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Ad Network and Affiliate Program Failures



This in the past was an affiliate network offering cost per click deals and cost per action deals with no ad placement requirement so they were good for below the scroll and odd ball ad placements. The ad creatives were served from individual advertiser sites so sometimes if the advertiser's server was slow blank banners would be served. Also advertisers shut down programs often. Clicktrade was an adventure to work with to say the least. On Nov 5, 1998 Microsoft acquired Linkexchange the parent company of Clicktrade for 250 million dollars. Since Clicktrade accepted almost all sites they were the king of low level CPC advertising for buttons, banners, and other strange ad formats when they were prominent. Microsoft shut down the network on Sept 6 2001 abandoning approximately 120,000 affiliates. When the shut down notice was given Clickxchange began referring its former members to the Commission Junction affiliate program which was still offering CPC programs at the time. The Clicktrade shut down notice is still available for viewing at One would think an affiliate network with a base of 120,000 affiliates would be something of great value and not something to toss in the trash. Why Microsoft did not just sell Clicktrade outright is a real mystery. Microsoft has also abandoned the Linkexchange brand and now is promoting the banner exchange that was Linkexchange as the idiotic sounding Bcentral. Clicktrade was the first program I ever received money from online. Check out this link for more about Microsoft's purchase of Linkexchange/Clickxchange.


This was a cost per click network for above and below the fold advertising. They paid generally 6 cents per click and had offices in the US and Japan. They shut down on June 22, 2001 which interestingly enough was just a short amount of time after they booted one of my sites from their network.


Flycast and Adsmart at one point were separate adnetworks. Adsmart focused on representing large web properties and Flycast focused on midsize sites of 100,000 page views a month. When CMGI combined Flycast and Adsmart into a new company Engage many people still referred to it as Flycast. Along with a CPM based network, Engage also offered a CPC network that was in theory a testing ground for sites too small for the regular CPM network. Engaged increased requirements on the CPM network from 100,000 to 250,000 at one point and increased commission rates from 40 percent to 60 percent for almost all sites before closing down. Engage was probably the best online representiave of midsize websites from 1999 until it started to have troubles before its shutdown in Sept 2001.


Now this is a company with a unique history. Efront was a company that bought up lots of hightraffic websites on various topics in exchange for a small upfront fee and or a portion of the sites future advertising revenue. Lots of medium sized entertainment sites took them up on their offer. Logs of confidential business discussions between several of the company's executives were somehow released on the internet. Cnet tells of this story in March 2001 at The actual logs of thousands of messages can be found at These log files made them famous as they provide extreme details about the firm's thoughts on their publishers, and how to monetize them. A classic read even more entertaining than reading about Enron executives. The logs mention specific advertisers, ad networks, and monies that are truly the most sensitive of data an online firm can lose. Some of Efront's original publishers were returned the rights to their sites after this story broke. Efront operated for a while after this but now their site appears to be dead.

Doubleclick Select, Audience Network, and Sonar

Doubleclick at one point was the most prestigious ad network online. Doubleclick Select was the thing of dreams for publishers everywhere as CPM rates for Select were very high and Doubleclick had very few elite Select sites which it sold advertising for on a site specific basis. Everyone else at Doubleclick was in the regular Network which sold advertising on a non exclusive basis and required 500,000 to 1 million page views a month. In January of 2000 Doubleclick launched a network for smaller sites of 100,000 page views a month called Sonar Network. Sonar was unique in that it sold site specific advertising while in theory providing the regular network type ads that regular Doubleclick network users had. As with all Doubleclick adnetwork incarnations the rate cards listed on the site gave publishers no idea what inventory was actually being sold for. Sky high rates of 40 CPM were mentioned on the site when most inventory sold for less than $1 or $2 cpm. The Sonar division in May 2001 was absorbed into the regular Doubleclick network and renamed Audience Network. Starting in Nov 2001 Doubleclick began accepting almost any publisher it could into its Audience Network. Publishers thought this new Doubleclick change of heart would be excellent for their revenues but in reality Doubleclick had a new revenue strategy; charge publishers for unsold inventory. Thats right Doubleclick began charging all its new webpublishers 25 cents for every 1000 ads they could not sell! And to top it off Doubleclick Contracts for admission into this network required between 54 and 64 percent commission.. The breakdown on the fee structure was 50 or 60 percent commission and a 4 percent bad debt fee. So not only was Doubleclick charging publishers when it couldn't sell ads it also charged them extra comissions for any bad advertising debts accumualted via the bad debt fee. What adnetwork on this planet would not sign up every one they could for a guranteed 25 cents cpm default fee and more than 50% of any revenues? And thats exactly what Doubleclick did under that system and they topped it off with uncapped popups and requiring publishers to place ads below the scroll and above and count it as one impression. On July 11 2002 Doubleclick sold their entire business to Latitude 90, the newly formed company of two former has beens is now known as Maxworldmedia.

