Hijacking Affiliates - Cookie Stuffing Explained

101 replies
Hey Warriors,

What I'm about to share is extremely black hat.

Lots of talk about cookie stuffing lately and it seems that many people don't know what it actually is. I thought i'd try and explain it and hopefully that might help some people understand why cookie stuffing is not the reason clickbank is screwing up.

- Say I have a 1 page review site for 'Strip the Fat' that pulls in 100 unique visitors per day
- 10 of those people click on my affiliate link
- 1 of those people buy, good for one sale a day
- Lets say 1 other person reads my review, and then goes DIRECTLY to the sales page without clicking my links. I wont get cash for the sale

Now, wouldn't it be nice if we got commissions for everyone who visited our website if they purchased. Whether or not they clicked on our affiliate links? You bet your butt it would (despite being against every major affiliate companies TOS). This is where cookie stuffing comes in.

- Inside my page I place a 1pixel image. Something like '/images/thisisa1pixelimage.jpg'
- The thing is, this image isnt actually an image. *SHOCK*
- The trick is, I have secretly told my server that this is a PHP script. So instead of displaying the image, it parses the file and tries to execute it.
- Inside the image/php script I redirect to my affiliate link which drops the affiliate cookie on a users computer.
- So now, EVERY SINGLE PERSON who visits my page gets the affiliate cookie on their machine, whether or not they click my link.
- Beyond that, you could post that image anywhere on the entire web and anyone who views it will get a cookie dropped on them. Which is why you should never allow images to be loaded from other sites in your forums.

That's cookie stuffing at its very finest. There are countless ways to use this technique, almost all of them black hat. For example, have you ever noticed that once you open up one spam email, the next week you get 50 of them? The spammer has dropped a 1pixel image into your email, so by opening up the file you are verifying your existence because the 1pixel image runs a php script that says 'hey, the guy at hello@hotmail.com just opened me'.

So think about it, if cookie stuffing was the culprit then you wouldn't be seeing affiliate = none . You'd be seeing affiliate = spammer the whole time.

Anyway, just like Uncle Ben says to Peter Parker 'with great power comes great responsibility'. Don't use this for evil
#cookie #explained #stuffing
  • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
    Hi Mike...

    Just a little somethin for ya..

    When me and greenovni were discussing stuffing earlier on.. we were NOT saying cookie stuffing was the problem.. we were saying it was a way to find a solution.. at no point did we say cookie stuffing was the issue in that discussion.

    We were using it as a means to push a cookie to set, CB was not setting cookies in our examples

    Peace

    Jay
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Bogowski
    Yup,

    I read the thread and understood what you guys were trying to do. I completely agree with both of you as well, if dumping a cookie on the user helps kick CB's system into gear ill be adding the same thing to my sites.
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    • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
      Originally Posted by Mike Benkovich View Post

      Yup,

      I read the thread and understood what you guys were trying to do. I completely agree with both of you as well, if dumping a cookie on the user helps kick CB's system into gear ill be adding the same thing to my sites.
      Cool.. didn't want you thinking we were off our nuts or anythin..lol....

      Peace dude

      Jay
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  • Profile picture of the author al_clark7
    Hi,

    amazing post. Is it ok to do that?

    I'm only asking because I don't know.

    Cheers
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  • Profile picture of the author Teenage Genius
    Thanks for that very informative post
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  • Profile picture of the author matthewd
    See, I have been doing this on my site for a while now.

    It increased my sales greatly! Today for example I have had 12 affiliate sales and 7 of them came from these stuffed cookies... so, it is safe to say it may have doubled my sales.

    I never knew it was "black hat" or could be used for bad until I recently started hearing people shun it. Up until today I did not even know HOW it was used for bad.

    So, 2 days ago I got an email from Clickbank that linked to one of my pages and said "This page has recently been brought to our attention. We do not allow cookie stuffing. Remove it immediately and email us when you do."

