Ah, Affiliate Marketing… The only business in the world where a competitor can steal your entire business model and use it for their own profit without being sued.
In this business it’s called “research” and for the majority of affiliates it is simply part of the process of setting up a new campaign.
“If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.”
— Wilson Mizner (tweet this)
Over the years many attempts have been made to solve the problem.
- Lawyers have pitched their copyright infringement services at affiliate marketing conferences. They claim that if you legally copyright your creative work, you can sue infringing parties for up to $100,000 each
- A few years ago an affiliate was selling a script/service that helped affiliates protect their landing pages from theft
- And way back in the day, affiliates left threats of physical harm in commented out HTML code, for anyone who dared to copy their page
But the most interesting response to landing page theft is now affiliates are using redirect scripts to make money from the landing page even after it has been stolen.
By setting traps in the code they can siphon off a portion of your traffic directly from your server, turning newbie affiliate thieves into their own little profit centers.
So before you start hijacking, you need to know what to look for.
I’ve put together a list of 5 things you need to do after stealing another affiliates’s landing page. By following these 5 steps you can protect yourself from a hostile server takeover, campaign shutdown, or worse if and when you get caught.
- Remove scripts. Look at the bottom of the page for tracking scripts (cpvlabs, tracking202) and delete them. Then do some digging. There could be traps in the code that will allow them to redirect a portion of your traffic to their own affiliate links. These scripts can be hidden anywhere. A good rule of thumb is to replace every script on the page including, date/time and geo location scripts. Better safe than sorry.
- Check image links. Make sure all images are being pulled from your own local folder. If you leave an image pulling from their server they will see it. All they have to do is change that image to porn and your campaign is dead. Not only will your conversion rate tank, but your campaign can also be banned by the ad network for violating their terms. Check every image link, every time.
- Change the branding. This may seem like a no brainer but I have seen plenty of affiliates running stolen landing pages with the stolen logo still on it. This makes it very easy for the page owner to contact the affiliate network and the ad network to have you shut down. If you’re using their logo there is no question whether or not you stole the page. Another way to get busted is by leaving their domain name in the footer of your page. Check the domain name, copyright info and links to terms and conditions and privacy pages as well.
- Check all outgoing links. If you leave one or two of their affiliate links on the page (it happens) you will be sending them free conversions for weeks until you realize what’s going on. Invest an extra 5 minutes and make sure every outgoing link on the page is your own.
- Innovate/Improve the page. Don’t steal landing pages and run them verbatim. First, you’ll piss off the affiliate you took it from and they can take steps to have you shut down. Second – there is a good chance that you can make the page better by tailoring it for your own campaign. Immediately start testing new colors, new headers, images, buttons and different overall designs. You may find that the person you stole it from was leaving a lot of money on the table.
“It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.” – Jean-Luc Godard
Stealing ads, copy and landing pages is part of the affiliate marketing game. But after you’ve taken a landing page from another affiliate it is in your best interest to update it and make it your own as quickly as possible.
- Check for traps in the code. Remove or replace every script you find
- Ensure all images are being pulled locally from your server
- Update all branding including the page title, the site header and footer
- Check all outgoing links to make sure your not sending your competitor free sales
- Update, change and innovate the page as fast as you can
And please – from time to time you might want to try doing something original. It takes a little longer to start from scratch but when you find something that works, the original idea will out-profit a stolen lander every time.
And if your original idea does really well – you can be sure everyone will come and steal it from you.