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Help With UPromise’s New Toolbar

After about a years delay, UPromise has finally rolled out their new toolbar. I was scanning their FAQ’s and I came across some interesting information.

I have remindU already installed on my computer. Can I also install the Upromise Toolbar?

If your browser is Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.x on Windows XP, you can install the Upromise Toolbar. By installing the Upromise Toolbar you will automatically disable remindU when using Internet Explorer”

So sorry TopMoxie, but at least it appears both won’t be running at the same time. But here is the one particular FAQ that stood out to me.

I have the Toolbar installed. Sometimes when I’m trying to get to a specific page on an online retailer’s website, I get sent to the site’s homepage instead of going to the page I’m trying to get to. Why does this happen, and is there any way to stop it?

Now that could certainly be annoying for the end user. It’s also common to see this behavior with adware which redirects their affiliate link in the same browser window the end user is currently using. It’s the answer to this dilemma which I found to be, quite frankly, rather sad.

“In order for the Toolbar to be able to “track” your visit to a Upromise online retailer’s website, it sends you to the site’s homepage and conveys some special tracking information to the retailer’s website so that any eligible purchase you make will qualify for rewards.”

That would be the redirect through their affiliate link.

“If you want to “override” this to be able to follow a specific link to get to a specific page, you need to hold down the CAPS LOCK key when you click on the link to the page you’re trying to get to, and when you click on any other links within the retailer’s site during your web visit. (If you don’t hold down the CAPS LOCK key when you click, the Toolbar’s functionality will kick back in and you’ll be redirected to the site’s homepage.)”

WHAT???? I need to hold down the CAPS LOCK key from the time I click the link that leads to the Merchant’s web site and the whole time I’m surfing on the Merchant’s web site in order not to have my surfing interrupted and diverted back to the home page?!?!?! Oh my….now that sounds both inconvenient and just a tad bit awkward. And what….I’m supposed to remember the 500+ Merchants that UPromise partners with in order to perform this trick and not automatically be redirected to the home page when their affiliate tracking code is set? The whole Toolbar thing is marketed as a tool so that UPromise members can earn their savings rewards because they can’t remember to start their shopping from the UPromise web site. Yet as a UPromise member, I’m supposed to remember this little trick. Ok. But, UPromise isn’t finished on this subject yet. And, this is where things get rather sad in my opinion.

“If you want to go to a specific page on the retailer’s site AND get your college savings, there are some special steps you can follow.”

Translation, let’s see if we can train the end user to overcome the programming limitations of our software and still get that affiliate commission! Lord forbid we actually train them and give them reasons to come to our site to start their shopping. They give two examples, but I’m only going to focus on one of the examples (the most disturbing one).

“You get an email from an online retailer about a specific product they are selling, and the email has a link to the page for that specific product. With the Toolbar installed and running, when you click on the link to see the product’s page, you’ll be redirected to the site homepage instead of the being taken to the product page.”

What? The UPromise Toolbar is automatically redirecting via their affiliate link on Merchants own email campaigns? Oh my. The customer has interest in a specific product the Merchant has promoted directly themselves to the consumer and UPromise is entitled to an affiliate commission? Ok..not exactly my understanding of how Performance Marketing is supposed to work..but ok. Let’s continue.

“If you want to go directly to the product page, just hold down the CAPS LOCK key when you click on the link in the email to view the product page. Be sure to hold down the CAPS LOCK key every time you click while you’re on the site so you don’t get redirected to the homepage.”

There’s the CAPS LOCK trick again so UPromise’s affiliate link isn’t called into play. And drum roll for the finale…….

“If you want to buy that product, just add it to your shopping cart on the retailer’s site, then click on a link without holding down the CAPS LOCK key. You’ll be automatically redirected to the site’s homepage with the tracking feature enabled. Then just click on your shopping cart to see and purchase the product - and get your college savings rewards.”

Cough…sputter….gasp. Did UPromise just instruct the consumer in how to set their affiliate link with their Toolbar after a product has been added to the Merchant’s shopping cart? And let us not forget that the consumer began their shopping foray from the Merchants own advertising campaign. Is this what Affiliate Marketing really means now? I for one have to give an empathetic NO. This isn’t how affiliate marketers should be deriving their commissions from Merchants. I’ll go as far as to say that such practices devalue the affiliate marketing channel as a whole.

Here is a possible alternative to the situation and the need for the FAQ. UPromise as a business works towards educating their members to truly want to begin their shopping through UPromise in order to receive their college savings. UPromise can even provide some type of software to assist and make that experience easier for consumers. However, the software does NOT do automatic redirects. UPromise provides features with the software that entices the end user to boot up that the software perform their shopping through the software. In other words, UPromise builds true value and loyalty with their members. UPromise delivers true unique visitors and incremental sales to their Merchants. And consumers aren’t trained to perform contortionist acts with their keyboard and mouse while they are shopping online in order to arrive at the web pages they want and still tuck some money away for little Johnny’s college fund.

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