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The Graveyard

This page archives the final reviews associated with major affiliate programs and ad networks that have been claimed by the sector's vicious shake-out. While in some cases the casualties were well-deserved, failing due to swiss-cheese business plans and poor management, others were claimed prematurely as a result of the prolonged market downturn. In any case, here lie the missing links in the Darwinian evolution of online advertising.

ABOVEtheFOLD.NET is a Canadian ad rep whose specialties lie in the sale of sports, youth, gaming and adult-related inventory. If you feel that you have something to offer in one of these categories, email the company's co-CEO Donny Brooks on donnyb@abovethefold.net with your site's details and a request to be considered for membership.
UPDATE (15th June, 2003): AbovetheFold's domain no longer resolves. The service seems to have slipped away in silence.

AdFlight has matured greatly as an ad network during the past year. They no longer base their payment structure upon guaranteed flat CPM rates, but offer publishers a 45-50% commission on the various CPC and CPM ads that they serve. In addition to the standard 468x60 above-the-fold banners, AdFlight supports three button sizes (120x60, 120x90, 88x31) to present their publishers with additional revenue streams. They now only accept publishers who are based in the USA, and require that sites deliver at least 300,000 pageviews in order to be eligible for participation.
UPDATE (9th April, 2001): AdFlight's banner ad network has been grounded for good. Word is that publishers will all be paid for campaigns served prior to this date, and the company will restructure to better serve its other businesses, whatever they may be.

ADictive brings together UK-based web publishers with both regional and international advertisers looking to target various industries within this national demographic. The offer advertisers the opportunity to plan exactly which categories and/or individual sites will carry their campaign, while providing publishers with an additional revenue stream. ADictive keeps a 30% commission from the publisher's earnings, pays monthly after £50 has been generated, and does not require exclusivity.
UPDATE 15th August, 2002: This media marketplace service seems to have died and allowed its domain name to expire without notice.

AdSearches is a program established by Advertising.com that pays you a rate of between 2 and 12 cents (on a 1st-click basis) for each search performed from your website. The actual rate is determined according to both the value of the terms for which your users surf (prefills are allowed), and their responsiveness to the links presented. A variety of box designs are provided, and a small selection of tect links are supported under the same payment scheme. Minimum payout made after $25 has ammassed, with checks cut within 30 days after the conclusion of the month in which your earnings were made. Recommended.
UPDATE 9th July, 2001: AdSearches announced this week that it would be making substantial revisions to its program, the central change of which will see it shifting to a 2nd-click, revenue-splitting system, rather than a standard 1st-click search program. Publishers will receive a 75% split of the revenues generated through their links, and will additionally be awarded 50% of the banner revenues from ads appearing on the results pages. For more on the changes, go here. Verdict: The court is out, but the changes look promising at this stage.
UPDATE 27th November, 2001: An email was sent to all AdSearches affiliates today noting that while Advertising.com remains strong as a company, it will be discontinuing AdSearches as of the end of this month. All revenues will be paid to affiliates according to the normal schedule.

AltaVista recently lowered the payments offered through its searchbox program to a low 1 cent/click (1st-click) through a branded box. Given the low rate and the lack of customization options, this program is not recommended.

bCentral Revenue Avenue (formerly ClickTrade) was established by the folks from Submit It! before being acquired by Microsoft. The system supports both pay-per-lead and pay-per-sale activity. Before hosting an ad, you are required to submit an application to each individual advertiser. Despite this, the earnings from each program are pooled into a single account from which affiliates may make one withdrawal request per month. Their depth-tracking system enables advertisers to scrutinize their link partners' traffic, by accurately monitoring the behaviour of the referred visitors. This should provide quality sites with greater probability of being accepted into each individual program. Offers real-time reporting. Supports banner, button and text links.

BigStar is an online video retailer offering 8% (or more, though there are no details present on the site to suggest the magnitude of such bonuses) commission on the sale of videos made through a referrer's link. Affiliates are paid quarterly on account balances exceeding $90.
UPDATE (4th July, 2001): This popular affiliate program was terminated via email on this day, with no advance notice given. read more.