Real Media

This was an adnetwork that focused on serving sites with over 1 million page views a month. They eventually abandoned this aspect of their business to focus more on providing paid adserving via their Open Stream Ad Server. In October 2001 RealMedia merged with 24/7 Media to become 24/7 Real Media.


This was originally an independent program offering different pay outs for two distinct classes of webpublishers. Premier members had 250,000 plus impressions of Contentzone banners and regular members had far less. Contenzone guaranteed a minimum CPM at the start of each month. In 1999 and 2000 Contentzone was paying almost 1 CPM guaranteed to publishers of Premier sites consistantly. With time premier rates fell to 25 cents cpm and member rates fell to 14 cents. Before shutting down Contentzone rates for both premier and regular members were the same at 14 cents cpm or so. Even though the CPM rate was guaranteed Contentzone required a 0.25% clickthru rate or they would warn you with an email and then kick you off their network. Contentzone was owned by 24/7 Media since at least 1998. Contentzone was shut down suddenly with a series of cryptic emails encouraging publishers to sign up with a banner based pay per click search engine program. At its peak Contentzone had nearly 4,000 publishers.

Hitbox Iclicks Program

This was a program in whcih webmasters placed banners on their page and received free quality stats about their visitors and 10 cents per click on the banners. The program was ended on April 1, 2001 but Hitbox still provides free stats services. This Iclicks should not be confused with another unrelated adnetwork.


This adnetwork also known as Electronic ads existed until near the end of 2000. When it existed it paid on a CPC basis between 5 cents and 20 cents per click and required 100,000 page views to join. Publishers of this adnetwork could target ads by category but not specific ads. Minimum payout was only $10 and stats were in the beginning only updated monthly. They updated daily at a later point. This former adnetwork's homepage is now owned by the Europeon Aeronatic Defense and Space Company as one can see when one goes to It is unique to see an adnetwork domain be used for something so different.


This network originally started out as a CPC network paying 10 cents per click. They at one point increased the payout to 15 to 17 cents per click to publishers. Dimeclicks was frequently listed as a top Contentzone publisher so they were using contentzone in some capacity I believe. Dimeclicks was unusual in that they allowed publishers to have a total of 6 banners per page! Before dimeclicks shutdown many publishers reported not being paid. In mid 2002 Dimeclicks homepage no longer was active on the internet so it is safe to assume they shut down. There still are a few sites on the internet using their ad code which now serves broken banners. This showcases the less than superb quality of the many small websites that did use Dimeclicks at one point. Dimeclicks targeted the US market but was run by someone living in Portugal. The original Dimeclicks terms for publishers appear at They appear to be correct even though the site is mosty in Russian accept the copied and pasted Dimeclicks terms.


In the year 2000 Adflight offered a flat rate of $1 cpm for above the scroll banners to webmasters who were accepted and delivered 100,000 impressions a month. They later changed this to $1 cpm and 300,000 impressions. Higher rates could be gotten for advertising sold on a site specific basis. Adflight accepted smaller sites on a revenue share basis from the beginning but the guranteed CPM rates are what made them famous. Adflight finally begain paying $1 cpm only for the impressions they could sell for top sites, the rest were defaults one could send elsewhere. Then they began paying 45 to 50% of what they could get for advertising on a given site. They supported above the scroll banners, and button sizes of 120x60, 88x31 and 120x90. Adflight shutdown in April 2001.

Luna Network

This was an adnetwork formed by in which member sites had to run branding logos and navigation bars to brand the site. Only publishers with content that related to an already existing Guide topic were accepted. Publishers were being accepted in May 2000 or thereabouts, while a non disclosure agreement prohibited most publishers from revealing what they made at the time it appers most Luna Network sites were guaranteed $1 to $1.20 or so CPM. Luna network paid guaranteed CPM rates to publishers but ultimately was shut gradually beginning in late 2001 as members were pushed towards's new Sprink pay per click text program.


