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  1. #1
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    The networks - performics and befree write their cookies in such a way so that
    identification of foul play can not be identified by inspecting them. CJ uses encryption on their cookies and only if you know the encryption and have studied the cookies format in detail can you then decode the PID.

    With Linkshare (who uses a patented cookieless system with a cookie????) and ShareaSale, the PID can be easily identified along with a determination if foul play has occured or not. I suspect changes are coming though!

    As networks are more and more claiming they want to have fair play, will enforce fair play
    and state that they welcome data from affiliates in regards to abuses found, why is it that they cut off the ability of an affiliate to determine if foul play has even occured? Even merchants can't detect if foul play has occured in many cases and are dependent on submitting data to the networks to first identify if abuse has occured and if so for the network to determine who the offending culpret is?

    This makes no sense at all!

    The networks are obviously well in tune for allowing what they call highly effective and innovative software technology which offers a "single friging offer" to consumers (while all to often invaliding their PCs and their privacy without their knowledge) and allows then to "compete" in an area where financial transactions occur but yet, it appears they want to completely disable the advent of any technology that can identify issues with interference and even make it impossible for affiliates and merchants to tell if interference is occuring.

    Saying "we want a level playing ground" and "we have a good comliance team in place" to detect issues vs providing a system that even allows for basic interference to be detected are two completely different things.

    I'm asking for every affiliate and merchant who feels that cookies should be created where abuse can be easily detected to simply respond here and say they desire it. Call this a petition if you will and I will hope that affiliates and merchants alike make a clear statement to our so called trusted third parties that we want the ability to detect abuse for ourselves and not be reliant upon contacting them for verification or non verification regarding potential abuse.

    If I'm correct with my assumptions in recent data I've seen, the ability to detect abuse will be greatly reduced with CJ soon joining the ranks of further hiding the PID information and making interference detection impossible for affiliates and merchants.

    It's time for affiliates and merchants who want to be able to detect abuse and better protect themselves to clearly say the networks current practice of hiding, encrypting and not making available this information has to stop!

    Data from Ben, Ms B, myself and others concerning abuses that have occured appears to likely be going out the window and no longer reportable for future submission with policy changes coming into effect. These kinds of changes and continued non disclosure at the most basic level do not support a networks statements thay want a fair playing field, they have good compliance teams who can detect issues or that they desire or will accept data from merchants and affiliates regarding abuses that they found.

    It clearly says IMO - we don't want you to know when abuse occurs and we sure don't want to have to deal with you providing us "or anyone else" with evidence that it has. In compliance my ass! If nothing fishy is occuring why hide this information or not
    tell affiliates and merchants how to interpret it?

    I request that ALL NETWORKS make changes as needed to back up their claims of desire for fair play and make detecting abuse that occurs on cookies easily detectable by both affiliates and merchants without network involvement! Caugh up the details or make changes that allow for easy identification of interference.

    To the affiliates and merchants here, please send a clear message to our "so called" trusted third parties and if you agree, simply respond and let your voice here be heard. Not being
    able to detect interference is in no ones best interest except the networks who would
    rather hide the information and not have it disclosed. Thats right, do they really want fair play? Tell them you do!

  2. #2
    pph Expert! Gordon's Avatar
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    Happypoon I asked Todd this same question about 18 months to 2 years ago and he answered that CJ had always encrypted their cookies. Now I know this was bullshoot because I used to look at them on my computer and I could see my AFFID in them, but not having any of the older cookies on my comp I could not prove it so I said nothing more.

    But you are totally correct, if they have nothing to hide there is no need whatsoever to encrypt them. It is tricks like this that make me wonder if indeed they are taking kickbacks from the parasites or even if they have invested in them and are making the way clear to get a maximum return on their monies.

    It would be very interesting to see what Todds answer is as to why they started to encrypt them.

