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  1. #1
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Latest Stats on Users Deleting Cookies
    http://www.internetretailer.com/dailyNews.asp?id=15461

    "56% of men say they manually delete cookies, 30% say they use applications that delete cookies, and 31% say they actively block cookies. That compares with 47%, 24% and 20% of women, respectively, Jupiter says."

    That's a lot of cookie munching...

  2. #2
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Until the cookie isn't necessary for tracking (completely), it looks like we better get the sale on the first session, eh? And even that won't stop the blocking.

  3. #3
    Affiliate Manager nish's Avatar
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    wondering if there is solution to this? I'm worried not just about the people deleting/blocking the cookies, but also about lots of people who now use different browsers and different computers (work/home/school). Any idea as to how to make sure the affiliate gets his/her commission?

  4. #4
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Parrot bait...

    Dare we ask Charley (and Mike) about Safe Haven...

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador
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    Have I mentioned LIFETIME ACCOUNTS lately?

  6. #6
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    If you're pounding sales for a particular merchant, you might experiment with a cart ported to your domain / pages so cookies aren't used - or hard wired in a number of other ways - or employ a subdomain at your merchant that's a mirror of their site but all sales there are credited to you - or establish a third domain that houses a cart for your merchant that is essentially the same solution as a subdomain / host header, but is actually a separate domain altogether.

    And, all of these "solutions" can have their own problems and pitfalls as well.


    If you're a full-time aff, diversify your business into non-cookie dependent areas for safety - monetizing techniques other than cookie-marked product sales:

    +AdSense sites

    +Your own products you print, issue, drop-ship

    +Aff products of the same design as "your own products" above. Maybe printable coupons - though I stay away from coupons so I don't really know. But a smart merchant in this field would let you customize a unique coupon on your site that is independent of cookies - consumers print your coupon from your page and redeem in store. Once physically printed, no stealing can happen. I don't know if that's how this works, but I would push for it if not: www.dealtech.com; www.keycode.com
    [I do NOT know these guys - they could be pimpled with parasites for all I know - I am allergic to coupons and coupon sites and coupon merchants. If they're dirty, say so for the sake of others reading here - but I could care less cuz of my allergies]

    +Do some OPM for others (see Andy Rodriguez seminar info at ABestWeb - http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=57553)

    +PPC consulting biz for others. Site design, aff marketing, etc - if you're an aff - you've got specialized knowledge and experience - you're one step away from being a consultant (be brash enough to ask for compensation!)

    +Find some merchants that have unique products where there's no cookies involved - usually hand crafted art, boats, super high ticket stuff - where they may pay you per sale because the leads come from you - I know of one that let's you set up an 800 number of your own - so credit comes from that. I found them by accident - they recruit - you can't sign up - they find people from their existing high traffic sites. But I figure there's got to be more like this.

    +Find a merchant where subdomains or third party doamins with a cart is a standard setup for their biz model- these are not reliant on cookies at all. I work with one elearning company that sets up a subdomain for you as their aff. For $100 extra (one-time fee), they will host your site where you own the domain name and just point it to their servers. So it is COMPLETELY branded for you and cookies are not an issue - in fact, they aren't even used for aff tracking at all - all sales at the site are yours and it's not possible for your sales to be cookie-altered-misdirected or cookies-off-not-counted. This particular vendor doesn't even call their program an affiliate program - your sign up as a reseller and you get to adjust the retail price (and therefore your margin).
    Last edited by Donuts; July 14th, 2005 at 10:37 AM. Reason: typo, and cuz I can...

  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager PaulS's Avatar
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    A few of our top affiliates use their own cart/checkout system, then manually transfer the data to us for processing... avoids the entire cookie-issue.

    You don't even need a merchant account, as the merchant (aka me) will process the transaction, you just need a secure way to receive and then transmit that data.

    I can see more and more affiliates moving this direction, especially with the ready-access to cart software these days.

    It doesn't work with direct-ppc traffic or general links, just products.... but what can you do.

