The Curious Case of redirecting to MakeMyTrip’s Bus Ticket Booking page

After this story broke, the site has been pulled down. A 404 error page is all that remains.

redbusUpdate: After this story broke, the site has been pulled down. A 404 error page is all that remains.

We at YourStory have had the benefit of hearing numerous outrageous tales about the ways and means employed by e-commerce platforms to redirect traffic from their competitors. There are the tried and tested SEO tricks (keyword stuffing, doorway pages, etc.) which Google has managed to catch on to pretty quickly. And then, there are the affiliate programs. But changing times call for newer (and slyer) measures and the incident narrated here is perhaps a telling example of that.

I was planning a trip to Chennai from Bangalore on redBus, after having been ticked off by Indian Railways’ perennially booked out train reservation system. Now, until some time ago, when you finished booking a ticket from point A to point B on redBus, you were given a rather unimaginatively titled offer code called “RETURN” which entitled you to a discount of Rs.50 on the return journey fare. But when I finished booking the onward journey from Bangalore to Chennai last night, I received no such code.

So, like all judicious Indians who do travel bookings online fairly regularly, I googled “redBus offer code”. The first result was the redBus help page, outlining the use of the offer code system. The second result, however, was much more interesting – it was a site titled “” (screenshot given below):


The rest of the story is easy to guess. Clicking on “Click To See” on any post in the site redirects to MakeMyTrip’s Bus Tickets page (screenshot below):


A quick WHOIS lookup doesn’t give any clues about the owner of the domain, with details being placed under privacy protection. The WHOIS entry , however, states that the registration service was provided by Geek IT Solutions (which turned out to be a Hyderabad-based IT company upon further googling) and the phone number mentioned was not reachable.

Nonetheless, inspecting the elements on the page gives the tracking URL The “omgpm” in the URL refers to OMG Performance Marketing, which has an affiliate marketing business unit called OMG Network.

And it so happens that MakeMyTrip is an OMG client (screenshot below):


To be honest, this sort of snooping isn’t all that necessary. Even a cursory glance at provides most of the story. The site has two banners, both advertising an Rs.100 cashback offer on all bus tickets at MakeMyTrip. All the other pages are empty, with no content (including the About page). And the bunch of tags, at the end of the page, says it all:


Now, without going into the legalities or the ethics of setting up such a site, one can safely assume that at least some amount of traffic is being ferried to MakeMyTrip’s bus tickets page via

This instance is interesting because it is essentially a clash of the titans across categories. MakeMyTrip leads the pack for air & rail travel portals inIndia(after our very own IRCTC, of course) while redBus enjoys top-of-the-mind recall when it comes to bus ticket bookings. MakeMyTrip seems to be indulging in a category expansion exercise, with ferocious promotion of its bus ticket booking feature. To many, it’s a game that redBus has already won. But that doesn’t seem to be stopping MakeMyTrip. To us, this is surely a space worth watching.

Aware of other such instances? Feel free to leave a comment or write to us at

Sriram Mohan | YourStory | 5th January 2011 | Bangalore

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15 thoughts on “The Curious Case of redirecting to MakeMyTrip’s Bus Ticket Booking page

  1. Being from a Coupons code website business, I would like to comment on few things here:

    1. This kind of websites are not setup by corporates like Makemytrip.

    2. Affiliate networks like OMG and many more does a constant watch on how are their affiliates promoting the campaigns. However, with their growing size these new or relatively small websites may go unnoticed.

    3. As fasr as faults is considered, it is totally wrong on the part of this domain creator. He / She was indirectly related to MMT (as this publisher was an affiliate of OMG), by using these unethical means he has done harm to MMT as well as OMG.

    So the learning from this is for MMT and OMG, they should be more vigilant of such activities. However, people above have concluded that this is something done by MMT or OMG, that is totally wrong.

    The publisher of this website (redoffers) is the person behind the whole mess.