    Like you say now I have no means at all of finding out if my AFIDD is being swapped changed altered or whatever. I do feel very strongly we should be able to see this and see it easily without any need of decryption software or any other types of software.
    One day parasites and their ilk will be made illegal, I bet a few Lawyers will be pissed off when the day comes.
    Mr. Spitzer is fetching it nearer

    YouTrek

  3. #3
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    Where else on the web can you go and get the quality information like the posts in this thread? Maybe one day I will understand what happypoon is talking about! Until than I agree!





    "The Man Who Has No Imagination, Has No Wings"

  4. #4
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Well hiding the ability to test for cookie overwriting by forced clicks and ID# swapping is definitely out of step for CoC enforcement. Like Poon says, it actually negates the need for the networks to even check for compliance, since they remove transparancy from the process. I have spent 4 years of of my pro-affiliate life demanding more transparancy as the darkside tries to hide the extent of their thievery.

    I've said all along that the power of ABW is too attack the achilles heal of the networks. They have to provide a recruiting function for their merchants and that's built on trust issues. If they won't publish network wide average Merchant conversion ratios, publically identify all S/W BHO affiliates during the signup process, and throw all forms of forced cookie stuffing into the commission sewer... Let the Adwhore thieves have this corrupt marketplace till the perp walks hit the news.

    Up to this point they have secretly just partnered in with the BHO adware folks and relied upon ABW screaming to force any temporary changes. They still perform recruiting of fresh meat affiliates, but the real effort is telemarketing and auto-signup of new or existing BHO's to AM's too lame to understand it's raping their clients pocketbooks. Now the reach of the BHO's and cookie stuffers must have reach the point where they're bringing in the majority of the networks incomes. Removing cookie transparancy without removing the network clickstream spyware just gives Norton and the others more ammo to block all major network affiliate links.

    If a suitable explaination isn't uncovered then it's time to gather the honest forces together and start up the SafeHaven sales network for the legit merchants and value add affiliates.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  5. #5
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    Is it odd to encode a cookie? What purpose could it serve? I would like to hear the actual reason they do it. It doesn't matter to me if they say they've always done it even though I'll agree with Gordon they have not.

  6. #6
    Content $ Queen Ebudae's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by happypoon:
    I'm asking for every affiliate and merchant who feels that cookies should be created where abuse can be easily detected to simply respond here and say they desire it.

    Thats right, do they really want fair play? Tell them you do! <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Ebudae


  7. #7
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    Sure. I want full disclosure from all parties, and if making changes in cookie tracking and structure will facilitate that, then I'm for it.

    I believe that those networks who purposely use tracking systems that make it difficult to either observe or document cookie overwriting (whether legitimate or not) are doing so for a very specific and unsavory reason. They probably realize there's a good chance they'll be subpoenaed at some future date, and their methods are designed to avoid committing perjury.

  8. #8
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    @Gordon - I recall the thread where Todd stated it has always been encrypted but since I did find out the encoding scheme for them, it makes no difference in that regard. I dont mind an extra step to decode a cookie as long as decoing and verifying is possible - what I see on other networks and anticipate coming soon with cj is the inability to decode it at all.

    I object very strongly to this and state clearly it does not fit in at all with a "we want fair play" and "we want to work with affiliates to ensure compliance is adheared to" policy.

    @heyder encoding a cookie saves bytes and disk space. See http://www.efunda.com/units/base_n.cfm?base_from=10 as an example

    Granted the amounts for a consumer or for you and I are negligible but with millions of cookies a day on the network I would agree it could add up on their end but - I also believe the encoding can be done "on their end alone if they desire" and still not impact an affiliates or merchants ability to determine if foul play has occured.

  9. #9
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    Okay so there is nothing wrong with encoding. Your complaint is simply in making it impossible to determine how the encoding works.

  10. #10
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    I agree with Poon that we should be able to independently check for compliance. It should be transparent.

    We should be able to see if our affiliate ids have been overwritten in the cookie or whatever tracking is used.