    Paul

  8. #8
    Internet Cowboy
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    Or build a BHO that makes cookies (your cookies only, of course) undeletable. You will need to reconfigure the victim's (err....happy consented opt-in user's) computer so that cookies are recorded and stored in their registry in a hiden file named 'Windows Vital Security Data'
    We could call it a cookiecannonbhowankadwhoreppcsespamcouponernovalueaddedtrickster app......or not

    The future of AM is not in cookies. We will see an evolution away from them I think.


  9. #9
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    The cookie protection secret www.ecomcity.com/safehaven-network.htm also exposing the SHN merchant's true e-catalog conversion ratio. Merchant protects their brand by eliminating PPCSE Ads direct (or auto cookied re-directs ) to SHN merchant. Now add in GoldenCan for on site promotions to SHN landing pages.

    No cookie and link blocking, no BHO's can join, and no non-physical click tricks.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  10. #10
    Affiliate Manager nish's Avatar
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    Wow! that seems like a pretty good solution to the cookie problem.
    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    I work with one elearning company that sets up a subdomain for you as their aff. For $100 extra (one-time fee), they will host your site where you own the domain name and just point it to their servers. So it is COMPLETELY branded for you and cookies are not an issue - in fact, they aren't even used for aff tracking at all - all sales at the site are yours and it's not possible for your sales to be cookie-altered-misdirected or cookies-off-not-counted. This particular vendor doesn't even call their program an affiliate program - your sign up as a reseller and you get to adjust the retail price (and therefore your margin).
    So let me know if i'm understanding it right.. theres this merchant abcdef.com. Now u'r an affiliate (reseller) and u get the domain xyz.abcdef.com. Now u direct all yr traffic to xyz.abcdef.com and for any sale under xyz.abcdef.com u get the commission. Am i right? If so, how popular and common this approach is? Any problems/pitfalls or possibilies of any fraud (either by merchant or affiliate) happening?

  11. #11
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Merchants who have you tax Id#, SS# and verified address and phone# will enter into a reseller arrangement with you as a trusted 1099 partner. It's your brand and butt on the line if you abuse credit card info and fail to deliver. No legit merchant would ever turn over their catalog and let any false front affiliate enity hawk their products into shopping cart sales and let you just forward sales info to them for fulfillment. The liability would be enormous.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

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

  12. #12
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    No legit merchant would ever turn over their catalog and let any false front affiliate enity hawk their products into shopping cart sales and let you just forward sales info to them for fulfillment.
    It does sound like it'd be really shaky due to the possible breakdowns in the information chain security regarding the CC#s.

    But I could imagine a legit, but unbright, merchant doing it and then wondering where all the lawsuits came from.
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  13. #13
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    No legit merchant would ever turn over their catalog and let any false front affiliate enity hawk their products into shopping cart sales and let you just forward sales info to them for fulfillment.
    My credit card processor wouldn't allow me to do that as a Merchant. Heck they won't even allow *me* to put in my customers information via the order form on my own page. I have to do it through my gateway's virtual terminal. I also have to provide them with every domain I am selling from. But they definitely wouldn't allow me to have others collect the billing info and then just have it forwarded to me.

    *Some credit card processors may be different from mine.

  14. #14
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Not sure what the last 3 posts are talking about... I am assuming it's a tangent... cuz the guy I'm talking about with the elearning, he hosts that domain and the credit card info is processed there, not on the affiliate's site.

    Quote Originally Posted by nish
    So let me know if i'm understanding it right.. theres this merchant abcdef.com. Now u'r an affiliate (reseller) and u get the domain xyz.abcdef.com. Now u direct all yr traffic to xyz.abcdef.com and for any sale under xyz.abcdef.com u get the commission. Am i right? If so, how popular and common this approach is?
    Yep. And you can choose the "xyz" part. Let's assume it's Dell (it's not) and you're ecomcity (you're not). You might say to the merchant, please setup my site at ecomcity.dell.com.

