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  1. #1
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    Affiliate link redirection / Referral page cloaking
    I'm a merchant and affiliate and have a small problem. I've created a few really good sites to promote my main site, but I'd like to make some affiliate income from some of my competitors that offer the same types of products.

    However, I do not want my competitors to see the strategy I'm using to drive traffic to their sites.

    Is it possible to hide the referrer traffic from the merchant via redirects or something I have not thought of?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Anybody?

  3. #3
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Try searching the forum for"cloaking". Lots of discussion over the years.

  4. #4
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Here's a good article on the subject: The Need for Affiliates to Use Redirect Links

  5. #5
    Member gibson's Avatar
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    before using a link shortener, confirm that the affiliate program allows it.

    ebay for example, says

    "Q: Is the use of URL shorteners permitted?

    A: Yes, however you must use one of the following: t.co (Twitter), goo.gl (Google), or bit.ly. Please note that our Network Quality team may ask you to provide analytics data at any time to help monitor the traffic being driven via these URLs."


    Domain FAQ | eBay Partner Network Blog
    The internet is a fad.

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  7. #6
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    Thanks Chuck! I thought that was the what I was looking for, but thought cloaking referred to preventing people hijacking your links. Didn't realize they were one and the same.

  8. #7
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    Ok. I'm a bit confused I installed pretty link and used the cloak option. The traffic still appears from the domain though. Just knowing the domain the hits are coming from would give away my strategy and I would like to keep it as much of a secret as possible.

    Is there a way to make it look like hits from site A came from site B?

  9. #8
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    Hiding referral page from merchant
    Hi Brian,

    This is a follow-up to my previous question.

    Problem: I want to hide the referral page from my competitors (Merchant) so they do not know what web property the traffic/sale is coming from.

    Question #1

    Is it against the TOS?


    Question #2

    If not, How is it accomplished?

    The reason being is I tried using pretty link double redirection, but it still sends the referral page. Would there even be a reason to use pretty link since ShareaSale offers a URL shortner?

    Thanks!

  10. #9
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    You should keep your topics together - they're all related. A mod will more than likely merge them.

    Have a question for you. Are you a merchant WITH an affiliate program and promoting other merchants or are you a merchant who just promotes competitors?

    Depending on the merchant, there may be specific terms about hiding the referrer.

    Faking a referring bage will get you into hot water with a lot of merchants (perhaps even the network)...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  11. #10
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Merged threads

  12. #11
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    Sorry about that, I thought it was a network specific question.

    Yes, I am a merchant, but I also promote my competitors products as an affiliate.

    I do not want to FAKE my referral page, only hide it from the merchant to protect my strategy and not give all my competitors a road map to replicating it. I am not doing any marketing that is unethical or deceiving.

    I know I am not the only one to face a situation like this and there must be a way to do this on the up and up?

  13. #12
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    My situation summed up according to Chuck...

    "What burns my ass is the talking down to affiliates, calling then barnacles that cling to the brand and trying to screw them when they are successful so the merchant can copy their work. don't get me started!" - Chuck Hamrick

    I'd rather avoid having the merchant copy my strategy altogether
    Last edited by Chuck Hamrick; April 19th, 2013 at 07:01 PM.

  14. #13
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    While you're not doing anything unethical/deceptive, I don't think you can have it both ways - a merchant has to be able to monitor their program. That includes tracking referrals, and identifying the site that generated the sale - I can see merchants denying sales if they can't identify your site (and how you are promoting them).

    As a merchant, you would probably question a hidden referral yourself..

    I see your only option as creating a second independent domain.. not the answer you were seeking, but I don't see how those merchants would accept you as an affiliate if you were hiding your identity.

    I understand the reasons for wanting to stay under the radar with your competitors, but speaking as a publisher, merchant terms are pretty clear that they need to know a valid URL, etc.

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  16. #14
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Multiple redirects in attempts to hide the referring page is a common tactic among PPC TM bidders - merchants are on the lookout for such tactics.

    Question: are you trying to hide the referrer from the merchants who are also your competitors, or are you trying to hide from your competitors that you also promote affiliate products?

    I'm really confused who you are hiding from...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  17. #15
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UGIB View Post
    Yes, I am a merchant, but I also promote my competitors products as an affiliate.
    Let me see if I am reading this right...

    You're a merchant and also an affiliate?

    Ok!

    So let suppose you're a luggage merchant and have affiliates promoting your luggage products on their website...

    But you also want to be an affiliate of other luggage merchants and promote those products on the side?

    If that is the case, I don't know how come no one else here have seen a problem with that yet.

    First: While it may not be illegal to be an affiliate of the same channel that you're a merchant, that may be considered unethical business practices, if for nothing else as a conflict of interest.

    You're already talking about hiding something: "Problem: I want to hide the referral page from my competitors (Merchant) so they do not know what web property the traffic/sale is coming from."

