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  1. #1
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    After clicking on one of my links and looking in the cookies folder there are quite a few text files that have been created from that one click.

    Can anyone explain which each text file does and how to interpret the information that is in there?

    I'm trying to make sure that any links i have up and any cookies that are set up follow the correct protocol.

    I'll also be posting this similar question on the BeFree board as i assume they operate somewhat differently.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    Steven, copying to this thread as you requested:
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>So Steve, if I understand this correctly, records on return days (and which affiliate owns those return days) are maintained in-house. Therefore, even if someone who had visited a LS merchant through an affiliate link cleared cookies on their PC after clicking on an affiliate link but before making a purchase, LS would still be able to track which affiliate account "owned" the sale.

    Please let me know if that's correct, incomplete or totally off-base. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

  3. #3
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    Still waiting for an answer Stephen.

  4. #4
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Rhea:
    Still waiting for an answer Stephen. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I wonder why no one is answering?

  5. #5
    Full Member Travelin Man's Avatar
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    I'd really like to hear the answer to this question too. How bout it Steve?
    Travelin' Man

    "If you don't know where you are going, any road will lead you there." -- unknown

  6. #6
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    This silence is very odd??

  7. #7
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    I had emailed Sarah to answer this one. She might be away from her email so let me look into the delay. Sorry about that.

    Steve

  8. #8
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Here's the quote from Steve in Revenue issue 3, where he's talking about cookies:

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>LinkShare's tracking is set up like a bank's. It doesn't use cookies because it cares about accuracy and it cares about privacy and it has to be able to keep a record and an audit trail of exactly what happened. That equates to a bank. Cookie-based technologies are the equivalent of cashing 10 checks at a bank, but only nine of them get credited to your account. It's not an accurate way of doing business. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>My personal opinion is that this is a bunch of hype. Of course Linkshare relies on cookies. How else can they offer return days? If they don't use cookies, what technology do they use to provide return days?
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
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    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  9. #9
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    Michael,

    If you go to the thread on the CJ board that sparked this discussion which dealt with the inaccuracy of a cookie based tracking system (i.e. non LinkShare syndergy tracking technology),you will see that I explain this in a lot more detail. I suggest that you read it before you claim it to be hype.
    Best regards,

    Steve

  10. #10
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    Stephen, it's been a week and we're still waiting for an explanation. What's the delay?

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador LinkShare Moderator's Avatar
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    Hi All -

    To clarify on Stephen's post, LinkShare is the only network provider that does not rely 100% on the use of cookies to track affiliate referrals. We recognized the unreliability of depending on cookies to track the most important aspect of an affiliate relationship - the click-through on an affiliate's link that leads directly to the point-of-purchase on a merchant's site. We knew that we could not achieve the high level of completeness and accuracy required to track affiliate-merchant relationships by depending entirely on using cookies. So we invested a significant amount of time and resources to develop our proprietary, tracking technology - the only one of its kind being used today to track affiliate sales. As you may know, we were awarded a patent for this technology.

    There is just too much uncertainty and concerns in the industry to rely on cookies. Remember when the new version of Internet Explorer was released - the new privacy setting was set on default to "Medium," which:

    1 - Blocks third-party cookies that do not have a compact privacy policy
    2 - Blocks third-party cookies that use personally identifiable information without your implicit consent
    3 - Restricts first-party cookies that use personally identificable information without implicit consent

    Most sites had to scramble to become P3P compliant so that their cookies would be accepted. As new concerns about cookies and changes are made in the industry on how cookies are treated, we remain confident that our core tracking technology will not be impacted.

    As to return days: this is an incentive and benefit that Merchants grant to Affiliates, and so it is up to the Merchant to track whether a user has gone directly back to such Merchant's site after an Affiliate referral that happened within the "return day" time period. Only a merchant should be tracking that activity, because here we are dealing with an end user's activities after they have left the tracking environment of the LinkShare Network. Thus, if a consumer clears all cookies (and by doing so, he/she is effectively saying, "I don't want anyone to track me"), then there is no way for LinkShare or the Merchant (or any other affiliate marketing provider) to track that transction back to the last referring Affiliate. Cookie technology is the way this is always done, and we are, all of us, ultimately subject to the desires and controls of the end user/customer.

