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  1. #1
    Newbie Merchant dustywhite's Avatar
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    Smile A fewparasite questions
    Hiya (it's me again)

    Okay so I have dug through the parasite thread in Midnight Cafe but it is like going to a foregin country and watching everyone happily chatting in another language while I wonder if they are calling me a "Stupid American Tourist" (which would be funny if I could only understand the language).

    So I looked on google and found some software advertising that was obviously designed to scare/intimidate me into buying their product. Also I found a few forums that looked as if they were written in Chinese (e.g. lotsa technobabble that went right over my head - more happy chatters).

    So... as a newbie merchant: I have a product. To the best of my knowledge it is virus free (yaay!). I host on godaddy (which to my knowledge is also virus free), and I am signed up with clickbank. Oh, and I don't host anyone's ads on my website.

    So I think I am fairly insulated from someone placing something on my website. But still the question lingers:

    Do I need to worry about parasites? Does my website need a vaccination? Is there something I can do to protect my affiliates? Or are there "evil affiliates" who spread this?

    Please help me get my tiny brain wrapped around this.

    Thanks a lot!

  2. #2
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    I'll answer those to the best of my ability.

    >>Do I need to worry about parasites?

    For an ebook I would say it's not too likely that you'd be a target--but you never know. Also I haven't heard that ClickBank is a targeted network. But again, you never know. Best to be on your guard. But the danger seems to be higher at the major product-sales oriented networks.

    >>Does my website need a vaccination?

    ?!? Someone's selling "website vaccinations?" Oboy...

    Parasiteware, is malware which is installed on the computers of end-users, often by being bundled with other software. For instance, "free" screensavers often bring a number of unsavories along with them in the download.

    So it's not websites that need the vaccines.
    There are some malwares that will try to install from websites. In those cases, they usually get on the sites because some greedy webmaster put them there--they get paid for every download they can stick somebody with. Game code/hint sites are a good place to get cyberfleas if your computer doesn't block auto-downloads. And, so are p*rn sites. But don't let anyone tell you that pr0n sites are the only ones that do it! Quite a few "free" content sites will do it, but they are usually concentrated around certain genres. The fact that these genres have an especially hard time converting standard sales is something I find noncoincidental.

    In a few instances, parasite/malware will try to install through CPM ads (the ad shows, and that ad triggers a download). But if you're not running outside ads, your site shouldn't be affected by that.

    >>Is there something I can do to protect my affiliates?

    Yes! Don't let any known parasites into your program! In this case, I mean, the pushers of this software. 180 Solutions is a well-known one. Also watch out for affiliates advertising through these places.

    >>Or are there "evil affiliates" who spread this?

    Some spread it, and some advertise through it. So yeah, some of the problem is "evil affiliates." And, most of the parasiteware places themselves will attempt to sign up as an affiliate.
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  3. #3
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    For more information on ABW regarding parasiteware: http://forum.abestweb.com/forumdisplay.php?f=158

    Do I need to worry about parasites?
    Unfortunately yes! No one who has a web site is immune. As a Merchant there are 2 basic areas you should be concerned about:

    1) Your competitors popping on your site potentially diverting your traffic to their web site. Having an ebook doesn't make you immune. There are many parasites out there that don't get talked about on ABW. While the ones we talk about here often times partner through the major Affiliate Networks, others focus with partnerships through CPM and lead Networks. Even some of the ones talked about here have these types of partnerships to a degree. So yes, your ebook could be targeted. Certain niches have more of a tendency for targeting for popups, so the subject matter of your ebook could make a difference as to how much risk you may be at. For example, I've seen quite a few parasites targeting work-at-home type sites.

    2) As an affiliate manager, parasites joining your program and either:
    a) redirecting your other affiliate's sales/traffic as their own
    b) popping your web site on your competitors
    c) redirecting your own traffic (your own SE traffic/direct type-ins/other paid advertising/etc) to themselves to earn affiliate commisssions

    Does my website need a vaccination?
    Unfortunately, there really isn't such a thing available.

