Make-my-baby: Ethical Use of Affiliate Marketing?

Facebook has been in the news recently, not only for their high valuation and major investments from Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky Technologies, but also because some applications on the site are now asking for access to personal information such as phone number and address. Interestingly, there is another application, Make-my-baby, that also has the ability to change the settings in your browser if you allow it to install the plug-in that you are immediately prompted about when you go to Make-my-baby.com. The site allows you to put things like moustaches and funny glasses on the face of a baby. It turns out that this site also happens to be the third largest advertiser on Facebook behind AT&T and Match.com.

According to Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb, Make-my-baby is an affiliate marketer for Microsoft’s Bing and in their terms of use that you agree to when you install their browser plug-in, it states in the fine print that they are allowed to install the Zugo/Bing toolbar and change the homepage of your browsers to Bingstart.com. Kirkpatrick has reached out to Microsoft and Facebook for answers and received communication from Facebook denying that Make-my-baby advertises with them, and Microsoft has stated that they have terminated their relationship with this publisher after they were made aware of these practices.

By driving traffic to Bing, Zugo (Make-my-baby’s parent company) collects a percentage of the ad revenue from people who use the Zugo toolbar and click on search ads. This is the way affiliate marketing functions, but the Make-my-baby Facebook application seems to be going about it in an unethical way. You can see from the graph below that Facebook was the top referring site to Make-my-baby in December 2010, ahead of direct traffic and Google and represents a nearly 110% change in share month-over-month. Do you think that this is an ethical affiliate marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments.

About Jared DeLuca:
Jared is currently the Associate Digital Marketing Manager at Compete (Millward Brown Digital). He is a graduate of Northeastern University, having achieved his B.A. in Communication Studies. If you like what you read, you can connect with him on Google+, Twitter, or on LinkedIn.