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  1. #1
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    I've noticed several things regarding the cj cookies recently that I hope you can explain and possbily relieve concern about what is going on with our cookies.

    The first is the fact that aff's PID is now encrypted in the CJ cookie. This means that we can no longer look ourselves at a cookie and determine which PID has been set. I'm really not sure when this change took place. I noticed it about 2 weeks ago. This is quite disturbing in itself considering all the issues regarding parasites and concerns over cookie overwriting.

    Next is something very strange I noticed when testing an affs site with ebates. I went to the affs site and noticed the "red eye" blocked cookie alert. I'm on IE 6.0 with security for cookies set at medium (MS default). Out of curosity, I clicked to see which cookies were being blocked at saw this:
    http://geocities.com/blfhabw/cj1.html

    All the cookies being blocked were giftree.com cookies (6 of them). I then went to ebates.com and from ebates site (not the MMM) i clicked on their bonsai boys link (the same merchant for the aff's page I was on). I then went back to the aff's page and decided to check that red eye again. What I found were numerous cj cookies being blocked that appeared to be related to tracking. See http://geocities.com/blfhabw/cj2.html
    There are 2 screenshots because there were too many cj cookies being blocked to get them all in one pic.

    I repeated the sequence at from various aff sites and different merchants. I consistently found that numerous cj cookies that appear to be related to tracking (as in images or files called tracking.exe) were blocked on the aff's page load if the associated merhcant had been visited through ebates prior.

    So why is that happening. Why is something being blocked by IE cookie wise on an affiliates page load if a click through to the merchant from ebates has happened prior to? If i clicked to the merchant's site from the aff's site then went to ebates, I got no red eye cookie blocking at all.

    Ok...next is the cookies themselves. Now granted, limited information can be interpreted from the cookies because they are now encrypted.

    I've seen what appears to be some disturbing information in the cookies that do get set from an affiliates page load. There seems to be a consistent difference in the information contained in the cookie depending upon whether or not the merchant has been visited through ebates or not. If I went to ebates and clicked to a merchant, and then an aff's site, the cookie set for commissionjunction.com and qksrv with the aff's page load contained the ebates ebs SID reference in the affiliates cookie! It would be the exact same SID that was in the ebates url I had clicked (not to mention the fact that ebates is appending the afscrc=1 code to all their links). This happened consistently. An example of this:

    qksrv cookie:

    QKINFO
    6kqf-55zb-zm5-ebs43475249sbe-120-team4j3j-

    commissionjunction cookie:
    QKINFO
    6kqf-55zb-zm5-ebs43475249sbe[B}-120-team4j3j-

    This always appears under the QKINFO part of the cookies. I also noted what appeared to be references to other parasites when looking at some other folks cookies such as igive.

    So WHY is a specific reference to a parasite mrechant click showing in OUR cookies. This information could only be being passed by CJ itself, since the issuing domain is the only one who can read the cookie. I find this very disturbing indeed.

    And what makes it even more disturbing is that fact that since CJ is now encrypting the PID in the cookies when I follow through with a click from the affiliates site to the merchant's site we can't see WHOSE PID is being sent to CJ.

    Finally this little gem. http://geocities.com/blfhabw/cj3.html

    Yes indeed...ebates showing as the referrer to an aff site from a CJ spider visit. To a page I might add that was dedicated to only one merchant and that merchant having no connection at all with ebates. And that ebates url is the one used during their redirects.

    I hope that Todd or someone from CJ will take the time to educate us as to what is going on here and why these things are being seen. On the face of it, this really, really, really doesn't look good.

    I hope that CJ can adequately explain why they have moved to encrypt their cookies taking away transparency of their tracking systems and explain the all to close association of references to ebates in connection with our sites and cookies.

    TIA for an honest dialogue regarding these issues.

    Keep Your Hands Off My Cookies

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    BLFH,

    Thanks for sharing this disturbing news with us and tasking CJ to be forthright with an honest answer.

    This is just one more thing (the encrypted cookies, for example) that has occured in the last month with no prior notification or explaination from CJ. You would have thought after all the flack the got about the CJ spider that they would have learned they can't pull something over on us.

    Have you also sent this to CJ via Ask A Question? As Todd only comes here once every two weeks now I doubt he'll see your message. HE STILL HAS NOT ANSWERED MINE FROM MAY 2!!!!!

