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  1. #1
    Member Teesed's Avatar
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    June 28th, 2006
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    Question When is it appropriate/ethical to set the cookie?
    I've been in a few off-ABW discussions about when it is appropriate to set an affiliate cookie on a site like mine.

    I have a site that pulls in a product feed (CafePress in this particular example) and displays it in various forms. Here's a sample path to purchase for a customer on my site:

    1) Arrive on my site
    2) Search for a keyword
    3) See a paginated list of resulting products
    4a) Click a product link from the results page to see a product detail page with the "add to cart" info.
    4b) Click a design link from the results page to see a list of all available products. From this page, they can also click a product to go to the details page.
    5) Add the product to the cart.

    Of course, someone could also land on a design or product page directly instead of at the homepage, and that's fairly common with the "tell a friend" email functionality.

    Some people say that as soon as someone makes the first click to a design or product, that should set the cookie just as if I were sending them to the merchant site's version of the page instead of keeping them on my own. I think that's fair. So that would be setting the cookie at step 4a or 4b.

    Others say as soon as they hit my site, I should set the cookie. I don't know if I'm comfortable with that, but would like some feedback. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Member buy-tees's Avatar
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    When a visitor leaves your site and goes to CafePress. So via addtocart or a direct product link to a page on CafePress.

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    Setting a cookie while the visitor remains at your site is called 'cookie stuffing' and is not considered ethical.



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  4. #4
    http and a telephoto
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    January 18th, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teesed.com
    Others say as soon as they hit my site, I should set the cookie. I don't know if I'm comfortable with that, but would like some feedback. Thanks in advance.
    And how would you set that cookie? The cookie needs to be set on a click to CafePress (or any other merchant), not on a click to get to YOUR site. As noted, that would be cookie stuffing and is not only unethical but against the TOS of most networks and affiliate programs.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  5. #5
    Member Teesed's Avatar
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    Just to be clear, right now, my only cookie setting happens at the add-to-cart or on my other site, when handing off to CP.

    Most of this discussion has come up in relation to a project I'm working on and they've asked if I could include this functionality.

    I think clearly that landing on a site shouldn't set a cookie.

    I guess my specific question really goes to the click to a product. One of my affiliate sites shows selected product thumbs, then to see more information, they click the affiliate link that takes them to CafePress. That obviously sets the cookie.

    How is that different than showing a product link, then clicking to see more information, even though the product page is now incorporated into my site?

    I'll check the TOS for this one, as that may be my clear "reason I'm not going to do it that way", but aside from the TOS, what would be the difference in those two situations above?

  6. #6
    http and a telephoto
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    If you haven't left your site to go to the merchant, the cookie should not be set. The cookie gets set upon *leaving* your site to go to the merchant.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  7. #7
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teesed.com
    How is that different than showing a product link, then clicking to see more information, even though the product page is now incorporated into my site?
    Look at it this way. YOU never set the cookie. Only the merchant does.

    So if a merchant's cookie is set before the visitor actually goes to the merchant's site, that's cookie stuffing.

    If you are opening the merchant's site in any way other than a full window that the visitor is redirected to, that's cookie stuffing.

    If you are in any way fooling the visitor into thinking that they are on the merchant's site when they are in fact still on your's, then that is cookie stuffing.

    In other words, any attempt that you make to manipulate the setting of the cookie other than OVERTLY sending the visitor to the merchant site is cookie stuffing.

    This is not an exhaustive list of ways to stuff cookies. It doesn't need to be. Concentrate on the legitimate ways to have the merchant set the cookie and you won't have a problem. And as far as I'm concerned, the only legitimate way is to send the visitor to the merchant's site either in a new foreground window or in the current window.

    Some will disagree with this list, however you asked, they didn't. I assume that since you asked you are looking for opinions. So consider this, if you question your methods, you can be certain that others will.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

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