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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador
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    Naked Link Technology
    I think this is the technology which sounds too good to be true

    I mean as an affiliate, we simply link to our merchant as www.merchant.com and the tracking would work, great ! This works on cookie-tracking basis only. Right ?

    I am interested to know as an affiliate what are the safeguards in place to ensure that when merchant does some changes at their end and messes up, I still get the commission for the sale.

    Thanks
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  2. #2
    Affiliate Network Rep Jackie Lane's Avatar
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    I'm thinkin' this should be the same type of feelin' you had about your wife before you married her! lol!

    So, let's get down to your questions...

    How tracking works with Naked Link Technology™ (this is the technology that uses direct links from the affiliate site to the merchant site, using hyperlinks that are devoid of any parameters or querystrings). Yes, it is cookie-based.

    More detail…Merchants with Naked Link campaigns are provided with script that they place on all their landing pages. This script calls LinkConnector to determine the affiliate based upon the referring site. The script then writes a cookie that is used later, once a sale (or lead) event call is made by a valid affiliate.

    When a sale happens, LinkConnector looks for that cookie it wrote and assigns the credit just the same as a Standard (traditional) campaign. So, if the user does have a cookie, then LinkConnector records the sale. If the referrer was not an approved LinkConnector affiliate site, then LinkConnector does not record a sale.

    Hopefully this helps to explain how LinkConnector sets cookies and tracks sales with Naked Link Technology™(NLT). If not, speak up!

    Further, there are safeguards in place in case a merchant haphazardly removes their tracking code. We have a script that runs daily across all Naked Link (tm) merchant sites to ensure their tracking code is in place. If not, we are alerted and take action (i.e., increase commissions for affiliates if the code was down for any amount of time, etc). We take the integrity of our network very seriously. It is our intention to provide top quality service to our affiliates.
    Last edited by Jackie Lane; January 7th, 2006 at 12:59 AM. Reason: oops - misspelled a few words!

  3. #3
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    I'm thinkin' this should be the same type of feelin' you had about your wife before you married her!
    well, not exactly, but I understand

    We have a script that runs daily across all Naked Link (tm) merchant sites to ensure their tracking code is in place. If not, we are alerted and take action (i.e., increase commissions for affiliates if the code was down for any amount of time, etc).
    Thanks for answering my question. It is good to know that you do daily checks for the tracking codes.

    It is great to have your forum here. So if I have any further questions about linkconnector, I know now where to ask
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  4. #4
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I built a very similar technology for one of my sites (basically just for tracking of organic sources rather than affiliate programs), and it tracks very, very well. There are a few places where it won't track right, but most of those are minor:

    1) If the user has cookies disabled. This is relatively rare, and would cause just about any affiliate program not to track.

    2) If the user has referrers turned off in their browser. This is even more rare, but does happen, especially with newer browsers that make this simpler to do.

    3) If you "pop" the window open with Javascript rather than using a plain link. (That's because this seldom sends a referrer string.) This technique is usually only done by cookie stuffers, so I actually consider this a plus.

    4) This virtually eliminates the ability to do PPC direct to the merchant. An alternate way of tracking needs to be added in this case, if the merchant wants to allow that.

    5) Email/newsletter links likely won't show a referrer string (or may show the online email console). This is probably the biggest problem.

    How does NLT address these issues?
    Michael Coley
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  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador erninator's Avatar
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    I've always wondered if the codes could be located on the merchant's site instead of on thousands of affiliates sites. This is awsome! When is National Naked Day?
    ~Ernie

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager Allen Nance's Avatar
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    4) This virtually eliminates the ability to do PPC direct to the merchant. An alternate way of tracking needs to be added in this case, if the merchant wants to allow that.

    Michael, as long as you setup a landing page on your site, I can't see why this won't work for ppc.

