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May 25th, 2012, 08:09 PM #1Uncovering Affiliate Marketing Top 10 Cookie Stuffers
Its been a while since anyone has discuss cookie stuffing but here is a very critical article that all affiliate managers and merchants should read.
Convertro, a cross-channel marketing and optimization company, plans to publish a white paper on cookie stuffing, a phenomenon where marketing affiliates insert their code to receive credit for traffic that would have gone to a company's Web site anyway.
Considered by many as a black hat-type online marketing technique, this process brings visitors to the Web site through a third-party piece of data stored in the browser with or without their knowledge.
The white paper names the top 10 cookie stuffers based on a list of criteria, including size, reach and traceability of the stuffers. Size must be a minimum of 30 cookie stuffing incidents daily per URL. The reach must include at least three or more different clients with affiliate cookie stuffers. Traceability is the ability for Convertro to identify the cookie stuffer. The problem is that many cookie stuffers use blank referring URLs, making it impossible to identify the stuffer by name. Only the publisher ID is available.
The paper also explains the techniques used to track online activity so search marketers can learn about what Convertro calls affiliate program scams. Attribution marketing techniques and technology for both online and offline channels can capture this type of data.
Generally, the techniques of the company on the list have several things in common. Merchants pay for clicks they would have received without the help of the affiliate. With the exception of the second-largest cookie stuffer, SkimLinks.com, all other cookie stuffers tap into browser toolbars or plug-ins, according to the white paper. The other common themes include users installing the toolbar in exchange for a revenue share, or cash back; donation to a charity; or coupons.
Narrowed down from 50 candidates, Convertro names shopathome.com as the No. 1 cookie stuffer and Skimlinks.com at No. 2, followed by s3pc.freecause.com, plugin.we-care.com, 365koopons.com, dropsavings.com, socialingot.com, deedorgreed.com, rebategiant.com, and alot.barginmatch.com.
Aside from identifying the companies, Convertro details the cookie-stuffing method and any known affiliate IDs. For example, at shopathome.com users log in and download a toolbar. The toolbar opens whenever a user goes to a site that is part of the affiliate network, even if they enter the site by directly typing the domain into the browser or through a search engine. The toolbar offers coupons for products on the site. Sometimes the coupons offer extra savings, but other times they are standard offers the consumer would get without it.
For TrueCar.com, the coupon offers "haggle-free pricing and no cash back. Haggle-free pricing is TrueCar.com's standard offer, according to the white paper.
On some sites, if the user clicks to reveal the coupon without committing to use it or buying anything, their browser is redirected to a URL with the affiliate ID. This is cookie stuffing. The URL will read: shop-at-home-video-kohls.avi.
Click to read this article on the MediaPost.com website.
Last edited by Chuck Hamrick; May 30th, 2012 at 11:42 AM.
May 25th, 2012, 09:43 PM #2
May 25th, 2012, 09:55 PM #3
Thanks Wade and tell Kellie she is welcome to offer her comments as well. I will see if the author of the article as well as the referenced report are willing to discuss as well.
After re-reading this I agrew with Wade that clicking a link to use a coupon code is not cookie stuffing. Setting a cookie before the click is cookie stuffing.
May 30th, 2012, 11:31 AM #5
Is there a date for when Convertro will release it's report? Shop at Home has recently moved up the rankings in my program rather quickly and I'd like to read the report before I have a discussion with them.Steve Root
May 30th, 2012, 11:47 AM #6
Contacting the article author to see if I can get more details.
May 30th, 2012, 11:47 AM #7
Thx Chuck!!Steve Root
May 30th, 2012, 12:35 PM #8
It's also interesting that the post no longer reads like the one listed above. They have edited it to take out Skimlinks. I don't understand that because either Skimlinks is mentioned in the white paper or it isn't. Whether it SHOULD be or not is a different issue. If it's mentioned, why would they now leave it out of the article?
July 10th, 2012, 03:47 PM #9
This is available now
Affiliate Cookie Stuffing 2.0 White Paper - LoyaltyWare | Convertro
I also agree the difference is physical clicked vs. script clicked.
I have no association with convertro. I first learned of this from Pace's newsletter yesterday.
By Chris - AMWSO in forum Rakuten LinkShare - LSReplies: 15Last Post: August 7th, 2007, 03:13 PM