My affiliate/reviewer relationship with Babeland has been….rocky. Years ago when I first started, things were different in many aspects – not just with Babeland’s practices but with reviewing altogether. I will always be grateful to Babeland for providing me with my favorite dildo to date, the Pure Wand, but the time has come to completely and officially part ways.
Many things have changed for sex bloggers since I started 4 years ago. Two of the biggest changes have happened this year. The first is that many advertisers have pulled out, because of the way Google treats links. They pretty much want links inside posts (this may lead to me doing “sponsored posts” more). The second change is that a number of sites have halted their reviewer program. All have said that the change is temporary, but I must admit that none have ever been my favorite places to review for. Goodvibes, MyPleasure and Babeland have all halted temporarily. This isn’t good for me as an affiliate, but as I said I’ve never really reviewed for them consistently to begin with. I had started to rebuild my reviewing relationship with Babeland though…….unfortunately my decision came just as they were laying off people in various internal positions, leading to our reviewer coordinator being severely overworked and then eventually even she was gone. We were all left hanging in the wind, feeling very uncertain as to what the heck was going to happen with Babeland.
So just as I was beginning to forge a relationship beneficial to us both….they yank the program. This was already after a huge change at the Babeland website a few months ago which led to a lot of links being broken. But then Babeland had to go and twist the screws again. All affiliates were notified recently that we had 15 days to sign up for a new affiliate management program called PepperJam and then change all of our links before the end of July. Like we don’t have better things to do. To them, though, affiliates and reviewers are not thought of in the same sentence because it was clear they expected us all to only have a couple links to change. I don’t think it occured to them that some people have been actively reviewing for them for a few years and had tons of links. The response? “Oh, don’t worry about anything older, just go back a few months”.
Sure, no worries for you maybe but what about us? It doesn’t look good to our readers OR Google when there are so many broken links, plus we’d lose out on potential sales.
The nail in the coffin for me though was catching a glimpse of what our new affiliate links would look like. The old style was simply tacking on a ?kbid=971 to any Babeland link. This allowed for complete transparency and for my readers to know where my links were taking them. Now, however, the links look something like this: http://www.gopjn.com/t/Qj5HQkhFPklIR0VEPkdCSEU?url=http%3A%2F%2F (and that’s just half of it!!!). Upon seeing this my answer was a prompt:
Despite the assurances that major retailers use affiliate links like this, I don’t care. I know what *I* would and would not click on and I know that many of my readers would be suspicious, too. We like transparency. We like to be sure that we’re not clicking spammy spam.
The Babeland that I once knew back in 2008/2009 has slowly gone downhill but this year it’s like a snowball. I just can’t support them anymore, and so you will not be seeing links to them anymore and I won’t be listing them as a trusted retailer.
ETA: 8/2/2012 – After making everyone scramble to change their links, Babeland announces suddenly yesterday that they’re completely doing away with the review program. There had been a lot of vague talks and foreshadowing that was making us think that the review program would most likely be brought back and, sooner than later. As if the situation didn’t already stink worse than rotten fish served on a bed of unrinsed Miracle Noodles, they couldn’t even admit to affiliates that the review program (which was the only reason many were sticking around) was to be tanked. Because unless you spend lots of time linking to and talking about products without doing reviews, you’re never going to make much from an affiliate program if there is no review program to go hand in hand. I’m betting that everyone who once reviewed for Babeland is most definitely jumping ship at this point.
Rubbing salt in the wounds is that fact that those of us (me included) who signed up with PepperJam before deciding to cut ties are receiving all sorts of spammy, annoying emails many of which have absolutely nothing to do with Babeland. When some have asked to have their PepperJam account deleted the answer is “Sorry, you can’t”.
W. T. F.