I'm working in online advertising since 1998 and finally decided to start my own blog.

Damn Fallback redirects can get you banned from traffic sources, fight them!

There are many things in affiliate marketing that are getting on my nerves, the so called FALLBACK redirects are one of them. The sad fact is, pretty much all affiliate networks keep on using them, even thou they can get us (affiliates) banned from traffic sources and they (affiliate networks) know this very well.

I keep seeing this topic pop up on the STM Forum all the time over and over again : new affiliates are wondering, why they can’t see the offers they promote, when clicking on the link themselves. Or why they got a campaign rejected by a traffic source, even thou they picked a totally white-hat offer that’s not breaking any rules.

I’ll tell you why, it’s the fucking fallback redirects that’s causing this. You don’t have to ask for them to be activated, they are ON by default … in order to make you more money as the networks claim, when in reality the extra revenue is pretty much non existent in most cases.

SO WHAT ARE FALLBACK REDIRECTS ACTUALLY?

Let me explain what the fallbacks are and how they work, so you understand the problem in it’s entirety.

Every offer/product is configured to work with certain type of traffic. The most common is to make country/GEO specific offers. So let’s say a dating offer for USA, or for Germany … or a diet pills offer for Poland.

Since the offer pages are translated into the corresponding language, it’s pointless to send people form other GEOs to these offers, right? I think we can agree on this.

Offers can be way more targeted than that. Let’s take a smart-phone application for example.

Imagine a high end game, designed for Android that is 2GB large. Obviously, this requires Android users, on expensive phones with the newer Android versions and preferably a wifi connection due to the size of the game. IOS users or guys with old Android phones cannot convert on such offer and it’s again pointless to send them there.

The affiliate networks know this, they know that users that DO NOT match the required targeting of a particular offer, will not convert when they send them there. So in an attempt to still make some $ with that traffic, they redirect it to a different offer, that is configured to work with such traffic.

And that’s what FALLBACK redirects are about in a nutshell – whenever you send traffic that doesn’t match the required targeting of a particular offer, it will get redirected to a FALLBACK offer that can theoretically convert such traffic.

BUT THIS SHOULD BE GOOD ACTUALLY, SO WHY DO I COMPLAIN?

Sounds good, right? Well in reality, this sucks! First of all, I didn’t ask the affiliate network to do this and they didn’t ask me if I’m ok with it. The traffic is mine, I paid for it, so I SHOULD be the one having full control over it.

Another problem is that it pretty much never makes any extra revenue anyways. Wondering why? The fallback offers are unrelated to the original one, so the funnel gets broken effectively, it kills the consistency.

On top of that, I already specify what kind of traffic I want to buy directly at the traffic source, so when they send me traffic from a different GEO for example, it’s very often some BOTs or other crap that slipped through.

This alone wouldn’t be such a problem yet, the traffic would go to a waste anyways, but there is one more and a BIG problem. The campaign REVIEWERS at the traffic sources. They are located in some GEO and even thou they have all kinds of GEO emulators at hand, they often just start by checking your links from their default connection.

And what is gonna happen, when they are located in Spain for example and click on your link that leads to an offer optimized for USA? They get redirected to the damn fallback offer. And this is the problem that can get your campaigns rejected and your account banned.

WONDERING HOW THIS CAN CAUSE SO MUCH TROUBLE?

Some reviewers don’t care much and they won’t notice that they were actually redirected to a different campaign, but some damn well do! Thinking about working with more strict sources like Facebook and Adwords, with active fallbacks? Forget it, they will ban your ass faster than you can say 1-2-3 🙂 These sources literally prohibit the usage of such methods.

And it’s getting worse, the once lenient Native Ads networks are now banning this too. Traffic sources are tired of fighting with cloakers, anything suspicious and they strike with the ban hammer. And landing on a different offer when they chance their GEO … definitely looks suspicious to them.

More and more of them require that whatever GEO the users comes from, whatever device they use and whatnot … they simply have to land on the final page that you specify. No exceptions. With fallbacks active, you cannot guarantee this.

Fallback offers targeted at TIER3 GEOs cause the most problems. In order to monetize these GEOs, the offers often use aggressive flows that are already banned in the more developed countries. As such, these can be considered mallware or phising by the western standards and will get you banned pretty fast.