  2. Oh yes yes, that’s exactly the point I was trying to make. No body whether brand like you or network has control over such short lived practices. Like they say you will always find such sites in the ecosystem out of anyone’s control. They will eventually find their way to the bin, and an example for rest of the guys out there to refrain.

  3. @Ayuforu The nature of affiliate campaigns is such that no advertiser
    will have complete control over where their links are placed (it is the
    affiliate who places the advertisers’ link and we have very limited control on
    the same). What has happened is obviously very incorrect but had no
    approval from MakeMyTrip. As soon as this incident was brought to our notice we
    asked our affiliate network to shut down this site.


  4. Now there you go Praveem, I am wondering whether you really want good for this industry or you want to vouch your network here.

  5. Now there you go Praveem, I am wondering whether you really want good for this industry or you want to vouch your network here.

  6. I totally agree with Sameer here, affiliate network would certainly not out there to malign and everyone do their set of checks but like Sameer mentioned if they have changed few days back then let’s not be too harsh on brand and network. How will someone go ahead and stop google of allowing ppc on competitor terms. If brand dilution we are talking then this is also a tactic to get competitor traffic. And don’t tell no one does it. Everyone does it. There are two concerns here, brand related domains and traffic going to competition, various actions have been taken in google algorithm to stop this and even if some are flourishing it’s just a matter of time and till then best strategy is to ask these guys to promote you.

    Affiliate marketing is generating huge benefits globally and these set of practices have popped up there also but with constant talks and strict action, nobody does it. Similarly in sometime to come, this has to go away or Google the father and bread and butter of all would penalise anyways. And with recent update, it has already started.

  7. @1900e9b750614c69b3611db6c0d2fbbe:disqus Absolutely. We wrote about this to create awareness around the various measures that are used to gain traction. And any brand that intends to stay around for a long time is likely to avoid such methods. 
    MakeMyTrip Care’s comment above states that they didn’t approve this effort and with the site being pulled down, I think the chapter can be considered closed. The space continues to become more competitive by the day and we at YourStory intend to bring you all the action as it happens :). 

  8. The nature of affiliate
    campaigns, is
    that advertisers can never have complete view to where precisely their website
    links are placed or promoted. The incident reported in this detailed post was
    the result of one such affiliate campaign and was infact uploaded online
    without any consent of our team at MakeMyTrip. We thank you for bringing this misuse
    to our notice and have now taken the required action towards deactivating the

  9. As I know of this industry from us n uk, network n brand works closely and weed these kind of domains or practices out. Like I mentioned in my comment, no body can stop this. Would you blame Google if websites like these start using google Adsense and mmt or any other brand appear on text links/banners. At least with network’s help these practices can be stopped. There are millions of publishers out there for that matter. It can only be possible by such awareness.
    I guess nobody should be blamed, now that this kind of things are generating awareness that it will automatically flush out of the system. It happens in any market starting to make journey to maturity.

  10. @e99e4a915bce9618f50d4ac1c807f228:disqus – Great point. In fact, that’s the thing which puzzled us the most. It seems like that the web page had been put up by an affiliate marketer via OMG Performance Marketing, which has been hired by MakeMyTrip. One would think that a large consumer-facing brand like MakeMyTrip would be more cautious about the way their affiliate marketing campaigns are executed. Anyway, the site has been pulled down now and the truth is that we have no clue how much of this is MakeMyTrip’s doing :). For all we know, they might be completely unaware. But knowing how competitive this business is, that seems very unlikely :).

  11. I doubt if brand like mmt would employ such tactics, they don’t need this. How much such guys would earn by making this. This has to go away soon with awareness generated by people like sriram. I looked at the Whois info as well, this doesn’t suggest mmt would be doing it. As much as I know of affiliate marketing, in us n uk there are lots of website like this and sometime it’s allowed and sometime not. Take the case of insurance, we have so many domains. Yes it’s brand dilution for redbus and should not be allowed, but getting it out of system is virtually impossible.

    This is interesting as market enters into maturity, we are looking at this space more closely.

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