    Here is a sample of the code for one of my links:

    *href="http://www.kiteandwind.XXX" >KiteandWind.com For Kites and Wind Toys<img src="http://www.linkconnector.XXX/traffic_record.php?lc=006604005220002199" border="0" width="1" height="1"></a*
    (code adjusted not to track)

    I also believe that as a merchant we can also create a Non Naked link that would basically be just like the other providers. I as a merchant would not mind creating one for PPC.


    Allen
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  7. #7
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    Hi - This is Ros, with LinkConnector of course. I have been with LinkConnector since it was just an idea and am excited at the growth and development of the company and technology. Along with Candice and Jackie, I will be helping out and adding my comments on the forum when I can.

    Regarding Naked Link (TM) code - the need for code on the merchant site is really no different to any other standard type of affiliate programs where we rely on the merchant maintaining the tracking pixel on the back end of the lead/sale. It is just an additional piece of code that is required. But, to help ensure the tracking is in place and the tracking is maintained, LinkConnector does run a script to check all Merchant landing pages for the code.

    5) Email/newsletter links likely won't show a referrer string (or may show the online email console). This is probably the biggest problem.
    As Michael points out, NLT(tm) is not suitable for email campaigns. Additionally, NLT(tm) links are also not suitable for direct placement in search engines. The affiliate would need to list their own domain in the search engine and then place the naked links on that site.

    Many of our merchants offer (or will offer) standard campaign links if requested. Any LinkConnector affiliate can email a merchant through our Affiliate Manager interface to make such a request.

    I look forward to some great discussions

    Ros - see you in Vegas? - the Oz!
    Last edited by Roz from Oz; January 8th, 2006 at 06:36 PM. Reason: typo

  8. #8
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    About this technology, as explained to merchants:

    Naked Link Technology™, pioneered by LinkConnector, offers merchants the ability to transparently run an affiliate program, leading to an increase of inbound links to your site. In turn, this can also significantly boost organic search engine rankings. If you are still running a standard affiliate campaign and your links aren't naked yet, you could be missing out on a significant boost to your search engine rankings. Or, if you are not running an affiliate program, sign up with LinkConnector as part of your link building campaign.
    And what benefit or value is there for affiliates to give merchants a link that will boost the merchant's link popularity and assist them with their search engine rankings?
    Last edited by webworker; January 10th, 2006 at 08:48 PM.

  9. #9
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webworker
    About this technology, as explained to merchants:

    And what benefit or value is there for affiliates to give merchants a link that will boost the merchant's link popularity and assist them with their search engine rankings?
    I think the clicks cannot be stolen or redirected that way. Am I right? If so, that ends the parasite problem and would be a nice trade off. Merchants definitely are making out with this linking method. It's what Mike at Dandelions and Dimples does ... just uses his referral stats to figure commissions. Not a bad idea if tracking can be done properly and the software doesn't crap out.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

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  10. #10
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rexanne
    I think the clicks cannot be stolen or redirected that way. Am I right?
    They might say that, but I think it's highly unlikely. If you like from youraffiliatesite.com directly to yourmerchant.com and a parasite pops yourmarchant.com?affiliateid=parasite (using non-naked links), I would be surprised if it didn't overwrite your cookie.

    About the only advantage I could see for an affiliate is that it would appear not to be an affiliate link to customers.
    Michael Coley
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  11. #11
    Member Chocolate_Chicken's Avatar
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    What is the deal with deep-linking?

    Does the Link Connector code have to be present on evey page of the merchant's site?

    If so, how to monitor?

  12. #12
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    Yeah, a million bad things for affiliates, all pluses for merchants. So many variables to break, and basic tracking easily blocked.

    And it doesn't help the misrepresenting of the issue by some people. Or the silly NLT (TM), guess what guys, you don't have NLT trademarked, you have naked link trademarked - we get it! The whole thing feels like amateur day in affiliate marketing, if we spin and hype enough, the forum members at ABW will just eat it up.

    Chet

  13. #13
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    They might say that, but I think it's highly unlikely. If you like from youraffiliatesite.com directly to yourmerchant.com and a parasite pops yourmarchant.com?affiliateid=parasite (using non-naked links), I would be surprised if it didn't overwrite your cookie.