    Further, I have talked this merchant into going one step further because I personally prefer domain names that look clean, not subdomain / host header stuff. So an affiliate can buy a new domain name ($8 a year or whatever at GoDaddy etc) - like ecomcitytraining.com - and this merchant tells the aff where to point the domain's nameservers to (an IP address) - so the aff owns the name and lands his/her traffic there. The merchant hosts the site and all content for the domain is at the merchant, incuding the product they sell (online elearning) and the credit card processing as well.

    And whether you use a host header (xyz) or a separate domain name, cookies are not used in any way for the aff commission tracking. In fact, this merchant doesn't use a network or even an aff stats package like myapp - instead, they have designed there site with a hierarchy of administrator levels so you can log in and see how much a person has trained, what they've completed, which courses they've purchased. As an aff, you'd probably just want to run the report showing which courses were purchased. After the calendar month closes, the merchant waits ~20 days for any returns or cancellations and then this report autoruns within the walls of the merchants home office and they cut and mail a check.

    [/QUOTE]Any problems/pitfalls or possibilies of any fraud (either by merchant or affiliate) happening?[/QUOTE]

    There's always the possibility of fraud, but this system has been runnning for lots of colleges and reseller partners for over 4 years and there's no issues that I know of except for normal stuff with a credit card - phoney purchases from africa and stolen cards etc - but the merchant deals with these.


    I am working with a merchant of mine (unrelated to this company above) to see if they will set up a host header for me as well - to break the reliance on cookies for commission credit.
    Last edited by Donuts; July 15th, 2005 at 09:21 AM. Reason: typo

  15. #15
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nish
    If so, how popular and common this approach is?
    I really don't know the answer here. Most of us would guess it's very uncommon cuz we don't see it everyday. But the merchant I mentioned has set up over 300 of these sites with orgs around the world. They don't think of it as aff marketing (cuz they hardly know our world). They just built a self-contained, merchant hosted package for resellers that has a built-in revenue share model and uses credit cards. So, I assume there are actually many other systems like this around the world, but they don't catch our eye because they're not labeled "affiliate marketing".

    No cookies, no weird codes in urls and no tools for traffic and conversion stats. It counts sales, but it wasn't designed as a marketing / affiliate mechanism, it was designed as a fulfillment mechanism for reseller partners of the merchant. An aff could monitor how many referrals they sent there through the links on their pages (the xyz.abcdef.com ones) to determine conversions, but it's not built into the system.

    Thinking outside of elearning and just this merchant, I bet this is WAY more common than most affs assume. Most large companies have channel divisions where they seek out partners. Years ago, this meant they looked for big partners - today, and for the last 5-10 years, strong partners can actually be smaller and smaller companies. So these channel departments have found ways to work with smaller entities as reseller partners - and building easy to use merchant systems that can be branded for the reseller is VERY common.

    Talking this all up, kind of gets my mind going. I am going to the Andy Rodriguez semianr in Miami to learn about being an affiliate manager. I think when I finish that, I'll go back to this company and ask if they'd like to hire me to be their outsourced program manager or OPM [I learned this new word last week... maybe two weeks ago... abbreviation too... yeah, I'm cool. I signed up for Andy's seminar and kept seeing the term OPM smattered eveywhere - I signed up for the seminar (about OPM) and didn't even know what OPM was... little dopey, but cool...].

  16. #16
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    Not sure what the last 3 posts are talking about...
    I looked again, they were discussing PaulS post I think... where aff ports the sale data to the merchant (after conducting the sale on the aff site), including credit card numbers and stuff...

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador Jane's Avatar
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    An affiliate could have their own web site hosted on their own server, then when something is added to the cart it would move to the secure server on the merchants site. The aff would never see customer info. Search engines would see us as merchants instead of thin affiliates.

  18. #18
    Affiliate Manager nish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    Yep. And you can choose the "xyz" part. Let's assume it's Dell (it's not) and you're ecomcity (you're not). You might say to the merchant, please setup my site at ecomcity.dell.com.
    Donuts, coming to think of it.. It might not be the best solution. The visitor from your site goes to ecomcity.dell.com. Well, he might just remember 'dell.com' (unless he bookmarks it) & not 'ecomcity.dell.com'. So the next day when he wants to revisit the site, its highly likely that he might enter dell.com. In that case, how are you going to get the commission without the cookie?