    I emailed them back explaining that I am simply stuffing the cookie for the one product on that page and I would like them to explain why I need to remove it if I am in no way stealing other people's commissions or doing anything unethical.

    They still haven't responded, but I haven't gotten a sale for that product since (I used to sell a few a day), so I think they may have killed my link for it.

    Moral of the story: Clickbank is pissing me off!
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    • Profile picture of the author Mike Bogowski
      Originally Posted by matthewd View Post

      See, I have been doing this on my site for a while now.

      It increased my sales greatly! Today for example I have had 12 affiliate sales and 7 of them came from these stuffed cookies... so, it is safe to say it may have doubled my sales.

      I never knew it was "black hat" or could be used for bad until I recently started hearing people shun it. Up until today I did not even know HOW it was used for bad.

      So, 2 days ago I got an email from Clickbank that linked to one of my pages and said "This page has recently been brought to our attention. We do not allow cookie stuffing. Remove it immediately and email us when you do."

      I emailed them back explaining that I am simply stuffing the cookie for the one product on that page and I would like them to explain why I need to remove it if I am in no way stealing other people's commissions or doing anything unethical.

      They still haven't responded, but I haven't gotten a sale for that product since (I used to sell a few a day), so I think they may have killed my link for it.

      Moral of the story: Clickbank is pissing me off!
      If you think that's effective...

      Try using this technique on a mass mail out. Anyone who opens up an email in gmail, yahoo, hotmail or any webmail service will have the cookie dropped on them.

      Alas I have given up such shifty ways because its like building a business on quicksand.

      But its fun to game any system every now and then
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      • Profile picture of the author matthewd
        I don't want to use it like that. I only want to add it to my pages to help secure my sales.

        Originally Posted by Mike Benkovich View Post

        If you think that's effective...

        Try using this technique on a mass mail out. Anyone who opens up an email in gmail, yahoo, hotmail or any webmail service will have the cookie dropped on them.

        Alas I have given up such shifty ways because its like building a business on quicksand.

        But its fun to game any system every now and then
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    • Profile picture of the author rondo
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      • Profile picture of the author matthewd
        Originally Posted by rondo View Post

        If you can't get someone to click through do you think you really deserve the sale? It seems to me you're either ripping off another affiliate, or the vendor.
        If they read my page and then purchase... whether they clicked on my button or not I deserve the sale.

        Now what if Clickbank is screwing up as normal and those extra sales actually were click-throughs that their tracking system missed?

        This very well could be the case b/c I started this back in May and for a couple of months it only brought me in maybe 1 extra sale a few days, but for the past couple of months it has been bringing in more sales than my button... I bet if I dug deep enough it would correlate exactly with when all of this tracking stuff got screwy.
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        • Profile picture of the author rondo
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          • Profile picture of the author matthewd
            Originally Posted by rondo View Post

            People often view dozens of sites before purchasing. The whole point is to get the click.
            People may view tons of sites. So, if mine is the last one and they view and it convinces them to buy... why should I not get the commission?

            If they say "Man, this guy makes this sound awesome... I am going to get it!" and then type the URL into their browser instead of clicking the button for some odd reason, I still deserve the sale even though they didn't click my button.

            Now what about the other scenario I explained and you ignored?
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          • Profile picture of the author matthewd
            Originally Posted by rondo View Post

            People often view dozens of sites before purchasing. The whole point is to get the click.
            Okay, to further my point to you:

            I just checked my affiliate stats for June. Out of 177 sales, 28 came from the stuffed cookie.

            Fast forward to October. Out of 269 Sales, 140 came from the stuffed cookie.

            I doubt 52% of my sales are from people reading my page and going straight to the merchant URL.
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        • Profile picture of the author Darth Executor
          Originally Posted by matthewd View Post

          If they read my page and then purchase... whether they clicked on my button or not I deserve the sale.
          No you don't. You're a thief, plain and simple.
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        • Profile picture of the author Hililuud
          Originally Posted by matthewd View Post

          If they read my page and then purchase... whether they clicked on my button or not I deserve the sale.

