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  1. #1
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    I do alot of research trying to find solutions for lost aff commissions due to a variety of cookie eating, host blocking and other threats to commission tracking.

    Just discovered this on another forum but am not technical enough to test it - so wanted to see what you guys think.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Main jist of the thread:
    >> BE advised also that many of the popular adware and >> anti-spyware programs also block affiliate links or >> lead un-savvy surfers to believe affiliate cookies >> are "bad" and should be deleted. Agreed. I believe I have this adware and every time I do a scan with it, it encourages me to delete all tracking cookies, almost all of which are affiliate cookies."

    SOLUTION SUGGESTED:
    "What needs to happen to get around the blockers is to resolve affiliate servers, server side, and avoid the local lookup though the client's altered HOSTS file.

    E.g., you have a an affiliate link,

    affiliate.green.widgets/ads/asdfgasdfgasdfg/ad?wdgetfrom=tomnjerry

    Instead you do:

    toms.widget.world/lookup?HPPP://affiliate.green.widgets/ads/asdfgasdfgasdfg/ad?wdgetfrom=tomnjerry"

    Not tested, but I'm pretty certain that would get around ST and others."

    -----------------------------------------------

    So what do you guys think? Would this help protect some affiliate links?

    NOTE: I could not get the code to disply with out turning into a link so I deleted the Hhttp form 1st lin and changed to HPPP in the 2nd so you could see the raw code, but you get what I mean. The key I guess is the lookup command in the url which I have never used.


    Linda Buquet :: Affiliate Management Consultant :: Catalyst eMarketing.com
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    [This message was edited by Catalyst on August 23, 2003 at 01:03 PM.]

  2. #2
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    For the end user to get there and the affiliate cookie to be set, the end user's pc still has to resolve the domain name. I have no idea what this is supposed to be doing, because "resolviong affiliates servers, server side" makes no sense when you are discussing setting a cookie on the client machine.

    Server side redirects still need to be resolved locally.

    So no. This will do nothing.

    Chet

  3. #3
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    Oh well, I tried! I have been scouting for ways to help protect commissions and will continue to share things just in case I find a solution that works.

    Linda Buquet :: Affiliate Management Consultant :: Catalyst eMarketing.com
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  4. #4
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    I see where you are going with this Catalyst. A cookie independant system that attributes sales to a publisher via the linking text and avoids the third party server which is usually the one that gets flagged. This system seems easy to hijack unless you are tracking originating URL IPs via your logs.

    Makes a lot of sense but I for one would be looking for a solution that includes that third party.

    <font face=verdana size=1 color=43639C>Know Google as you know yourself and you will live to fight many battles - Sun Tzu</font>

  5. #5
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    Thanks DPG, this wasn't my idea - it was something I found on another board and I am just trying to share info so if someone comes up with something that works, everyone can benefit. I think if we keep tossing enough ideas around, with all the great mindss at ABW we can come up with a solution that helps all.

    Linda Buquet :: Affiliate Management Consultant :: Catalyst eMarketing.com
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  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador Packy's Avatar
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    Linda,

    Thanks and keep it up I definately have no background in coding and am completely clueless about most of it. I agree with what you are doing. If you find something you think might work or help. Post it and let the pros take a look at it. We never know, one of these days the ticket to protecting our sales with some coding just might pop up and work. Thanks again for looking and trying.

    Merchant Coincidences, One of the Wonders of the World

    Coincidence Me baby!

  7. #7
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    You'll see that I am far (very far) from being an expert on coding, protecting affiliate links, etc, so let me ask some questions so I can give some thought to the problem. Sometimes it's better to look at the trees from outside the forest.

    From what I've heard to date, there are 2 ways that affiliate sales are stolen:
    1. Popup adware where the user is induced to click on the adware to get a deal on something.
    2. Cookies that are imbedded in the users computer so that whenever he/she lands on a specific page the affiliate ID is changed to the dirtbag's affiliate ID that is stealing the sale.

    Is this correct?
    Are there more ways that it is happening?
    Is there anyone out there that knows exactly how it is done by these dirtbags?

  8. #8
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    Hi Bob,

    You mentioned the parasite stealing issue, but there are other threats to affiliate commissions.

