Download Sites and Affiliate Programs
I have been running shareware download sites in one form or another for over
three years and during that time I have become intimately familiar with many of
the various shareware affiliate programs out there. In those three years I have
also been able to formulate an opinion related to most of these programs and
some, by no means all, of the vendors that choose to "participate" in these programs.
Out of the big three or four programs out there, RegNow,
and to a lesser extent eSellerate and
RegSoft, only one really has
a program in place to help affiliates make the most out of the program. That
affiliate program is RegNow with their certification program.
This program was put in place to help affiliates identify vendors that properly
participate in the program by making it possible for affiliates to choose the
vendors that use RegNow in a way that allows affiliates to earn commissions for
Considering the fact that I have also used other affiliate programs like
Commission Junction, Share-A-Sale
and Clickbank, the question needs
to be asked as to why any kind of certification program would even be necessary.
With these programs and most other larger programs, a prospective vendor must
provide a way for any of their affiliates to earn commissions for any referrals,
if they don't the affiliate program in question does not allow the vendor to
join or stay in the program. In the case of shareware affiliate programs, this
isn't the case.
Even with RegNow's certification program and in the case with just about all
shareware affiliate programs, vendors are not required to, and a large number of
them do not, participate in a way that ensures affiliates get credit for
referring a sale.
Shareware affiliate programs do work differently than normal programs as they
rely on prospective buyers trying the product first before requiring them to
purchase it. What this means is normally an affiliate will refer someone to
download the trial version than rely on that visitor later buying the product.
In almost all cases this requires that a cookie set when the user downloads the
trial to be recalled later when the user returns to the vendor's site to
purchase the program. This is where the fatal flaw is in regards to shareware
Why is this a problem? Cookies are the basis of most affiliate programs and
other than the inherent flaw with cookies in general in regards to some people
not allowing cookies to be set or those that regularly delete them, many vendors
that participate in shareware affiliate programs choose not to use that program
as their payment provider while others use that program along with other
providers allowing the visitor to choose among several payment options. What
this does is ensure that even with a cookie set, the referring affiliate has
little if any chance of earning a commission for their efforts.