    But once again, to be clear, under the LinkShare method, the "return day" cookies are first-party cookies, not the third-party cookies that fall under tighter browser privacy restrictions. This is a difference. With LinkShare, the cookie blockers and cookie sweepers of the world only affect the "return day" incentives versus all transactions at all the other cookie-based providers. Which also means, with a significant percentage of our transactions occurring at the initial click, that cookie blocking and cookie sweeping practices have a lot less impact economically on you in your LinkShare programs.

    Sarah

  12. #12
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    Uh-huh.

    So if I understand this correctly LS can claim to be cookie-free because the merchant retains cookie information on their site (a first party cookie). LS does not have oversight of this. Which puts us all at the mercy of the merchant.

    I'm not exactly convinced this is a good thing. Does LS ever audit merchants' records? How do you insure that merchants don't play "hide the cookie"? How can you enforce compliance when you can't observe who's overwriting cookies?

    [EDIT: Haiko pointed out that LS doesn't use a COC.]

  13. #13
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Thanks for the explanation. That's a whole different story than Steven's "It doesn't use cookies".
    Michael Coley
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    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  14. #14
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Rhea:
    How can you enforce the COC when you can't observe who's overwriting cookies? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    LS does not participate in the CoC, they have their Addendum.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  15. #15
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    No one invited me to post here but I thought it would be helpful to clear up a common fallacy. Please pardon me for butting in.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>But once again, to be clear, under the LinkShare method, the "return day" cookies are first-party cookies, not the third-party cookies that fall under tighter browser privacy restrictions. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Commission Junction does not set cookies as a third party. 100% of our cookies are set in the same domain (first party) as the tracking cookie (and they are P3P compliant too). Furthermore, we have the capability to track via advertiser set cookies. In fact approximately 15% of our advertisers track this way.

    I hope this clears up some misconceptions out there.
    Todd Crawford
    Co-Founder, Impact Radius

    Give me a minute before I post again

  16. #16
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> I'm not exactly convinced this is a good thing. Does LS ever audit merchants' records? How do you insure that merchants don't play "hide the cookie"? How can you enforce compliance when you can't observe who's overwriting cookies? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Rhea, LinkShare makes the majority of it's monthly fees from commissions (The same as CJ and SAS as far as I am aware), if tracking is not working then LS are also getting done over too. When Mondera's conversion dropped sharply earlier this year , the first person I was being mailed by was our LS account manager asking if tracking was working properly and what was going wrong.

    Cheers

    Chris
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  17. #17
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    Hey Chris, truly, that's reassuring news!

    But I still don't see how LS can claim to enforce compliance when they can't see who's overwriting whose cookies. If a merchant lets in a parasite or two their tracking might be essentially unaffected even while cookies are being overwritten by the parasite.

    I was pretty sure this explanation was going to open a can of worms. Now that it's open, perhaps we can discuss its implications.

  18. #18
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    Rhea,

    I think discussing the risks around cookies and tracking is a very good topic to discuss. Todd, perhaps since you have been focusing on this issue, including here, it would be ok to invite all your forum members to participate. I would like nothing more then to discuss the risks of cookies, which I am sure when we are done, will raise the concerns (in my opinion rightfully) and focus on the need to sunset that technology (if you want to call cookies technology). For example, your cookie which is a first party only because of the redirect is still a third party to the transaction and thus often highly targeted for removal by most of the programs that police cookies. If we discuss cookies lets really examine the entire topic. Todd, let me know if you are up for an open discussion that breaks out the risks facing affiliates who are left relying on cookies for their commissions. If you really want to open this issue up and let the truth of the risks become public I am ready to discuss this issue publicly and do the math for all the people here to see. Its really your call Todd, you started this discussion and I am happy to end it.

    I can only imagine how many commissions over time have been lost by cookie tracked affiliates (non synergy based tracking).

    Best regards,
    Stephen

  19. #19
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    A very legit challenge effecting both affiliates and merchants is a very important network choice. Uncontrollable outside interference in the sales reporting functions of networks is a huge factor in affiliate income potential. Only honest Merchants give a rats *ss about real sales tracking as leakage reduces commission exposure.