    Many ad blockers, pop-up blockers, firewalls, adware removal and anti-parasite software either block cookies, delete cookies, block host files, prevent links from opening in new window or block the merchant site from showing at all or some combination of the above.

    There are a variety of situations and problems but much of it boils down to the fact that the affiliate network servers - especially CJ qksrv.net (for example) are targeted due to the large numbers of affiliates they have.

    It would be impossible to block links to all the individual merchanst sites - but the software does not have to - they just block the qksrv.net domain or cookies and effectively kill thousands of affiliate commission opportunities.

    Here is a new link masking code I just discovered.

    It's an ASP script that allows you to hide your affiliate links by create a mapping link to each affiliate link and when someone clicks on this mapped link, they will be directed to your affiliate link automatically behind the scenes. In other words, you show them the mapped link and hide the actual affiliate link.

    Here is a sample (non working) CJ link I created:
    yoursite.com/cgi-bin/links.asp?linkID=37857.4430671296

    Would this help protect links from the issues I am talking about above?

    Linda Buquet :: Affiliate Management Consultant :: Catalyst eMarketing.com
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  9. #9
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    The problem is clearly that different parasite sites will steal/block the linking code in different ways. There are probably as many different programs out there that do this as there are programmers that write the code.

    In addition, any program that is developed will quickly be circumvented by these pirates and it would appear that anyone developing code to solve the problem would have to do "one-off" code for every bit of parasite software there is. Also, as long as there is server to server communication of data, the data can always be manipulated. The problem is that it will evolve into a never ending system of offensive and defensive code.

    I don't think you/we will ever be able to solve the problem in its entirety, but we may be able to eliminate a big chunk of it.

    It would appear that the key to solving the problem is having the shopper take the actions necessary to eliminate the pirating code as that is the one area that the pirates can not control. I had seen on these boards discussions and a link to a site that scans a PC and tells the user whether or not there is any adware or parasiteware on their computer. That's a good first step, but it doesn't scan for all parasiteware (such as eBates).

    What's needed is a system that:
    1. Informs the user that there may be parasite/adware on their computer
    2. Tells them the negative effects of having that software on their computer
    3. Provides an inducement to eliminate the software and
    4. Software that eliminates all the offensive programs.

    The system would have to be something along the lines of Zone Alarm that allows them to choose what they want to keep and what they want to delete. I would think that most people would be shocked to find out the amount of adware, etc that they have on their PC's. The key is to create a viral marketing program where Mary tells John about all the hidden code she found on her computer and John then scans his computer, deletes the software and then tells someone else. Keep in mind also that probably all these pirates read these boards in order to stay a step ahead of anything that may put them out of business. The only thing that will put them out of business is the end user/shopper.

    Going about solving the problem in the manner that I have seen on these boards is doomed to failure. Everything is a one-off solution. The key to solving the problem is getting the user to take an initial action and then scanning their computer on a weekly basis to clean out any parasiteware that may have been loaded the previous week without their knowledge.

  10. #10
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    Bob,

    Part of the problem is that some anti-parasite software eats affiliate cookies too.

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  11. #11
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    Don't have it delete all cookies, just specific cookies that are identified in a list. O fcourse the list would have to be continually updated.

  12. #12
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> What's needed is a system that:
    1. Informs the user that there may be parasite/adware on their computer
    2. Tells them the negative effects of having that software on their computer
    3. Provides an inducement to eliminate the software and
    4. Software that eliminates all the offensive programs. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>This hads already been done very effectively. Maybe Ms. B or someone could provide a link to that thread? If not I will look it up later or provide an URL.

    <font face=verdana size=1 color=43639C>Know Google as you know yourself and you will live to fight many battles - Sun Tzu</font>

  13. #13
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    http://abw.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x?q=Y&a=...3996080392&p=1

    This thread has all the info you need to add the Parasite detection script to your pages.

    All the best, DPG

    <font face=verdana size=1 color=43639C>Know Google as you know yourself and you will live to fight many battles - Sun Tzu</font>

  14. #14
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    I wouldn't think that it's been done effectively if the problem continues to exist. Perhaps the problem then is that whatever has been done does not erradicate all the offensive software and/or that a suitable marketing program has not been conducted by all to attack the problem.