BlueFishNetwork has caused ripples through the indie web publishing community this year out of the anticipation that this upstart may be best equipped to fill the void left by the departure of Flycast (now Engage Media, AdFlight and ClearBlueMedia. As yet, the only part of their suite of services to have gone live is their popunder program, which pays approximately $1.50-$2 Net CPM on quality single-frame windows that popunder once/unique/day. Recommended.
UPDATE (4th October, 2002): Just over a year since its promising launch, BlueFish has called it a day, failing to carve out a profitable niche for itself within an increasingly contracted online ad brokering marketplace.

CD Now is offering referring sites a 7% commission on the sale of CDs, videos and merchandise from their site. The commission, can either be redeemed in cash (once over $100 has ammassed), or used in the form of 'Cosmic Credit', which may be redeemed for goods at CDNow.
UPDATE (27th Nov, 2002): CDNow has ended its affiliate program and suggested that its previous affiliates instead join the Amazon.com associate program. Amazon will also be managing the tech components of the CDNow website on behalf of BMG Music.

CDWorld offers an impressive 10%-20% commission range on the sale of music, movies, software, comics and related products. Their commission scale is based on the number of sales your site generates.
UPDATE (9th March, 2001): This promising e-commerce pioneer announced today that they, and their affiliate program, are going the way of the dodo. For more information, read this.

ClickHereForCellPhones represents Standard Internet Corp's first foray into the CPS scene. Through this affiliate program, webmasters are presented with the opportunity to give away free cell phones (and attract users to resold cell phone contracts through major carriers as a result). Each successful cell phone application from one of your users will net you a tasty $37 bounty. Recommended.
Defunct as of 28 April 2004.

Clear Blue Media (formerly Image Networks) showed promise during the first few months of operation, but were ravaged by the ad market downfall of January 2001. At the end of January, they ejected 100s of members, with 12 hours notice, to cut down their inventory. They now represent only a few select sites with CPM/CPC hybrid banners, while providing CPM-based "gobehind" popunder ads to others.
UPDATE (5th May, 2001): It seems that ClearBlueMedia has experienced a rebirth. Having dramatically reduced their inventory, the company now represents only a few 100 branded properties. These days, your site must manage and report ads in-house, have audited figures available, support beyond-the-banner campaigns and deliver in excess of 10 million monthly impressions to be considered for representation.
UPDATE (24th May, 2001): Unfortunately, the 'rebirth' mentioned above seems to have been a desperate attempt made by CBM to snare brand-name partners with whom to align. The company's founder, Phil Pennington, confirmed today that Clear Blue Media will be serving its last banner this May 31st. For more information, please read this article.

Click2Net is an established banner agency whose payment rates vary according to advertiser demand. The network reportedly allows webmasters to place up to three Click2Net banners on one page, while also permitting other advertising on the same page. Banners are targeted to maximise your potential click-through ratio, and you are given the freedom to exclude unwanted ads from the rotation. Detailed real-time statistics are provided to all host sites, detailing how long it took each surfer to click on the banner, which interest areas produce the best click-through ratios etc - all designed to help you make the most of your unsold advertising inventory. Payments for balances above $30 go out 10 days following the month in which they were earned.
UPDATE (Jan 30th): This network used to pay 6-8 cents/click. On the 30th January, 2001, though, a representative from Click2Net informed me that "The Click2Net Network pays member websites between $0.10 and $0.20 per click depending on content, visual appeal and traffic as well as other demographic data." The company also appears to be making the transition towards a more flexible model, that also supports CPM and sponsorship deals. Recommended.
UPDATE (June 22nd, 2001): Click2Net suddenly, and surprisingly, announced its closure today.

ContentZone (formerly The Commonwealth Network) is 24/7 Media's network for unbranded small-medium sites. The program pays according to relatively low CPM guarantees that extend through the month. For example, the month of May saw member sites earn an average $0.15CPM, with Premium members (who deliver 250,000+ impressions/month) generating just $0.28CPM. Worth exploring.

