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  1. #1
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    Affiliate Link Thieves
    Hello,

    I recently heard about something that concerns me and was hoping someone here could fill me in better.

    I have used CJ for over 8 months now and for the month of June and July I had one particular affiliate page that was producing 1 sale about every other day with a $50.00 dollar commission so I was very happy to say the least. Then in August it just stopped completely. One sale the entire month from the same page with no changes to it or its rank or traffic. So I went from 2 months with sales of around $500-$600 to $50.00?

    So then I thought maybe something was wrong with my affiliate code but it seemed fine. Then today I have read about affiliate link thieves. Now my concern is not those people who just type in their own link or just enter the website manually. My concern is the talk about link thieves who gain access into your own computer to manipulate the codes???

    Question?

    1. Does this really occur and how do you fix it?

    2. Is there something in CJ that can prevent it from happening in the future?

    Thanks,

    Chad

  2. #2
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    1) There's Parasiteware and other tricks which can steal commissions. Search around ABW. But, they don't go into YOUR computer--and they don't steal ALL your commissions, either. If sales have stopped dead, you need to keep looking; it's not all being stolen by mystery commission theives.

    2) CJ, do something about commission theives?! Bwaa haa haa...they'll do nothing, sorry. But they've gotten flamed here and even sued precisely because they do nothing about this kind of malarkey. It pains me a lot to say that, because in many areas, they're the best network out there. But when it comes to the parasites, they are blind.

    Sorry not to write more, but I'm on my way to bed now.

  3. #3
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    earning something for a while, then full stop, is not something new.
    as the saying goes, you can earn $5000 this month and nothing next month.

    several years ago, when people haven't wised up yet, sales were coming like clockwork. all you need is traffic. the higher the traffic, the higher the sales. now it's not that simple anymore.

    there are rogue merchants, rogue affiliates, rogue networks. and there are now respectable affiliates who even come to their defense. hmmm

    the trick is to watch out for their tricks and get one step ahead.

    this is business.

  4. #4
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    But when it comes to the parasites, they are blind.
    On that count I would beg to differ, but no need to go into that in depth here You can bet your bottom dollar that CJ employees are or were amongst the guests at Paul's backyard barbeques
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  5. #5
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    One frustration I have with this topic (and don't get me wrong - I LOVE this forum), is that I have yet to see a concrete way to protect my commissions from link thieves.

  6. #6
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    When sales stop overnight, the problem is never parasites. Even if a previously parasite-free program is quickly taken over by parasites, I have a hard time believing that you would see more than 20% drop in commissions. It would probably be much less than that. The original poster here is talking about a 90% drop in commissions.

    Often, it's a change in traffic. For instance, you might have ranked #1 for the merchant's name, then lost your placement.

    Sometimes it's a tracking problem. Check with the merchant or other affiliates.

    Sometimes it's a link that's no longer going to the right page. Perhaps you were promoting a specific product and it's no longer in stock. Perhaps the merchant changed something and now your link lands on a "page not found" page.

    Sometimes it's a change in competition. Perhaps you were advertising through AdWords and a competitor is now advertising the same product for half the price.

    Perhaps it's a change in a promotion and you have a discrepancy between your site and the merchant's. You might be advertising one price, or a coupon, or some specific promotion, but the price is different or the coupon doesn't work or the promotion has ended.

    It's hard to tell without specifics, but these are the typical problems when you see a drastic drop in conversions.

    As for protecting against parasites, there's really not a lot you can do. You can oppose parasites and try to get merchants and networks to stop working with the parasites, but that's a very long term process. You can choose to only work with clean merchants, but you really restrict your options when you do that. You can try to educate your customers, but it'll probably scare many of them from shopping.

    To me, there are many factors that impact conversions and EPC, and parasites are just one of them. I base my inclusion/placement decisions partly on those metrics, so I'm looking at the whole picture. Believe it or not, there are other things (especially when there are numerous factors) that can have a far bigger impact on a program than parasites.
    Michael Coley
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  7. #7
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Any time you drop that drastically in sales you need to contact the merchant's AM. Have them look at your links and run a tests sale. The AM should be more than willing to help you and be accessible, that's their job. If its a systemic problem it is effecting more than one affiliate. If its a ranking problem they should be able to report your past history and help ferret out the problem.

