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  1. #1
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Last Referred Page: IP Addresses?
    We have some accounts that never seem to display a URL for "Last Referred Page". Their last click always comes through as referred by an IP address (might be a different IP with each click, not sure). What am I looking at?

    Are these legitimate affiliates bouncing their affiliate links through proxy redirects to hide the affiliate nature of the link from shoppers and bots, or something a little more nefarious...?

    Thanks
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  2. #2
    Classic Rocker Mack's Avatar
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    Try looking up the IP's, might give you an idea.

    http://iptools.com

  3. #3
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Thanks, Mack. I've checked a few and most are service providers (Verizon Wireless, etc).
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  4. #4
    Classic Rocker Mack's Avatar
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    Here's a possible reason. You might be looking at clicks coming from peoples email. (This is how it works on a couple of my Zencart stores.) When I send out my newsletter and people click em, I get a bunch of IP's as the referrer. If they read them locally, the "referring source" is there desktop.

    Not all ISP's give a DNS registry to every IP assigned to them. So if the reporting software does a dnslookup to convert the IP to a name, it will only report back an IP.

    I may be way off base here because this is SaS and different than what I use. Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

    Maybe your affiliates are clicking ads/links in your mailers?

  5. #5
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    I'm really not sure what SAS captures there, but for normal http_referers, like you'd see in your server logs, IPs are pretty uncommon. Emails normally have no referer at all, unless it's a webmail domain.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  6. #6
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    On the affiliate side of the interface, we can see that same last click data for each of our merchants. Since it's with the today's stats snapshot, I look at it often. When I'm doing direct-to-merchant ppc, I can see the search terms in the referral url and I can mine them for keyword exploration, both negative and positive. In all the time I've been looking at my data, which is a lot, i don't recall ever seeing an IP address for a referal url. Sometimes they are blank - a return visitor from a bookmark or someone emailed one of my aff links from my site or something - but never an ip addy.

    Most affiliates can bounce of a domain (doing a redirect) if they'd like to obfuscate the url data from being passed to SAS's servers and I suppose there's enough paranoia in our industry to make it not unusual to do so (see link cloaking threads here), but I know from my sites that even a server-side redirect (using a database to lookup urls and redirect to them, for ease of maintenance, not obfuscation) won't normally then show an IP as the referral url - it'll show the url of my jump page and have url params that you can see when you browse and inspect my site.

    I'd say don't jump to any conclusions yet, but definitely keep digging. If this affiliate is in your top 25% of producers, this is a "must know" situation.

  7. #7
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Donuts,

    That's pretty much my line of thinking so far. IPs as referers should be rare, so when any given affiliate seems to only refer via IPs it makes me curious and a little suspicious.

    I've read a few of the redirect threads, and normally this would be handled via a 302 from one URL to another. Now I'm not sure how it works when one 302 points to a second, but when I bounce through goldpans.net via a 302 to Black Cat, I get no referer whatsoever, so unless there's some weird proxy thing going on, it doesn't look like a redirect.

    I don't want to make any assumptions or jump to any conclusions yet, but IPs as referers seem more indicative of BHOs bouncing the visitor through a hidden page on their own machine than anything else.

    In any case, it's not been from big producers, so it's not critical I solve it yet, but I am curious...

    BTW, anyone know why, after all these years, the folks who set the standards still haven't corrected the spelling on "referrers"? That's always bugged me.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  8. #8
    Affiliate Manager rcampbell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eathan
    We have some accounts that never seem to display a URL for "Last Referred Page". Their last click always comes through as referred by an IP address (might be a different IP with each click, not sure). What am I looking at?

    Are these legitimate affiliates bouncing their affiliate links through proxy redirects to hide the affiliate nature of the link from shoppers and bots, or something a little more nefarious...?

    Thanks
    I am getting this same problem with probably about 10% of the sales I get through SAS affs. I am always a little suspicious myself since one of my affs was doing some trademark PPC bidding and it was difficult to track because of this method. I am interested to see some responses to this thread.