Cyber Loft now pays 5 cents per click-thru made on their 120x60 pixel "hot buttons". Up to four of these buttons may be placed on each page of your site to supplement your existing banner sales. If your website receives between 1000 and 5000 visitors each day, email mostafa@cyberloft.com for more information.
UPDATE: Emails not returned, site unedited since 1999. Seems to be dead.

DimeClicks, as you can tell by their name, started out as a company paying a flat rate of 10 cents/click. In the years since, that rate has increased to 15 cents. During mid-February 2001, I received a complaint from a banner exchange operator who claimed that DimeClicks has spammed several banner exchange companies to request that they sign up. Then, after one such operator had run their banners for a few months, they were not paid. Upon querying this, the operator received no reply, but had his account cancelled days later, with payments retroactively cancelled.
UPDATE (April 13th, 2001): Several additional negative reports have surfaced regarding this firm's actions. Potential applicants should read this, this and this (hey, a few minutes of research could be very valuable ;)). Not recommended.
UPDATE (April 15th, 2002): DimeClicks' index page has been removed from their server, suggesting that the company has finally called it quits.

Electronic Advertising (eAds) pays host a between 5 and 20 cents per click-thru, scaled according to traffic volume. Hosts are able to select which banners appear on their pages. In theory, this means that you can choose banners that are specifically targeted towards your audience's demographics, thus increasing the click-through ratio. Some reports that I have received from webmasters state that eAds fail to respond to email requests, and cancel sites accounts without due cause. Still, the company has been established for a number of years now and many webmasters are admittedly pleased with the service that they receive. Requires 100,000 minimum monthly impressions.
UPDATE: eAds was proclaimed dead late 2000.

Engage Media [ENGA] (formerly Flycast Communications) offers a great amount of freedom to both the buyers and sellers of Web-based advertising, offering a combination of CPM and CPC deals, as well as support for several IAB-standard banner sizes, and a new pop-up ad system dubbed 'Superstitials', which load while a visitor navigates a publisher's site. As with most online ad agencies, Engage has recently been troubled (cutting about half of their staff in an attempt to become profitable). As a result, their network-wide CPM rates have reportedly dropped from a high average of $4-6CPM a year ago, to about $0.50-$1CPM presently. Many publisher sites have also expressed their disdain by Engage's move to cut their commission rate from 60% to 40%, further strangling the publishers' key revenue source. If you're seeking representation for your site now, it is unlikely that you'll be picked up by Engage's CPM network, as they clearly have excess inventory under management. However, if you believe that you site's demographics have potential, it's worth applying - you may find yourself accepted into their CPC network, from which you can probably move once the ad industry has recovered.
UPDATE (9th July, 2001): Lately, several publishers have reported payment delays of several months above-and-beyond the NET60 payment period to which Engage claims to abide. This is a phenomenon that started within the company's regional divisions, but which seems to have leaked into the US division also. The network remains worth exploring, but is quickly losing the appeal that the former Flycast left in its wake.

HostIndex pays between 15 and 25 cents per clickthrough generated to their web hosting database through one of their buttons or banners. In order to participate in their program, your site must be webmaster-related and must attract in excess of 300 visitors per day. Program managed through Commission Junction.
UPDATE: This program, which started as an in-house offering, before moving to CJ, will be discontinued as CJ drops its support for CPC affiliate programs.

Internet Banner Network claims to offer sites that receive more than 4,000 impressions per month $2.50 CPM for delivering ads. Sites must place at least 5 IBN banners on their site, including a banner on their home page. When paid ads are not available, sites can earn credits towards a banner exchange program. Of all of the sites profiled here, IBN has produced the greatest number of complaints, with publishers claiming to have received no payment, or having their account (and outstanding balances) cancelled for mysterious reasons. Not recommended.

