There were promising signs this week that the affiliate sector vs.
888.com dispute over search engine optimization black hat activities
is about to enter a more constructive and consultative phase.
Some months into increasingly bitter differences (see earlier InfoPowa reports) with the online gambling affiliate sector over its alleged tolerance of "black hat" search engine optimization tactics involving site scraping and blog spamming, 888.com executive Nicholas Lev came forward last week. Pointing to the sound reputation his company enjoyed, he condemned unethical practices and give an undertaking that his company would investigate complaints and take action against any affiliate found indulging in bad SEO practices.
The giant online casino group has been the target of repeated criticism for allegedly turning a blind eye or profiting from the black hat practices of some of its marketing affiliates. Allegations include site scraping or content theft, inappropriate targeting and the irrelevant spamming of blogs in attempts to push the search engine rankings of 888.com higher. Several prominent affiliate sites have roundly condemned the activities as prejudicial to affiliates and unethical in nature, and have disassociated themselves from 888.
There has also been widespread and continuous criticism of 888.com, mainly by affiliates on a diversity of leading public message boards around the Internet, and suggestions that affiliates take retaliatory action by linking their sites and publicizing the issue. A serious irritant for affiliates has been the hitherto public silence on the issue by 888.com.
Led by Casino Affiliate Programs owner Lou Fabiano, moves were afoot this week to establish useful dialogue with 888.com. Fabiano reported that initial conversations with senior managers Nicolas Lev and Brian Kohn were "....encouraging. 888 has indicated they are committed to working with CAP on a resolution to the valid concerns raised over the past several months by our affiliate members.
"Nicolas will be sending me a statement of action on the proposed changes we discussed and I will post that at CAP and here at Casinomeister upon receipt.
"The objective of these changes will be to eliminate the unethical marketing practices that have taken place in the past by removing the profit incentive for using them. These program changes coupled with public dialogue and private meetings I have scheduled with company representatives ....should lead to a positive resolution for 888, their affiliate partners and the industry as a whole," Fabiano said.
Turning to earlier comments that 888.com affiliates were being singled out when black hat practices were being perpetrated by other companies and their associates, Fabiano said: "The answer is no, we are not only focusing on them, but we are addressing these [other] companies as individuals. This makes the process manageable. We will hold each group or entity responsible and accountable for their [individual] actions.
"Rome wasn't built in a day, it was built one brick at a time. 888 is the first brick in the road to a more ethical marketing environment for everyone."