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  1. #1
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    There has been much talk of Parasiteware and similar software, but little attention has been given to another form of commission stealing - cookie takeover. The number of coupon sites is growing daily, and although some offer valuable information to the end user, there are some that are there just to steal commission from the rest of us.

    Let's say that you are shopping online. You find the product you want to buy (through an affiliate link), and you go to the checkout page. And there, the online store asks you if you have a coupon or something. You say, why not look around for a coupon, and what do you do? You search the web. Now comes the interesting part:

    - You go to a web site that (you think) has the coupons you want. You go there, and suddenly a pop up window appears which has a link to the merchant's web site with their affiliate code. No matter how fast you close that window, it is almost sure that the CJ/Linkshare/Befree cookie has been overwritten.

    - If it's not the above case, you get to a site, which has a special discount link (this link is just a regular link which has been created by the webmaster of the web site to try to steal your commissions). The end user clicks it (the cookies gets overwritten); the end user doesn't see any discounts (because the link is bogus), but away go your commissions.

    What is being done to stop and prevent this?

  2. #2
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    If the user freely chooses to go to someone else's site, there is no reason to restrict anything that webmaster does on his/her own site. If the user chose to go looking for that other site it can hardly be called theft if your cookie is overwritten!

    On the other hand, if a parasite program is arranging to have popups appear when someone visits YOUR site, that IS a problem, it IS theft, and we're all looking for ways to stop it.

  3. #3
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    I agree with BW on this...as much as I would like to disagree. There isn't anything to stop anybody from doing a search on the net and finding a cheaper alternative...as long as its not something on my site taking my visitor away while stealing my comission. Perhaps a merchant could find a way to drop the coupon or find another way of doing it, but I don't see that building a lot of momentum...This is one of those I would file in the same situation as when a user follows your link on the home computer and then uses the computer at work to buy directly from the merchant.

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  4. #4
    Chick with Brains Tracy's Avatar
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    I have to agree too, and the truth of the matter is, that most people aren't going to go through the hassel of hunting down a coupon to save a dollar or two.

    In fact, I tried it once. I was at the check-out of a site (before I was into affiliate marketing and understood that somebody was earning a commission off my purchase). When I arrived at the end of the checkout I found an opportunity to use a coupon code. What I did was open a new browser window to see if I could find such a coupon. I wasn't able to. So, I ended up closing the other browswer window and continuing on with my purchase.

    The chances of your scenerio actually happening are very slim. I think if someone were to look for that coupon code, they would do what I did -- open another browser window. If I had found the code, I would have copied it into the checkout where I was at. I certainly wouldn't start all over from scratch and re-enter everything ... too much work.

    ---
    Judge your success by the degree that you're enjoying peace, health, and love.

  5. #5
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    If a pop-up appears on a site that only claims to offer coupons, but actually does not, I think that we are talking about commission stealing. The only purpose is to attract users to your web site, and while they are not aware of this, launch a pop-up (sometimes even pop-unders) which do not offer any value to the end user. I am not sure if merchants even allow pop-ups.

    If someone claims to offer a discount by asking you to click on their link - and there is no actual discount, then I think we can call it commission stealing.

  6. #6
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  7. #7
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    Tracy,
    Let me give you an example:

    Let's say that you are promoting product X at merchant Y. Someone does a search-engine search for product X, and finds your web site. They look at the product, want to buy, click your affiliate link, and they are about to pay for their purchase. At one of the pages, they are asked for a discount code (if they have it). They say, cool. Why not look for a discount code, and they open a new browser window to search for the code.

    Two possible scenarios:

    - They do a search and find the web site Z. They click there, but do not find any codes. HOWEVER, while they are at that site, a pop-up window appears which overwrites your cookie. Web site Z gets the commission.

    - The end user does a search and finds site A. They go to the web site, and the site says that they should click on their link to get discount. The end user does it, but sees no discount. The only thing that happened is that web site A tricked the user into clicking on their link, thus getting YOUR commission.

    Either way, you lose.

    See my point?

    (I can provide examples if you want)

  8. #8
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    I have not looked into the cookie thing, but let me ask you, why must a popup load or the user click a link? Can't it be done within a frameset?

    Can you tell us how the CJ-cookie look like? Is there one separate cookie for each merchant or affiliate, or is all the info stored in one single cookie? If the latter, then they can replace all records, can't they ?


    -- Less is more --

  9. #9
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    If you see an affiliate misrepresenting a merchant (offering cookies that don't exist, etc.), then email the merchant and tell them about the site. Merchants don't like to be misrepresented and might boot the affiliate. Yeah, the real affiliate lost yet another sale. But, hey, in a dog eat dog world, the cats win.