    About the only advantage I could see for an affiliate is that it would appear not to be an affiliate link to customers.
    Ahhhh ... OK thanks for explaining Michael. Now go play! :-)
    Last edited by Rexanne; January 11th, 2006 at 02:54 AM. Reason: had to rag on Michael to go party!
    Peace,

    Rexanne

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    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  14. #14
    Affiliate Network Rep Candice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webworker
    About this technology, as explained to merchants:

    And what benefit or value is there for affiliates to give merchants a link that will boost the merchant's link popularity and assist them with their search engine rankings?
    Quote Originally Posted by Rexanne
    I think the clicks cannot be stolen or redirected that way. Am I right? If so, that ends the parasite problem and would be a nice trade off. Merchants definitely are making out with this linking method. It's what Mike at Dandelions and Dimples does ... just uses his referral stats to figure commissions. Not a bad idea if tracking can be done properly and the software doesn't crap out.
    Webworker and Rexanne, Naked Link Technology™ defeats cookie hijacking so affiliates receive proper credit for all their traffic. It also enables affiliates to promote their affiliate programs transparently, making their websites seem more editorial in nature.

    In addition, if you are familiar in general with organic search engine algorithms you will realize that some give your page credit for the number of outbound Naked Links™ from your sites as a percentage of all outbound links. Google’s algorithm in particular seems to function this way. Their reasoning is that if a link is devoid of query strings it is more altruistic and therefore more relative. This increases the value of your page and site in their algorithm.
    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    They might say that, but I think it's highly unlikely. If you like from youraffiliatesite.com directly to yourmerchant.com and a parasite pops yourmarchant.com?affiliateid=parasite (using non-naked links), I would be surprised if it didn't overwrite your cookie.

    About the only advantage I could see for an affiliate is that it would appear not to be an affiliate link to customers.
    Michael, in the instance you suggest, the cookie is not overwritten. It does the parasite no good to append anything to the Naked Link™ as you suggest. I wish I could give you more data as to the reasoning, but since our technology is patent pending, that would be considered classified information and you know what happens if I divulge classified information.

    To really get a sense of whether or not you are right, you should try us out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chocolate_Chicken
    What is the deal with deep-linking?

    Does the Link Connector code have to be present on evey page of the merchant's site?

    If so, how to monitor?
    Chocolate_Chicken, the merchant places the code only on the landing pages of their site. It really waters down the value of Naked Links™ to send traffic to every page. We counsel our merchants to pick one or two key pages to promote and add them to the database. Then, the code you get as an affiliate directs traffic only to the pages the merchant desires, which you get credit for.

    It is important to note that we are not saying that Naked Link Technology™ is a panacea. It is not useful for email campaigns, PPC search promotion, or deep linking. For this reason, we recommend to our merchants that use Naked Link™ campaigns to use standard campaigns as well. The merchants that do this usually make these standard campaigns private, but all you need to do is contact the merchant using the interface and ask to be included in their private campaign. Hope that helps!
    Quote Originally Posted by chetf
    Yeah, a million bad things for affiliates, all pluses for merchants. So many variables to break, and basic tracking easily blocked.

    And it doesn't help the misrepresenting of the issue by some people. Or the silly NLT (TM), guess what guys, you don't have NLT trademarked, you have naked link trademarked - we get it! The whole thing feels like amateur day in affiliate marketing, if we spin and hype enough, the forum members at ABW will just eat it up.

    Chet
    Chet, sadly, I’m not sure we will change your opinion of our marketing strategy, but we can assure you that Naked Link Technology™ has benefits for both affiliates and merchants. In November we attended PubCon and just finished attending Affiliate Summit. At both of these conferences we’ve spoken with super affiliates who definitely see the substantial benefits of Naked Links™ over standard links. You don’t have to take our word for it, just ask around.

    Thanks everyone for the great discussion!

