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  1. #1
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    Conspiracy Theory, or are affiliates really losing money?
    Found some very eye-opening articles on cookie stuffing, and how it causes honest affiliates to lose money:

    http://www.benedelman.org/cookiestuffing/
    http://www.benedelman.org/spyware/180-affiliates/

  2. #2
    SEO: A Specialty - Web Design: Slow or outsourced andbeyond's Avatar
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    Wow, scary stuff indeed.

  3. #3
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    What can your average affiliate (who is not a "cookie stuffer") do?

    It seems as if many merchants are involved in this practice one way or another even if on the tangent (i.e. a merchant allows such a practice from an affiliate to go on).
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
    Twitter me

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador flamingoworld's Avatar
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    Alot of Ben's stuff is old, so I don't know how valid that all is now.

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador AddHandler's Avatar
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    RickPlmr
    Like flamingoworld said... all that stuff is REALLY old...
    It seems over the past few years that the internet thieves and dirtbags have magically cleaned up their act....

    People don't do bad things on the internet any more... (didn't you hear?) every one is as honest as the day is long... It is truely a GREAT time to be alive..!!!

    They didn't pass any laws against the use of software downloads and hijacking peoples PCs, and drive by installs of malicious software that overwrite honest affiliate cookies and steal legit sales from merchants natural se traffic...

    SOooo I am super surprised that everyone just stopped all of a sudden.. it's AMAZING....

    I think that this is the first time in history any type of crime just stopped without action from any one... but for what ever reason they just stopped on their own... pretty cool huh...

    SO forget about that stuff... just ignore it... since it already magically went away all by it's little ole self and all...

    I just wish the real world criminals would take a lesson from the cyber crooks and just stop killing, stealing little kids, ripping people off, and all the bad things real world people do... it would make this world a lot better place to be...

    Maybe that is what we should do... sentence all criminals to two years on the net no matter what the crime.... so they would just magically reform themselves...

    I mean really if that were STILL an issue I am positive the ABWer's would be all over it --- since they are for all things good in Affiliate Marketing... you know the old "level playing field" theory....

    ABW would NEVER in a million years grow completely 100% complacent to such a thing still going on in OUR INDUSTRY...

    And ABW would never allow flamingoworld to say stuff like that if it were not 150% true in every sense of the word...


    so no worries mate...



    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I made the text real small so it wouldn't seem like I was shouting or anything..... shhhh be very quiet we don't want anyone to hear us talking about parasites... we might get in trouble or something... so keep all this under your hat... don't let any one see this stuff...

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador flamingoworld's Avatar
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    WTF? I can't say that what was posted is old without getting bashed? I never said stuff doesn't still go on but I think we should go with new information, not rely on old stuff.

    I think it is time to check out of this place if this is the kind of treatment a person gets.

    From now on I will just post in OPM forums or my merchant forums.

  7. #7
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    From Sunbest Software's CounterSpy Research Center
    Last updated Sept. 12, 2007

    Ebates Moe MoneyMaker

    Elevated risks are typically installed without adequate notice and consent, and may make unwanted changes to your system, such as reconfiguring your browser's homepage and search settings. These risks may install advertising-related add-ons, including toolbars and search bars, or insert advertising-related components into the Winsock Layered Service Provider chain. These new add-ons and components may block or redirect your preferred network connections, and can negatively impact your computer's performance and stability. Elevated risks may also collect, transmit, and share potentially sensitive data without adequate notice and consent.

    Ebates MoneyMaker is an adware program that displays a number of popup adverts. Ebates MoneyMaker tries to disable programs that might interfere with its operation without your consent. This includes popup blockers.

  8. #8
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamingoworld
    Alot of Ben's stuff is old, so I don't know how valid that all is now.
    Go back up the url chain and look at the dates:

    http://www.benedelman.org/

    Aug, 2007 - still think this is old info?

    (not meant as a bash... and I think it's human nature to at first deny things... next is anger... so at least you're well on your way to acceptance)

  9. #9
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhia7
    What can your average affiliate (who is not a "cookie stuffer") do?

    It seems as if many merchants are involved in this practice one way or another even if on the tangent (i.e. a merchant allows such a practice from an affiliate to go on).
    I'm working on that answer Rhia.

    One tool I've found so far is the cookie browser extension for Firefox that lets you see the cookies that are being set from a given web page:

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/315

    Once you install it, you can right-click on any web page in Firefox and select "View Page Info" from the shortcut menu. Click the Cookies tab and it'll show you all the cookies that were set.

    Now if only there was a way to detect when cookies are being set, and stop that from happening...

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador flamingoworld's Avatar
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    The first 2 links you posted are old. Those were what I was commenting on.

    Quote Originally Posted by webworker
    From Sunbest Software's CounterSpy Research Center
    Last updated Sept. 12, 2007

    Ebates Moe MoneyMaker
    Those same places say our affiliate links/cookies are spyware. So we are all evil.

    Tired of this sky is falling mentality. Instead of looking to blame others for lack of income/sales/commissions maybe look in the mirror more. I am not saying threats don't exist, but some people spend all their time ranting and not doing anything productive.

    With that, I am done.

