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  1. #1
    Full Member GoColts's Avatar
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    Tinyurl - do they steal affiliate commissions?
    I've just spend the last 2hrs scanning here and amazon discussion boards and SE results with a variety of mixed opinions.

    I read from one of the veteran members here on the ebay forum that tinyurl is also an ebay affiliate.

    My main question is - using ebay's flex tool - what is the probabilty that tinyurl is stealing LEADS or ACRUs while allowing me to still get sales reported.

    Is that possible from the script end - to allow me to get sales but steal my ACRUs???

    Any feedback would be GREATLY appreciated. Thank you in advance!

    P.S. - I'm not tech savy so I can not make my own version of tinyurl or anytype of scripting, coding, etc. I've heard of people buying multiple domains with 3 characters in them but if you advertise multiple different products with unique flexible destinations - it would seem a bit time consuming to go that route. That said, any tips would be appreciated as well as to an alternative to tinyurl (low tech ofcourse )

  2. #2
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Gocolts, I use Tinyurl a lot and always wonder what the deal is with them. How are they making money? I have no idea about them stealing commissions but I haven't heard anything to suggest they do.

    There's another place that breaks down the long urls (snip url dot c) but there are issues with that one. Many times, they'll pull the link and say it's a SPAM link and they don't allow spam or other weird issues. My links are never spam so I haven't figured out why they do this but I stopped using them.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador Daniel M. Clark's Avatar
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    Is it possible? Sure. You're sending your traffic through their servers, so it's definitely possible that they could be doing something like that.

    I trust that they aren't though. That's just my opinion though, and I could be misplacing that trust.

  4. #4
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    At least, they know where the traffic come from.

  5. #5
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    They are not a small website which can do these kind of small things. Lets hope they dont do that.

  6. #6
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    Hey GoColts (it's hard to say that as a Pats fan, lol)

    If you send me the link you're worried about to my email address in my signature, I can take a look at the http header redirects and see if they manipulate them at all. Make sure to also send me what the link should look like so that I can compare.

    -Mike

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoColts
    P.S. - I'm not tech savy so I can not make my own version of tinyurl or anytype of scripting, coding, etc.
    You don't need to write your own script...other people have already done so, and shared it with everyone else.

    Here are a couple of options you can look at:
    http://lilurl.sourceforge.net/
    http://tighturl.com/project/

  8. #8
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gohti
    You don't need to write your own script...other people have already done so, and shared it with everyone else.
    I agree it's too easy. What if Tinyurl decides to just shut it down? With your own set up you can get more info for tracking also.


  9. #9
    Full Member GoColts's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone for taking time to give your input!

    There's another forum on ABW that has a link to the discussion on Amazon's board but it's from 2004. I assume since they are still around 3 years later that no one has had major complaints. But with as many hits/users they get now - it would be very easy for them to cheat here and there with no one noticing - especially since the only "terms of service" posted on their site are...

    "No Warranties of any kind".

    Very comforting. And with no policing/oversight?

    Not trying to gossip or rouse suspicioun - just looking for feedback from those of you who've used the service and if you were able or not to see ACRUs stick from ebay.

    I found this article tonight where Kevin "Gilby" Gilbertson the creator of tinyurl.com talks about using his service his own ebay affiliate id included in the tinyurls when they are pointed to ebay. But he insists that somehow it will leave ours in there if we make an affiliate link of our own into a tiny url.

    http://www.unicyclist.com/forums/arc...p/t-16501.html

  10. #10
    Full Member GoColts's Avatar
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    Ok - I have a website through yahoo hosting. I know that you can mask domains and redirect or something like that to get other domain names and have them point to my current domain using yahoo tools.

    So if I wanted to use that website account/domain - is there a way to make MANY unique short urls to ebay flex destinations - just using yahoo's services/tools with that website?

    Any Yahoo hosting affiliates out there?

