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  1. #1
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    Unhappy Does CJ no longer allow redirects?
    I signed up with a new CJ merchant yesterday and posted links on a couple of my sites, using redirects for the anchor tag and leaving the image url as-is.
    The .htaccess-based redirect approach I used is the same approach I'm using for hundreds of other links.

    I clicked on the new links a couple of times like I usually do with new links, and then waited a couple hours, checked stats and there was nothing there for this merchant. No impressions and no clicks.

    I contacted the merchant and CJ, and received a reply from CJ that made me wonder if they're no longer supporting redirects:

    ***
    Thank you for your inquiry. After looking further into your account/website(s), it looks as though you have modified the links that Commission Junction generated for you in your account manager.

    Please be advised that if you modify link code in any way other than via the advanced options provided when getting JavaScript or HTML links, be aware that Commission Junction is not responsible for tracking (or lack of tracking) through your modified links, and you are doing so at your own risk.

    Modification of text in links or banner size is generally prohibited and not recommended. However, in some cases you may be allowed to do this, but only after receiving approval from the advertiser.

    ***

    I've had a few conversions from CJ this month that were from redirects, but this response from CJ really has me wondering if I might be missing out on sales.

    If you're using redirects with CJ and still getting sales, will you please reply and let me know? I'd hate to have to go back and modify hundreds of links to remove the redirects... and I can't imagine that anyone would click on a raw CJ url either.

  2. #2
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    No problems here.
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  3. #3
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    Maybe it was just this merchant, but when I switched the links back to the regular CJ links without the redirects, both impressions and clicks started tracking.

  4. #4
    Not that fat. ReallyBigGuy's Avatar
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    if its a specific merchant, and you don't mind saying who, we'll better be able to test & see.

  5. #5
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Feel free to email me the affiliate link and the redirect link and I'd be happy to take a look. Or, run it through Rex Swain's HTTP Viewer and see if somehow your redirect is not working like you expected. That's what I suspect.
    Michael Coley
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  6. #6
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    Feel free to email me the affiliate link and the redirect link and I'd be happy to take a look. Or, run it through Rex Swain's HTTP Viewer and see if somehow your redirect is not working like you expected. That's what I suspect.
    Very helpful utility - I've bookmarked it for future/ongoing use.

    For the link that I entered (which was for Wirefly), it showed it redirecting to the right page, but then it showed that the merchant itself was redirecting 3 additional times before it finally landed on the right page. Yes, THREE.

    I wonder if that's why nothing was tracking. I'm going to be checking all of my links with this tool - thanks for posting the link.

    Dang it, now I'm very suspiscious of all my redirects! I removed redirects from a few pages as a test. These are pages that usually get several clicks a day but no sales. If I get sales tomorrow or the next day, then I'll know there's a problem with redirects.

    Also, if clicks continue at the same rate, then I'll know that the ugly affiliate links are not as much of a deterrent as I thought they were. If that's the case, then I'll leave them as-is and stop going through the trouble to cloak and redirect.

  7. #7
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickPlmr
    If that's the case, then I'll leave them as-is and stop going through the trouble to cloak and redirect.
    I know "redirects" are the focus here, but you also just mentioned the "trouble" to cloak -- as a non-techie (who understands html & CSS) I've had so much trouble trying to cloak links that I just decided to leave things as is and cross my fingers

    I use CJ's options for their product links, does that count?
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  8. #8
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    I think that might be ok. Here's my theory about the types of people who click links:

    1. Suspiscous, but willing to click because the deal sounds good: they probably won't buy because they're not in the right frame of mind.

    2. Trusting, but not interested in buying (tire kickers): in which case the cloaking/redirect factor doesn't matter either way - they won't buy.

    3. Trusting and ready to buy: you've built up trust with this return visitor and have moved them from information seeker to purchaser, and they're going to click your link even if it's clearly an affiliate link. In which case there's no point in going to the trouble of cloaking and redirecting.

    It's just a theory, but I hope to have some proof in the coming days.

    What are your thoughts about this theory?

  9. #9
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickPlmr
    I think that might be ok. Here's my theory about the types of people who click links:
    1. Suspiscous, but willing to click because the deal sounds good: they probably won't buy because they're not in the right frame of mind.
    Do you thing they notice the link they are clicking?
    Do you think they rollover just to check the link destination?

    I just opened one of my blogs where I randomly place products from network merchants.
    Although I am a "member" of other networks I mainly use products links from CJ, LS & SAS.
    At the moment I don't use feeds from any network.
    I can search a merchant's specific products on CJ and when I request the html I can specify that I would like to hide the tracking code in the link & encrypt the link. After I do this with CJ, the product link on any of my pages will not show the link.
    CJ's links after this process won't say anything, so only a re-direct would apply?

    So do you think people are suspicious because they don't see the link destination? Or would the long "destination links" of LS & SAS contribute to their suspicious frame of minds?