    Transparency is the only way to ensure real compliance. To say everything is compliant without letting affected individuals check for themselves seems more like a sham.

  11. #11
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> I asked Todd this same question about 18 months to 2 years ago and he answered that CJ had always encrypted their cookies. Now I know this was bullshoot because I used to look at them on my computer and I could see my AFFID in them, but not having any of the older cookies on my comp I could not prove it so I said nothing more.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>I KNEW I wasn't crazy! I remember those two posts well because I was sure Todd told a point blank lie. That was an outright lie, wasn't it?

    I remember the exact same thing as Gordon and had the exact same feeling. I couldn't prove it and I don't look at cookies all that often so I thought there was a chance I wasn't remembering them right or I would look stupid calling him on it with no proof, so I didn't say anything, either. But, I remember thinking at the time that that was an outright lie. Why would CJ do that and then have Todd lie about it?

    And, you all wonder why I have come down so hard on CJ. Well, put the pieces together, folks.
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  12. #12
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    I'm all for it. Cookies should be able to be detectable by everyone so we can see if foul play is going on. Having said that ...

    CJ hasn't listened to ONE SINGLE THING of any substance affiliates have asked for in the last few years and I don't expect them to start now. In some cases, we've gotten lip service. In other cases, slippery evasions and in others - no response at all. They have done everything in their power to change the playing field so it's not even close to being level or fair for us and quite simply THEY DON'T CARE.

    Here are a few of the issues over the last few years that have come up that affect us but that our "trusted third party" has turned a blind eye to:

    whenU - CJ actively promotes this parasite to merchants

    eBates - CJ named this parasite "affiliate of the year." Enough said.

    Norton blocking - CJ has been working on a fix for this or workaround for what seems like a couple of years now. We're still waiting ...

    Kazaa - ditto.

    Cookie overwriting - despite the HUGE amount of evidence Ms. B, Ben, HappyPoon and the others have documented over the last few years which CLEARLY shows what the bad apples are doing, the standard network response is that the networks can't replicate it for themselves so take no action.

    COC - a bone thrown to the affiliates that has more holes than a fishing net.

    These are just a few of the items I could think of off the top of my head. I'm sure there are more.

    Yes, people are making money with CJ and the networks but think how much more we could be making without these impediments.

    Will they encode the cookies so what little tracking we can do now to check on this is no longer possible? I don't know, but with their track record and the fact that it would take away one of the only tools we have of seeing how honest they are being, it wouldn't surprise me in the least.

  13. #13
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    As many of you know, at KowaBunga we're building Kolimbo to be a network designed around affiliate requests and needs (and with no network commissions). We're a bit new to this arena, so we're asking affiliates to join and give us suggestions (we built our software around merchant requests, we figured it was time to listen to the other end of the business).

    KowaBunga/MYAP cookies are not encoded in any way, and we in fact offer an easy link to a page that lets merchants know what affiliate id and even sub id cookie is on their browser, to make it easy to check links in their system.
    If you were given a similar link within the Kolimbo interface, would that be enough to cover this cookie issue, or were you looking for something else?

    Thanks for your input, and please feel free to flood my mailbox with any requests or wish lists. We're currently working on getting our merchants to offer standardized datafeeds that we can deliver right to an affiliate's FTP account, cleaning out the adware from our merchant's programs, and offering consolidated transactions and payments as well. Ideas or suggestions on any of these issues is more than welcome. I can be reached at jeff@ kowabunga.com.

    Thanks again.

  14. #14
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Jeff_Kowabunga:
    As many of you know, at KowaBunga we're building Kolimbo to be a network designed around affiliate requests and needs (and with no network commissions). We're a bit new to this arena, so we're asking affiliates to join and give us suggestions (we built our software around merchant requests, we figured it was time to listen to the other end of the business).