          Now what if Clickbank is screwing up as normal and those extra sales actually were click-throughs that their tracking system missed?

          This very well could be the case b/c I started this back in May and for a couple of months it only brought me in maybe 1 extra sale a few days, but for the past couple of months it has been bringing in more sales than my button... I bet if I dug deep enough it would correlate exactly with when all of this tracking stuff got screwy.
          No, that is like someone who is looking for how to buy a laptop and he searches a bunch of sites for buying the laptop including yours and he purchases at the regular site, you didn't make the sale, and if you think you made the sale then why shouldn't every page that he visited before he bought the laptop get a piece of the profit.

          This just sounds like a really good way for companies to stop using affiliates, people like you are going to ruin it for the rest of us.
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  • Profile picture of the author greenovni
    al_clark7 According to the TOS of most affiliate services the answer is NO.

    Ebay is suing the people at DP for cookie stuffing. Not sure if they will get far as there is no actual law (that I know of) that says it's illegal too cookie stuff.
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  • Profile picture of the author greenovni
    matthewd Wow, that's BS. First their service is going bonkers & you cannot place codes on your own websites?
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  • Profile picture of the author mtncboy
    I really think that this is a good idea, you ought to get credit for your hard work!
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  • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
    I would just like to add that I do not advocate or encourage the use of cookie stuffing in the open market for sales and never have or will do. It's not my thing.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rich Rollend
    Thanks for the post Mike, I'll be honest I didn't fully understand cookie stuffing, Ill save that post.
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  • Profile picture of the author scotl47
    Wow ... never looked into it, or thought about it. Pure evil :-) Almost every other company in a couple of my financial niches that advertises on PPC has affiliate programs. I get 4-5000 visits a day ... so would be very tempting.
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    • Profile picture of the author bretski
      So how do I stand a chance of ever making a commission through Clickbank or any other affiliate program. I have always had a weird feeling and wondered why I have never gotten ONE affiliate sale through CB...not that I'm any sort of whiz at this yet but I know that I spent about a hundred on PPC one month and not one affilate sale....got lots of click...but not one sale. I had decided this run through that I wouldn't promote anything that I didn't have 100% control over the website or landing page, checkout and delivery of product. Call me paranoid but I sure could use that hundred that I paid on PPC this month...live and learn I guess....

      I had started cloaking my links but now I'm super paranoid...thanks guys! LOL!
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  • Profile picture of the author Eric Lorence
    Originally Posted by Mike Benkovich View Post

    Hey Warriors,

    What I'm about to share is extremely black hat.

    Lots of talk about cookie stuffing lately and it seems that many people don't know what it actually is. I thought i'd try and explain it and hopefully that might help some people understand why cookie stuffing is not the reason clickbank is screwing up.

    - Say I have a 1 page review site for 'Strip the Fat' that pulls in 100 unique visitors per day
    - 10 of those people click on my affiliate link
    - 1 of those people buy, good for one sale a day
    - Lets say 1 other person reads my review, and then goes DIRECTLY to the sales page without clicking my links. I wont get cash for the sale

    Now, wouldn't it be nice if we got commissions for everyone who visited our website if they purchased. Whether or not they clicked on our affiliate links? You bet your butt it would (despite being against every major affiliate companies TOS). This is where cookie stuffing comes in.

    - Inside my page I place a 1pixel image. Something like '/images/thisisa1pixelimage.jpg'
    - The thing is, this image isnt actually an image. *SHOCK*
    - The trick is, I have secretly told my server that this is a PHP script. So instead of displaying the image, it parses the file and tries to execute it.
    - Inside the image/php script I redirect to my affiliate link which drops the affiliate cookie on a users computer.
    - So now, EVERY SINGLE PERSON who visits my page gets the affiliate cookie on their machine, whether or not they click my link.
    - Beyond that, you could post that image anywhere on the entire web and anyone who views it will get a cookie dropped on them. Which is why you should never allow images to be loaded from other sites in your forums.