LeadCrunch only launched in August 2001, but is already home to several high-quality lead-based programs. LeadCrunch offers its affiliates a wealth of handy features, such as dynamically-generated Javascript ad spots, a banner rotator that allows you to select exactly which campaigns will appear on your site, and a wide variety of creatives associated with most offers. The network will also support CPC programs as demand dictates. Impression and click stats are updated in real-time, with lead stats updated daily. One account may be used to support multiple domains. Payments are issued NET60, once a minimum of $25 has ammassed. Since this program is a fresh entrant into the affiliate marketing scene, it has yet to develop a defining track record, but the company's CEO, Brian Welch, is highly respected within the industry, which suggests not only that LeadCrunch can be trusted, but that it will consistently remain on the forefront of affiliate marketing. Recommended!
UPDATE (31st July, 2005): LeadCrunch isn't defunct as such, but the network was on this date acquired by MaxBounty. Existing offers and affiliates will be transferred to the MaxBounty system, while the LeadCrunch brand will be disolved.

LottoTour recently made the decision to complement their CPA program with a CPM-based popunder option that pays at a rate of $1/1000 pops. Payment is made monthly once more than $10 has been generated. Residents of most nations accepted.

Luna Network launched with much promise a few years back as an extension of the About.com niche-content network. At the time, a contract with the Luna Network was similar in function to becoming an About.com guide, in that members were offered not only revenue, but traffic drawn from similar guidesites. In exchange for this, member sites are required to heavily brand themselves as About.com properties by inserting headers, banners, skyscrapers and Sprinks links. Unfortunately, the program's attractiveness has declined rapidly this year, with a large proportion of their inventory going unsold, and little to no traffic filtering down to member sites from About.com's other properties. Participating sites must serve at least 150,000 monthly impressions, be strongly focused upon a particular niche interest, and must maintain high editorial integrity.

Mach 1 has developed a sponsorship model that traverses the distinction between click-thru and affiliate programs. They offer sites a scaled click-thru rate that varies between 2.5 cents and 15 cents per visitor, depending on the ratio of sales (of aviation, military and motivational photos and products) generated through the link. In essence, this is an affiliate program of sorts, though you receive some compensation for each visitor refered, even if an individual visitor doesn't make a purchase.
UPDATE: Vanished off the face of the earth, without notice, somewhere between March and June of 2001.

MEDIAhits accepts professional, business and finance-related sites of all sizes, pays a flat rate of 5 cents per click-thru, and rotates its ads automatically. The also allow webmasters the choice between 3 different banner sizes (468x60 - the standard size, 426x76, and the obscure 300x54). The payment is the same for each, so your choice will depend purely on what fits your page layout the best. Banners can be situated anywhere on your pages, but you may only place one banner on each page. Appears to be dead. If anyone can confirm or challenge this, please email me.
UPDATE (April 21st, 2002): Domain name no longer resolves. Service dead.

Music Boulevard offers some of the highest commission rates of any store in its class. Paying between 7% and 15% commissions on the sale of CDs and books, based on a slidescale payment system (ie, the more you sell, the higher your commission rate). Their program has been around for a while and seems reputable by all accounts. Reports are sent via email each month, and payment can be used as store credit or, once it has exceeded $100, can be claimed in cash.
UPDATE: It appears that Music Boulevard has been acquired by CDNow, since their domain now resolves to this former-competitor's site. You are the weakest link...goodbye!

Narrowcast Media offers members a flat-rate payment of 8 cents per click-through on all banners. If Narrowcast find that the advertisements on your page are performing particularly well, they may invite you to join the purchase program, which is a more lucrative CPM (impression-based) agreement. Note that Narrowcast has changed its method of payment on many occassions, and is often slow to keep up with trends as they develop within the industry.
UPDATE: Domain no longer resolves. Nurse, call the time of death!

NetBanner Network, a Webclients company, has established a pay-per-click model similar to ValueClick's. It pays 15 cents and above per banner click-through, depending on the number of clicks generated each month.
UPDATE: While WebClients' Websponsors.com remains strong, the company has made the decision to shutter its CPC banner network.

NetEzines offers web publishers 20 cents for each confirmed subscriber they can send to a NetEzines newsletter. The subscibers can be gathered through multi-topic signup panels, popup windows, or through their new tell-a-friend service.
UPDATE 25th January, 2002: Pay rate reduced to 8 cents/confirmed lead. Program, if not in jeopardy, has largely lost its appeal.
UPDATE 17th September, 2002: Advertising.com's NetEzines program has been officially discontinued as of today.