    Personally, I wish merchants were smart enough not to have a coupon code in their sales process. All it does is make their buyer think that maybe they missed something

    Missoula - Short Stories

  10. #10
    ABW Adviser Panel Dynamoo's Avatar
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    yintercept:

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>But, hey, in a dog eat dog world, the cats win.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Great phrase! I think that sums up affiliate marketing precisely.

    dynamoo.com - geeky stuff for umm geeks.

  11. #11
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    As usual "yintercept" see the real culpret and the workaround.
    "Personally, I wish merchants were smart enough not to have a coupon code in their sales process. All it does is make their buyer think that maybe they missed something"

    Those merchants using coupons have a program run as an advertising campaign with a advertising mindset of pushing newspaper Sunday suppliment techniques. They think expiration date coupons are a sales conversion tool but don't realize the time and effort normal HTML affiliates have to go through to post these.

    The real problem with coupons and special offers #'s is they are parasite food. Without coupons and rebates autoloaded into the parasites database everynight from network feeds, they would go out of business. If they had to manually lookup and post 500 merchant offerings daily they'd abandon parasitic activities as too costly. I assume the abusers setting up blind coupon pages to set their own cookies are the same affiliate crooks who abused PPC and the lead programs.

    WebMaster Mike

  12. #12
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    As a merchant I will tell you that what happens most often is I get an email that asks for the code. We have a place to insert a coupon code and we have used two to date, however if someone asks I either tell them no or provide them a coupon to use. This does not effect the cookie, however it does lower the price and then the commission to the affiliate. I would prefer this then have them search for one, the person who sent the visitor deserves the commission and I would prefer to give them what they want rather then have them go through someone else. Also with the exception of ABW affiliates, we provide all of our affiliates with the same coupons at the same time. The only time we provide anything above and beyond is to members of ABW.
    I prefer not to provide coupons, however they seem to work on occasion, I would rather provide more incentive to our affiliate partners. This has a draw back of not being a quick sales generator as a coupon can be. If anyone has a suggestion that can generate sales during a slow time or when we need them to I would get rid of coupons all together.

    Craig Uberroth
    Knack Technologies
    marketing@megamouse.com
    (913)731-6010
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  13. #13
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    uberroth,

    The best solution is simply to not show the promotion field. If you need the field for newspaper or other campaign, then what you should do is make the display of the promotion code dynamic. This is a simple if then statement. Let's say the tracking code is aff_id, then you would have the in the payment screen

    if (aff_id == "") Then
    displayPromoBox
    Else
    // do nothing
    End If

    Promo code math is simple, you lose x number of sales with a high mark up to gain y number of sales with a low mark up...and you have to answer a bunch of customer emails wanting a promo code.

    My guess is that x is usually greater than y. x times the profit you would have made without the promo code is way higher than y times the profit you made on the promo. Toss in the cost of answering phones and emails about the promo code, and the promo code math tells you the promo code box is a big time loser.

    The only big benefit of the promo-go-round activity caused by a blank promo code box is that you often lose the affiliate id while the end user searches for promo codes, cutting the amount you pay in commissions.

    PPS, let's say you want to track the affectiveness of a newspaper ad. My experience is the best way to do this is have the user enter their promo code up front. Create a separate URL or even domain for the ad. This would ask for the newspaper code...you would then give the discount at the backend.

    Missoula - Short Stories

  14. #14
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Craig you might just increase the commission rate for a limited time to reward affiliates for front page exposure rather than a coupon or spiff #. Incenting the affiliate not the customer on your niche' product sometimes works wonders.

    The other thing with a single product sales item is to make a subdirectory on your site with duplicate pages and tied they "order button" to a seperate shopping cart program like Americart.com that easily supports affiliate sales tags for 20.00 a month. The subdirectory idea also works for online VAR sales efforts.

    WebMaster Mike

  15. #15
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    Thanks Mike and yintercept. You have both given me things to think about. I have a lot to learn and sometimes the most important lesson is patience.

    Thanks again,

    Craig Uberroth
    Knack Technologies
    marketing@megamouse.com
    (913)731-6010
    Get your LaunchPad @
    MegaMouse.com

  16. #16
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    I've found that merchants who run sales--not coupons--often get a decent spike in sales. Be careful though--that spike is followed by a big DIP when the sale ends!

    Affiliate, in your scenario of the popup I see one flaw: It doesn't automatically overwrite a cookie to have a NORMAL popup pop. Emphasis being on a "normal" popup--in other words, the kind of popup which is basically still just an ad that needs clicking for anything special to happen, should not be a problem.

    There is no knowledge that is not power.~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  17. #17
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    That was my initial thinking as well, Leader, but I guess what Affiliate is talking about is a site where what is popping up is the merchants own site, thereby effectively overwriting the cookie.

    Might be wrong, though.

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