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  1. #1
    Big City Jack is offline Public Member
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    Arrow Affiliates Must Have Greater Access To Player Data In This Industry

    I've been meaning to post something like this for a while. Although some programs do better than others, it seems to me that the biggest barrier to having any real semblance of a reason for confidence in a program or protection for the affiliate is the lack of even minimal access to player data. I'm not even talking about personally identifying data, but simply enough data to enable an affiliate to feel within even a mile of having some form of protection concerning the integrity and accuracy of stats and earnings. It is also important to point out that this issue doesn't even have to have anything at all to do with whether the leadership or management of a program itself has integrity or good intentions, although obviously that is an ever present issue; they can have all the good intentions and all the integrity in the world, but it doesn't amount to anything if the data is vulnerable to misconduct by rogue staff, managers, etc., and there is no reasonable amount of data accountability afforded to the affiliates themselves in the meantime.

    In reality, it all boils down to *data* - all of your earnings and all of your hard work and investment are based on data; and every opportunity for either dishonesty on the part of a program itself, or theft or diversion on the part of rogue parties despite integrity and good intentions of program leadership, are all based on data.

    For this important issue it helps to have as many affiliates as possible who also have IT knowledge/experience in the area of database development and coding, SQL, etc.

    Before moving on to more technical aspects of the matter, I would simply say that in my opinion if a program really did have a full measure of good faith and good intentions in this area, then this would not be a problem for them, and they would even want this to exist in the industry in the interest of trust, incentive, good relationships and so forth. They are certainly well aware of the ultimately huge imbalance in the relationship the way things generally operate now.

    On to more of the nitty gritty details: what I find with so many programs is that the only data you get is nothing but nameless, faceless "1,2,3,4..." counts that are more or less worthless in terms of trust and accountability. Today you had "5" visits, "6" downloads, "2" sign-ups - hooray! Last month you had 20/45/19, yada, yada...

    What anyone with database development and SQL experience knows is that at a bare minimum for any semblance of confidence you need at least the automatically generated unique identifier for all your own affiliate account sign-ups, and all the subsequent tracking and earnings data that goes with it. No worries - you don't need the name, address and phone #, you only need the unique authoritative identifier for the customers master data record.

    Everyone with significant database/SQL experience also knows how easy it would be, even if you have that unique identifier, to, for example, steal an affiliate's hard work and investment merely by changing another unique identifier: i.e., change the affiliate ID appearing next to the unique customer ID in the data row to something else and - presto - the affiliate is no longer earning a penny from the customer they referred, but someone else is certainly getting richer at the affiliate's expense. Ever wonder why some of those players go strangely dormant for good, for instance, even if you did get a unique customer ID, or why those nameless and faceless "1's" fade into oblivion?

    So really, there is another data-based method by which, with really very little effort, the affiliate could not only receive a bit more data to get within even a mile of real reason for confidence and trust, and it's simply this: not only give the affiliate access to the unique customer ID, but also add code to the web application so that certain forms of activity are also indicated to the affiliate, such as player login and so forth. In this way, the affiliate can tell whether the player is even still "dead or alive" so to speak. Moreover, this would also, for those programs who do have integrity, good faith intentions, and nothing to hide, afford affiliates the ability and opportunity to conduct more meaningful and confident types of audits, resulting in further confidence and willingness to invest time and money in any particular program. Naturally those who like those audits would appreciate that as well...

    Okay, well, thanks for reading , and I'm confident enough said for now to make this point, doubly so of course for those who do have the database experience.

    Now, it seems to me that we may approaching a crossroads of history so to speak. The era of de facto/pseudo "prohibition" in the US market may finally be reaching a proper correction at last, albeit not right away of course. As new programs and new software makers emerge in the wake of any real correction in the US, we should be even doubly willing to make these kinds of no-brainer issues known and not let "business as usual" just keep sliding along. Want to give me and a thousand other webmasters reason to feel confident about putting effort into a program or giving good page placement? It's amazing how little it would take for this to be so much better...

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  3. #2
    Louis - Income Access's Avatar
    Louis - Income Access is offline Sponsor Affiliate Program
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    Hi Jack

    I think you're right on the mark to emphasize data transparency.

    The word transparency gets thrown around a lot, but without specifics on what it really means. Transparency in terms of reporting data is just as important as transparency in the T&Cs in terms of what is allowed and what isn't, how net revenue is calculated, and what exact behaviors might lead to the affiliate agreement being terminated.

    In terms of what you are requesting, I think it's important to note that many programs already offer a very high level of data transparency. For example, practically all Income Access clients report the actual unique player identifier, as well as player username, and the daily deposits, wagers, bonues, gross income, etc of a player.

    Going beyond this level becomes difficult because:
    a) we can't give away player contact info unless this is clearly stated in the registration form, which operators would be loathe to do
    b) allowing actual access to the database is very risky due to security issues.

    With B in mind, there's likely always going to have to be an element of trust in the reporting, since data is always going to be passed from the operator to the reporting source to the affiliate, rather than direct to the affiliate. Because of this, affiliates need to be concious of auditing firms like Affiliate Guard Dog who keep very close track of sketchy behavior, and then have the will power to not promote those brands who engage in the sketchy behavior (even if they are a major brand). Only when affiliates actually engage in mass boycotting of these blacklisted brands will there be serious incentive for brands to get their act together.

    That's my two cents.