    Candice

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador sjangro's Avatar
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    So on nakedlinks, you're relying on the http-referer to determine who gets credit for the sale, as well as first party cookies to track it through the merchant site from the landing page.

    I've examined enough click data over the years to suspect that browsers aren't necessarily great at preserving that data, especially when redirects are involved. Further, some privacy software blocks referer data as a feature. That's what's causing referers like XXX:+++++++++ in your log files. (And the fact that a referer can be modified like that at all would fuel for more concern if I felt that malicious hijacking was a significant issue.)

    That said, I don't have the emperical evidence to be any more than skeptical.

    Cookie tracking isn't 100% by any means, especially third-party cookies which it seems you avoid, but there have been enough cookie-usage studies that I have a good idea what we're dealing with. Referer tracking is a big unknown to me.

    Since you've built a business on it, what sort of studies have you done or seen on the reliability of referer data?

    As far as link pop and pagerank benefit goes, I'd expect that the SEs are about as keen on this as they are on paid text links for the purpose of passing "link-juice". Treating it as such won't make you any friends there.

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Candice - LinkConnector
    I wish I could give you more data as to the reasoning, but since our technology is patent pending, that would be considered classified information and you know what happens if I divulge classified information.
    I don't know that much about patents, but what happens if your patent is not approved? Are you still in business or do you just continue but now your technology is not protected?

    Just curious as this is an area we don't see much information about here at ABW?
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
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  17. #17
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Candice - LinkConnector
    Michael, in the instance you suggest, the cookie is not overwritten. It does the parasite no good to append anything to the Naked Link™ as you suggest.
    So you're saying that a parasite using a standard campaign wouldn't overwrite the cookie of an affiliate using a Naked Link™? I'd have to see that (or hear it from Ben or Kellie) to believe it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Candice - LinkConnector
    I wish I could give you more data as to the reasoning, but since our technology is patent pending, that would be considered classified information and you know what happens if I divulge classified information.
    I don't think you understand the difference between a Patent, a Trade Secret, and Classified Information. With a Patent, you spell things out in detail in a public patent application and people aren't allowed to use your methods for a set period of time (like Segway or ion drugs). With a Trade Secret, you don't tell anyone anything and keep it secret (like Coke or KFC's 11 herbs and spices). Classified Information usually applies to government secrets.
    Michael Coley
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  18. #18
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    I don't buy into it in the least ...
    HTTP_REFERER can very easily be faked and is not reliable -> hint = hard to read random image codes that you must decipher ( often guess at) to log_in, submit etc ...
    These are not there to just tick folks off .... but to combet HTTP_REFERER manipulation.

    I think it may work for a bit; certainly it will make the merchants happy but this is simply opening another crappy can of worms ->

    "Another method that people speculate about is browser hijacking. Internet Explorer can be hijacked to change the start page, search settings, DNS error handling, search hooks, and to have BHOs and strange toolbars installed. Certainly the referer setting can also be altered by a BHO. To my knowledge, this has never been done. Let's hope I'm not giving anyone ideas..."

    http://www.spywareinfo.com/articles/referer_spam/

  19. #19
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    There are different issues being discussed here, referrer munching and search engine algos.

    It also enables affiliates to promote their affiliate programs transparently, making their websites seem more editorial in nature.
    The one pixel image for tracking that accompanies the link is pulled directly from LinkConnector's server, so it clearly identifies the page as an affiliate page. So then, it's no longer transparent that it's an affiliate site.

    In addition, if you are familiar in general with organic search engine algorithms you will realize that some give your page credit for the number of outbound <snip> from your sites as a percentage of all outbound links. Google’s algorithm in particular seems to function this way. Their reasoning is that if a link is devoid of query strings it is more altruistic and therefore more relative. This increases the value of your page and site in their algorithm.
    I edited the quote in order to be able to respond because there are no algo white papers or patents or any search engine webmaster help files and guidelines that refer to any proprietary, named type of technology. If we're talking algos, it'll be far clearer and more productive for everyone if we stick to talking algos and call things what the search engines call them.

