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  1. #1
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    Individual Product Linking in Forum
    Hello Everyone,

    I REALLY need some help figuring this out.

    I have a forum, and it focuses on deals on specific products. A user will link directly to a product when posting the deal. Right now, when the user submits the link, I am changing the links to http://www.mydomain.com/bounce/redirect.php? http://www.merchant.com/direct-to-product.htm to count the clicks.

    I am a member of the merchant's affiliate program, and what I would like to do, is at redirect.php redirect to the affiliate link and still have the consumer end up at the original product link. Does anyone have a solution for this?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Basically, you'll need to figure out how to build a dynamic affiliate link for each individual merchant. Then, inside your redirect script, detect merchant links and change them into affiliate links. There's no easy way.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  3. #3
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    With VB you can use replacement variables, I'm sure whatever software you use does the same, try it.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  4. #4
    Member johnm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    Basically, you'll need to figure out how to build a dynamic affiliate link for each individual merchant. Then, inside your redirect script, detect merchant links and change them into affiliate links. There's no easy way.
    I hate to offer this solution, but there sort of is an easier way. Although the ethics of it may be pretty questionable. If this technique is a no-no, any of the mods can feel free to edit the meat out of this message at will-- I don't want to contribute to any of the problems in the aff world that already exist!

    What you could do to reduce the amount of work is to maintain a list of affiliate links to top level pages for as many merchants as you can, and key them by domain name. Then, when the user reaches redirect.php with the url, you dissect the url to see if it contains the domain name, and when you find it, you "stuff" their browser with an iframe that does two things: 1) loads a top level affiliate link (or any, really, but don't use individual product links if you care about your stats accuracy), and by [lack of] virtue, 2) stuffs your cookies so you get any credit for the sale. The trick would be to set an onLoad property for the iframe so that when you are sure it's done loading the iframe (aka your aff cookies are stuffed), you redirect the user to the actual URL they are trying to reach.

    So, for example, in your redirect.php code you could basically say (pseudocode):

    write html tag, write head tag
    if url_passed_to_redirect contains "someaffiliate.com" then
    write some javascript to browser handle iframe onload event to redirect
    close head tag
    open body tag
    write iframe to browser with onload set to your js func name
    write a nice message saying you are redirecting, please wait
    end if

    Now, I know this method of redirection is probably frowned upon, but it will solve your problem. One of the problems with it is that you waste a lot of time and bandwidth stuffing the cookie by loading that top level aff link in the iframe when it's not even viewed (you just make your iframe hidden & 1x1). Two, stuffing like this is shady as it is, because it's so ripe for abuse. People are tempted to expand creatively on this technique for rather unsavory, and greedy, purposes; I'm sure you can see the "opportunity".

    I personally would ask a few of the aff mgrs what they think about it, and see if they can provide a link for you that doesn't waste their bandwidth, and your user's time (by way of loading). Although having a lightweight page built for setting cookies is probably an invitation for disaster.

  5. #5
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    That would have been a good solution a couple years ago, but there are two main problems with that now:

    1) Many browsers will not accept that stuffed cookie due to privacy issues.

    2) Many merchants and networks will consider that forced clicking and you could risk being terminated for it.

    For those reasons, I wouldn't consider this to be an acceptable solution.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  6. #6
    Member johnm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    That would have been a good solution a couple years ago, but there are two main problems with that now:

    1) Many browsers will not accept that stuffed cookie due to privacy issues.

    2) Many merchants and networks will consider that forced clicking and you could risk being terminated for it.

    For those reasons, I wouldn't consider this to be an acceptable solution.
    1) I'd disagree with this, and as an aside there are other techniques (which I wont get into here) that do still work even if this is not 100%.
    2) Agreed completely, which is why I suggested checking with the aff mgr. Which led me to wondering if there is another way this could be accomplished -- if only merchant sites would recognize and tag referer urls, and thereby set the cookie, rather than rely on specific links. Any referrer url from trusted affiliate cardfrogssite.com, set cookie, give credit for the sale.. . .

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the help guys. I don't want to do anything unethical, the traffic I send is legitimate, I just want to get compensated for it.

    Thanks again!

  8. #8
    Member johnm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cardfrog
    Thanks for the help guys. I don't want to do anything unethical, the traffic I send is legitimate, I just want to get compensated for it.

    Thanks again!
    No problem. I certainly wasn't aiming to be unethical in any way. I don't think my solutions are necessarily unethical unless you choose them to use them as such; But that's all I could come up with, solutions with conditions, in this case. Good luck! I'd like to know if you find a clever way of doing it.

    Cheers,
    John

  9. #9
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    Hey John,

    I think your solution is great, and I think it is unfortunate that my traffic is legitimate, yet I may subject myself to scrutiny for using it. I presented it to the person doing my scripting as a possible solution. Thank you very much for suggesting it.

  10. #10
    Member johnm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cardfrog
    Hey John,

    I think your solution is great, and I think it is unfortunate that my traffic is legitimate, yet I may subject myself to scrutiny for using it. I presented it to the person doing my scripting as a possible solution. Thank you very much for suggesting it.
    Thanks. To hell with scrutiny. If you've a good source of legit traffic, then it seems a situation where you are either valuable, or not, to any given merchant, based on their response to your needs and situation. No problem, good luck.
    Cheers,
    John

  11. #11
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    cardfrog

    The ideal solution would be to modify your forum script , the part where it inserts post data in to database.

    at that point its possible to search for the url and replace it with updated url information including your affiliate tracking code and merchant url.

    If your forum is php let me know what it is and I'll see if i can help.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by tarev
    cardfrog

    The ideal solution would be to modify your forum script , the part where it inserts post data in to database.

    at that point its possible to search for the url and replace it with updated url information including your affiliate tracking code and merchant url.

    If your forum is php let me know what it is and I'll see if i can help.
    Thanks Tarev,

    But this doesn't solve my problem like JohnM's solution. I think what you are saying is that I should replace:

    HTML Code:
    www.merchant.com/product_id.html
    with

    HTML Code:
    www.affiliate-link-to-merchant.com
    This would work if I could do something like:

    HTML Code:
    www.affiliate-link-to-merchant.com?url=www.merchant.com/product_id.html
    or even

    HTML Code:
    www.affiliate-link-to-merchant.com?product_id=1234
    That would redirect to the product. But most merchants don't offer that type of link, and I need a solution that I can make an automated process for.

    So, the only solution that sounds feasible is to hit

    HTML Code:
    www.affiliate-link-to-merchant.com
    using an iframe, and then redirect to

    HTML Code:
    www.merchant.com/product_id.html

    Thanks again everyone.

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