    Also: "Just knowing the domain the hits are coming from would give away my strategy and I would like to keep it as much of a secret as possible. - Is there a way to make it look like hits from site A came from site B?"
    Quote Originally Posted by UGIB View Post
    I'm a merchant and affiliate and have a small problem. I've created a few really good sites to promote my main site, but I'd like to make some affiliate income from some of my competitors that offer the same types of products.
    So now I would like to ask you a question...

    What would keep you from using your own affiliates content and strategies on the promotion of your own links as an affiliate of your product competitors?
    Quote Originally Posted by UGIB View Post
    However, I do not want my competitors to see the strategy I'm using to drive traffic to their sites.
    Once a merchant have their affiliates stats and see what affiliates are driving more sales to them, what would keep that merchant from becoming an affiliate of their main competitors, and use that data for their own benefit?

  18. #16
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    Mr Sal - Lets pretend I own that luggage company your talking about, but I only sell yellow luggage and I've created a whole community around yellow luggage. The majority of my traffic comes from people looking for yellow luggage, but I also get a fair amount of traffic from people looking for orange and red luggage.

    What I would like to do is offer something for the people that didn't quite find what there looking for. I think we can agree that these people are looking for a color of luggage that I don't offer?

    Why is it unethical, wrong or deceiving to offer my competitors products to those people? Isn't that what Adsense and affiliate programs are built upon?

    Why should I have to show all of my competitors every forum/blog/etc. that is driving traffic and sales to their site so they can simply create their own network and stop me from getting traffic from people looking for orange and red luggage?

    Teezone - Yes, I agree, but at the end of the day if the affiliate is not doing anything unethical I would be more than happy to have this affiliate generating sales for me. Yes...I know exactly what your thinking...How would you know that their not doing anything unethical? Your right, but I think the networks should have a solution for this.

    As a merchant I would pay for a service that monitored my affiliate sales to ensure they only came from a pre-selected form of marketing/niche I approved while hiding the referrers identity. But, who am I kidding they can't even stop spammers from joining every program on their site to generate traffic from affiliate managers lol.

    As the old adage goes "You can't have your cake and eat it too." Looks like I will be using nothing but amazon links from here on out.

  19. #17
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    Just to clarify, I think Mr Sal was assuming you were a merchant with an existing program yourself - I didn't think this was the case (ie. you are just a merchant, with no affiliates).

    To continue your example, you currently don't pay affiliates to market yellow luggage on your behalf - you're just interested in earning commission on red & orange luggage via affiliate programs.
    but I think the networks should have a solution for this
    Unfortunately, we've all had enough issues with networks to know they're not capable of policing programs to that degree.

    Sorry no one had the answer you were looking for - Amazon might be a good fit after all!

  20. #18
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UGIB View Post
    Mr Sal - Lets pretend I own that luggage company your talking about, but I only sell yellow luggage and I've created a whole community around yellow luggage. The majority of my traffic comes from people looking for yellow luggage, but I also get a fair amount of traffic from people looking for orange and red luggage.
    As long as that traffic don't come from your affiliates, I don't see any problem with it. But, if you're a luggage merchant and you don't have that specific luggage category on your site, I would see a problem if you use your affilates traffic to redirect it to another luggage merchant that while it might be your competition, you will make money with that traffic, while your affiliates will get nothing in return.

    Maybe I am reading your post wrong, but after reading this part:

    Is there a way to make it look like hits from site A came from site B?
    It makes me think that you may want to redirect some of your affilates hits, to make it look like they come from your site. Like if you don't have the orange or red luggage, that you may want to redirect that traffic to another merchant that sells those other colors of luggage...

  21. #19
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teezone View Post
    Just to clarify, I think Mr Sal was assuming you were a merchant with an existing program yourself - I didn't think this was the case (ie. you are just a merchant, with no affiliates).
    If he is just a merchant with no affiliates anywhere, then I don't see a problem with his idea of hiding the referrer traffic he uses to send traffic to his merchants, that would be his merchant problem if they have any...

  22. #20
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UGIB View Post
    Hi Brian,

    This is a follow-up to my previous question.

    Problem: I want to hide the referral page from my competitors (Merchant) so they do not know what web property the traffic/sale is coming from.

    Question #1

    Is it against the TOS?


    Question #2

    If not, How is it accomplished?

    The reason being is I tried using pretty link double redirection, but it still sends the referral page. Would there even be a reason to use pretty link since ShareaSale offers a URL shortner?

    Thanks!

    UGIB,

    There are a lot of posts here I think some merged threads... but here are some answers to your specific ShareASale questions.


    1. No - it is not against ShareASale Terms though I would say it is definitely discouraged. As has been mentioned, it is a tactic employed mostly by folks who are trying to hide their tracks due to behaviour that is outside the Terms... It MAY BE AGAINST individual Merchant Terms and you will need to look out for that on any program you join.

    2. I'd need to see what you are trying to do in order to really help you - if you want to email me brian@shareasale.com I'd be happy to look at your page/what you are trying to do/and what URL shortner you are trying to use, etc...
    Thanks,

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

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