    That's cookie stuffing at its very finest. There are countless ways to use this technique, almost all of them black hat. For example, have you ever noticed that once you open up one spam email, the next week you get 50 of them? The spammer has dropped a 1pixel image into your email, so by opening up the file you are verifying your existence because the 1pixel image runs a php script that says 'hey, the guy at hello@hotmail.com just opened me'.

    So think about it, if cookie stuffing was the culprit then you wouldn't be seeing affiliate = none . You'd be seeing affiliate = spammer the whole time.

    Anyway, just like Uncle Ben says to Peter Parker 'with great power comes great responsibility'. Don't use this for evil
    I still think stuffing is the primary problem, and if you consider that Clickbank may be on to many of these affiliates, and banning their accounts, then you would have to imagine the referer would be "none" in those cases.

    Bottom line is that the vast majority of customers are absolutely clueless as to the intricacies of cookies, black hat, or any kind of IM means and methods in general.

    Because of this, "stuffing" continues to cost a lot of people commissions.

    Best!
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  • Profile picture of the author rondo
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    • Profile picture of the author matthewd
      Originally Posted by rondo View Post

      You don't know that yours is the last one they viewed.
      It's only the last one cookied because you "stuffed" it.


      Andrew
      That's true; the other people should have had their cookies stuffed too then. Through your thinking, these others wouldn't "deserve" the commission either, so what's the point? As far as ripping off the merchant as you mentioned earlier, how is it ripping the merchant off if it was affiliates that sent the sale to him/her?

      Did you also look at my post above expressing the statistics. Before the Clickbank tracking issues, this was bringing in about 15% of my sales... now b/c of the tracking issue, it is bringing in over 50% of my sales.

      SO if I were to remove the stuffed cookie, I would be losing out on sales that Clickbank is screwing me out of.
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    • Profile picture of the author Robert Puddy
      Originally Posted by rondo View Post

      You don't know that yours is the last one they viewed.
      It's only the last one cookied because you "stuffed" it.


      Andrew
      Doesnt matter if the cookie was stuffed on the previous page, if they go to another site and click on the link there the new cookie will over ride the stuffed one.

      Stuffed cookies work the same as any other if the buyer clicks on someones link after they have visited the site that has cookie stuffing pixels on it the last affiliate will get the sale

      Robert
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Bogowski
    Take this situation!

    - Someone goes to a site with a rave review about a product.
    - The customer clicks through and is very tempted to buy but wants to do more searching
    - They search for something like '<product name> sucks'
    - You've optimized for '<product name> sucks' and talk about how crap it is
    - On your sucks page you stuff them with a cookie
    - They decide the positive review is enough proof for them to buy but the person who actually sold them on the item gets nothing because you cheated the system.

    matthewd, I'm not suggesting this is your technique but its a good example of how the system wouldn't work. It's too open to holes like this. The rules are in place and bug 90% of people because of what the shifty 10% of people might try to do.

    Whether we like it or not, Clickbank is the giant for digital products and unless someone comes in with huge clout and massive bank its going to stay that way for a while. So we play by their rules or promote different products.
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  • Profile picture of the author matthewd
    I see what you are saying Mike... I always hated that 10% that screw everything up for us that play by the rules!

    I never give a negative review about a product. I don't fake good ones though, if it sucks, I just pass it up and don't bother touching it... I am not going to lie about a product and I am not going to bash a product, so it is best for me to skip it.

    Anyway, I use my cookie stuffing for good... and I will continue to do it as long as Clickbank's screwing their tracking up. Right now it is simply an "Insurance Policy" for me to get my commissions.
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  • Profile picture of the author HarveyJ
    Banned
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    • Cheers for the info Mike. I was never really 100% sure what cookie stuffing is even after reading about the guy on Digital Point being busted for it.
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  • Profile picture of the author matthewd
    Harvey,

    That is a difficult way to do it... I just add an image tag to my affiliate link.
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  • Profile picture of the author TheNightOwl
    Interesting...