  11. #11
    Full Member GoColts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rexanne
    Gocolts, I use Tinyurl a lot and always wonder what the deal is with them. How are they making money? I have no idea about them stealing commissions but I haven't heard anything to suggest they do.

    There's another place that breaks down the long urls (snip url dot c) but there are issues with that one. Many times, they'll pull the link and say it's a SPAM link and they don't allow spam or other weird issues. My links are never spam so I haven't figured out why they do this but I stopped using them.
    They make money by auto inserting their own affiliate id whenever a tinyurl is pointed to a website that they are an affiliate for. However, the owner has suggested on at least two forums I've read that somehow our affiliate ids are NOT replaced by his and we still get credit. This was a HUGE issue for amazon affiliates - from the 2004 discussion link found elsewhere here on ABW.

    There was at least one affiliate on that board who was irate and did some serious testing and (he claims) he was able to prove tinyurl was stealing commissions in part.

  12. #12
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoColts

    There was at least one affiliate on that board who was irate and did some serious testing and (he claims) he was able to prove tinyurl was stealing commissions in part.
    OMG something else to worry and stew over. *sigh* Thanks for the info.

    I always wonder about people's "altruistic" motives and want to know how they're making money to waylay fears that they're somehow manipulating my sales.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
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    I tried a few tests with eBay and Amazon links through Tinyurl, and there's no evidence right now of Tinyurl currently inserting its own affiliate links (regardless of whether the original link had an affiliate ID). But that's not to say that it was not being done at some earlier time or that it will not be done in the future. If anyone finds a Tinyurl link in which a Tinyurl affiliate id has been inserted, it would be interesting to see it.

    Anyway, if you have your own domain and website then just get lilurl or TightURL up and running.

  14. #14
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    I used to subscribe to a cloaking service... got annoyed when they told me they couldn't (or wouldn't?) give me a bulk extract of my own links/db. And renewal reminder emails never arrived (all my links were rendered invalid on 2 occasions).

    If you are concerned, just look at one of the threads here that provides a VERY simple php solution. I've kept my links "in-house" ever since - it looks professional, and readers are familiar with the url.

  15. #15
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    teezone, can you refer us to any of the threads here that you refer to? Or tell us what to do a search on to find them?

    I've found and tried some redirect script, but it's kind of tedious to implement one at a time on pages/sites with a lot of links.

  16. #16
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    Happy to help! In hindsight, I don't think I found the solution here, but it works great.

    This is the code I use... very straightforward.. create a file in Notepad called "links.php", it only needs the following:

    <?PHP
    $id = $_GET['id'];
    if ($id == "") {$link = "http://www.yourdomain.com";} // Default link
    if ($id == "affiliatelink1") {$link = "http://www.affiliatelinkhere.com?etcetc";}
    if ($id == "affiliatelink2") {$link = "http://www.affiliatelinkhere.com?etcetc";}
    header("location: $link"); // Jump to affiliate URL above
    exit();
    ?>

    The first $id indicates a default landing page in case your affiliate link doesn't work anymore

    The second (or third) $id can be copied down as you add new links. This is also a very easy way to replace your own static links with fresh products/offers (ie. featured product).

    To call either of the above links on your site (these aren't real!):
    'http://www.yourdomain.com/links.php?id=affiliatelink1'
    'http://www.yourdomain.com/links.php?id=affiliatelink2'

    This saved me monthly subscription fees, and brought a little peace of mind.

    Hope it helps!
    T.

    Edit: I've also tested some php apps that provide more enhanced functionality than the simple script above, happy to share results.

