In the early days of affiliate marketing, there was very little control over what affiliates were doing, which was abused by a large number of affiliates. Affiliates used false advertisements, forced clicks to get tracking cookies set on users’ computers, and adware, which displays ads on computers. Many affiliate programs were poorly managed.
In its early days many internet users held negative opinions of affiliate marketing due to the tendency of affiliates to use spam to promote the programs in which they were enrolled. As affiliate marketing has matured many affiliate merchants have refined their terms and conditions to prohibit affiliates from spamming.
Search engine spam / spamdexing
There used to be much debate around the affiliate practice of spamdexing and many affiliates have converted from sending email spam to creating large volumes of auto-generated web pages, many-a-times, using product data-feeds provided by merchants. Each devoted to different niche keywords as a way of “SEOing” (see search engine optimization) their sites with the search engines. This is sometimes referred to as spamming the search engine results. Spam is the biggest threat to organic search engines whose goal is to provide quality search results for keywords or phrases entered by their users.
Adware is still an issue today, but affiliate marketers have taken steps to fight it. AdWare is not the same as spyware although both often use the same methods and technologies. Merchants usually had no clue what adware was, what it did and how it was damaging their brand. Affiliate marketers became aware of the issue much more quickly, especially because they noticed that adware often overwrites their tracking cookie and results in a decline of commissions.