Good news! The IAB Affiliate Marketing Council (AMC) has unveiled its code of best practice for the use of voucher codes online.

The code stipulates that any websites displaying voucher codes must support them by showing full details of vouchers on offer, expiry dates and legitimate activation instructions.

The policy also states that sale offers cannot be categorised as voucher codes.

Most major affiliate networks have given their full backing to the AMC code which will come into effect from the 1st January 2009.

“Here here,” I say. It’s about time something solid was put in place to fully support hard working legitimate voucher code website such as VoucherCodes.co.uk and FreeinUK.co.uk.

Sites like these have spent numerous hours and efforts building relationships with merchants and networks as well as their own customers to develop, what I feel are trustworthy, deal-tastic internet businesses. Their aim is to provide online shoppers with news of the latest, official vouchers and discounts – usually being able to add their own exclusive coupons courtesy of merchants who appreciate the sales and new customer acquisition figures these affiliates are adding to their online performance reports each week.

Most controversy surrounding voucher code websites stems from those publishers pushing “click to reveal” offers, whereby a customer clicks on what they believe is a genuine voucher code offer only to find there are no voucher codes available. Sites like these have also been criticised for opening the retailer’s site in a new browser window and dropping the affiliate cookie even when a voucher is not available.

There have been many discussions about the future of voucher code websites – even with this new policy in place, people within the industry are still sceptical about what effect if any it will have.

Although the networks have signed up to the new code, I do believe merchants also need to take a tougher stand. I attended two recent presentations on the future of voucher codes at the IAB and A4U Expo. Even though I hear brand managers voicing concerns about their brands being advertised via such websites, I don’t actually see many taking direct action by auditing such sites and expiring their relationships with non-compliant publishers.

Although we are yet to fully understand how the new AMC’s code of practice will change the dynamics of the voucher code industry, I for one, fully appreciate the efforts being made to make a difference. It’s good to finally see action taking place – after all, Barack Obama didn’t become the first black President by staying at home and speculating about the difference he could make did he?

What do you think about the IAB’s Best Practice Guidelines for voucher codes websites? Will it cut down on unethical practices? You may post your views below.