OneMediaPlace (formerly AdAuction) is the most popular online media marketplace, and is subsequently very selective about the publisher accounts that it accepts. In order to offer your ad space for sale, you will need to serve several hundred thousand pageviews/month, with desirable demographics. Effectively, OneMediaPlace supplements your pre-sold inventory by offering you the chance to match your available impressions with advertisers looking to fill such space. They offer their own ad rotation software, while also allowing you the option of carrying sold ads through your existing ad-serving system. Due to the fact that OMP has established strong relationships with many traditional advertisers through their marketplace for offline media exchanges (such as TV, magazines and periodicals), they could potentially attract several large names to your site. Definitely worth exploring. UPDATE (7th March, 2001): Following its merger with Mediapassage, it seems that the newly formed company, which continues to operate under the Mediapassage name, no longer specializes in (or even offers?) a mediating marketplace for buyers and sellers of online ad inventory. While the company is continuing to use its website as a tool through which media buyers may make traditional media buys, the service is considered defunct as far as we are concerned.
FURTHER UPDATE (22nd Nov, 2001): Mediapassage failed to realize its vision before running out of funds. The full-form service has since been discontinuued, and the technology acquired by Valassis.

Phase2Media is an elite sales representation firm that works closely with a select group of high-traffic branded properties to facilitate the delivery of custom banner campaigns and sponsorships arrangements.
UPDATE (23rd July, 2001): Phase2Media this week filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 after CEO Richy Glassberg (also a Chair of the IAB) failed to attract a buyer to the firm.

PulseTV.com offers affiliate sites a whopping 20% commission on the gross shipped product price for any videos sold through a referrer's link. Perhaps the best aspect of this agreement is that affiliates are paid for all of that customer's future purchases also, so the revenue generated should, mathematically speaking, snowball exponentially, allowing you to reap the rewards long-term.
UPDATE: Program ended, without notice.

Quick Click Network, has initiated a program that offers a 100% sellout of your inventory, and a high 25 cents "guaranteed minimum" clickthru rate. Their terms allow their banner to accompany others on the same page. Payments are made reportedly monthly, within 14 days following the conclusion of the period in which revenues were generated. Unfortunately, this program does not accurately report clicks generated (while failing to report impressions at all), and has received a great deal of negative feedback regarding the performance and etiquette provided by this shady program. Not worth the trouble :(
UPDATE (April 20th, 2002): As with DimeClicks, this program seems to have finally gone out with a wimper by simply pulling their site offline - while failing to notify present or former publishers of their fate. :( See ya!

Real Media launched as an ad rep specializing in serving the online news and information communities, before growing following an alliance with Knight-Ridder Interactive. The success of their superb technology (RealMedia OAS), and their quality sales force has seen the company expand into the representation of sites within a variety of other content categories. Their Site Representation program accepts only those sites that can deliver in excess of 1,000,000 impressions/month for the firm, while some of their other advertising programs offer to support smaller properties.
UPDATE: Real Media recently announced that it is withdrawing from the ad representation business, and instead focusing on the development and maintenance of its OpenAdStream ad serving platform which, incidentally, has been an acquisition target of DoubleClick of late. More news will be noted here as it arises.
UPDATE 30th October, 2001: Real Media has merged with 24/7 Media to become 24/7 Real Media.

Reel.com will pay affiliate sites 5% commission on revenues (sales or rentals) generated through their links. Reel.com are one of the Web's biggest and most reputable video stores.
UPDATE (13th April): After failing as an e-commerce outlet, Reel.com's affiliate program made a transition to a CPC program managed through Be Free. Upon failing there (claiming that fraud decimated the viability of the program), Reel.com today announced the closure of their affiliate program.

