ClickBank affiliates who have been using the Ow.ly URL shortener received a nasty surprise from HootSuite recently. Vancouver’s social media management giant is now blocking all ClickBank affiliate URL’s through Google Safebrowsing. Attempting to submit a ClickBank affiliate URL now results in the message, “Submitted URL has been blocked.”
ClickBank affiliate links set up prior to the block will now go to a warning page that implies all links going through the affiliate network are dangerous.
Maybe the idea of tackling a giant like Google is too daunting for ClickBank, but it would seem several legal avenues could be open to them. Judging all of their merchants to be dangerous is more than a little slanderous to both ClickBank and their clients. It could result in the loss of clients and affiliate income for ClickBank, their clients, and their affiliates. We tested several other affiliate network links and all appear to be fine (for now).
ClickBank focuses on the sale of information products (eBooks, eCourses, etc). I’ve made many high quality, safe purchases from ClickBank merchants and fail to see how this blanket blocking can be justified. Online shoppers are more than capable of being wary of any website, all of which have the potential to be dangerous.
Now that Google and HootSuite have singled out ClickBank’s clients and labelled them the equivalent of a phishing scheme or malware, we’ll have to use alternative URL shorteners. We will also have to go back and change all Ow.ly URL’s to another shortener to ensure our visitors don’t receive the warning upon clicking. Our post, What to Look for in a URL Shortener, offers some alternatives.
I hope this doesn’t sour people against HootSuite’s exceptional social media tools, but I suspect it will have a negative impact on them to some extent since their target markets overlap to some degree.
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