    KowaBunga/MYAP cookies are not encoded in any way, and we in fact offer an easy link to a page that lets merchants know what affiliate id and even sub id cookie is on their browser, to make it easy to check links in their system.
    If you were given a similar link within the Kolimbo interface, would that be enough to cover this cookie issue, or were you looking for something else?

    Thanks for your input, and please feel free to flood my mailbox with any requests or wish lists. We're currently working on getting our merchants to offer standardized datafeeds that we can deliver right to an affiliate's FTP account, cleaning out the adware from our merchant's programs, and offering consolidated transactions and payments as well. Ideas or suggestions on any of these issues is more than welcome. I can be reached at jeff@ kowabunga.com.

    Thanks again. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE> So,what do you suggest, you have the attention of over 15,000 affiliates,all I can see in the html when I am downloading ads, is my tracking code,maybe that's why, after 4 years, and only a few sales, and loads of clicks, I am sitting here, with my finger up my Irish butt,wondering what the hell is going on, google sends me 500 top keywords,I have e commerce books,over 20 website building cd's. and 4 good looking websites, with a good mix,i have some independent merchants with great sales and offers, but **********clicks.It's hard enough competing with media ads,and long time affilites, but online retailing isn't much different than offline was,when we find big retailers are screwing thier own people, buy forcing them to work overtime for free,it's agreedy world out there.Not all merchants are crooks, but how can anyone tell the difference?
    My nickles worth.I got bills to pay to, more now, at 71, then I did years ago, when we were making 6 figure incomes, and great benefit packages.
    JJ

  15. #15
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    @Jeff,

    I appreciate your comments and your desire to consider affiliate wants and needs.

    Making it easy for your affiliates (as well as your merchants) to determine if foul play is occuring is a legitimate selling point you want to utilize IMO when comparing other networks to yourself.

    Merchants have plenty of concerns about forced clicks, blind cookie stuffing and bad behaving software that forces payable commissions and interferes with the work other affiliates have done. Imagine - not being able to detect if those issues are real or not and having to depend on the networks to tell you (not that their compliance teams or policies reagrding bad behaviors have shown any backbone or ability to detect issues).

    While most affiliates may not really care about this (many don't fully understand cookies or the issues with them much less how to interpret them), there will always be some who are diligently looking for foul play and taking steps to deal with it which will help keep the marketplace cleaner overall IMO "if bad behavior policies have backbone and are enforced".

    Any network that cut's out or takes steps that prevents my ability to validate the accuracy of tracking in general is going to be marketed much less than others who enable fair play and the accuracy of their affiliate tracking to be easily determined. Anything else raises very serious concerns IMO.

  16. #16
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    To say it very clear: Those who encrypt tracking cookies have a reason for doing it, and the reasons I can imagine is to hide foul play, unethical actions and theft.

    carneol

  17. #17
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    Jeff,
    No consolidated checks, right?

    What do you do to guarantee payment to affiliates?
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  18. #18
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by carneol:
    To say it very clear: Those who encrypt tracking cookies have a reason for doing it, and the reasons I can imagine is to hide foul play, unethical actions and theft.

    carneol <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Carneol understands the dark side of human nature.

    RadarCat
    http://www.os2warplinks.com

  19. #19
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>No consolidated checks, right?

    What do you do to guarantee payment to affiliates? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    That's actually an issue with our business model that we are trying to solve a couple ways. The first is to convince our merchants to work with us to consolidate checks through Kolimbo, and the other is to make sure that affiliates realize that they can use us as a trusted third party when they don't get paid. The latter solution has always been in place, and there have been several times where we acted on an affiliate's behalf to resolve disputes. With Kolimbo we just make it a lot easier for affiliates to contact us.

    Remember that our business model is not the same as the networks; until we opened Kolimbo, we sold software to a merchant and then let them run their program as they saw fit. We only charged a small set up fee and small monthly usage fees, while the networks take 30% of your commissions so they can consolidate payments and offer affiliate support. We think that's too much, and we're hoping to be able to offer all the things the networks do by only charging the merchants small fees for the things they need and making sure the affiliates get their full commission.