  11. #11
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamingoworld

    Tired of this sky is falling mentality. Instead of looking to blame others for lack of income/sales/commissions maybe look in the mirror more. I am not saying threats don't exist, but some people spend all their time ranting and not doing anything productive.
    I think your advice to look in the mirror is good. It's easy to get frustrated at lack of sales period, and try to blame it on external factors.

    I'm just trying to figure out why pages that convert daily for a few weeks all of a sudden stop dead in their tracks, even when traffic continues to increase to those pages. When I see a pattern like that, I think it's time to follow the scent and see where it leads, and trying to protect commissions seems like a productive thing to do.

  12. #12
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    "I'm just trying to figure out why pages that convert daily for a few weeks all of a sudden stop dead in their tracks, even when traffic continues to increase to those pages."

    Most likely not a cookie stuffer in a case like that, since that's always been happening and also for that to affect you, your traffic to your pages, somehow have to make to those other cookie stuffing sites.

  13. #13
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    You know I feel bad for the people who post opinions here or make comments only to find what can only be described as rude posts.

    I have certainly not been a member here long as compared to some others but there are some very experienced people in here who we all can learn from.

    Why can't people simply read what is offered. Accept what they think is acceptable. Offer other points if they feel they enhance the discussion. But childish responses like Addhandlers above will surely kill off the desire to stay around.
    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die
    to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there
    isn't and die to find out there is.

  14. #14
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamingoworld
    Tired of this sky is falling mentality. Instead of looking to blame others for lack of income/sales/commissions maybe look in the mirror more. I am not saying threats don't exist, but some people spend all their time ranting and not doing anything productive.
    Some are doing productive things, make plenty of income/sales/commissions and know that focusing on looking in the mirror isn't the way to see the truth of things that are happening around you.

    I remain hopeful that most ABW'ers won't learn much about parasitic marketing tactics by looking in the mirror.

    Since "threats do exist", wouldn't discussing them and learning more about them be productive? While you are tired of the sky is falling mentality, I'm tired of being accused of being unprofitable and of looking for excuses for my performance (which needs no excuses, it's strong) because I object to parasitic affiliates being allowed to freely steal from me and my peers.

    The problem is real, it's large and has been growing for years. There are answers. They include learning, discussing, exposing, policing, favoring merchants who do the right things and encouraging your peers to learn more and to get involved in whatever ways, small or large, that they consider worthwhile and doable for their available time and income levels.

    I disagree with ragging on FlamingoWorld for her individual stance or beliefs on the issue, each person is entitled to form their own opinion on its nature and scope and size, but I also disagree that the issue is best addressed by self-inspection.

    There certainly are failing affiliates who wrongly blame issues like this for their own personal lack of success, but that doesn't mean to me, that the rest of us should dismiss or ignore the parasite problem.

  15. #15
    http and a telephoto
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickPlmr
    One tool I've found so far is the cookie browser extension for Firefox that lets you see the cookies that are being set from a given web page:

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/315

    Once you install it, you can right-click on any web page in Firefox and select "View Page Info" from the shortcut menu. Click the Cookies tab and it'll show you all the cookies that were set.

    Now if only there was a way to detect when cookies are being set, and stop that from happening...
    Excellent add on Rick, thanks for pointing that out. Anything to make it easier to "see" a site's cookies.

    Agree with both Connie and Donuts. We should be able to discuss without getting bashed. Addhandler, personal attacks are not allowed and you are getting too close to the line lately.

    Some folks take the easy route to blame others for their site's issues, others have real issues with parasites popping on traffic. It all depends on your business model and what merchants you are working with.

    There are a LOT of issues that affect cookies, parasites being just one of them.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  16. #16
    Full Member RickPlmr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    for that to affect you, your traffic to your pages, somehow have to make to those other cookie stuffing sites.
    That's actually my current working hypothesis (ie. what I suspect is happening, but haven't proved out, and what I am researching at the moment).

    I figure parasiteware is installed on a certain number of people's browsers, and those programs watch traffic levels and report back to home base, and it's only a matter of time before my pages are in their list and they've figured out a way to redirect sales to their account, using either cookie stuffing or link hijacking.

    Again, this is just that - a theory. No facts yet... only observations and suspicions, and I hope to have something more concrete either way to post back in hopes of helping others who might also be interested in this topic... or in hopes that something discussed here will already be known by others, in which case I would be grateful for your assistance

  17. #17
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    AH,

    The repeated bashing after last week's threads is really out of line, please refrain from such behavior.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  18. #18
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    Once again I agree with Donuts. Well said.

    However the issue has been identified already. Now one of two things can happen:

    1. People can determine they are in a position to "teach" merchants a lesson by dropping them. Although most people would like to be nobel and do that if you eliminate all the programs allowing E bates you dramatically reduce the universe.

    2. You come up with some industry standards. Based on the conversations here there are many possible options. Of course like any other policy development process there are different approaches based on the methods you promote your links. A coupon site wants the last cookie in to win. A content site wants the first cookie in to win.

    I am hoping at the upcoming Think Tank spends some time can be allocated for discussing some common ground.