This was an adnetwork offering $5 cpm for banners in July 1999. They required a startpath logo on all sites and 50,000 page views a month minimum. By December of 1999 it became obvious that Startpath was not going to be able to payout what they intended or were not willing to. Gethighforums a popular message board for webmasters was actually running Startpath ads before a multitide of threads of nonpayment starting appearing on the message board.

Affinia Product Placement Network

This was launched in March 2000 and paid webmasters a minimum of $2 cpm for sidebar style ads that were filled in theory dynamically with relevant products from merchant websites. Affinia made comissions off the sales and paid webmasters a flat CPM rate. This system did not work but looking back $2 cpm for a non popup ad is amazing but that was what this program offered at the time. You can read more about Affinia here.


This is a company that while still around is dead for all practical advertising revenue purposes. Webshots was a company selling a graphic editing tool for creating desktops for windows. It originally paid three cents per click on trick banner creatives. This company was a part of Excite at Home but ceased to exist when Excite filed for bankrupcy. Publishers who were getting 3 cents per click generally lost revenue from August 9 to Sept 28 as the bankrupcy prohibited payment for this time period. Webshots was consequently reacquired by its former owners who originally sold it to Excite. Webshots now operates a 1 cents per click program. When Webshots was paying 3 cents per click it was a decent allclicks alternative. Read more about the Webshots past program troubles at Revenews.

This was a video retailer that offered 5 % of sales to affiliates at first. In July of 1998 Reel was acquired by Hollywood Entertainment Corp the owner of the Hollywood Video rental chain for $100 million. On June 12, 2000 Reel closed their 5% affiliate program leaving abandoning more than 100,000 affiliates. customers were routed to former competitor Then on October 26, 2000 Reel then transitioned to offering 2 cents per click for most affiliates via a program administered via Befree and 5 cents per click for clicks over 15,000 a quarter. This in effect made them a middle man as they were paying affiliates for traffic that was then sent to In April 2001 Reel ended their CPC program.


This was a video retailer offering one of the highest commissions for video sales at 8%. Bigstar had nice video trailers of almost all movies they carried supplied by videopipeline. The program was ended with no notice on July 4, 2001. an email was sent out informing affiliates that the program had already been ended and that was it.

Borders was an online book store run by the offline bookselling giant Borders. Their affiliate program paid a percentage of sales and was a strong competitor to Amazon online. On April 11, 2001 Borders and Amazon agreed to merge their operations with Borders redirecting its visitors to a cobranded Amazon page. With Borders gone the only major affiliate based threat to Amazon is Barnes and Nobles online operations and a few small speciality book sellers online.


This was once an independent music store online that paid a percentage of sales to affiliates. They have merged their online operations with where all their visitors are now referred. Before closing down CDNow acquired Music Boulevard another company providing music and books that paid affiliates a percentage of sales. Both of these programs are now gone.


This was once an ad network that focused on representing high traffic websites only with millions of page views each. An Internetnews article claims that at one point Phase2Media was selling banner advertising for 12CPM during the third quarter of 2000. On July 23rd, 2001 the firm filed for bankrupcy.

Image Networks/Clear Blue Media

Originally this was a low end CPC/CPM network for smaller websites. Towards the end of the life of this network it focused on only large properties of 10 million plus page views each. But this strategy did not work and the network shutdown on May 31, 2001. I remember thinking what kind of moron with 10 million impressions would sign up for this network, and it holds true that an adnetwork that was built by small websites with less than 10,000 page views a month can not serve those with 10 million a month any better.


This was an inhouse run music store that paid betwen 10 and 20 percent of sales to affiliates. Their affiliate program ended March 16, 2001 and had been around for years. Their site now uses Vstore to fullfill orders for whoever arrives at the site.

Pay to Surf Programs All of them

Alladvantage and all of their clones that paid users simply to view ads were popular for a while. Users figured out ways to cheat these programs by running multiple adbars at a time from multiple pay to surf programs. In addition the desireability of those so eager to degrade their internet experience for mere cents an hour proved difficult to sell to advertisers. Alladvantage shutdown in 2001 and many of their clones followed shortly thereafter.