Several big-name brands are continuing to deliver the cold shoulder to cashback browser extensions as TopCashBack becomes the latest publisher to find out. 

Sky, Debenhams and Marks & Spencer were among the notable absentees when TopCashBack’s new ‘Cashback Notifier’ tool rolled out at the end of October. Offering timely money-off reminders to users that search for or visit an opted-in retailer, the tool bears plenty of similarities to Quidco’s ‘Cashback Reminder’

TopCashBack’s tool differs slightly from the Quidco system available in June, mainly in the sense that it allows merchants to opt-out of having it displayed on their site or in relevant Google searches. But TCB and Quidco-listed retailers have been forced to sign up to both tools as standard, bar a handful of exceptions.

The usual suspects

Now in its second month of activation, TopCashBack’s Cashback Notifier reminds users about the chance to gain money back from their purchases through a green bar at the top of Google search pages or the advertiser’s own site. 

The bar also displays the rate of commission on offer, and clicking this will confirm that an interaction with TopCashBack has been tracked and cashback is ready to be obtained. 

Users can see the notifier appear in searches for Sports Direct, thetrainline, Tesco’s F&F Clothing and several other merchants, but Debenhams, Sky, Homebase, all of whom were not and still cannot be seen on the Quidco tool, have once again eschewed the offer of cashback notifications next to their brand. 

Boots remains signed up to TopCashBack’s Cashback Notifier, and the cosmetics retailer was one of a handful of companies that was seen on Quidco’s browser extension back in June. 

Asked about the absence of certain retailers on TopCashBack’s browser tool, James Little, the firm’s commercial director, said:  “I think it’s fair to say that there are questions over the incrementality of browser extensions like this – those same retailers [Sky and Debenhams] are also no longer featured in other, similar products.

“We’re looking carefully into the stats and will be sharing any findings with any merchant who has decided that they do not want to be included in the future.”

Debenhams is yet to respond to PerformanceIN’s request for commentary, while Sky has refused to comment on the matter. 

Existing issues?

PerformanceIN received reports from a number of sources earlier this year about how advertisers were unhappy at being automatically opted-in and in some cases unable to opt-out of Quidco’s tool. One individual stated that judging by conversations that fell within their own radar, the ‘vast majority’ of brands would not have signed up had they been given the chance.

Several sources have pointed to IAB Affiliate Marketing Council guidelines for “opt-in software monetised through the use of affiliate links” which outline that “the emphasis will be on the publisher to secure opt-in from individual merchants prior to launching the tool on their campaign”.

Despite TopCashBack being one of the parties that raised an objection to Quidco’s way of working, Little informed PerformanceIN that automatic opt-in was paramount to Cashback Notifier’s success. 

“I think that the issue around Quidco’s release was not just the fact that merchants couldn’t opt out – but also that automatically opting them in was essentially against the IAB guidelines. It’s fair to say that we had issues around this approach at the time and made these quite clear to the affiliate networks and IAB, but the networks in the end could not agree on how to tackle it.  
“Off the back of this decision we were left at a competitive disadvantage so now our notifier also opts in merchants by default, we do however allow merchants the flexibility to opt-out if they wish to do so, rather than forcing them to be included in the functionality if they wish to continue to work with us.”   
Little informed PerformanceIN that his own company would be working hard on ways to ensure value for advertisers connected to the Notifier.