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador Daniel M. Clark's Avatar
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    I use a PHP method myself, but I set up my links to be as "friendly" as possible. My URLs look like this:

    www <site> com/visit/<merchant>.php?<product/keyword>=<name>

    so, if I was an eBay affiliate, and I was linking to a Nintendo Wii that was for sale, the link would look like this:

    www <site> com/visit/ebay.php?game=nintendo-wii

    or if I was a Barnes & Noble affiliate and I was linking to all the Harry Potter books, I'd create my link like this:

    www <site> com/visit/barnes-and-noble.php?book-list=harry-potter

    The downside (minor) is that I maintain a separate file for each merchant. The upside is, it looks good to the visitors

  18. #18
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    Thanks guys. teezone, it's somewhat similar to what I've tried but it puts it all together.

    Hectic, there may be a downside but the upside is that it might be easier to recall and keep track of the links than the way I've done it.

  19. #19
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghoti
    You don't need to write your own script...other people have already done so, and shared it with everyone else.

    Here are a couple of options you can look at:
    http://lilurl.sourceforge.net/
    Ghoti,

    That "lilURL - A Free/Open Source Clone of TinyURL", don't work anymore! (1/06/08)

    Here is what shows up after you click "Try out a demo":
    Attached Images Attached Images
    ...

  20. #20
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    I just recently found out about DecentURL it's the best I've seen. It makes the URLs 'SEO' friendly

  21. #21
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    The PHP method also generates SEO friendly links ... my site is highly ranked for some pretty competitive terms, and each individual link is picked up nicely. When you can see your links in list form, it's easy to make changes if a merchant moves networks, or you want to replace an existing merchant.

    HecticDMC, I agree with maintaining separate files.. for me, it's based on topic, as opposed to your merchant split. For example, monthly profiles, daily recommendations, email campaigns.. they all have their own files. The above example was abbreviated to make it easy to follow.

    As I said, there are also advanced php applications that include some click tracking as well.

  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Sal
    Ghoti,

    That "lilURL - A Free/Open Source Clone of TinyURL", don't work anymore! (1/06/08)

    Here is what shows up after you click "Try out a demo":
    The demo has been taken offline because of spammers, but the script is still available for download.

    I've set up temporary demo pages for the two scripts so the readers of this thread can try them out:
    http://www.ghoti.ca/lilurl/
    http://www.ghoti.ca/tighturl/

    They're very simple to set up...the hardest part for each is creating the database and importing the initial table.

    (I'll take the demos offline in a few days, 'cause I don't want it to be another magnet for spammers.)

  23. #23
    Full Member iolaire's Avatar
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    Does anyone know of self hosted service with a working API? I'm looking for a short url service that I can run myself and post new urls via XML-RPC or any other API format. lilURL says it has one, but the code was not implemented. Thanks

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghoti
    I've set up temporary demo pages for the two scripts so the readers of this thread can try them out:
    http://www.ghoti.ca/lilurl/
    http://www.ghoti.ca/tighturl/

    They're very simple to set up...the hardest part for each is creating the database and importing the initial table.
    Once installed on your server, could you make folder and db changes to make
    it like http://www.ghoti.ca/goto/5 or http://www.ghoti.ca/show/5 ?

    In other words, make some changes so instead of saying lilurl/tighturl it would
    say what ever you wanted to name it?

    That could maybe stop people from thinking about going to
    http://www.ghoti.ca/lilurl and making their own url because they might not
    realize what it is. Is this possible?

    Also, if you were to password protect the folder it's in, the lilurl link creator,
    and then used the url, would it still work or would the new url not work
    because that folder is password protect?

    It's getting late and I'm tired right or I could probably think about it and figure
    it out, but I have brain fry from reading so much 'stuff' today (one of those
    catching up from the lazy holidays deals)

  25. #25
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
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    Good questions, bivie.

    Only the /lilurl or /tighturl folder needs to be changed to change the location of the script to /show or anything else; no database changes required.

    lilurl and tighturl each use just one single file for both creation of short links and for redirection. So if you use the scripts unchanged, you'll have a hard time completely hiding the link creator from nosy people. But with a little bit of script editing, those tasks could be split up... it would be easier to do with lilurl because that's a simpler script than tighturl.

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