Doing my community duty and giving you a head’s up to something I came across today. I was contacted today by a sex toy retailer that I use as a sponsor for some of my affiliate sites. They were switching tracking programs and moving to Webgains.com, and I had less than 24 hours to swap out my links. I hurried over to the signup page on Webgains and their TOS was displayed part way through the process:
The highlighted portion of the TOS was my concern. Let’s review the two main hiccups.
Pornography – I know quite a few sex toy blogs also feature porn site advertisements. (And why not? Sex toys and porn go together so well!) If you have porn clips, porn sidebar ads or anything else deemed ‘pornographic’, you’re violating this TOS. If you have sexual images of yourself using said toys, this may be considered pornographic.
Obscene – What a huge grey area this word is! In the past I’ve seen this language in a TOS used to violate sites that have full frontal nudity and sexual imagery – even erotic texts.
Nevermind “offensive“. Anything can be offensive, can’t it?
So what happens if you violate a TOS on Webgains?
Pretty self explanatory. You’re booted out of the program with zero obligation for Webgains to send you any unpaid funds it holds. (This is a common clause in most affiliate program TOSs, by the way.)
At any rate, if you planned on joining Webgains you may want to keep this in mind. I did get in contact with the sponsoring program to discuss my concerns with this TOS. I was told “you will be fine – Webgains have said they will push through all account requests that come through…”, but I’ve heard this song and dance before. Shortly afterward, Webgains did email me directly, reiterating the fact that they would “ensure that [I was] accepted onto the network”. My worry isn’t getting into the program – it’s staying in it and getting paid, even with the pornography and obscene material on my sites!
While they did mention that “they are in the process of updating [their] TOS to allow more flexibility for […] our adult publishers”, I know that these TOS changes can certainly take some time, especially when lawyers are involved. I’ve asked them to let me know when this TOS change is in place, and will update this post accordingly.
June 10, 2014 – UPDATE: After being contacted once again by Webgains asking me to swap over my links I emailed asking if the TOS was now allowing pornographic materials. The affiliate manager confirmed that this is the new language in the TOS.
“5.4. You warrant that the affiliate website does not display or transfer any material which is obscene, racist, offensive, defamatory, threatening, blasphemous or in breach of any third party Intellectual Property Right(s), provided that websites and campaigns that include pornographic or adult content which is not obscene are permitted but only where affiliate’ products and/or services are also categorised as pornographic or adult content, but not obscene, and only such affiliates are permitted to join such programs with such advertisers.”
I then asked for clarification as to what the word ‘obscene’ means to Webgains, and got this reply.
“So obscene for us is the following; under-age content, racist, offensive, defamatory, threatening or blasphemous.”
It appears Webgains is now allowing websites with pornographic materials, but with a few catches. First, you can only use your ‘adult’ sites to promote ‘adult’ products. You cannot use your adult site to promote ‘mainstream’ products. This might get iffy when it comes to items like lingerie and performance-related pharmaceuticals, as they straddle that adult / mainstream divide. But, for purely sex toys, I’d look at this updated TOS and be comfortable using them.