    Quote Originally Posted by RickPlmr
    2. Trusting, but not interested in buying (tire kickers): in which case the cloaking/redirect factor doesn't matter either way - they won't buy.
    Many in this category are curious -- many of these arrive on my pages through Google or MSN image searching
    I know that they'll click through the longest link to see the actual product, I'm not sure what tips the scales to separate the "buyers" from the "liars"
    I've debated whether I should let search engines perform image searches on my pages because I get tired of the image results (some people like some of the photo tricks I've done and others love certain picture product affiliate links). I've gleaned meaning from some product image search results that I see and the results are not from one person the results show IP Addresses from around the world -- I've figured out an interest -- an "amalgamated personality" that I can "pitch" (build pages aimed at this "potential market").

    Maybe after they've satisfied their curiosity they can be classed as "tire kickers" but even these people have contributed to my understanding of "my market/my focus/my branches into new market niches" when used as amalgamated data.
    Quote Originally Posted by RickPlmr
    3. Trusting and ready to buy: you've built up trust with this return visitor and have moved them from information seeker to purchaser, and they're going to click your link even if it's clearly an affiliate link. In which case there's no point in going to the trouble of cloaking and redirecting.
    I must have visitors like that
    Last edited by Rhia7; June 27th, 2007 at 08:10 PM.
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  10. #10
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhia7
    Do you thing they notice the link they are clicking?
    Do you think they rollover just to check the link destination?
    Personally I think they do notice them, but I'm not sure if it matters. Technical users definitely notice them, but they're a weird suspiscious breed anyway and won't click anything that smells like an affiliate. There's a mindset that won't even let a techie user click a Google link because it feels like they're giving money away (I know, because I'm one of them... although lately I've tried to be click happy to share the love a little more )

    At one point I thought my CTR went up after I cloaked links, but looking back on historical trends I don't see any indication either way (that it hurt or didn't). Part of the problem was that traffic was so low on my sites back then that it really didn't matter. I was only getting about 20 visitors a day or so.

    Now I have a few sites though that are getting a few hundred unique visitors a day and it's a little easier to spot trends (although that's still too low imho and I hope to get that up closer to 1000 a day or more).

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
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    I've made $1000's through 'non-altered' aff links. Tried it both ways and never really saw a difference. I think 'techies' and search engines can also tell if a link is redirected.
    That does'nt mean I'm against redirecting, there can be some good reasons for it, tracking applications etc.

    I thought I read somewhere that MS IE7 vista won't show link destinations anymore when you hover over the link. But I don't do vista, does anyone else know?

  12. #12
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    Rick, it seems that you are making a lot of false assumptions simply based on your own behavior which I doubt can be supported by the online community as a whole. I have never used redirects, I don't do PPC and I average thousands of clicks on my affiliate links everyday. Maybe I'm wrong, but I've always thought the primary purpose of using redirects was so that the affiliate could better track his traffic, not so that his visitors didn't know it was an affiliate link.

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
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    Cool
    Eeeesh, I missed this in the OP's post:

    "Modification of text in links or banner size is generally prohibited and not recommended. However, in some cases you may be allowed to do this, but only after receiving approval from the advertiser."

    I guess I'm screwed, I change the text of almost every link and a lot of banner sizes too....

  14. #14
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickPlmr
    Personally I think they do notice them, but I'm not sure if it matters. Technical users definitely notice them, but they're a weird suspiscious breed anyway and won't click anything that smells like an affiliate.
    Unless you have another way of cloaking than the one I described, cloaking isn't really an issue with CJ because if an affiliate opts to hide & encrypt the link, nothing will show in the status bar of a web browser.

    I don't think that my main audience is composed of techies
    Some of my web pages are obviously meant to sell consumer goods with affiliate links, other pages are made of content I create, many of my pages are a mix.
    The people who like my sites are willing to click my affiliate links.

    The links I tried to cloak were SAS links; I wish SAS had the hide & encrypt options provided by the Commission Junction interface.
    Last "Halloween Season" I was able to sell without cloaking
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  15. #15
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    Snowman, I think you're absolutely right. I have been following these assumptions for way too long, and I'm glad to finally realize it.

    Thanks for sharing your experience - that helps confirm that I can let go of redirection and cloaking of links.

    Now, what about link hijacking? Have you had any problems with that?

  16. #16
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickPlmr
    Personally I think they do notice them, but I'm not sure if it matters. Technical users definitely notice them...
    Some product links and text links are obviously affiliate links.
    I don't think a visitor to my site is going to click on a product link of a brand named widget or anything else I might sell in the affiliate capacity and then say "Gasp! She's trying to sell something!"

    I think the overall information, organization, and presentation of the web site and the individual pages within the web site are more important than a long affiliate link revealed in the status bar.

    Now, there might be other issues such as hacking, but the main issues so far in this thread have been redirects, cloaking, and visitor response to these issues.

    Do you consider redirects and cloaking to be issues of "safety" (i.e. insurance against hacking etc...)?
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickPlmr
    Now, what about link hijacking? Have you had any problems with that?
    I know there has been some but I suspect it's pretty insignificant. It's not something that would be any different with a redirect.

  18. #18
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    So if hijacking is minimal, then perhaps cloaking isn't necessary?