    I first heard Jim Morris of NicheBot talk about this, oh, around 18 months or 2 years ago. He called it a SAC (Secret Affiliate Cookie).

    I thought something sounded a bit "iffy" about it, but I was more or less a complete web noob then so I let it pass because what did I know?

    It stuck with me, though, and more recently Andre Chaperon has promoted it and has a page to generate such cookies. There is no mention of the term "stuffing" though (surprise, surprise).

    Having been around the block a few times, I recognised it , but I wasn't sure what it was called. I thought it was "cookie-stuffing" but I wasn't 100%. I've been meaning to email and ask, but this appears to answer my question so thank you, Mike.

    So, will this get you banned from the major affiliate networks,then?

    If so, why do people advocate such things to newbies in their ebooks, etc.? That just seems grossly irresponsible to me.

    @Andre & Jim: Have I got it wrong, fellas? Want to weigh in on the discussion here, perchance?

    @Harvey: You say you "rarely" cookie stuff. So what is a "good" example, then, of this practice (if such a thing exists)?

    Cheers,
    TheNightOwl
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  • Profile picture of the author onlineleben
    and then type the URL into their browser instead of clicking the button for some odd reason, I still deserve the sale even though they didn't click my button
    So were did they get the URL from? Did you put it in your pre selling copy?
    If so, I think you don't deserve teh credit for the sale at all

    Btw, interesting discussion and good to see who operated on a shade of gray side.
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    • Profile picture of the author matthewd
      They could get the URL from all over the place. I target people in the late stages of the buying cycle, so odds are that the people I am targeting have looked over the merchant site and decided to do some research.

      I don't list a URL in my page, but if I did, why would that make me not deserve credit for the sale? That wouldn't make me any less the one that they decided to buy on.

      AND I don't see at all how it could be considered "a shade of grey." I am not stealing anyone else's commissions. As I said earlier, it acts as an insurance policy for my commissions.

      TheNightOwl - I believe the "good" circumstance of using it is what I have been referring to doing. I only put the cookie on my review page and it ends up saving me TONS of sales that it appears Clickbank would have otherwise lost me.

      Originally Posted by onlineleben View Post

      So were did they get the URL from? Did you put it in your pre selling copy?
      If so, I think you don't deserve teh credit for the sale at all

      Btw, interesting discussion and good to see who operated on a shade of gray side.
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      • Profile picture of the author TheNightOwl
        Originally Posted by matthewd View Post

        I believe the "good" circumstance of using it is what I have been referring to doing. I only put the cookie on my review page and it ends up saving me TONS of sales that it appears Clickbank would have otherwise lost me.
        Hi there matthewd

        Not that I'm saying cookie-stuffing is categorically 100% bad because I really don't know (although if everyone seems to unanimously agree that it is, then it might be a red flag -- Not to say that means it's the absolute truth of the matter)...

        ...but I'm not sure your description here is correct. To my mind, it's just not the case that "Clickbank would have otherwise lost me".

        If someone wants to type the URL directly into their browser, then surely that's their right to do so. No?

        If someone has surfed around and gotten the information they need to make that all important "buying decision" then surely it's their prerogative to buy from whoever they see fit.

        If they visit half a dozen affiliate sites (and if they're savvy enough to type the URL in directly then they're probably savvy to affiliate marketing), and your site happens to be the last one...

        ...and you don't do a good enough job to convince them to click YOUR link, then people being what they are, they are (for the most part) not going to go back, back, back, back through their browser to find the page that did convince them to click.

        They're just going to remember the product name and type it in, right?

        I'm sure you're (mostly) with me so far.