  8. #8
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    Are you kidding? The AM knows what works and what doesn't. When something begins to work, don't you think they will wise up and funnel that income elsewhere?

    Of course, to be fair, there are indeed honest merchants. but they are the exception, not the rule.

  9. #9
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Its an AM's job to service the channel and it is a hell of a lot easier to improve the sale of your producers rather than try to find some new one. If your AM isn't working with you then find one that does.

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador Joshua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waytogo
    Are you kidding? The AM knows what works and what doesn't. When something begins to work, don't you think they will wise up and funnel that income elsewhere?

    Of course, to be fair, there are indeed honest merchants. but they are the exception, not the rule.

  11. #11
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickPlmr
    One frustration I have with this topic (and don't get me wrong - I LOVE this forum), is that I have yet to see a concrete way to protect my commissions from link thieves.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think cloaking really does it.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua
    and people i distrust most are those working on both merchant/network and affiliate sides.

    because these are the people who are most likely to steal your business model and funnel the income to themselves.

    kudos to cj for realizing the conflict of interest and booting-off their employee-affiliates.

  13. #13
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    "Of course, to be fair, there are indeed honest merchants. but they are the exception, not the rule."

    Oh brother. It's a problem with the merchant somewhere. If people knew who the merchant was, those with the same merchant could give you some input.

  14. #14
    Prince of Content Vinny O'Hare's Avatar
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    I agree with what Coley has to say but if the parasite pops up and sets a cookie and the pop up takes up 99% of the end users browser it would stop sales 100%. I had this happen to me.

    Another thing that jumps to my mind is that the program is run in house by cj and the am has his own site and stole your idea. Far fetched but is it really.
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  15. #15
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    "I agree with what Coley has to say but if the parasite pops up and sets a cookie and the pop up takes up 99% of the end users browser it would stop sales 100%. I had this happen to me."

    Not following. 99% of people would have to have that parasite on their computer for that to happen right?

  16. #16
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Right, Trust, and that just isn't going to happen. People greatly exaggerate the reach of these parasites. It's huge, but it's not 99% (or 90% or 70% or even 50%).
    Michael Coley
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  17. #17
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    you just said it, "it's huge"
    so what is it, 49%?

    i've read one article quoting an insider say it's "more than 50%"

    the percentage you're talking about relates to the whole industry. but for individual affiliates, there will be many who will be affected 100%.


    if it's HUGE, then that is no exageration anymore. unless you want to turn a blind eye to it. why?

  18. #18
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waytogo
    but for individual affiliates, there will be many who will be affected 100%.
    This would be all but impossible, unless 100% of your sites visitors that click your links had parasitic applications installed on their systems. Remember, your cookies are attacked at the point of purchase not at your web site.

    Even if 50% of your users had parasites installed, sales would still be generated from those without them. And I honestly don't believe that 50% of the users today knowingly or unknowingly have a parasitic application installed.

    sport302, I agree with Trust. Tell us who the merchant is and others can compare notes with you. If a number of others are having similar issues it may come down to a tracking problem, leaks in the merchants program, telephone sales that aren't being tracked or a program that simply doesn't convert anymore. Without knowing who the merchant is all we can do is speculate.

    -rematt
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  19. #19
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    Any number thrown out here is simply a guess but I maintain it's probably in the 5%-10% range. Yes, I'm serious. I'm certainly not trying to suggest that it isn't a problem and the best we can do and should do is enlighten merchants to everything negative about parasitic behavior that we can, but in my view there are far more prevalent issues that have a greater negative impact on our income than does parasitic behavior. Tracking issues, 1 day cookie durations, non-commissionable telephone sales and other leaks, non-paying or seriously in arrears merchants all have a much greater impact in many programs (some large) than do parasites.