    Is there something I can do to protect my affiliates?
    Know who your partners are and where their traffic is coming from. Don't allow parasites in your program. If they sneak in, terminate them swiftly. Question your affiliates if you see them delivering suspicous traffic patterns. Manaully review the web sites of those who apply to your program looking for references to toolbars and software applications. Google any web site that you are uncertain about and search on ABW for suspicous affiliates.

    Or are there "evil affiliates" who spread this?
    Yes.

  4. #4
    Newbie Merchant dustywhite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kellie aka Ms. B
    Know who your partners are and where their traffic is coming from. Don't allow parasites in your program. If they sneak in, terminate them swiftly. Question your affiliates if you see them delivering suspicous traffic patterns. Manaully review the web sites of those who apply to your program looking for references to toolbars and software applications. Google any web site that you are uncertain about and search on ABW for suspicous affiliates.
    Wow thanks! (Thank you to both of you)

    Hm... this sounds like that gator fiasco a few years back, but I think I get the toolbar thing. I also get pop-ups that say my computer has a virus, and ask if I would like to fix it. All of these sound suspicious.

    As to affiliates- thanks again. I will go down the dungeon and pull out the halogen, tongs and rubber gloves. I guess it is time to get ready to do some innterrogation (and it has been a while snce I got to play with my toys anyway)

    Oooh! I have a signature! :yellowsmi
    Thanks webmaster!

  5. #5
    Member DSC Advantages's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info guys, I was just about to ask the same questions.

  6. #6
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    1) Your competitors popping on your site potentially diverting your traffic to their web site. Having an ebook doesn't make you immune. There are many parasites out there that don't get talked about on ABW. While the ones we talk about here often times partner through the major Affiliate Networks, others focus with partnerships through CPM and lead Networks. Even some of the ones talked about here have these types of partnerships to a degree. So yes, your ebook could be targeted. Certain niches have more of a tendency for targeting for popups, so the subject matter of your ebook could make a difference as to how much risk you may be at. For example, I've seen quite a few parasites targeting work-at-home type sites.

    2) As an affiliate manager, parasites joining your program and either:
    a) redirecting your other affiliate's sales/traffic as their own
    b) popping your web site on your competitors
    c) redirecting your own traffic (your own SE traffic/direct type-ins/other paid advertising/etc) to themselves to earn affiliate commisssions
    Sorry to ask what may be a dumb question. I've been doing affiliate marketing for a year and am fairly web-savvy, but I don't understand how a parasite can cause problems for other affiliates by joining a merchant's affiliate program. Wouldn't they have to be able to hack into the merchant's server or affiliate network to cause problems? Or do they do that?

    Thanks.

  7. #7
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mark1111
    Sorry to ask what may be a dumb question. I've been doing affiliate marketing for a year and am fairly web-savvy, but I don't understand how a parasite can cause problems for other affiliates by joining a merchant's affiliate program. Wouldn't they have to be able to hack into the merchant's server or affiliate network to cause problems? Or do they do that?

    Thanks.
    They are already stealing commissions by overwriting fellow affiliates cookies on direct merchant Type-ins, bookmarks,e-mail links, and off affiliate links when landing on the merchnat's sites. They want to join your program to earn commissions. It's simple if they pop a alert a cookie is automatically set. A few billion pops a day from hundreds of these BHO's and the merchnat's approving them wash all their own legitimate affiliates cookies leaving bread crumbs.

    If I could set 10 million popup cookies a day I'd make millions a month without a single shopper even visiting my site. No branding -no need to get a click -no stupid work to build a web page -no need for PPCSE keyword fees and no need to ever get listed in Google. I'd be a parasite sucking commissions from stupid merchants without spending a penny on advertising. Just pay some freebee pushers or P2P slimeballs peanuts to infest systems with my BHO.