Safe-Audit offers support for exchanges based on a per-impression, per-click, per-lead or per-sale basis. Safe-Audit were one of the first ad networks on the Web, and looked very promising early on. Lately, through, this company has been abandoned by sites, some of whom have reported to me that Safe cancelled some large CPM campaigns, without paying their publishers (including retroactive deletion of earnings, with no warning or notification given). Reversed leads are also common, with Safe determining (via undisclosed criteria) whether or not the traffic provided by a publisher site is considered valid. They accept sites of all sizes and dispatch checks once a user has generated at least $20 in revenues. Banners are served from your site, using your bandwidth. Still worth a look, but I wouldn't recommend that you use them exclusively.
UPDATE (April 21st, 2002): Though it would seem that Safe-Audit remain a company whose service should be approached with caution (see this discussion thread for more), the group has recently signed up Gambling.com into its advertising ranks, which provides publishers with the ability to once again derive CPC-based revenues from the group.
UPDATE (October 1st, 2002): Safe-Audit seems to have vanished without a trace, and without making an announcement to its members.

Sonar Network is DoubleClick's service for medium-sized sites. Ad serving is obviously managed through DoubleClick's Dart software, ensuring speed and reliability. In order to be eligible, your site must serve at least 100K monthly impressions, and must not be related to gaming, children, chat or illegal activities. I've heard mized reviews about Sonar, but the overall sense is that they are one of the best CPM networks for medium-sized sites, and may provide an avenue into DoubleClick for sites that perform well. Definitely worth exploring.
UPDATE (10th May, 2001): While not defunct as such, Sonar has been absorbed by its parent, with existing publishers becoming a part of the DoubleClick broad Audience Network. This move will, however, raise the barriers to entry for any other medium-sized sites who aim to join DoubleClick's posse.

Sponsorships.net, an iBoost company, supports several pay-per-lead and clickthrough-based programs. Your earnings from individual programs are accumulated in a single pool of funds, to be issued as a single check once/month. Detailed online stats are available, as are some interesting features that can't be found elsewhere (ie sponsorship panels that rotate text links automatically). Sponsorships.net's founder, Paul Grossman, recently announced his departure from the network (just as Chet Brzezinski left the iBoost-owned WebsiteSponsors), and the firm followed by changing its payment terms whereby they now don't issue payments until they've received the entire balance owed by their advertisers. This move, in conjunction with a sudden lack of support, has lead to the expression of several aggressive public outbursts from their members, whose payments are growing increasingly overdue. Be wary.
UPDATE (7th July, 2001): Finally, the ill-fated company has made the decision to throw in the towel and shut down operations. Hopefully, existing and past members will eventually receive their outstanding payments before iBoost's cash reserve dries up.

StickyCash , a service from the Safe-Audit team, offers relatively non-intrusive popunders that pay between $1-$5CPM, depending upon the responsiveness of your visitors. Presently, the average rate is said to be close to $1.8CPM. Payments are made monthly.
UPDATE 22nd May: StickyCash has shut down for an indefinite period of time. The message from their admin was as follows:

We regret that the operation of Sticky Cash has not proved cost-effective.
As a result we have decided to close that operation. Thank you for trying to work with us and we are truly sorry that it is not possible to continue.
We recommend you remove our code at your earliest convenience.
All sums owed that are in excess of the minimum payout have been paid.

WebsiteSponsors offers its publishing partners an impressive 12-25 cents/click. The company was founded by a veteran web developer, Chet Brzezinski, before being acquired by iBoost on October 9th, 2000. [Was] Recommended.
UPDATE (30th April, 2001): Well, it seems that big company syndrome drowned the indie ethos that once made WebsiteSponsors arguably the best CPC banner network available to small-medium sized publishers. The network shut down today. iBoost will turn their focus instead to Sponsorships.net, while Chet has moved on to bigger and better things as the founder of FineClicks. UPDATE (30th July, 2001): Three months after shutting down their banner ad network, iBoost has reportedly failed to deliver on its promises of issuing outstanding payments to its publishers.

Zonfire Network is L90's solution for medium-trafficked sites and those larger properties who do not wish to be bound by L90's regular exclusivity agreement. Zonfire supports both CPC and CPM-based banners, buttons and 'Power Ad' popups. They do, however, charge their publishers substantial setup fees and ongoing ad-serving fees for the use of L90's proprietary AdMonitor software. I've heard several reports of publishers receiving negligible (or even negative!) effective CPM rates through this service, since even unpaid default banners are subject to the system's ad serving fees. Not recommended.
UPDATE: Zonfire effectively died the day

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