Having been confirmed as a speaker for Affiliate Summit West 2012, I opened several travel websites, and started searching for my air tickets from DC to Las Vegas. Airline-specific websites (e.g.: VirginAmerica.com and JetBlue.com) were nice and clean (in affiliate terms), but the vast majority of travel sites that sell airline tickets, hotel reservations, car rentals, and vacation packages, were literally stuffed with leaks (on top, on bottom, in the sidebar, etc). Here’s just one example:
Now, the above travel website has an affiliate program. And leaks (per page 353 of Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day) are defined as follows:
Leaks are external links within your website that lead to sites that do not credit your affiliates for the work they perform. They come in all sorts of shapes and forms, but the essence is always the same — the merchant benefits from them, while the affiliates who refer traffic to the merchant do not.
So, if I were referred to the above travel website by an affiliate (who is hoping to earn his/her commission/bounty should the sale happen), but then “leaked out” either to the Capital One website (through leak #1), or clicked one of the two links in the Google AdSense unit (leak #2) — note that #3 is actually not a leak but a banner that leads to a specific page on this travel website — neither Google, nor Capital One would have compensated the affiliate for the traffic that was originally attracted through his/her efforts!
Interestingly enough, on one of these websites I also found a remarketing banner — one with the products I’ve recently viewed on Barnes & Noble website. And guess what? My book was on the banner:
Nice job on the part of Barnes & Noble. Not a good job caring about their affiliates by … well, let’s just say another major travel website out there.