  9. #9
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    If an aff is violating your policies and masking their domain in any way, I'd hope you'd not only boot them, but report them to the network you're using as well.

    An abnormal percentage of strange referral urls is more than a good enough reason to begin asking questions.

  10. #10
    Affiliate Manager rcampbell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    If an aff is violating your policies and masking their domain in any way, I'd hope you'd not only boot them, but report them to the network you're using as well.
    I did boot the aff that was violating the PPC policies. The aff was one that has already been discussed on a previous thread about PPC bidding. I just don't know a way to effectively see where affs are referring traffic when there is only an ISP for the page.

  11. #11
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    I actually have a small database of these fellows I was planning on sending to Ms. B. That is, as soon as we hire her... ;p
    Kevin Webster
    twitter: levelanalytics

    Kayak Fishing
    Web Analytics and Affiliate Marketing

  12. #12
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Is there any way to get more than just the last referer? If not, I'd love to see this implemented. Maybe show the last 10 rather than the last 1.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  13. #13
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Damn it! Just figured it out.

    If there is no referer SAS is reporting the visitor's IP as the last page refered. Just tested it by pasting my own link in.

    I'll let Michael know.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  14. #14
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    So what we're seeing is a visitor coming back on a return cookie? Or do we still have an issue? No referrer would still be problematic in some regards, no?
    Kevin Webster
    twitter: levelanalytics

    Kayak Fishing
    Web Analytics and Affiliate Marketing

  15. #15
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    This muddys the water quite a bit as it means they could be coming in on bookmarks with a cookie or via email, as well as more questionable means.

    Our terms prohibit direct linking from bulk email, so I'd want to know when there were large numbers of no referer clicks as well.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  16. #16
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    you sure about that conclusion? i paste my own links in there to make sure things are working now and then, like when i'm building something, and I still don't rememeber ever seeing any IP addy there...

  17. #17
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    maybe it changed recently from blank to IP when there's no referring domain... anyone else checked this out?

  18. #18
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    you sure about that conclusion?
    On the affiliate side it shows no referer for my click, but on the merchant side it shows my IP. I only have the two accounts, so can't say 100% it happens that way across the board, but it certainly looks like it, and would explain why I've been seeing so many IPs. Most of 'em could be bots...

    Anyone else?
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  19. #19
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    I have the same experience on both sides of the house as you Eathan. Wish I knew more, but friendly emails are going out tomorrow morning. Unless someone from SAS can shed some light on this?
    Kevin Webster
    twitter: levelanalytics

    Kayak Fishing
    Web Analytics and Affiliate Marketing

  20. #20
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    I submitted a support ticket last night, but might move up the priority ladder if you do as well.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  21. #21
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Eathan,

    IPs in the referer field could mean anything, but often are related to web email services.

    If there is no referer information that means that it was never sent to us by the browser - most common causes for this are redirects that affiliates use to so things such as stat collection...and can also indicate things like popups, email, etc...

    Referers are a standard HTTP thing that are sent with the browser, and we can only report what the browser tells us in those cases.... if it is blank, we report blank.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  22. #22
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian - ShareASale
    ...if it is blank, we report blank.
    Brian, it looks like you are not reporting blank on the merchant side, but rather reporting the visitor's IP as referer if the referer is blank.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  23. #23
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Eathan,

    I am looking into and I believe you already submitted a support ticket as well, we will post back when we find something.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  24. #24
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    Sounds good. The IPs had me baffled for a while. Would love to see it sorted.
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  25. #25
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    Interesting that I find this thread ..

    Like CJ, does SaS has any network quality program .. If so, why would SaS need to give away referral information to merchants.

    My concern as an affiliate is that SaS may be giving away too much information to merchants. Especially if that merchant is also a competing affiliate in disguise paying the monthly minimum fee of SaS (which I think is quite small?). See thread on this http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=92619

    Should SaS ban passing referral URLs to merchants especially if these merchants are competing affiliates in disguise?.

    Why not SaS follow CJ model of doing network quality so that a ton of information does not have to be shared with merchants (affiliates in disguise possibly)

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