    If you want to be taken seriously, be reasonable. Suggesting that every single one of your customers has the adware/spyware on their computer that must be present to allow a commission to be diverted is just insane.

    Some people are using this issue as a crutch, placing blame where it just doesn't exist.

    Again, parasitic behavior is a problem, but huge? Not in my mind at all.

    And finally, in my view, it has a greater negative impact on merchants than it does on affiliates.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowman
    Tracking issues, 1 day cookie durations, non-commissionable telephone sales and other leaks, non-paying or seriously in arrears merchants all have a much greater impact in many programs (some large)
    That is exactly what i'm referring to when I mentioned rogue merchants. and that's only part of that. There are many other tricks.

    The problem with the guys above is that they are trying to constrict the scope of what i have said earlier - to exclude among others the tricks done by merchants to funnel commish either to their own kitty or back to the merchants, and also other rogue affiliate tricks.

    and if one affiliate happens to be concentrating on a particular niche, and therefore have few merchants, the impact can indeed be huge.


    at any rate, if you discover a business model that's working, it will not be long before you appear in the merchants' and other affiliates' radar and you become a target.

    i know that first hand, because a merchant emailed me on the first day of one of my promotions. they noticed the high conversion rate the very same day. and you expect me to believe that they will just sit on the juicy info?
    Last edited by waytogo; September 2nd, 2007 at 02:29 PM.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by waytogo
    That is exactly what i'm referring to when I mentioned rogue merchants. and that's only part of that. There are many other tricks.

    The problem with the guys above is that they are trying to constrict the scope of what i have said earlier - to not include the tricks done by merchants to funnel commish either to their own kitty or back to the merchants.
    We're not trying to constrict the scope of the issues that aren't directly related to parasitic behavior. We are, however, trying to constrict the scope of absolutely preposterous comments like "but for individual affiliates, there will be many who will be affected 100%."

  22. #22
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    that is not preposterous. many have already left affiliate marketing. you will not find them here whining.

    they find it frustrating that they cannot maintain their level of income.

    like i said, when you find something that works, you become a target.

    this is a cat and mouse game. you have to be always on your toes finding out the latest tricks against you - be they from merchants or from other affiliates. and you always try to be one step ahead.
    Last edited by waytogo; September 2nd, 2007 at 02:52 PM.

  23. #23
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowman
    We're not trying to constrict the scope of the issues that aren't directly related to parasitic behavior. We are, however, trying to constrict the scope of absolutely preposterous comments like "but for individual affiliates, there will be many who will be affected 100%."
    Allowing for a bit of hyperbole in sport302's post that was most likely brought on by frustration, it appears that there is a real problem with conversions. It could very well be a "rogue" merchant or parasites that are affecting conversions, however there are so many other factors that it seems ludicrous to assume something underhanded without more information.

    Sport302 needs to do a little more research on the merchant in question. A search of the threads on ABW may provide a little more insight, a test purchase may be warranted to see if the merchant is tracking properly and certainly finding out what experiences other ABW member have had with this merchant could be invaluable.

    -rematt
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowman
    We are, however, trying to constrict the scope of absolutely preposterous comments like "but for individual affiliates, there will be many who will be affected 100%."
    Well, if your target audience is Apple Mac users and you're selling Apple products to them, your infection rate is likely to be 0%.

    If your target market is families with teenage children who click on every jiggly or "free smilies icons" banners they find, then your infection rate is going to be a LOT closer to 100% than other target markets.

  25. #25
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    "the percentage you're talking about relates to the whole industry. but for individual affiliates, there will be many who will be affected 100%."

    Seriously, what nonsense. You realize in order for that to happen 100% of people's computers would have to be affected with whatever parasite(s) is in that merchant's program. That's not reality.

    "Any number thrown out here is simply a guess but I maintain it's probably in the 5%-10% range."

    That's the range I think it is too even before Andy posted an article about what percentage of traffic was interfered with and it was in that range too.

    It's most likely a problem with the merchant somewhere but not parasites or CJ employees out to get you.

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