    When you're talking about "getting credit" for outbound links, I assume you're referring to Kleinberg's Hubs and Authorities model - right?

  20. #20
    Full Member markschok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Candice - LinkConnector

    In addition, if you are familiar in general with organic search engine algorithms you will realize that some give your page credit for the number of outbound Naked Links™ from your sites as a percentage of all outbound links. Google’s algorithm in particular seems to function this way. Their reasoning is that if a link is devoid of query strings it is more altruistic and therefore more relative. This increases the value of your page and site in their algorithm.
    Using Bare Links(c) like this direct to the merchant will also of course increase the merchants PR. Probably increasing their position in the SERPS & making it harder for SEO natural search type affilaites to get decent rankings, visitors and sales. Especially when you'd have lots of affilaites deep lnking across a merchants entire catalogue.

    Also where does it say "that if a link is devoid of query strings it is more altruistic and therefore more relative"? I'd like to see that.

  21. #21
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    won't float; can't float.
    There is no abuse in this arena yet as there has not been a profit incentive ... they just introduced motivation.
    This method is easily abused/circumvented ... time + incentive = derailment.
    Merchants will make out like bandits while the affiliates ponder "What 'appened?"
    Just my thoughts ... tread the waters as you see fit.

  22. #22
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    So you're saying that a parasite using a standard campaign wouldn't overwrite the cookie of an affiliate using a Naked Link™? I'd have to see that (or hear it from Ben or Kellie) to believe it.
    I haven't tested this, but it seem to me that they already said you can use a regular link as well as a naked one. If that's the case, and if "last in" is to be preserved, I'm with MC's thinking completely here.

  23. #23
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    The only time this type of linking would possibly offer any protection against parasites is where the parasite had merchant.com as the URL for the pop-up and thus no referrer. That type of situation is not the norm however. And then there is the situation where the http referrer header is forged by the parasite (watched that one today) and that one would then track and overwrite. Major applications like TopMoxie and SAHS redirect first through their own web sites, so there would be a referrer header.

    Naked Link Technology™ defeats cookie hijacking so affiliates receive proper credit for all their traffic.
    How so?

  24. #24
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    look forward .... the vulnerability for HTTP_REFERER manipuliation exists and is real + soo easy. It hasn't been exploited yet, in the affiliate arena, because there was no money incentive involved.
    Seriously, the random images on log_ins, submission forms etc ... exist solely and explicitly to combat ( yeah, not combet -> my bad) existing HTTP_REFERER manipulations. How many nightmares have you heard about with exploits of "Tell-A-Friend", feedback forms etc....? The whole sequence revolves around manipulating HTTP_REFERER. It is too easy.
    These random images exist because of the ability to fudge the HTTP_REFERER -> These random images appear to make an actual visitor read them and disallow automated systems -> the very kinds that will pop up to monetize this type of system.
    It might work today ..... but it is a nasty waiting to be exploited given a reason.
    There is no benefit for the affiliate.

  25. #25
    Newbie Beer's Avatar
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    There is no benefit for the affiliate.
    I beg to differ -

    1. If link popularity is passed to the merchant's site, the merchant begins to show as an authority. Now the affiliate is linking to an authority site which looks good to a search engine.

    2. If I don't have to build a new affiliate link for every new site I create (just copy and paste the same code across approved domains), it saves me time.

    3. Visitors have a habit of ignoring links that look like affiliate links - especially when going through a 3rd party URL. I've been using LinkConnector links for a couple months now and the CTR on them is much higher than any other links on the pages they are on. It's not due to them being more prominent either.

    I think one of the greatest things about LC so far is that you can choose to use the NLT links (for merchants that allow them) or standard links (sometimes requires asking the merchant for a private campaign, but easy to do). The greatest thing has been their service and attention to my questions. They seem to work closely with both affiliates and merchants to make sure everyone is happy.

    So far, the campaigns I'm running with them are converting alot better than anything I've run in CJ...I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it stays that way.

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