    Instead of having a sub-domain, wouldn't it be better (may not be better but simpler) to always have the aff-id in the URL not just when the visitor enters the site but also when he is moving/surfing around the site. For example - dell.com/index.html/affid-12334 (possible with mod rewrite). This way even if the cookies are disabled, the visitor is tracked for that particular session. And if they bookmark the site then they can be tracked in future aswell since the aff-id is in the URL.

    What say?

  19. #19
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nish
    Donuts, coming to think of it.. It might not be the best solution. The visitor from your site goes to ecomcity.dell.com. Well, he might just remember 'dell.com' (unless he bookmarks it) & not 'ecomcity.dell.com'. So the next day when he wants to revisit the site, its highly likely that he might enter dell.com. In that case, how are you going to get the commission without the cookie?
    For this particular merchant, channel sales are a strategy - so this conflict has already been planned out to not happen - if you go to the main domain (dell.com in our example, but it ain't dell we're talking about) - they do not offer the product.

    Secondly, you can skip the xyz.abcdef.com and get a totally separate domain that the aff owns. Just like now, where you can have a name registered one place and your hosting elsewhere, you can own ecomcitytraining.com and point it to thos merchant's ip - so your visitors never even see the dell.com main domain.

    Instead of having a sub-domain, wouldn't it be better (may not be better but simpler) to always have the aff-id in the URL not just when the visitor enters the site but also when he is moving/surfing around the site. For example - dell.com/index.html/affid-12334 (possible with mod rewrite). This way even if the cookies are disabled, the visitor is tracked for that particular session. And if they bookmark the site then they can be tracked in future aswell since the aff-id is in the URL.
    I've seen this tried, it has a lot of issues it brings up. If you use javascript, there's compatibility and the small portion with scripting disabled, heavier site code, higher programming errors, sessions can time out because of normal use (like the browser takes 22 minutes to take a sample training course), and a littany of other problems. It can be done, but realize that depending on how it's done, a parasite can pop an ad on your visitor, create a new session that essentially overwrites the one your referrer intiated.

    Many merchants are experimenting with this session variable type thing right now - cause they've seen parasites focused on their sites and for their own ppc campaigns and seo / natural / serps traffic, they've seen that adding a session variable once on the merchant's domain, makes it harder for cookie swap to steal the credit - kind of the same once-you're-dropped-on-merchant-site-it's-wired-in-and-not-using-cookies thing that you're suggesting. Combining it with cookies, has been working well for one merchant I work with.

    But the own your own private domain and use no cookies as I've mentioned for this company I know - that's as good as it gets concerning cookie thieving and cookies off and related issues.

  20. #20
    Affiliate Manager nish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    Secondly, you can skip the xyz.abcdef.com and get a totally separate domain that the aff owns. Just like now, where you can have a name registered one place and your hosting elsewhere, you can own ecomcitytraining.com and point it to thos merchant's ip - so your visitors never even see the dell.com main domain.
    Affiliates probably would love this but I doubt if the merchant's brand manager is going to like it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    Many merchants are experimenting with this session variable type thing right now - cause they've seen parasites focused on their sites and for their own ppc campaigns and seo / natural / serps traffic, they've seen that adding a session variable once on the merchant's domain, makes it harder for cookie swap to steal the credit - kind of the same once-you're-dropped-on-merchant-site-it's-wired-in-and-not-using-cookies thing that you're suggesting. Combining it with cookies, has been working well for one merchant I work with.
    Pardon me but I got a little confused over here. (Apart from the private domains option) Are you saying that for parasite control, having session variable type thing is better than not having it? or the other way round?

    cheers!
    -nish

  21. #21
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nish
    Affiliates probably would love this but I doubt if the merchant's brand manager is going to like it.
    They don't sell direct to consumers themselves, only through resellers and directly B2B. So their reseller package is already designed for reseller-specific branding including color scheme, logo, customizing several text areas of their canned system. They let you choose whether to turn on the front end catalog, pick which courses you want to sell and determine your margin by adjusting the retail prices (the prices shown on your system). Changing the domain name is not a concern - they're committed to reseller branding in a big way already!