  15. #15
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Thanks DPG. I've moved that thread here
    http://abw.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x?a=tpc&...2&m=3996080392 into the Parasiteware forum under Scripts so others can more easily find it than buried in the midnight cafe.

    Linda, the asp masking thing you posted will not really work for what you've stated. At some point, the network server still gets called and that's when the cookie is set and hence blocked. It would probably the impression tracking cookies not to be blocked, but the actual sales tracking cookies would still be blocked.

    That type of coding also makes you more vulernable to the parasite's that are 'in compliance' since they can no longer recognize that it's an affiliate link, so the afscr=1 code should be appended to that link.

    It is correct that the js detect script from doxdesk does not detect the parasites which are activex such as top moxie programs.

    All of the problems and points made in this thread are known and being addressed. They are not however being discussed in the public forums for reasons bob discussed. Wouldn't want to tip our hand.

    Bob the 4 point system you mention is partially in place, though not what is really needed, already at http://www.parasiteware.com . The site is in the process of being completely reworked and will offer some of the tools which have been being worked on 'behind the scenes' for quite some time. Look for the relaunch of that site in the near future.

    As new tools and approaches for protecting your revenue are brought to fruitation, watch for announcements here at ABW. Mum's the word though until they are good to go.

    It's Your Money. You earned it. What are you going to do to make sure you get to keep it?

  16. #16
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    Thanks B, nice to know you guys are working behind the scenes. I am just trying share whatever I find that may be useful - even though I don't really know enough technically. Just worried about these issues and trying to help.

    Linda Buquet :: Affiliate Management Consultant :: Catalyst eMarketing.com
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  17. #17
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    Thanks for the update Ms. B. Keep in mind several things though. Unless you have a well thought out and implementable marketing program that is viral based, any coding that is done to eliminate the parasites will be for naught. Secondly, the program "in the works" to which you refer will need to be updated continually (I'm sure you knew that) which could be a costly proposition (to do it right) unless there is someone out there that is willing to devote the rest of his/her life to the problem for free.

  18. #18
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Linda...your efforts are much appreciated.

    bob...don't think I said "a program that is in the works." Did say that all the points and issues brought up in this thread were being addressed. Some really smart folks have devoted much time and energy. But I really can't say more. If I did, someone might have to kill me.

    It's Your Money. You earned it. What are you going to do to make sure you get to keep it?

  19. #19
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    Catalyst and Ms. B

    <font face=verdana size=1 color=43639C>Know Google as you know yourself and you will live to fight many battles - Sun Tzu</font>

  20. #20
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    I think there has been some confusion in this thread.

    I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT PARASITES AT ALL -
    Parasites are a VERY important issue but there are many other threads and a whole forum devoted to this.

    I'm talking about all the other commission threats that I mentioned here:

    Many ad blockers, pop-up blockers, firewalls, adware removal and anti-parasite software either block cookies, delete cookies, block host files, prevent links from opening in new window or block the merchant site from showing at all or some combination of the above. Even the Google popup blocker - blocks links that open in a new window on a random basis.

    I really think that with the hundreds of programs (like the above) that are out there, doing massive advertising, to millions of uninformed consumers - inducing thousands of downloads - these programs are really big commission suckers!

    Can we assume that at least some of these programs (maybe less sophisticated ones) are simply looking for a qksrv link? Isn't there some form of link masking or re-direct that would help?

    I am trying to find a solution for my Irvs affiliates. We don't partner with any parasites, but I am sure a lot of commissions are lost due to the above programs.

    You simply cannot control the customer by listing all the different programs that could block links or cookies in a varety of ways and help consumers figure out what program is blocking what - and why - and how to change it - and why to even bother!!! There has to be a way to disquise qksrv and other affiliate network links and cookies so they don't get blocked. (Again, not talking parasites - but the other commission threats!)

    Many potential cutomers are clicking affiliate links - they WANT to buy, but are getting blank pages, pop-up blocked pages (even with the Google blocker). These non web savvy surfers who may WANT TO BUY are surfing away - thinking that the affiliates site did not work - OR worse yet, surfing through to the merchant site and buying later on - AFTER THE COOKIES HAVE BEEN BLOCKED OR DELETED, so the commission is not credited to the affiliate.

