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  1. #1
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    Affiliate LInk Cloaking Necessary?
    I have heard a lot of hype that over 30% of all affiliate commissions are being bypassed or hijacked, but the numbers sound exaggerated and are always accompanied by an attempt to sell some cloaking software.

    Someone give me the low-down. How important is it to cloak affiliate links in web pages? What is the best software to use?

  2. #2
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    Since I started using htaccess and a redirect script, my sales have gone up. It might also be because the links aren't being blocked by Norton. I think affiliates lose a lot of commissions due to Norton and parasites.

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador best123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by calinder
    I have heard a lot of hype that over 30% of all affiliate commissions are being bypassed or hijacked, but the numbers sound exaggerated and are always accompanied by an attempt to sell some cloaking software.

    Someone give me the low-down. How important is it to cloak affiliate links in web pages? What is the best software to use?
    you dont need a software, you can do it for free if you know programming or you can modify .htaccess file if it's hosted on apache server.

  4. #4
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Cloaking won't eliminate most parasites from hijacking links. It'll only stop the ones that play by the rules (and only if they really are playing by the rules, and only if you code your links right, and only during the initial session). Most parasites don't play by the rules.

    They do stop some, though, and there are loads of other benefits. It's definitely worthwhile. I'd recommend building your own, though. It's probably one of the simplest things you could build.
    Michael Coley
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     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

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador best123's Avatar
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    we should promote more anti-spyware and ad-ware as much as possible. only thing though is that anti-spyware , also deletes cookies

    But I was listening to Panda Software's anti-spyware podcast, and they say they dont delete cookies.

  6. #6
    Verbosely Virtuous Mutt spacedog's Avatar
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    MichaelColey mentioned that building your own cloaking and redirect script (presumably the .htaccess method noted by other posters) is not hard. How is this done? Is there a website or thread that details exactly how to create this kind of thing? I remember seeing something about redirecting links through .htaccess and then to a MySQL database, but don't see any details on how to do this. Thanks.

  7. #7
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    By cloaking the link, are you talking about getting rid of a links that l;ooks like www.ahgvds......hgskj.com and making it something direct like www.thisisanactualstorename.com?

  8. #8
    Verbosely Virtuous Mutt spacedog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liquidate
    By cloaking the link, are you talking about getting rid of a links that l;ooks like www.ahgvds......hgskj.com and making it something direct like www.thisisanactualstorename.com?
    Yes, changing my affiliate links on my own affiliate web site from the standard CJ, SAS or other affiliate link format (which doesn't look very nice and looks unrelated to where the visitor actually ends up after clicking) to a nicer form. I know how to do this by hand with the javascipt code "onmouseover" etc, but it'd be nice to have it done in an automated way using a database that I can quickly modify. Apparently there's a way to do this with SQL, PHP and the .htaccess file, but I haven't figured out how.

    If anyone can point to a good resource on how to set this kind of script/database up, please post. Thanks.

  9. #9
    Newbie affilio's Avatar
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    I too would like the code to put in. I have done simple URL rewrites for canonical URL issues using both apache .htaccess and ISAPI for IIS, but probably nothing as involved as what would be needed to cloak an affiliate link. Anyone want to post some sample code?

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    You don't need to use mod_rewrite (.htaccess) to do this. What I do is I keep all of my affiliate links in a database. Then when I send a customer off to the merchant site I use a script like /out.php?id=1234 where the id references the product information in the database. out.php is just a very simple PHP script that selects the link from the database based on the id value then redirects to the link destination.

    I've done some additional work that tracks each click on my end so I can have real time click statistics. I know how many clicks each merchant got for the day and what products are being clicked on.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  11. #11
    Verbosely Virtuous Mutt spacedog's Avatar
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    Snib,

    Great information. Is there any prewritten package you know of (including any that cost money) that does the database redirection plus click tracking for those of us who are mySQL and PHP ignorant? I assume that the out.php script method you use connects with a mySQL database. The good news is that my hosting company (which uses apache) supports both PHP and mySQL for no extra cost; the bad news is I don't know how to use them. Yet.

  12. #12
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    Will build all of your pages for you from a feed and will build all of your links into a php jump script automatically.

    I love it.

    http://www.pricetapestry.com/

    Vietnam Veteran 1966-1970 USASA
    ABW Forum Rules - Advertise At ABW

  13. #13
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    Here's a piece of php code that code prove useful.

    PHP Code:
    <?php
    $link
    =array(
    1=>"http://network.com?affid=65675&merch=87897&pid=7hjkhjk",
    2=>"http://network.com?affid=65675&merch=87897&pid=76786",
    3=>"http://network.com?affid=65675&merch=87897&pid=7uyiu86",
    4=>"http://network.com?affid=65675&merch=87897&pid=7yfgfh6"
    );
    $url=$link[$_GET['id']];
    header("Location: ".$url);
    ?>
    create a folder called products save the php as index.php and instead of the link in your page use http://yoursite.com/products/?id=2

    If you want to have to use htaccess aswell create a .htaccess file with the following:

    Code:
    Options +FollowSymLinks
    RewriteEngine on
    RewriteRule productid([^/]*)(/)?$ index.php?id=$1
    And use the link http://yoursite.com/products/productid2

    If you have a lot of links you can create the array from your mysql database.

