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  1. #1

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    Cloaking/Redirects...
    Okay, I have finally gotten busy enough with SAS and some merchants that I want to cloak/redirect (shorten the links) SAS merchant links.

    I wanted to use htaccess to do so and it works correctly like it does with other networks. However, I noticed in the SAS activity reports the referring URL is showing up as nothing just "," instead of what should be the domain url it came from.

    I want to make sure the merchant knows where the clicks/sales are coming from on my sites as not having a referring url usually sends up some red flags.

    I have tried various methods and added a few extra steps and managed to get it to work with a two step process, but was wondering why the simple htaccess is not working with SAS?

    Example:
    Code:
    Redirect /shortlink http://www.example.com/newpage.html
    I also attempted to use a more complex system by using a redirect.php? and boy did SAS not like that one.

    Anyone using redirecting/cloak/shortening of SAS links and what method is working best for them that insures that the referring URL is working?


  2. #2
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nakedgamer
    I also attempted to use a more complex system by using a redirect.php? and boy did SAS not like that one.
    I have no problems with SAS and my PHP redirect script.

    I can't remember exactly where I got it. Open source for sure and maintains a log in the database of traffic by link.

  3. #3
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    One of my sites is made with Ruby on Rails, and I am doing the same thing. I want to catch all outgoing links, log them in my own database, and then forward them to the merchant site using a URL of this form:

    shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=nnnnnn&m=nnnnnn&u=nnnnn&urllink=http://merchant.com/item001.html

    But like you say, the ShareASale stats only show the referring URL as ",". I didn't think about it much until I read your post, and now I think I'm screwing myself.

    Does the "," mean that I will not get commission for sales from those referral clicks?
    Is this kind of redirect forbidden? Frowned upon? Does it scare merchants?

    I assumed that the "u=" parameter of the shareasale.com/r.crm link would take care of everything by identifying who the affiliate is. Is that parameter not enough?

    Cheers,
    Neil

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    This is a good question. Is hiding the afflinks from adware/bho/parasites also hiding us from SAS? I see my clicks show up when I test links, but any invalid links never have a referring URL so I could do anything about them. Can't guess what site or page the link is on that is having a problem. I'm only using a simple .php redirect where what shows on the page is like "http://wonderfulstuff.com/products/crappy-shoes.php" and that file has the aff-URL. If the parasites don't get you the tracking will?

  5. #5

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    Without the referring URL then a merchant has no idea where those clicks/sales came from and how they came about. Usually it's a benign thing and an affiliate is just not aware that it's happening, but it also indicates that they could be using some sort of software, adware, or malevolent cloaking.

    You will get credit and tracking is not really affected a merchant might question where your traffic is coming from because it's one way to disguise it's come directly from trademarked PPC (which you shouldn't be doing) or some other bad traffic.

    Seems that when I use straight htaccess rewrites the referring URL doesn't get passed on (which I don't know why) to SAS. If I add one more level and have the rewrite go to a file/directory that does a redirect (essentially two redirects) then it does get passed on to SAS. While this doesn't really slow down the click too much I am just curious if anyone else had the same problem with SAS links.

    I wanted to do more with SAS and would like to cloak my affiliate id and shorten the links. Just seems overly complicated if I have to do a two step process just to do it. Then again I could be doing something wrong.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    I asked Carolyn Tang at SAS about this (she is great when you need answers) and she told me that mine are tracking fine. She checked using the Firefox extension Live HTTP Headers (a firefox plugin that tracks redirects) to verify this. I wouldn't worry about suspected fraud if you aren't sending through 4000 visitors an hour and don't have an ad where the merchant's should be. Maybe I am not doing it the same way you are either, my way is a cumbersome pita but I do not have several spare hours a day to read up on how it is done right so in about 6 months when I do know what I'm doing I will probably do things very differently. If you download the Firefox extension it gives a very detailed information path to follow so you can be sure what happens to your click.

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geminito
    One of my sites is made with Ruby on Rails, and I am doing the same thing. I want to catch all outgoing links, log them in my own database, and then forward them to the merchant site using a URL of this form:

    shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=nnnnnn&m=nnnnnn&u=nnnnn&urllink=http://merchant.com/item001.html

    But like you say, the ShareASale stats only show the referring URL as ",". I didn't think about it much until I read your post, and now I think I'm screwing myself.
    A PHP redirect (see below) is an HTTP 302 redirect that passes on the referer information. You could look into whether Ruby has an equivalent that would provide the same functionality for you, if you want that.

    This is what I do in PHP, and SAS has no problem getting the referer details:
    Code:
    < ?php
    // do some stuff like logging or IP-to-location mapping
    
    // redirect to Shareasale
    header ("Location: http://www.sharesale.com/blahblahblah");
    ?>

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the reply, Ghoti.

    I revise my post from earlier... I am now seeing most links with the correct referral URL. My website is now correctly showing in the stats. There is still an occasional "," url, but someone mentioned in another thread that this often means a web crawler or other bot is the source of the "click". I use the rel="nofollow" option on my links, but some bots ignore it. I'll assume this is what is happening and stop worrying.

  9. #9
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geminito
    There is still an occasional "," url,
    I see that when doing AdWords DTM and Google checks the link. That's probably not your case though.

  10. #10

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    ghoti:

    I was hoping not to have to use the php file method. I can also do the same thing using a html file as well. However it's just so much easier editing ONE htaccess file and accomplishing the same thing.

    Oh well.

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