    Challenge to both Todd (BF & CJ) and Stephen (LS) is to take the cookie vs proprietary tracking and compare networkwide merchant conversion ratios under both senerios....

    That takes the technical discussion and puts it into a concept all would understand and relate too!
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  20. #20
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Personally, I would love to see an open and honest discourse regarding such issues and the benefits as well as implications of the different tracking approaches. It is certainly something that impacts affiliates. But as such it also impacts the Networks. Better education and understanding for affiliates regarding tracking would also seem a good thing.

  21. #21
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    OK Steve, let’s try to straighten some things out.

    I want to say that this issue is a red herring on your part. You are grasping at straws to differentiate LinkShare from your competitors. Every company on the Internet uses cookies to track advertising efforts. Additionally, cookies are a vital part of enabling browsers to interact with websites and without them, things like shopping carts and other components of e-commerce would not work.

    First you claim that LinkShare’s tracking is superior because it doesn’t rely on using cookies. Oh but wait, then you said it does rely on cookies – you make your advertisers set the cookies to do the tracking.

    Then you said, although LS uses cookies, they are first-party cookies which are more reliable, unlike other cookie-based solutions relying on third-party cookies. But then I pointed out that our cookies are also set as first-party cookies.

    Next you inferred that a first-party set cookie can’t be read as a third-party during the transaction. Actually if you set a browser to not allow third-party cookies, it can still read cookies as a third-party.

    Finally, you feel that first-party cookies read at the point of transaction are targeted by programs that remove cookies. This may be true but the cookies they target are not necessarily the ones used for tracking.

    I think you summed up this issue when you said; “I can only imagine how many commissions over time have been lost by cookie tracked affiliates (non synergy based tracking).” If we are just dealing with your imagination, then I don’t think we have much to worry about. Your imagination seems often gets the better of you (or maybe it is just wishful thinking).
    Todd Crawford
    Co-Founder, Impact Radius

    Give me a minute before I post again

  22. #22
    pph Expert! Gordon's Avatar
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    Well I'm not really sticking up for Stephen but blimey Todd, CJ have been saying ever since I joined them that "Tracking is not affected" yet we know it often is, even as you read this CJ continue to let parasites steal/divert our commissions.

    Seems to me Todd that Stephen is not the only one with a vivid imagination and a way with words.

    I think a good truthful dialogue between the two of you (truthful not spin) would make very interesting reading.
    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

  23. #23
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I think Todd hit the nail on the head, here. I still contend that Linkshare's claims in this area are mostly smoke and mirrors, hype, and spin. The ONLY valid point Steven makes is that cookie-blocking utilities tend to target network cookies. So mark that down as a plus for Linkshare's technology. Rhea also makes a very valid point that Linkshare has less control and monitoring ability when the cookie setting takes place on the merchant site. Mark those down as positives for non-Linkshare technology. My personal opinion is that the two factors balance out.

    I've had many merchants that moved from Linkshare to BeFree and vice versa. I've never noted a significant difference in conversion ratios.

    As for tracking issues, I've seen problems more frequently on Linkshare than on other networks.
    Michael Coley
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  24. #24
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Admin Note:
    ============

    This thread will be moderated and any off topic or other unacceptable content will be removed and ban warnings will be issued.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
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  25. #25
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Well as we await this informative exchange to expand, let me throw in further differentiators in the networks battle to secure the most trust in their sales reporting. Two factors figure into any networks reporting system.

    Step one is the setting of the referrers tag on incoming links.

    Step two is the merchants cart's ability to read that alert tag, add in the sales transaction data, and send the combination back to the networks server.

    Together these lead to trust in the stability of the networks tracking system. All networks are at the mercy of the honesty of the merchant as only they control their carts ability to recognize and parse the referral sales data.

    Be interesting to see a merchant common to both Linkshare and BF/CJ/ValueClick ...Dell.com... get disected as to conversion ratio. How many average clicks to report one sale on each network. Seems like a great real stats test of two opposing networks with one common merchant.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

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