VISA Regulations: Unfair?

Mandy Haga

Recently, Visa passed regulations that hold Sponsors accountable for the actions of their webmasters. In viewing responses on the issue, the opinion is largely negative with Sponsors feeling this is totally unfair and unreasonable. Their feeling is understandable, but is this latest action really unreasonable or unfair?

Could this be the swift kick in the ass Sponsors needed to buckle down and work on their programs? Is this the proverbial "elbow to the ribs" going to force Sponsors to make their program requirements strict enough to weed out unscrupulous webmasters, appeal to those willing to work and do so within required operating guidelines, to provide them with the content, text, web presence or the advertising guidelines with which to promote them and to go back and check those webmasters to verify compliance (properly placed links, appropriate text, keywords and content)? More importantly, why haven't they been doing these things?

I find it surprising the number of Sponsor programs that leave everything (including searching their sites for half an hour to get linking code) to the Webmaster. I realize the Internet world is very fast paced - here today, gone tomorrow. So, the more automated you can make this revenue source, the better, right? In the past, perhaps, but the present and future are showing this is not the way to go. Leaving advertising solely up to the webmaster, a stranger with whom you've no relationship and owes you nothing, opens a gaping hole in your business out of which may come a huge hand slapping you with fines, pulling and/or banning your sites and effectively taking your revenue.

Who needs or wants that? My guess is no one; not one person will stand up and say: “Here, come get my cash! I don't really need it anyway.” The only downside I see to this requirement is the Sponsor having to expend extra energy to work his/her program. Yeah, we know it's a pain. The luxury of doing business online is supposed to be automation. Having an affiliate program is supposed to be a "hands free" way of making money. Perhaps it can remain "hands free" or virtually "hands free" by removing this responsibility from the Sponsor or developing automated methods of verifying Webmaster compliance.

Ok, you say, how exactly can this be accomplished? What is your solution?

Solution 1: Auto Script
I'm, by no means, technically savvy, but I believe the team of coders and scripters we have within our adult community could develop a script that would scan each site within their program for compliance based upon parameters that were both preinstalled and stipulated by the Sponsor. In this scenario, the only real involvement would not come into play unless a webmaster site was returned in your search as non compliant in some manner, i.e. “illegal keywords,” no reciprocal links, linking to inappropriate or illegal content. The possibilities with such software are endless.

Solution 2: Webmaster/Sponsor Network
Seeing the latest developments in the adult industry, there is a growing need for a centralized location to bring together, qualify, develop and nurture Sponsor/Webmaster relationships.

To fill this need, TabooRevenue.com has started to develop an adult version of mainstream networks such as Be Free, LinkShare and Commission Junction. This network is different from mainstream networks in that it goes a step beyond by qualifying webmasters (affiliates). This webmaster qualifying process will be handled by TabooRevenue.com and holds a very definitive benefit for the Sponsor in that it will serve to weed out unscrupulous webmasters who may cheat or refer fraudulent sales or those that will result in chargebacks.

The intent is to help them and the webmasters comply with Visa regulations and remove the fear of having sites banned or pulled completely. TabooRevenue will assume the responsibility of monitoring Webmaster sites to ensure they remain in compliance, which effectively reduces the Sponsors hands on involvement in this added process.

Will either of these solutions really work? The ASACP has been using a similar script to scout and track alleged child porn sites with seeming success; and the preliminary response to TabooRevenue has been overwhelming. I would say, with the assistance of my "Magic 8 Ball," that the "outlook is good."