eBay affiliates. In my personal assessment, people I worked with at eBay were fully aware of it, offered material assistance to those practicing it, and actively worked to thwart the efforts of Commission Junction (the third party company that managed eBay’s affiliate program) and outside contractors whose job it was to detect it. The information I present on this page supports this assessment.”
The title of Dunning’s post is “How eBay can fix their affiliate marketing program to prevent fraud,” and both Dunning and Hogan’s allegations cast a dismal look at eBay’s Affiliate program.
eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore responded to the allegations in Dunning’s blog post with this statement emailed to EcommerceBytes over the weekend:
“The eBay Partner Network team is committed to a clean network that rewards hardworking, quality affiliates. eBay does not tolerate illegal behaviors on its platforms and is dedicated to ensuring that individuals involved in such activities are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We’re pleased that justice has been served in this matter.”
eBay has since made many changes to its affiliate program, called the eBay Partner Network. In 2009, eBay made a major change to its pricing structure, moving to a “quality click pricing” model rather than a simple Cost Per Action payment for new users and bids or revenue – meaning less transparency for affiliates trying to calculate the money owed them. In 2011, eBay suspended cash-back programs.
And eBay changed its compensation structure by shortening the referral period from 7 days to 24 hours – in other words, affiliates do not receive referral fees for any shoppers they send to eBay who don’t buy or bid on an item within 24 hours.
eBay Affiliate Pleads Guilty in Cookie-Stuffing Scam (April 26, 2013)
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