        (You probably don't like the bit about whether your site does a good enough job, but it's true. If your copy isn't good enough, then you don't deserve the sale).

        I'm describing the sort of pattern I've followed myself many times:

        I go looking for something ("in a buying mood" to use marketer-speak).

        I read a review. It's the same old affiliate dross.

        I search again.

        I read another page.

        Crap.

        I read another. It seems good.

        I click through to see what the product is (because they don't mention it by name and cookie me on the click--which I'm perfectly aware of and I'm happy to play along with because they did a good enough job of pre-selling me).

        I read the sales page.

        It's crap.

        I keep searching.

        Some other affiliate review points me back there and "fills in the gaps" in the salespage with the review. I like it, but I'm still not convinced. I'm almost there...

        I go searching again...

        I land on some crap affiliate review that doesn't tell me anything and/or makes outlandish claims about the product.

        I know better that to click on this twat's link.

        So what do i do?

        I recall the product name and type it into my browser directly.

        Why? It doesn't cost me a cent more to click on this crap reviewer's link. But I'm so put off by the review that I don't want to be putting money in the pocket of a huckster.

        Bad luck for the person who actually made me click through if you're stuffing your page.

        If you weren't stuffing your page, that person actually would receive credit for the sale.

        So isn't it cookie-stuffers who are stealing commissions from the affiliates who go the extra mile and give an honest, balanced, and comprehensive review of a product? (Not to say that you don't, but that's not my point)

        Or have I got it all wrong here somewhere?

        Best,
        TheNightOwl
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      • Profile picture of the author Darth Executor
        Originally Posted by matthewd View Post

        AND I don't see at all how it could be considered "a shade of grey." I am not stealing anyone else's commissions. As I said earlier, it acts as an insurance policy for my commissions.
        It's not a shade of gray, it's pure black hat. You're stealing the commission from anyone who doesn't buy through your link.

        If you want to stop being a thief and still protect yourself from clickbank's incompetence, stuff the cookie after they click on your link.
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        • Profile picture of the author matthewd
          Originally Posted by Darth Executor View Post

          It's not a shade of gray, it's pure black hat. You're stealing the commission from anyone who doesn't buy through your link.

          If you want to stop being a thief and still protect yourself from clickbank's incompetence, stuff the cookie after they click on your link.
          That might be a better plan.

          I am not stealing commissions though.
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          • Profile picture of the author TheNightOwl
            Originally Posted by matthewd View Post

            I am not stealing commissions though.
            But... matthewd... how do you know that?

            My example was not exclusively contextualised within the IM market (I'm sorry if that was confusing).

            Let me revisit it in a more general way:

            -- person goes a-searching ("late in the buying cycle" if you will). Let's call her Sally. She's a tech-dunce and her notion of cookies is delectables fresh from the oven and eaten with milk

            -- She finds a review and reads it

            -- it's garbage

            -- she hits the back button and searches again..

            -- reads another review that convinces her to click through

            -- unbeknownst to her, she gets cookied

            -- she reads the sales letter and it doesn't really set her on fire

            -- she goes looking again

            -- but now she knows the name of the product so she types "[name of product] + review" into her search engine of choice

            -- some reviews come up... she reads one and, again, it's crap

            -- she reads another. Again, crap

            -- she arrives on your page and is cookied just for turning up

            -- she reads you review and for whatever reason you don't make a compelling enough case to get her to click on your link

            **** Alternatively, she doesn't even read your review. Something about the site puts her off and she hits the back button. You've still cookied her, though ***

            -- she goes back and types the URL directly into her browser (coz she can't remember where that link was she originally found it through, but she does remember the name. She might even just put the name of the product into the search engine, scan the results, find the direct URL and click)

            -- she buys

            Who gets the sale here?

            You.

            Who deserves the sale?

            The person whose review was compelling enough to make her want to click.

            I'm not saying you write bad or hypey or unbalanced reviews or anything like that either, incidentally. I'm just saying that if your review doesn't get the prospect to click, then you don't deserve the sale.