    Sorry for shouting - but I am trying really hard to get accross the point that parasites are not the only issue. We need to put our heads together to find a way to block these other commission threats that may even account for more lost sales than anything else.

    In case you haven't noticed this is a major HOT BUTTON for me. Thanks for letting me rant and for any ideas that will help ALL affiliates increase their commissions!!!

    Linda Buquet :: Affiliate Management Consultant :: Catalyst eMarketing.com
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  21. #21
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    Please realize that we here on the board are technically savvy to some degree - some like B are more savvy than most!

    My concern is about the shopping consumers that aren't! Average joe surfer, the CEO looking for a gift, the mom shoppers... They don't have a clue about host files or cookies. They click a link and want to buy! They don't know that some ad-blocker or firewall they have on their system blocked the links or deleted cookies and they don't really care!!!

    IMHO we cannot rely on trying to educate the consumer, but need to find a way to bypass these obstacles.

    I am especially concerned now that the Google toolbar is out of beta and intermittently blocks ALL links that open in a new window. Since many CJ affiliates use this option - I see it as a major potential problem! I know to hold the ctrl button to let the window open but most average joe surfers would not. Even I, many times think a window is not opening because of a problem on the site, before realizing Google blocked the link.

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  22. #22
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    Hey Linda,

    Good and important post ...

    One for all of us to think about. That being noted I have the newer google bar v.2 and have pop ups blocks.

    One of my affilaite sites promotes several merchant site form the home page ... I have about 9 or 10 outbound links on that page that launch another window and they are working just fine.

    Maybe the newer google bar has correct this problem. Anyone else have any experiance with the google bar or any other tool bars out there?

    Brian

    Brian Johnson
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  23. #23
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Can we assume that at least some of these programs (maybe less sophisticated ones) are simply looking for a qksrv link? Isn't there some form of link masking or re-direct that would help?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Linda...my response regarding the asp masking was directed at the types of programs you are talking about. Masking or not, at some point the qksrv servers have to be called and at that point, the blockers/etc will do their deed.

    Todd stated that CJ was going to release something on their end during the last upgrade that would effectively counteract these types of programs that block the links via the host file. Unfortunately, it didn't make it into the last upgrade. I don't believe I've seeen a post from him regarding when it is expected to be released.

    IMO, this is something that the networks should be addressing..the conception that their links/cookies are spyware. But then when you have Todd posting on this board that they are spyware.....

    The 2 issues are tied together however. What is one reason that there is such a surge of these types of programs? Look at the programs that they block....

    There is more than one way to go about skinning the cat (the cat being the protection of affiliate revenue).

    It's Your Money. You earned it. What are you going to do to make sure you get to keep it?

  24. #24
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by bob95603:
    Secondly, the program "in the works" to which you refer will need to be updated continually (I'm sure you knew that) which could be a costly proposition (to do it right)<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    It will be.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by BLFH (Ms. B):
    If I did, someone might have to kill me.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Nah never, I'd only

    This is made by affiliates for affiliates and guess what ... FREE! No more need to Fudge around with boofs like Al*ria or the others who wipe our cookies, block affiliate sites, or offer *very* questionable tracking. I'm sure all will be very impressed.

    <font size="2" face="Verdana">Haiko


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  25. #25
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Linda - 5starAffiliatePrograms's Avatar
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    Thanks all,

    Chef Brian - I have the newest G toolbar. Very carefully watch! It sometimes blocks ANY link that opens a new window. I have had it block regular links on ABW that open in a new window as most forums do. I have also had it block me from getting my CJ email because it opens in a new window. It is sporadic. Don't know if they are testing or it is a bug. It is not specifically blocking affiliate links but ANYTHING that opens new window - even basic site navigation like "sign up for our newsletter" if it opens a new window.

    Watch carefully and you will see! It is intermittent and I cannot find a rhyme or reason. It will do it for hours and then not at all - but it does do it!

    Linda Buquet :: Affiliate Management Consultant :: Catalyst eMarketing.com
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