    Unfortunately, dishonest merchants are always going to be a problem with any affiliate system. We've had several internal meetings about trying to put together a solution to audit merchant's tracking and sales, but any such system is, at some level, still reliant on the merchant being honest in allowing those checks to take place. It's frustrating, as I really believe in the affiliate business model, and this is one flaw that is very difficult to combat. One thing we are adding to Kolimbo is a rating system that takes into account how long a merchant has had their program running, ratings from affiliates in their program, and any complaints or payment problems they've had, among other things. As I mentioned, we are open to other suggestions as well.

  20. #20
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    Maybe I should have titled the thread - do affiliates and merchants want fair play enabled.

    I find the lack of contributions, input and distractions provided so far in trying to get this addressed more than disturbing.

    Imagine watching someone get run over by a car and their is no license plate to get or report to authorities "because they want to protect the drivers identity"! What would you say and think?

    Well folks, you're about to get run over much more in the future that it has been in the past and in this case, you not only wont be able to report the violation - you'll have to second guess if there was someone run over at all.

    I encourage you to speak up if you want your commissions protected.

    If parasites know they can throw a switch and 99.99999999999 % of afifliates can't tell a cookie was overwritten do you think they'll be throwing the switch? Nahhhhhh - they wouldn't do that!

  21. #21
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    happypoon,

    to be fair, i think it is important to at least aknowledge the other side of the argument - even if it has it's weaknesses.

    an encrypted cookie would require knowledge of the encryption in order to be muddled with.

    if a network were taking more responsibility for "fair play" and protecting the contents of their cookies more vigilantly - i would think that encrypting them would be at least one possible way to do this.

    this point wasn't raised as a personal opinion - but it does represent at least one more side of this issue.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  22. #22
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    Brian, I appreciate your input but I have never heard of a cookie being interfered with from the file system other than it being blocked or washed.

    All of the interference that we have seen in the past has been easily accomplished by making a single network call rather than seraching for a file, rewriting it then.... hoping the cookie doesn't change before the system is shut down.

    Try this, create a cj cookie by clicking on a merchant and look inside it. Now manually delete the cookie. Click on another link and look inside the cookie. NOTHING IS LOST as the contents of that cookie are protected by the OS's own caching of it. With this in mind, any interference via file operations are severly restrictive when all I have to do is issue another network call. Try the same thing by manually changing the contents of the file and then clicking on nanother link and inspecting it. IT DOESN'T CHANGE does it . Only if the OS is shut down wil those changes have a chance at standing and I'm not completely sure that a shutdown would even do the trick as for changing the cookie values - for deletions yes.

    While I see your point and agree with it at it's most basic premise, the implementation provided by the OS makes foul play with this method a practical non issue and NOT VERY LIKELY IMO.

    In light of the methods THAT ARE USED to overwrite a cookie, it makes no sense to hide, encrypt or not make available the information so that detection of foul play cant be easily detected.

  23. #23
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    Encryption does three things:
    1) it allows one to store more information per cookie because encryption is shorter than than using the actual data.
    2) it prevents others from messing with the data since they do not know how it was encrypted (thanks Brian for making this point as well).
    3) it protects the privacy of publishers since their IDs are also encrypted.

    Encryption is not done to hide anything from affiliates.
    Todd Crawford
    Co-Founder, Impact Radius

    Give me a minute before I post again

  24. #24
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    One more thing.

    You do not have access to cookies on other machines (websurfers' computers), so you cannot determine anything from them regardless of whether they were encrypted or not.
    Todd Crawford
    Co-Founder, Impact Radius

    Give me a minute before I post again

  25. #25
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    OK, one more thing.

    I think you are driving yourself crazing thinking about these things. I still cannot see how encrypted cookies could do anything to you but annoy you - and that is only if you let them.
    Todd Crawford
    Co-Founder, Impact Radius

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