            In fact, your review might be "better" by a country mile than the one that got her to click in the first place. That one might (by your standards) be complete tosh. It might be full of outlandish claims, hype, and ra-rah.

            But we've been through this conversation a million times on this forum: People are, for the most part cattle, and make buying decisions based on emotion (me included many times; I just like to think I'm "too intellectual" to fall for the old emotional banana appeal in the tailpipe trick. Which, naturally, is self-delusion of the highest order).

            Anyway, point is, who are you to try and say that people should click on your review because it's superior to the other one?

            It may be. In fact, it probably is. But such a judgement is patently not using the same criteria that Sally used. Whatever she read on that page she clicked through on pushed some hot-button(s) for her. Something about your site or review did not.

            In this case are you stealing commissions?

            Yes.

            You assert that you are not.

            How do you know that?

            If you can present a convincing and coherent argument as to why I'm wrong about this, then I'll shut up and apologise publically.

            Best,
            TheNightOwl


            P.S. My objective here is not to "go you" or "savage you", personally, matthewd. I'm laying out an argument that I would level at anyone doing this.

            I'm still waiting from Harvey to let me know when might be a "good" use of this technique, btw.

            And @ Darth Executor: How do you cookie them on the click? And what is the advantage of doing this?
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            • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
              Mike, thank you for sharing this info. It clearly explains what it is.

              As for those who condone cookie stuffing under ANY circumstances, I am
              beyond speechless.

              I'm sorry, but I look this as very black and white.

              John Doe comes to my blog to read my review on product X.

              If that review does NOT make him click on my link to go to the sales page
              and buy the product, then I do NOT deserve to get credit for a future sale
              of that product IF it comes in. I did not convince him to buy.

              Now, if he goes back to the site later for whatever reason and didn't get
              there from another affiliate, and DOES buy, then I will get the credit
              because I was the last affiliate he visited. Then, I should get credit.

              Sorry, but nobody is going to convince me that cookie stuffing is right
              under any circumstances. If they click on your link and buy, there is no
              need to stuff the cookie because it's set normally.

              Unreal what some people will do.
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              • Profile picture of the author TheNightOwl
                hi matthewd

                I agree that what Mr Wagenheim says is a little unclear. In particular, this bit:

                Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

                Now, if he goes back to the site later for whatever reason and didn't get there from another affiliate, and DOES buy, then I will get the credit because I was the last affiliate he visited. Then, I should get credit.
                My point (which I think Steven is echoing, albeit unclearly) is that if the prospect comes to my site, doesn't click on my link, and buys from visiting the product-site directly, then I don't deserve the sale.

                I'm not sure what's confusing about that.

                If I don't do a good enough of job of getting the prospect to click through via my link, I don't deserve the sale.

                They can surf around as much as they like (before or after clicking on my link), but at least I made a convincing enough case while they were at my site, to get them to click on my link.

                If another affiliate also convinces them to click through after they visit my site (and click on my link--Do I really need to keep saying this bit?), then in a last-touch program, that affiliate beats me.

                Oh, well, that's the nature of last-touch. But this other affiliate obviously did a good job too because the prospect clicked their link.

                Swings and roundabouts, really. That'll happen to me sometimes, but other times I'll be the last touch affiliate (who gets someone to... wait for it... click my link) and as such I'll pip the other guy at the post.

                But I'm not stealing anything. My site and review and video and copy and whatever else was good enough to get the click. And I just happened to be the one immediately prior to the sale being made.

                I honestly don't see how you can say otherwise, man.

                Think about this one:

                If you do a stellar job of pre-selling someone enough for them to click through, but they can't buy right then for whatever reason, that prospect is cookied to you.

                But let's say a couple of days later the prospect gets paid and wants to buy, they fire up Google and type in the name of the product and something about my #3 listing for the same keyword ("product name") catches their eye.