    The only answer is coming up with something all law abiding AMers can live with that puts a serious damper in parasitic approaches.
    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die
    to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there
    isn't and die to find out there is.

  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador
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    "The only answer is coming up with something all law abiding AMers can live with that puts a serious damper in parasitic approaches."

    That would be nice. The problem is there are already lots of rules and such but they're not wholeheartedly enforced because some of those in charge of enforcing them (major networks usually) don't want to because that would mean less money in their pockets. Over the years people have went as far as posting videos of rules being violated (check first post, those affiliates are still active in the networks) and it's always a second, third, fourth chance and then using the technology excuse. So getting rules is one thing and then enforcement is a whole other issue.

    And as far as the rules part, I think people forget that these are really individual agreements affiliates and merchants get in together so while some group might form and agree on rules or set of best practices, it really makes no difference if the merchant and affiliate wants to do what they want to do. If a merchant is in a network, it's a little different because you also have network rules to follow. But even within a merchants agreement/rules it could be different among the affiliates in that merchant's program. Just one example. There might be rules that affiliates can't bid on that merchant's TM but they might let a select group of their affiliates do that.

    You're never going to have some set of Golden Rules that everybody is going to go by. You might have a set of best practices that a majority would like to go by tho.

  20. #20
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    The challenge with affiliates dropping infested merchants is that the infested ones tend to be the big ones (while nothing is absolute, it's primarily true).

    Would it be wise for Connie to drop, say Target, or WalMart, or those brands in order to "teach them a lesson"?

    Not unless she wants to learn a lesson of her own, such as how to eek out a living. (I have no idea what Connie makes, but judging by her site, it's brand, and it's exposure, I'm thinking it's more than minmum wage).

    The only, and I mean the ONLY, thing that will alleviate this situation is proper legislation. And that can't truly happen either. Parasites and other ne'erdowells manage to outpace even the best (read: most affiliate friendly) of the affiliate networks. How then would Congress keep up?

    There have been many debates over the years at this forum and elsewhere as to what the actual financial impact to individual affiliates is due to cookie cannons, spammers, and other "non-cool" marketing techniques.

    Perhaps I'll add another metric to that equation. Man hours lost discussing it. Could be the most costly of all to some affiliates.

    While it needs to remain an active topic, we need to be realistic in our expectations on progress.
    Kevin Webster
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  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador
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    "Would it be wise for Connie to drop, say Target, or WalMart, or those brands in order to "teach them a lesson"?"

    Here's the problem with that route, besides a lot of affiliates going out of business. They're big brands. They could shut down their affiliate program and it might be a little blip on the radar if that. Most of their sales still come from offline purchases and as far as online purchases a very small percentage is via affiliates. And this was before my time but there was a big merchant boycott, ABW involved :

    http://salessuccessmagazine.com/arti...Practices.html

    And I'm not sure what came out of it, I just know that when I started (after the boycott) there was still no shortage of parasites and other bad things out there. And the reality is, anytime I've seen one affiliate say they're going to pull one of those type of merchants, you'll have another one posting, which one. So they can promote them more. If Connie or anybody with a competitive shopping/deal/coupon site, if they pulled those merchants, shoppers would just go thru the other shopping/deal/coupon sites that have them. For the simple reason, big brands got big for a reason. People like shopping there, that's not going to change. And the real problem is the affiliate program for the merchant. I love shopping at Amazon.com, it's where I do most of my online shopping but there are parts of the affiliate program I just don't like. 24 hr. cookie, how they drop some performing deal sites. But I still love shopping there, that's not going to change. And with the bigger brands there is a bigger disconnect between the higher ups and the affiliate program usually. Most probably don't even know they have one. Now with a smaller merchant, they're more involved because most of their sales are probably going to come via affiliates.

  22. #22
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Exactly. I don't condone people working with those merchants, per se, but neither can I criticize. If I had a lamp merchant as an OPM that was essentially "brandless" when compared to Target, I couldn't rightly expect all affiliates to dump Target and come with us.

    Too many conversion % issues based on customer trust, etc.

    As an OPM, I need to be reasonable in my expectations in managing smaller programs, as well as coach my merchants through that expectation:

    "Yes, we can get good affiliates to promote us... No, we won't knock WalMart off of all the big coupon and comparison engines... While we have an advantage in being parasite prohibitive, that's not the exclusive deciding factor for many large affiliates..."
    Kevin Webster
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  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador Sam Bay's Avatar
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    Even if the past offenders of cookie stuffing and parasitic activites clean up their acts, willingly or by being called on it, they must be watched closely as they're the ones most likely susceptible to future violations.

  24. #24
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Bay
    Even if the past offenders of cookie stuffing and parasitic activites clean up their acts, willingly or by being called on it, they must be watched closely as they're the ones most likely susceptible to future violations.
    Most of them cut their teeth as CPC script cheat kiddies and all are incentive based affiliates. Prove me wrong with the few exceptions out there and I'll probably find the exception operator alos running incentive poaching scams, BHO searchbar train rides and running scrapped or purchased e-mail spams.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  25. #25
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    And I'm not sure what came out of it
    A series of lawsuit threats from the merchants and we all know about the paraisites.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

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