    [Unless status bar revelations have big impact on consumers/web visitors ]
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  19. #19
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickPlmr
    Also, if clicks continue at the same rate, then I'll know that the ugly affiliate links are not as much of a deterrent as I thought they were. If that's the case, then I'll leave them as-is and stop going through the trouble to cloak and redirect.
    I don't understand how "ugly affiliate links" are an issue with CJ as their product link creator facilitates link encryption and hiding; is this an issue with CJ's feed?

    SAS has ugly affiliate links -- last fall I was trying to learn cloaking (I think I even started a few threads on the issue. The cloaking to a minor extent and other issues going on in my life at the time delayed my output of fresh "Halloween stuff links." The whole cloaking issue inspired unnecessary fear within me (fear: fright or flight -- in the web making arena I froze). I'll never forget the brunch I had with my cousin and her husband (an engineer). I tried to explain the cloak or croak theory and he shrugged it off. He didn't think that people who knew how to fiddle with links [i.e. hackers & crackers] would waste time with my sites
    My cousin said, "People want to click the weird pictures and costumes you show, they're not looking at the links."

    So I started late but still made money during the "Halloween Season."
    Did I make a killing? No. Why? I started late into the season but I decided that with all the other levels I need to learn in terms of web mastery that cloaking is a minor concern.

    I'll say this: I have another niche whose links are mainly provided by LS.
    I make steady sales from some of those ugly affiliate links.
    I keep on trying

    When "Gurus" urge affiliates to either cloak or croak, are they feeding on fears and giving fluff to their "advice?"

    If cloaking is so important, why don't the other big networks like LS & SAS offer hiding & encryption as automatic options for product links the way CJ does? Does Performics offer the "cloaking service" Commission Junction offers?
    Kowabunga wrote an e-mail about the topic but I didn't find the e-mail helpful (but Kowabunga wanted to look helpful). If cloaking (I define it as hiding the link & providing encryption) is so important then it should be default. I'm thankful that CJ works hiding & encryption into the default of their product link creator for html links.
    Last edited by Rhia7; June 27th, 2007 at 11:08 PM.
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  20. #20
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    I'm on a converting-back-to-regular-uncloaked-links binge and have converted a lot of links back already. And from now on I'm not going to worry about cloaking or redirecting.

    I get plenty of statistical info from CJ, LS, SAS, etc so I don't need it for those reasons. And it takes a lot less time to add a link without setting it up with cloaking and redirection, so this is going to be a lighter burden overall.

    Time to just focus on content and marketing!

  21. #21
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickPlmr
    I'm on a converting-back-to-regular-uncloaked-links binge ... And from now on I'm not going to worry about cloaking or redirecting.

    Time to just focus on content and marketing!
    After a "diet binge" I usually crave chocolate

    Actually, if you already cloaked, I'd say let them be. If they work -- "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"

    The only cloaks that work for me are the ones you wear

    I think design is important but I don't consider cloaking and redirecting to be part of design [or at least the most important aspect]. I'd love to be a better designer. I find Web Designer & Practical Webdesign [UK import] magazines to be very helpful.
    www.webdesignermag.co.uk

    Content and marketing are the keys to drawing people to your sites and making visitors into visitors who come again
    Last edited by Rhia7; June 27th, 2007 at 11:35 PM.
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  22. #22
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhia7
    Practical Webdesign [UK import] magazine is very helpful.
    www.netmag.co.uk
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  23. #23
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickPlmr
    I get plenty of statistical info from CJ, LS, SAS, etc so I don't need it for those reasons. And it takes a lot less time to add a link without setting it up with cloaking and redirection, so this is going to be a lighter burden overall.
    Your host probably provides some stats, there are excellent trackers out there (both free and fee are available).
    Google Analytics is a popular choice but there are other out there.
    You can always compare the CJ et al. stats with your personal/pro stats.
    The precision without using redirects can be almost impressive at times if you put them all together. What about the use of a CJ: SID -- can that help, it's easier than creating an individual redirect, right?

    I know you author many different blogs.
    Join http://www.mybloglog.com/ -- it's free & tons of fun plus the system offers good stats (if you want up-to-the-minute you'll have to pay a fee, otherwise you can see stats from a few days ago & how many people clicked a certain link--that's the icing on the cake for me, I joined [the free account] for social reasons). I have more fun on MyBlogLog than I do on Twitter (well, almost -- I have fun with both & you can link up your twitter message to your main page of Mybloglog).
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  24. #24
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    You may regret the decision to switch from cloaked links back to normal links. To me, one of the many benefits of cloaking links is that you can easily change them when merchants change links or networks. How many merchants have you had that are now on their second, third or even fourth network? I have quite a few. With all my links in a database, it's relatively quick and easy to change them.

    I would really like to understand why Rick's redirect link wasn't tracking.
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  25. #25
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simcat
    I thought I read somewhere that MS IE7 vista won't show link destinations anymore when you hover over the link. But I don't do vista, does anyone else know?
    I have vista and yes the link destination still shows when you hover over the link.

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