Are you a Cookie Stuffer?

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Posted In: General Chat 

Where do you stand on cookie stuffing?

Hello there and welcome to another weeks newsletter, this week I am heading over to “the darkside” to look at an un-ethical technique that was brought to my attention a couple of days ago.

The technique is known as “Cookie Stuffing” and is used by affiliates (and some adware applications) to plant affiliate cookies on a users PC without them actually clicking on an affiliate link.

Not this type of cookie!

The technique is outlawed by a lot of major affiliate companies such as Commission Junction and Linkshare, however there are still lot’s of very successful affiliates using the methods on the two networks.

Why do CJ and Linkshare allow this?

Simple, because it makes them more money! For every affiliate transaction that occurs the affiliate management company (CJ, Linkshare, etc.) take a percentage of the sale. Cookie stuffing means that more sales will be credited to affiliates, which equates to more money for the affiliate companies but less profit for the vendor.

For example, let’s say that I used cookie stuffing on this very page. I could stuff this page with an eBay or Amazon affiliate cookie. If I got 500 visitors to the page, that would mean 500 “clicks” on my Amazon/ebay affiliate link.

All of this would be done in the background without you knowing. So why is this so bad – let’s take a look.

The main complaint from affiliates that don’t use the cookie stuffing method if that there commissions are being stolen by these “stuffing” techniques. The cookie stuffers cookie would overwrite any genuine cookie that had been created by a legitimate click on an affiliate link. Meaning if the cookied user was to make a purchase, the cookie stuffer would get the commission instead of the legitimate click!

Earlier I also mentioned adware. You may have heard of “Zango” and “180 Solutions”, these applications will install on your PC, usually without your knowledge and will plant affiliate cookies on your PC when you visit a certain website or “hit” a particular subject.

These companies have been reported in the past for cookie stuffing but again it is still widely believed that the applications are stuffing cookies illegally on your PC! (Do a search for Zango/180 solutions cookie stuffing and see what you can find!) Whilst they are still making the affiliate companies’ money (CJ, Linksahre, CB, etc.) the trend looks set to continue.

I fear that this worrying and lets be honest – unethical to the extreme, method of making affiliate sales could result in a vendor backlash! If a vendor is offering 50% commission on a product to affiliates, how long will it take them to lower the commission percentage to make up for the amount of money they are losing from cookie stuffers?

Where do you all stand on the cookie stuffing debate? Should you use un-ethical methods if it brings you results or is it really not worth risking your affiliate account to make a quick buck?

Let me know your thoughts!

Thanks for reading,
Dan




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