    Ron - 7 Days A Week Marketing
    Every day is a chance to learn something new and an opportunity to teach others.

  3. #3
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    [Mailed to Jeff Pullen, legal and compliance]

    Haiko


    The secret of success is constancy of purpose. ~ Disraeli


  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador
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    the '"red eye" blocked cookie alert' does not always mean that cookies have been blocked.

    Most often it is from when you pull an image from a 3rd party site onto another site (& the generated privacy policy doesn't exist or isn't working on either of those sites)

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador
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    I'll be very interested to hear CJ's response here.

    The cookie issues are very disturbing and from what I can only guess regarding ebates being a referer - is that they are not testing for quality assurance themselves - but rather allowing merchants the ability to scan pour websites to use the information as they please.

    Give me a break! I'm going to pay bandwidth charges for ebates to come spider my site "as an enhanced CJ feature" so they can hijack my urls and redirect them. Please tell me I'm wrong because this is totally unacceptable. Is CJ the only ones using the spider for quality assurances purposes or are they farming it out to so called merchants like EBates?

  6. #6
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    quote:
    the '"red eye" blocked cookie alert' does not always mean that cookies have been blocked.

    Most often it is from when you pull an image from a 3rd party site onto another site (& the generated privacy policy doesn't exist or isn't working on either of those sites)


    True Pete. But why are the cookies accepted if ebates hasn't been previously visited and always show blocked if ebates has? That's what is puzzling to me.

    Keep Your Hands Off My Cookies

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
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    HOLY CR@P BATMAN!



    Sounds like trouble in River City! It will be interesting to see how CJ tries to squirm out from under this one. Most likely, we won't get a response from them. Like they haven't seen this topic.

    Did you ever get that feeling that something isn't on the up and up? Did you ever get that feeling while thinking about CJ???

    Andy

    "If you were born to be shot, you'll never be hung." -Unknown

  8. #8
    pph Expert! Gordon's Avatar
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    quote:
    Did you ever get that feeling that something isn't on the up and up? Did you ever get that feeling while thinking about CJ???
    Indeed I have Andy and quite often this last 6 months. All the updates and enhanced features that CJ are doing recently seem to me to be not about improving our use of CJ but are ways of making it easier for the likes of ebates and other parasites to screw us out of our comissions without us being able to see it. This last one with the cookies is a classic, what else are we suposed to think CJ?

    I even posted questions about this in your ask a question section and as of yet I have not had an answer that comes anywhere near giving me an explanation of why you are doing this. This sudden change to encrypted cookies cannot possibly come under the well worn banner of your privacy or confidentiality policies. I think we are 100% entitled to and deserve an answer.

    Travel safe
    Gordon
    YouTrek

  9. #9
    Merchant Linda's Avatar
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    Worded very well, BLFH. I look forward to seeing CJ's explanations.

  10. #10
    I like traffic lights
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    >(not to mention the fact that ebates is appending
    >the afscrc=1 code to all their links)

    There's nothing more frustrating than successfully stealing some jewelry from a home, then getting mugged by another thief just after you climb back out the window.

    Maybe they're using it as anti-mugging insurance?

    Jimmy James Inc. fan club membership # 3312

  11. #11
    Full Member heisje's Avatar
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    .

    you are *not* going to get any sensible response from CJ on this matter, because this is a conspiracy to defraud you of your earnings.

    just be more practical:

    - replace gradually CJ merchants with merchants from other networks
    - do not start any new affiliate relationships at CJ under no circumstances
    - keep any existing CJ merchants, under fraud or not, which you feel make you a satisfactory income anyway

    just flush CJ down the drain as far as you can afford, eventually eliminating them totally from your mix. increasingly they are becoming more trouble than it's worth.

    heisje


    .

  12. #12
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    I don't know the law in USA, but if those things would occure here in Europe, I personally would bring them to court. If that what BLFH posted is the policy of cj.com they are criminals.

    carneol

  13. #13
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    I too would like an explanation for this disturbing news.

    I would also like to give a heart-felt thank you to BLFH for his work and diligence.

    Should we all copy and paste his findings to Ask a Question ?

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador mousejockey's Avatar
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    Hugs and thanks B for going out of your way to to find out these things, disturbing as they are.[hugs]

    "I haven't failed, I've just found 10,000 reasons why it doesn't work"
    Thomas Edison

  15. #15
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    Getting more nervous about CJ every day!

