Referral marketing is nothing new in the Internet marketing industry. We share a product we think is worth spending for. There is nothing wrong with it, as you genuinely believed in the aptness of the product/brand. The problem arises once people started getting paid for doing that. A click or an impression are used to measure how much bounty you earned. This falsified the process and people started sharing things irrespective of the fact that he/she liked the product or not. All they cared was the easy money. None of these earn-to-share schemes had really taken off. Fact is either people were intelligent enough to sort out the spammy affiliate links or for some instances profiles were banned/unfollowed for doing so. On the other hand, since only impressions were counted that was not much of a business boost for the advertisers also.
Referly only adds a new angle to it. Not impressions but only conversions (actually buying) are considered eligible for a payment. So when you share a link, you will only get paid if someone buys the item following the Referly URL you shared (and not just clicked it). So the “business boost” I referred earlier finds an improvement with Referly. However, the spam quotient still remains. Because if anybody is willing to earn a few free bucks he still has to share the URL, hence a wary feeling about the spam links crowding the social networks is still there. The responsibility still lies on the shoulders of the sharer who will have to decide whether the product is shareworthy or not and not just share it because it may or may not earn him/her a free reward. At the end of the day, as word spreads out, people are more likely to be fooled once. And mind that your(sharer) accountability will be put to test.
Sign up for a free account and you are welcomed with a page where you can add a bookmarklet that will turn any URL into a Referly URL. You can also copy a link and use the in-page URL shortener to get the Referly URL. Either way you will be presented with buttons to share them on your social networks. The shared links can then be tracked for clicks and conversions and thereby the rewards earned. The rewards can be redeemed in the form of discounts, cash, perks or charity donations. The founders (Danielle Morrill, Kevin Morrill and Al Abut) have successfully partnered with almost 30000 brands. Note that only those Referly links pointing to them(partners) will earn you rewards and not just any. So before you start sharing take a look at the list of merchants.
Unlike Klout perks which has a distasteful disclaimer for shared links, Referly founders are banking on their brand name which will serve as a disclaimer that any Referly URL is a referred link that will earn the sharer some bucks for a purchase. My concern is that most online buyers are yet to be aware of this and hopefully will follow the link to the product page without the faintest idea of affiliate in mind. So the question remains whether the sharer is responsible enough to recommend the right things. We’ll have to wait for that.
It was not long ago, when Orkut used to be popular and was a safe haven for spammers. Twitter also has it’s share of spam affiliate links being shared with shady intent. Facebook has it’s own ways to offer people with distractions. Saying this, it will be unfair not to mention that all major social networks are infected with spammers. It is and always has been dependent on how the users intended to share. At the very first look Referly also resembles a get-rich-quick schemes sprawling across the social sphere. It isn’t. If the idea works it might see a theoretically perfect internet without ads. Since word of mouth is more likely to earn loyal customers than random ads targeted towards user behavior. Also as brands have to pay only if someone actually buys something might encourage them to adapt this new model of marketing.