Latent links refer to affiliate URLs that are for expired offers or are no longer valid, but are still active e.g. listed in a search listing, blog, or other Web page. Because the link is not valid, the landing page for a latent link is likely an error page.
These links are damaging to the merchant due to a poor user experience and damaging to the affiliate’s ROI due to poor conversions. There are several events that can cause a link to become a latent link:
- Affiliate Removal. The affiliate is removed from the merchant’s affiliate program. In this case, the link usually will redirect to an error page hosted by the affiliate network.
- Old Offers. The merchant removes the offer. In this scenario, the link may resolve to an error page on the merchant’s web site or hopefully to an appropriate alternative page.
- Out of Stock. The merchant sells out of an item. Usually these kinds of links point to the actual product / offer page with an ‘out of stock’ message on the page.
Advice for Merchants
- Ex-Affiliates: Ask your affiliate network provider to redirect links with the affiliate’s ID to a landing page on your Web site – not the affiliate network’s Web site.
- Old Offers / Out of Stock: Redirect traffic to a best alternative landing page to ensure a good user experience. Don’t let consumers land on an ‘out of stock’ or ‘invalid offer’ page.
- Monitoring & Pro-Active Management: Monitor your offers and landing pages to track and divert traffic that is hitting error or inappropriate pages.
- Affiliate Notification: Notify your affiliates of changes in offers or if links are hitting error pages.
- Media Provider Notification: If you aren’t able to redirect traffic or to encourage the affiliate or ex-affiliate to take down a latent link, then notify the media providers where latent links are displayed – most media providers and search engines will de-activate ads that resolve to error pages.
Advice for Affiliates
- Affiliate Removal: If you are removed from an affiliate program, be sure to review ALL of your destination URLs and replace the latent links with fresh affiliate links that actually work.
- Old Offers: You may not always get a notice from the merchant that an offer has expired. Ask merchants who you work with what their policy is regarding notice to you and traffic re-direction.
- Out of Stock: Just like with old offers, you might not be notified. Ask merchants who you work with what their policy is regarding out of stock items including notice to you and traffic re-direction.
- Monitor: If you have it in your budget to get some software, it doesn’t hurt to monitor the landing pages where your traffic points and look for out of stock, error pages, or invalid offer pages so that you can refresh links without having to spend your hard earned commissions on traffic that links to nowhere.
Lori Weiman is the CEO of The Search Monitor which provides market research on online advertising covering competitors, brand/trademark abuse, and affiliate compliance on paid & organic search, local, shopping, and social media.
Download the entire FeedFront issue 9 here – http://www.scribd.com/doc/24376105/FeedFront-Magazine-Issue-9
FeedFront issue 9 articles can be found here as well: http://feedfront.com/archives/article002334