    Learn all about it at ABW and write a new eBook.
    Last edited by ecomcity; July 13th, 2005 at 07:37 PM.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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  8. #8
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Wouldn't they have to be able to hack into the merchant's server or affiliate network to cause problems?
    No. The software resides on the consumers computer and takes control of either the browser by automatically loading their affiliate link into the browser or popping up ads on the end user's computer.

  9. #9
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    Thanks, Kellie--I've read a number of your posts here and admire your work and tenacity (and also your politeness). I understand how links can get hijacked by downloaded software. But the impression I get (perhaps wrong) is that parasites can somehow do this even without having software on your machine. Is this true? i.e., if someone with a clean computer goes to a merchant's site for the first time, can a parasite still create a popup or hijack the link some other way?

    Also, as far as ebates, it appears that the problem comes when customers download their software, not just by clicking on a link to a merchant? I recall a couple of emails a few months ago from CJ and Performics with some terminology about third parties and forced clicks that I didn't understand. Is this what it was about? "Commission Junction will no longer allow special programs engaged in the purchase of media from ad services that download and install software on an end-user's computer." The wording for Perfomics was similar. If so, the long list of advertisers on ebates who are also part of these networks would suggest that this hasn't been too effective?

    One other question: Do many affiliates here add the &afsrc=1 code to their links? And if so, does it help (i.e., have you noticed in increase in revenue)?

    Thanks.
    Last edited by mark1111; July 13th, 2005 at 11:43 PM.

  10. #10
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    But the impression I get (perhaps wrong) is that parasites can somehow do this even without having software on your machine. Is this true? i.e., if someone with a clean computer goes to a merchant's site for the first time, can a parasite still create a popup or hijack the link some other way?
    Not that I'm aware of. To do that would involve hacking into a Merchant's server and the would be fool-hearted. I may not agree with the business models of a lot of these guys, but I've never thought them just plain stupid.

    Also, as far as ebates, it appears that the problem comes when customers download their software, not just by clicking on a link to a merchant?
    Not sure what you mean exactly. The software is potentially triggered when the end user arrives to the Merchant's site.

    I recall a couple of emails a few months ago from CJ and Performics with some terminology about third parties and forced clicks that I didn't understand. Is this what it was about?
    In part. CJ/BF/PFX updated the COC (which is supposed to be specific to software technology) and included wording regarding forced clicks. However, initially CJ came out and said it covered all forced clicks (ie even those happening on publisher's web sites). Then there was some back peddling and what exactly a forced click really is per CJ became less clear. Seems that in some cases just clicking on a navigation link within a website that led to the end user also being automatically brought to the Merchant's site via an aff link wasn't necessarily a forced click. And a software application that automactically redirected the end user back to the Merchant's site via their affiliate link when the consumer originally did a direct type-in to the Merchant wasn't necessarily a forced click either. Confused? Well I am. I've pretty much given up a long time ago trying to reconcile what Networks TOS/COC/ect actually say and how they are interpreted in reality. And PFX nevers talks about it publicly.

    "Commission Junction will no longer allow special programs engaged in the purchase of media from ad services that download and install software on an end-user's computer."
    Well that was a friendly reminder from CJ to it's publishers. It was also somewhat ambigous and CJ's 'clarifications' here on the wording weren't much more enlightening. But it 'appeared' to be a notice for publisher's not to run advertising of their affiliate links through 3rd party software (such as 180, ExactAdvertising).

    If so, the long list of advertisers on ebates who are also part of these networks would suggest that this hasn't been too effective?
    That would be because the Networks state that Ebates is in compliance with their policies.

  11. #11
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    Thanks--very helpful!

  12. #12
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    Kellie wrote --

    And a software application that automactically redirected the end user back to the Merchant's site via their affiliate link when the consumer originally did a direct type-in to the Merchant wasn't necessarily a forced click either.
    I don't doubt that you're right, but unfortunately I can't immediately recall this disussion. Do you have a link to some URL at which a network staff person offered this interpretation?

