Stand-Down Policy Compliance

What is a stand-down policy?
Affiliate networks (where Wildfire's merchant partners come from) require that affiliates respect when a user has previously been “affiliated” and not market to those users.  The spirit of this policy is to avoid confusing a user who may think that they can activate cashback through multiple products.  For example, if a user has multiple Chrome extensions installed, the user may think that they can activate cashback in both extensions and earn double cashback.  Similarly, if a user clicks through a blog's affiliate link to a product, that user is already “affiliated” and a Chrome extension should not pop a notification to ask the user if they want to earn cashback on that product. Doing so would cause the Chrome extension to steal the credit from the blog that brought the user to the product.

The good news is that Wildfire Systems' products already include compliance with networks' stand-down policies.  By starting with either the Chrome Extension Template or the MCA SDK for Android, you will automatically be in compliance with the networks' stand-down policies.

How does a stand-down policy work?
Each affiliate network has a different policy regarding stand-down, but the simplest way to comply is to take the following two actions:

  1. First, look for a few URL parameters and avoid marketing when those URL parameters are present.  The following URL parameters will indicate that a user is already affiliated:
    • afsrc=1
    • affsource=1
    • foid (set to any value)
    • IMPORTANT: In addition to not marketing when these URL parameters are present, your product should not market to the user for the duration of that user's session.  In our conversations with networks, we've found that a one-hour window is a reasonable approximation for a user's session.  Setting a cookie (or similar client-side storage) to track this one-hour timeout before you're able to market to the previously-affiliate user should comply with this policy.
  2. [ADDED Sep 9, 2020] Second, some publishers use methods to link to a merchant that doesn't involve URL parameters.  They may open a tab and immediately close it, for example.  To account for this case, your software should look for the presence of a cookie set on one of the following domains:

Note: This second step of examining cookies isn't applicable on all platforms, as your software may not have access to the browser cookies.

What does it mean to market to a user?
Marketing to an already affiliated user is generally defined as trying to “get the user's attention” with the intent to have them activate an affiliate link.  Some networks simply say that you can't pop up any dialog box that has a call-to-action of activating cashback.  Others describe that you also cannot animate your Chrome extension icon (highlighting the icon to show that the merchant is eligible is okay, though).  We recommend taking a conservative approach and complying with the most restrictive policy among the networks.  To comply with the stand-down policy, if a user is already affiliated, as described above, your product should follow these guidelines:

  • Don't pop a modal asking the user to activate cashback.
  • Do show the Chrome extension icon as active (changing the color of the icon is okay)
  • Don't animate or otherwise decorate your Chrome extension icon beyond color-filling.