Cost per click was more common in the early days of affiliate marketing but has diminished in use over time due to click fraud issues very similar to the click fraud issues modern search engines are facing today. Contextual advertising programs are not considered in the statistic pertaining to the diminished use of cost per click, as it is uncertain if contextual advertising can be considered affiliate marketing.
The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 was passed by Congress as a direct response to the growing number of complaints over spam emails. Congress determined that the US government was showing an increased interest in the regulation of commercial electronic mail nationally, that those who send commercial emails should not mislead recipients over the source or content of them, and that all recipients of such emails have a right to decline them. The act authorizes a US $16,000 penalty per violation for spamming each individual recipient. However, it does not ban spam emailing outright, but imposes laws on using deceptive marketing methods through headings which are "materially false or misleading". In addition there are conditions which email marketers must meet in terms of their format, their content and labeling. As a result, many commercial email marketers within the United States utilize a service or special software to ensure compliance with the act. A variety of older systems exist that do not ensure compliance with the act. To comply with the act's regulation of commercial email, services also typically require users to authenticate their return address and include a valid physical address, provide a one-click unsubscribe feature, and prohibit importing lists of purchased addresses that may not have given valid permission.
Let’s start with the first scenario above. Suppose an affiliate is generating $100,000 in monthly revenue for a merchant, and getting $25,000 in monthly commissions. In this case, the network between the two may be taking $10,000 a month for its part in the process. In this case, the merchant may attempt to go around the network and set up a direct relationship with the affiliate–perhaps with a 30% commission.
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