The good news is that denied commissions doesn’t happen as often as you would think. In fact, it’s actually quite rare. From my experience in the CPA world, I only know of a few circumstances where an affiliate legitimately earned commissions at a reputable network and had the commissions outright denied.
For the most part, CPA Networks have every reason to pay you because they take a cut of everything you make. If they deny your legitimate commissions, they know you will stop driving traffic and they will not make a cut of your future earnings…in addition to the consequences of you telling your story and giving them a bad reputation. So, if you are dealing with a reputable CPA Network that’s been around for a long time, you really don’t have much to worry about (though it is still advisable to drive traffic to a few networks to diversify your earnings…just in case).
It’s also important to point out that networks are effectively middlemen between the merchants who own the CPA offers and you, the affiliate who promotes the offers. Merchants essentially receive the leads that a CPA Network’s affiliates generated, they pay the network for those leads, and then the network turns around and pays you and the other affiliates for driving the leads – and of course they take their cut.
Well, though uncommon, sometimes a merchant may decide they don’t want to pay for the leads that the network’s affiliates generated, so the network therefore has no money to turn around and pay the affiliates who generated the leads. Fraud happens on the merchant side as well. In this case, the network has a few options; they can deny your commissions and pass the burden on to you, they can pay you out of pocket, or they can find a compromise somewhere in the middle. If you are working with a reputable network, this is the primary risk you need to worry about. But again, this isn’t very common.
The Main Reason For Denied Commissions
If you go on any of the popular IM forums and see the posts about a reputable network denying commissions, more often than not, you are not getting the full picture. Most often it’s actually the affiliate breaking the terms and conditions of a network or the restrictions of a specific CPA offer that led to the denial of commissions. For example, many times affiliates will incentivize a non-incentivizable CPA offer. Perhaps somebody drives Craigslist traffic to the CPA offer, which most networks don’t allow as expressed in their TOS, or perhaps somebody was promoting a CPA offer via email marketing when only PPC and social traffic was allowed.
In the aforementioned cases, it’s the AFFILIATE who broke the rules of the CPA Network or of the specific CPA offer. This almost always means the leads the affiliates are generating are of lesser quality and value and therefore the merchant doesn’t want to pay the network for them. Sure, you earned the commissions, but you broke the rules, so the network has every right to deny commissions.
Ways to Prevent Getting Your Commissions Denied
- Work With A Reputable Network: Networks that have been
around for a length of time and have a great reputation should be the
main networks you work with. They have grown and stayed in business for
a long time because they practice good business and are less likely to
wrongfully deny commissions. If you want to find reputable networks,
just visit a site like www.AffiliatePaying.com to check out network
It is easier than ever to start a CPA network these days, so you see a lot of new networks pop up. While they may have enticing benefits, some of these fly-by-night networks are actually pure scams. They stay in business for a few months, get paid by merchants, and then never pay their affiliates. They then shut down and affiliates have no recourse. This is why it’s important to work with larger, reputable networks.
Check Terms & Conditions: Before promoting any offer, check the offer restrictions and make sure you are abiding by those restrictions. Many offers specify what type of traffic you can drive and some even have more stringent restrictions such as what keywords you aren’t allowed to bid for if doing PPC marketing.
Run Campaigns By Your Affiliate Manager: Before running a campaign, give your affiliate manager a quick call and tell them briefly how you plan on promoting a specific offer. They will be able to tell you if your method is allowed and this is the easiest way to prevent breaking the rules by mistake. Hint, if you are a bit worried about your promotion method, then instead of calling your AM, get written confirmation via private message or email. This written documentation can prove beneficial if the network tries to deny commissions in the future.
Check in With Your Affiliate Manager: Particularly if you plan on driving a decent amount of volume, it’s very important to check in with your AM often to make sure your traffic is checking out. Once you get more volume, you should be able to negotiate a quicker payment schedule, which will help reduce the risk even more.
First call your affiliate manager up and discuss the issue. If he/she
isn’t willing to discuss it, speak with his or her supervisor or the
account manager (if there is one). Some networks even have relationship
managers that you can speak with. Always try and work things out
If the network is still screwing you over, then another thing you can do is report the network to any Better Business Bureaus or public review services out there. Just be sure it wasn’t YOU who broke any rules before “calling out” a network.
You can also start a thread at one of the major Internet Marketing forums and let people know about your predicament and ask for advice. I wouldn’t advise simply bashing a network outright because you are still trying to get your money and there is still hope! Many network owners and affiliate managers roam the major forums and this public announcement may sway them to pay out your commissions or at least give you a partial payment.
A lot of people have been asking me recently about this, so I figured I would write this post up! Please leave any questions about specific CPA networks or comments about this post in the comments section below!