So in case you ever got your account suspended because of mallware, while you were 100% sure that the offer you were promoting was 100% legit … you can thank your affiliate network for using aggressive fallback offers.

SO, HOW CAN YOU FIGHT THIS?

There are exactly 2 ways of dealing with this crap.

1. Tell your affiliate network to turn of the damn FALLBACK redirects for your account.

What sounds like an easy fix can become a nightmare. Guess what, MANY networks will refuse to do so. Some don’t have the tools to do that, some simply see it as an extra income and won’t let go. I’m not sure why they do that to be honest. I’ve heard all kinds of excuses like : It’s better for the affiliate … all the way to … It protects the advertisers from unwanted traffic…

But COMMON GUYS! I’m not asking you to pay me for that traffic, just don’t mess with where it ends. Affiliates are getting banned for this, work with us finally and don’t make our lives harder.

2. In case the affiliate network doesn’t want or can’t turn the fallbacks off, the only way to protect yourself is to make sure you only send 100% targeted traffic to their links. There is an easy fix for this, in case you are using a good tracker.

Pretty much any good tracker can detect a lot of info about every visitor and you can use that for filtering purposes. For example in Voluum, you can setup custom RULES and define what to do in case a user does, or doesn’t match the RULE. One of the options is to redirect that user somewhere.

And that is what you should be doing, specify the rules to match the targeting of whatever offer you are promoting and whenever a users doesn’t match the rule, they get redirected to a safe page. This way, only the right users reach the affiliate network and they shouldn’t get redirected to a fallback.

I’m saying “should” because nothing works 100% and this is no exception. The GEO or Device detection of the tracker, doesn’t have to match 100% with what the affiliate network is using, so there is still a small chance of a redirect here. But it’s way smaller now and chances are, you will stay out of trouble.

In case you’re wondering what a SAFE page is – this can be a notice that the offer is not available for this country, it can be a redirect to google.com or it can lead directly to the offer, but without an affiliate link.

A good example for the last example is an app install offer. In case the GEO doesn’t match what the affiliate offer requires, you can send the user directly to google play or the appstore, without using the affiliate link that would trigger the fallback redirect. This way, a possible reviewer will really land on the app you are promoting and you’d be safe.

NOTE: Pretty much any major traffic source is also using some automatic way of checking your campaign links, so the problem can occur anytime during the day or night.

A SMALL RANT AT THE END 🙂

Dear Affiliate Networks! I’m fed up with begging you to turn off fallback redirect for me … I don’t want them active by default. I got suspended from several traffic networks about 5 times this year alone because of fallbacks, it took me quite some time to get back on. Why do I have to go through this?

I couldn’t get dozens of campaigns even running at some networks, because they weren’t able to render the offers so they couldn’t decide whether it’s in par with their rules… this is not something you want, am I right?

And please, if you really have to use a fallback redirect, pick LEGIT offers for this. I can tell you first-handed, that it really sucks to get suspended by a network for pushing mallware or phising offers … especially since I didn’t opt in to promote this in the first place.

Thank you!


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3 comments

  1. As usual, excellent article Matuloo! In some cases I want to see the offer page so that I can tailor the lander for it but it’s not possible because of the bloody fallback.
    The only time I would want a fallback is when an offer gets paused or reaches its cap. And in such cases, as you said, it MUST be redirecting to a legit offer.
    Also agree about campaigns that we cannot run because the traffic network cannot see the actual offer. I just give up nowadays, I have no time to waste using a VPN on my phone to try load the lander then email a screenshot to the traffic network. IT IS TOO MUCH HASSLE and only works half the time anyway.

  2. Hi,

    Nice one!
    I’m turning this off for over a year now and actually 99% of the affiliate network I work with agree to that if you explain it good enough (or sending them your article should work 🙂
    Even when it’s on the advertiser end, which happens – you can ask the Network to talk with them and take it off.

    The only issue that still accure is once an offer pause and automatically they are sending all traffic to a Smart/fallback link…

    I guess the solution will be that the network will work hard by changing the pausing offer to a similar.

    Thanks!
    HenK

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