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  5. #3
    Big City Jack is offline Public Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis - Income Access View Post
    For example, practically all Income Access clients report the actual unique player identifier, as well as player username, and the daily deposits, wagers, bonues, gross income, etc of a player.
    Thanks for your post, Louis. Yes, I believe I have encountered your platform in quite a few places, and would certainly count it among the some that tend to do better than others.

    Quote Originally Posted by Louis - Income Access View Post
    Going beyond this level becomes difficult because:
    a) we can't give away player contact info unless this is clearly stated in the registration form, which operators would be loathe to do
    b) allowing actual access to the database is very risky due to security issues.
    I would guess pretty much everyone understands and agrees about point "a," which I also alluded to in my post. "B," however, is a horse of another color so to speak - a different color indeed. Database management systems are designed with strong security in mind already, and tend to allow practically limitless permission setting options even for direct access to data tables, which is not even necessary; when you add *indirect* access on top of that, you're talking about security like the Rock of Gibraltar and Fort Knox combined. Essentially limitless kinds of indirect data "views" or "queries" can be created for strictly read-only access to data and information, without the slightest power to update, modify, or view unauthorized fields such as personal contact info. On top of that, one can be even doubly removed from direct access to data tables, as well as from indirect queries or views upon tables, when you start talking about normal options like data downloads and exports in the form of spreadsheets, delimited text files, and so forth - even simple generated html pages.

    It really seems to me that the status quo is just very lacking and could be substantially better. Even when a unique ID is present, I often wind up doubting the stats. I don't doubt there must be numerous good ideas out there about what else can be done that would be feasible. reasonable and wise, and affiliates far more knowledgeable than me about the technical possibilities as well. Based on my own experience with such things, and as I also mentioned in my earlier post, one simple extra data element that could be added, for example, does seem to me to be capable of going a long way towards greater confidence in both info tracking as well as the whole notion of auditing; that would simply be a data field indicating the last or perhaps a plurality of most recent customer logins (I even get an email every time I log into one site I do business with). Even in a desktop Microsoft Access database application no less, for example, something like that is an absolute piece of cake to implement, let alone large scale database and Web app coding systems such as what are being used on the Web now.

    On top of this whole issue of player data, simple visitor tracking/origin data can sometimes be very lacking too, though that is not my main concern here. Suffice it to say that greater info for the affiliate to act upon can benefit everyone, not just the affiliate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Louis - Income Access View Post
    With B in mind, there's likely always going to have to be an element of trust in the reporting, since data is always going to be passed from the operator to the reporting source to the affiliate, rather than direct to the affiliate.
    This actually opens up an even bigger can of worms for me as they say, and I wasn't even thinking about this aspect when I posted. When you start adding "data middlemen" into the mix, or "affiliate aggregators," that's even more cause for concern really. For instance, some of us have experience with nongaming affiliate marketing, for which there are a number of famous gigantic affiliate aggregators that also function as "data middlemen." Needless to say, I doubt you have to look far to find many who have either lost confidence in some of them completely or *worse*. As for Income Access, for example, I was under the impression that it was just licensing software to a lot of operators, but not actually managing or maintaining the data itself. Now, I certainly want everyone of good faith, good will and good marketplace offerings to prosper and remain in business with others like that, no matter what type of role they play, but I have to admit that things like a dimension of "reporting source" data middleman and the kind of extra layer of trust required by such things as also indicated by Louis, really makes the whole issue even more significant of a concern for me personally, and doubtless would (and perhaps should) for others too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Louis - Income Access View Post
    Only when affiliates actually engage in mass boycotting of these blacklisted brands will there be serious incentive for brands to get their act together
    Yes, truly positive group action can be very desirable indeed. In fact, I almost posted this in the "union" forum originally. I would definitely like to see a widespread will for improvement for the kinds of concerns I have raised here, as well as the talent and intelligence of those with more that can be added to the mix brought to bear on all the various issues.
    Last edited by Big City Jack; 10 August 2010 at 10:30 pm.

  6. #4
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    Think I mentioned this before affiliate and program data should be housed by a third impartial trustworthy data center.

    greek39
    Greek39

  7. #5
    EugeneK is offline Public Member
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    Indeed I am surprised very much because of some affiliate programs can't deliver a lot of useful and interesting information for affiliates. Any data concerning your player will bring more and more knowledge and as consequence new signups and depositors

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  9. #6
    Big City Jack is offline Public Member
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    Default Go figure...

    Quote Originally Posted by EugeneK View Post
    Indeed I am surprised very much because of some affiliate programs can't deliver a lot of useful and interesting information for affiliates. Any data concerning your player will bring more and more knowledge and as consequence new signups and depositors
    Such an off-the-charts no-brainer of planetary proportions, and yet go figure. Should definitely also confirm the need to wonder about a thing or two, that's for sure...

    And with all the money they're making, not even a few extra pennies to spare for better or even barely adequate tracking data to enable affiliates to help them become ever so much richer still?...?

    Why would it not be considered important to provide when the goal is maximizing and increasing profitable traffic and multiplying profits for the program as well as everyone else concerned? And make no mistake about it - I could quote one of the most famous players on the program side of the industry expressing and confirming that in a certain manner of speaking. In fairness, the person relaying this "company position" may not have actually agreed with the sentiment, but that doesn't exactly change things either. You'd also likely be extremely surprised who and which program, though no need for any of that now.

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