    This REALLY does NOT sound good. Cookies that we can't see so we can tell what's going on????

    They REALLY must have something to hide! Looks very bad, indeed!

    Well, I feel I must make some big changes to my plans. I am doing my most ambitious project, so far, this summer. I have been planning it a long time. I guess, I will start with other networks and just won't have time to get to any CJ merchants. Funny because when I first envisioned it, it was going to be ALL CJ merchants. I set it up that way in the first place.

    So sad. They seem to be turning into the rogue network. Looks like they are setting up to grab what they can from as many affiliates as they can string along and scr*w us over in favor of the parasites. The writing is on the wall, folks. Better have a back up plan if you depend heavily on CJ.

    The Wolf Credo: Respect the elders. Teach the young. Cooperate with the pack. Play when you can. Hunt when you must. Rest in between. Share your affections. Voice your feelings. Leave your mark.

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador
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    I believe that most merchants are honest merchants. Should we inform our merchants on what is going on?

    carneol

  17. #17
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    It isn't the merchants. I think CJ does not want us taking screen shots of the cookies or even understanding what they mean when we see them. Can you possibly think why?

    The Wolf Credo: Respect the elders. Teach the young. Cooperate with the pack. Play when you can. Hunt when you must. Rest in between. Share your affections. Voice your feelings. Leave your mark.

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    What bothers me most is that CJ is doing these things and not communicating anything to us about it first. I don't know about the rest of you, but a little flag goes up everytime this happens...lately the flags have been getting bigger and more brightly colored and really getting my attention.

    Ron - 7 Days A Week Marketing
    Every day is a chance to learn something new and an opportunity to teach others.

  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador John Kruger's Avatar
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    Tell the merchants what you believe to be happening. Let the merchants then ask CJ the difficult questions.

    Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.

    www.teampb.com

  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador
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    good idea

    carneol

  21. #21
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    quote:
    Haiko,

    Thanks for the heads up. I've forwarded your message to Billy Hugo for investigation. FYI, we have made no changes to the way we set cookies (that I'm aware of). I'll let the experts get into the gory details and provide a response directly to you.

    Regards,

    Jeff


    Haiko


    The secret of success is constancy of purpose. ~ Disraeli


  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador
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    With all the problems with technolgy effecting affiliate marketing are we turning into the new "porn type" industry of the 21st century with all the sleazy and back end tricks happening more and more everyday.

    ...............
    WW

    Make a difference! Support your local Cancer Care providers.

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador
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    Merchant education has always been the best route. Thanks CJ for providing all the email addresses to the AMs

    "Nothing focuses the mind better than the constant sight of a competitor who wants to wipe you off the map."
    --Wayne Calloway

  24. #24
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    I am looking in to these concerns and will update shortly.

    [This message was edited by ToddCrawford, CJ.com on May 30, 2003 at 04:39 PM.]

  25. #25
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    OK, let me see if I can explain everything.

    1. CJ cookies have always been encrypted - nothing has changed recently on how we do this.

    2. CJ cookies are P3P compliant and do not get blocked by IE. The two examples you gave show an advertiser's images (product links) that happens to not be P3P compliant. This will not effect tracking because if the user clicks on the link, the tracking cookie will get set by CJ because it is P3P compliant. The second screen shot shows a few CJ image cookies getting block but this is an anomaly and should not happen. If you reboot your computer and try this again, they cookies will most likely not get blocked. I do not know why Microsoft products act this way - this is out of everyone's hand but theirs. In the end, all you care about is the click cookie, not the image cookie (this is the one doing the tracking).

    3. eBates SID in the cookie info. Unless you are clicking on the same advertiser when you go from eBates to another publisher's site, you will not see the whole cookie overwritten. If you click on advertiser A on eBates and then click on advertiser B on another site, you will still see the SID from eBates because both of these txns will get tracked. Advertiser A will track for eBates and advertiser B will track for the other publisher.

    3. eBates showing in web logs as the referring URL from our spider. This should not show up like this anymore. We were following the referring URL and in this case eBates was the referring URL for this page. Most likely someone (you?) clicked from eBates to your site and we logged this as the referring URL. We no longer spider this way, so you will not see this anymore.

    So, what does all this mean? Nothing. No harm, no foul. I agree that on the surface this may look unusual or concerning but hopefully now that it has been explained you can see that nothing "abnormal" is occurring.

    Todd Crawford
    Commission Junction

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