  14. #14
    Newbie BPP's Avatar
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    Exclamation Extremely Relevant!
    Quote Originally Posted by dpl882
    Since I started using htaccess and a redirect script, my sales have gone up. It might also be because the links aren't being blocked by Norton. I think affiliates lose a lot of commissions due to Norton and parasites.

    I just posted this very type of related issue at other thread (sorry for duplication -- it's SO RELEVANT!):

    This is a real problem that I don't think the surface has been scratched on.

    I couldn't find this exact thing anwhere because search results are very general ... BUT cookie tracking is an inexact science and I (and lots of affiliates) don't get credit because browsers like firefox, safari, others have settings to disallow cookies not from the originating site, not to mention other types of cookie blocking software.

    Another example that happens frequently: I have clickbank or shareasale client products and whether I use affiliate link cloaker software or html cloaking code or a php forward -- I don't get credit for many many many (most?) of those sales because the cookie does not follow the customer with browswers like firefox and the others and the blocking software.

    How oh how do we fix that? I have a feeling this is a far more common occurrence than anyone realizes.

    DLP882 -- I would love to know what htaccess and redirect script? -- this sounds fantastic! Can you share (I don't think I have PM privileges yet I will post an email if I can please have this information)?

    This is very valuable info -- I know I need more details and I'm sure I'm not alone as noted by others -- the info above is helpful but incomplete - - I am not a coder/programmer and have rudimentary knowledge so all the help I can obtain, most very appreciated!

  15. #15
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    Here's a php cloaking script
    I just happened to have finished cloaking all my blog sites this week, so I'll take this one. Here's the script I used, and the steps I took.

    1. Create a folder on your web server named "visit" (or something friendly, and NOT called "ads", and NOT something that screams "I'm about to make money if you click this link").

    2. Create a file in the visit folder with a php extension, such as hostmonster.php containing the php code below. You'll create a file for each merchant that you're advertising. In the example below, I'm using 123456 as an affiliate ID.

    This php code tells your web server to redirect to the specified url. You'll replace only the part between the single quotes.

    PHP Code:
    <?php
      $url 
    'http://www.********.com/click-123456-10422156';
      
    header("Location: $url");
      exit();  
    ?>
    3. Modify your affiliate link so that it points to the php file and not to the merchant. For example, here's a CJ link that points to hostmonster.php:

    HTML Code:
    <a href="http://www.yoursite.com/visit/hostmonster.php" target="_blank">
    <img src="http://www.*******.com/image-123456-10420038" width="300" height="250" alt="" border="0"/></a>
    Notice that the tracking image is still preserved in the link, but that the link now points to the php redirect file. The URL that users will see in their browser status bar will be http://www.yoursite.com/visit/hostmonster.php, which they'll be a lot more likely to click, and which should also not be interpretted as an affiliate link.

  16. #16
    Full Member jollygoodpirate's Avatar
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    Jeremy Palmer Video
    Jeremy Palmer recently posted a screencast on how cloak your affiliate links. If you are curious on a step by step video visit:

    http://www.screencast.com/users/Jere...f-14d4dff3e42d

    Disclaimer: I watched only the first half, and it seemed comprehensive.

  17. #17
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    Thumbs up
    I watched the whole thing - it's excellent. A great resource!

  18. #18
    Full Member ADesertRose's Avatar
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    Silly question, maybe...if I am using a product link that is basically two parts, the image tag and the link to the product, do I leave the image tag intact and replace the other if using php to redirect?

  19. #19
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    That's exactly what I did. The images are used for impression tracking.

    I had a sale rejected by American Lending recently because it came from a link that didn't have an image along with it. They claimed it was an "unqualified order". They dropped my account by $25, and I promptly dropped them as a merchant.

  20. #20
    Full Member ADesertRose's Avatar
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    Yowsa, thanx for the info, looks like I am gonna be busy for a while working on my links!

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador Vrindavan's Avatar
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    >> a sale rejected by American Lending recently

    a text link ot a banner link ?

    i think the impression tracking is already included into the banner URL

    How can affiliates waste more time to monitor those silly merchant's action on reverse transaction ?

    You are lucky that you spoted their bad uninformed action

  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador DesignerWiz's Avatar
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    I created a free software unit to go along with Jeremy Palmer's video above ... for those who want to do it in 1 easy step by step process.

    http://www.designerwiz.com/abw-webma...P-Redirect.zip

    Enjoy!
    Ray Thomas
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    ABW Board Category: Programming / Coding
    http://forum.abestweb.com/forumdisplay.php?f=190

  23. #23
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    With Wordpress, I've tried several things, but what we outta go to the character encoding code of the software and change that? I guess that would effect the WP operation isnt it?

  24. #24
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    Re the post that said >
    I use if($_GET['m'] == "link on my website") {$link = "http://affiliate link&subid=0&type=4";} <

    I use that too on some CJ and Linkshare pages, but does Shareasale allow it? Their terms have scared me off because it looks like they don't .. but maybe I'm paranoid about doing something I shouldn't!

    Thanks for any answer. Karin

  25. #25
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    ShareASale.com has no problem with link cloaking. Virtually all large affiliates do it. It's a good practice, with many benefits.
    Last edited by MichaelColey; June 14th, 2007 at 08:42 PM. Reason: Typo
    Michael Coley
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    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

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