  13. #13
    Affiliate Manager PaulS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kellie aka Ms. B
    For more information on ABW regarding parasiteware: http://forum.abestweb.com/forumdisplay.php?f=158
    Google any web site that you are uncertain about and search on ABW for suspicous affiliates.
    Excellent advise, Kellie. I regularly run to ABW to check on one publisher or another.

    And, if there isn't anything posted already... post a question about them and you will normally get a fairly quick reply.

    I still think it would be helpful to have one list of "Publishers with the ABW Stamp of Dissapproval" so that all merchants can do a quick search and yank anyone that has snuck in... but what can you do.

    One advantage you'll find, dustywhite, as I'm finding with the Brushstrokes program... a new program is clean, with no mistakes in it.

    If you check your affiliates as you go, you won't ever have to do the big "clean up" I've had to do with every other program I've ever worked on.

    Paul

  14. #14
    Affiliate Manager PaulS's Avatar
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    Also... for those merchants using CJ....

    If you're going to automatically approve affiliates, make sure you check off "manually approve" for affiliates with Special Incentives, and read those incentive descriptions carefully.

    Any reference to software or a toolbar - decline immediately.

    Any reference to cash back or rewards or charitable donations - check their site for signs of a downloadable application, and read their terms of service to make sure that sales are tracked through visits and clicks on the site only, and not through any application that "follows you while you shop."

  15. #15
    Affiliate Manager Rana's Avatar
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    So, knowing that there are parasites out there, is there a way to manage the program so that only a few, high quality affiliates are used? I am presently researching affiliate marketing for a high profile company, and I'm sure we will be a target for parasites. Before I bring my recommendation to my director, I want to have a plan layed out to keep everything above board.

  16. #16
    Devil's Reject Electropulse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rana
    So, knowing that there are parasites out there, is there a way to manage the program so that only a few, high quality affiliates are used? I am presently researching affiliate marketing for a high profile company, and I'm sure we will be a target for parasites. Before I bring my recommendation to my director, I want to have a plan layed out to keep everything above board.
    that's great that you guys are doing you homework, if you keep those parasite at bay, the newegg program is gonna rock!

  17. #17
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Rana, you should manually authorize each affiliate and verify they have the proper phone # and their domain and physical address matches the whois information. Often the shady ones list someone elses domain. Just a phone call connecting you with the right person means they are receptive to AM help and not hiding their true identity. Simply put a notice in your program's TOS stating you do not accept and withhold payments from affiliates who incent traffic eliminates some cookie abusers.

    A forum at ABW is a must if you want to recruit based upon attracting honest affiliates willing to play by your rules. Margins are slim in discounted computer sales so a quality high converting affiliate sales force not pushing profit killing coupons and loss leaders is essential.
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  18. #18
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Just a phone call connecting you with the right person means they are receptive to AM help and not hiding their true identity.


    You may talk to Hermit the Frog on the phone and never know who is the one with the hand up his .... you know what..... so that is a total BS.

    Think about it!

    Call 1-976 female-voice and you might wind up spending a lot of money on some travesty with a sexy female voice.
    ...

  19. #19
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    So, knowing that there are parasites out there, is there a way to manage the program so that only a few, high quality affiliates are used? I am presently researching affiliate marketing for a high profile company, and I'm sure we will be a target for parasites. Before I bring my recommendation to my director, I want to have a plan layed out to keep everything above board.
    It can be a tough and time consuming job. From your posts in the other thread, it looks like you are leaning towards going Network vs in-house. In that situation a good first line of defense would be a Network that doesn't allow parasites in to begin with and assists Merchants in that regard (SAS or Buy.at possibly). If you go with a Network who promotes parasitic relationships as top performers in the Network, then go into that with your eyes wide open and a plan of action in place from a resource perspective to monitor your own program for such activity.

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