Even if you are a newbie in affiliate marketing, you might have heard about shaving. But do you know what it actually is? Do you know how to avoid it? Has it happened to you already but you have no idea about how to go about it? You can find answers to these questions in this blog post.

What is shaving?

First, you need to understand what shaving actually is. Perhaps your advertiser has not reported all valid leads – that’s bad but it is not shaving, it’s scrubbing. Shaving is when the affiliate network which you work with is not crediting your (affiliate) account. It may also happen (and often does) that advertisers shave affiliate networks, and the last one may even have no clue about it.

There are three ways in which the network can steal your commission. The first two are rare but it is still worth mentioning them – during redirection (e.g., a cookie may be replaced) or not crediting your account while tracking pixel is fired. The most popular point, however, is when not all leads are posted on your account or with a delay.

Moreover, networks can make a certain percentage of your conversions invisible. Basically, they will prevent them from displaying in your affiliate platform reporting. So if the network shaves at 20% of your affiliate account, out of 10 factual conversions you will be informed only about 8. It may not be a big deal if your rate is $1-3 per conversion, but if $40-60 are at stake, it may change the whole thing.

Is it happening to you?

To find out if the network is shaving your commission, you can try either of the ways:

  • Way #1. Split testing. Test the same offer on another network and see the difference in conversion/between two sets of data.
  • Way #2. Ask the affiliate network for advertiser stats and compare to the network data. You will easily see if there’s anything fishy or not.
  • Way #3. Compare offer payouts. If a network suggests high payouts (for example, $1.5 higher than other networks do) it may be a red flag. A rogue network will attract you with promises of high gains while in reality it will shave to compensate the difference.

Here’s how to prevent and avoid shaving

  1. Work with reliable and experienced networks. It’s usually weak or novel networks that do the shaving – before joining any, do proper research.
  2. Work advertisers directly. Many networks will not like it but if your stats improve, why not? Beware, though, if you stop working with networks, you may lose other benefits, so better stick to the #1 option.
  3. Do not chase after abnormally high payouts – they are usually offered by networks which shave.
  4. Keep running split tests. Even if your network is known for being reliable, you know, «trust but verify».

What to do about shaving if it already happened?

Shaving happens on a daily basis in this industry. Many take it for granted. But if you are not one of them, you can rebel.

You can collect all the data and proof and show it in the face of your network, demanding compensation. If the network is conscientious, you will get your money back (even if you didn’t have any contract with them). If not, well, there’s not much you can do about it. In any case, dismiss them. You can tarnish their reputation and let other affiliates know about what’s going on by word of mouth.

Once you’re done with the revenge, start working with a trustworthy and reputable affiliate network, so good luck with that!