  22. #22
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nish
    Pardon me but I got a little confused over here. (Apart from the private domains option) Are you saying that for parasite control, having session variable type thing is better than not having it? or the other way round?
    Apart from the priovate domains... in fact, apart from the elearning merchant I mentioned...

    Having the session variable, if implemented correctly, can be a very good thing - better than the cookie by itself.

    Today, parasites (mostly) wait until an affiliate has handed off a visitor to a merchant - after landing the visitor on the merchant's site, they pop an ad (or other nonvisible techniques) to overwrite the referral cookie. The session variable improvement that one of my merchants is using is designed to avoid re-reading the cookie as pages change (i.e. are viewed) on the merchant's site. The merchant knows that once someone is on their site, the "referring" has already ocurred - so no changes to who the referrer is should be made if there's an open session by that visitor on the merchant's domain.

    The session stuff ain't bulletproof, but my own conversions with this consumer electronics merchant have gone up considerably. In watching several merchants cookies (as I hunt for parasites stealing commissions) I have seen quite a few merchants adding new value pairs to their cookies that have to do with tracking session variables and more. Enlightened merchants know the best way to get you to stay and focus on selling for them is to do everything they possibly can to ensure you get credit for sales you have referred.

    And some networks take this work more seriously than others. The guys at Kolimbo / Kowabunga have been adding merchant tools to allow them to better monitor what is happening with the cookie trails. These tools help the merchant identify trends, conversion metrics for different aff sites, cookie munching trail and a lot more. So you've got some allies of affiliates making things happen - and others doing essentially nothing but cya responses to things that blow up in their face. Reading through ABW makes it easy to figure out which are which.

  23. #23
    Affiliate Manager nish's Avatar
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    Donuts, session variable combined with cookies is neat stuff. Thanks! It was good education for me.

    You said "no changes to who the referrer is should be made if there's an open session by that visitor on the merchant's domain". However, during the same session if the visitor actually happens to go to a different affiliate's site & return back to the merchant's site then this new affiliate would not get the referring commission.

    Any links to recommended resources that talk about such things.. as in.. tricks and strategies on how the merchant can best protect themselves and the affiliates from parasites??

    cheers!
    -nishith

  24. #24
    Affiliate Manager nish's Avatar
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    Found this one.. an old thread by it kind of discusses the idea of locking the cookie & also to have a session cookie. http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=33170

    Wondering if it ever got implemented and if so, it helped barenecessities with their goal of protecting their affiliates.

    cheers!
    -nishith

  25. #25
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nish
    You said "no changes to who the referrer is should be made if there's an open session by that visitor on the merchant's domain". However, during the same session if the visitor actually happens to go to a different affiliate's site & return back to the merchant's site then this new affiliate would not get the referring commission.
    My stance reflects what I do, not that I'm right. As a ppc guy, if I paid ad costs to get a visitor and then I land them on my merchant - as long as the visitor stays at the merchant, I think I should get the credit. If the visitor, for instance, opens a new window and looks for a coupon code, I argue that I did the preselling that lead to the sale and not the coupon site. But, as I said, as a large part of my biz is PPC, I am biased towards this thinking.

    As long as my visitor keeps that merchant window open and active, I claim it's because of what I did to deserve the sale.

    Quote Originally Posted by nish
    Any links to recommended resources that talk about such things.. as in.. tricks and strategies on how the merchant can best protect themselves and the affiliates from parasites??
    cheers!
    -nishith
    Merchants are quiet about these things for several reasons - most of them bona fide. Same thing with those who make the technology and tracking software. I don't know of any links to recommend. If you ever become an affiliate manager, there is a separate private affiliate managers forum where those folks discuss these issues.

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