                They open the #1 position (let's assume it's the product's direct page), but also flip open #3 to take a quick last minute look before they read that salespage again.

                And let's say they don't like what they see or read on my site so they close that browser tab/window and go to the product homepage...

                ...and buy.

                Who should get the sale there?

                You! Because you did the heavy-lifting and got them to click through and discover the product name in the first place. You did a good job of pre-selling them and providing a balanced and honest review, etc.

                I did nothing but stuff my cookie when they arrived.

                Yet I get the sale.

                In that scenario, dude, I am shafting you.

                Can't you see that?


                TheNightOwl


                P.S. please don't shoot back the argument "But there was something about my headline in the SERPs that made them click... and I was the last touch... so I deserve the sale." That argument is a sieve and you know it.
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                • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
                  Originally Posted by TheNightOwl View Post

                  hi matthewd

                  I agree that what Mr Wagenheim says is a little unclear. In particular, this bit:



                  My point (which I think Steven is echoing, albeit unclearly) is that if the prospect comes to my site, doesn't click on my link, and buys from visiting the product-site directly, then I don't deserve the sale.

                  I'm not sure what's confusing about that.

                  If I don't do a good enough of job of getting the prospect to click through via my link, I don't deserve the sale.

                  They can surf around as much as they like (before or after clicking on my link), but at least I made a convincing enough case while they were at my site, to get them to click on my link.

                  If another affiliate also convinces them to click through after they visit my site (and click on my link--Do I really need to keep saying this bit?), then in a last-touch program, that affiliate beats me.

                  Oh, well, that's the nature of last-touch. But this other affiliate obviously did a good job too because the prospect clicked their link.

                  Swings and roundabouts, really. That'll happen to me sometimes, but other times I'll be the last touch affiliate (who gets someone to... wait for it... click my link) and as such I'll pip the other guy at the post.

                  But I'm not stealing anything. My site and review and video and copy and whatever else was good enough to get the click. And I just happened to be the one immediately prior to the sale being made.

                  I honestly don't see how you can say otherwise, man.

                  Think about this one:

                  If you do a stellar job of pre-selling someone enough for them to click through, but they can't buy right then for whatever reason, that prospect is cookied to you.

                  But let's say a couple of days later the prospect gets paid and wants to buy, they fire up Google and type in the name of the product and something about my #3 listing for the same keyword ("product name") catches their eye.

                  They open the #1 position (let's assume it's the product's direct page), but also flip open #3 to take a quick last minute look before they read that salespage again.

                  And let's say they don't like what they see or read on my site so they close that browser tab/window and go to the product homepage...

                  ...and buy.

                  Who should get the sale there?

                  You! Because you did the heavy-lifting and got them to click through and discover the product name in the first place. You did a good job of pre-selling them and providing a balanced and honest review, etc.

                  I did nothing but stuff my cookie when they arrived.

                  Yet I get the sale.

                  In that scenario, dude, I am shafting you.

                  Can't you see that?


                  TheNightOwl


                  P.S. please don't shoot back the argument "But there was something about my headline in the SERPs that made them click... and I was the last touch... so I deserve the sale." That argument is a sieve and you know it.

                  Thanks Nightowl. You pretty much explained it better than I could because
                  quite honestly, this is not an area I give much thought to.

                  I concentrate on doing a good presell and let that take care of the rest.

                  Believe me, I make more than my share of sales without having to resort
                  to cookie stuffing.
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                  • Profile picture of the author L.B
                    Banned
                    [DELETED]
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                    • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
                      Originally Posted by L.B View Post

                      end of the day I know people making 5 figures a week of cookie stuffing...your not going to tell them to stop lol. its pointless arguing about the ethics of it. its the internet people can do what they want and most of the time other people are not going to convince them otherwise
                      As much as I hate the attitude, when you're right you're right. People are
                      going to do what they want to do and it's doubtful you or anybody else is
                      going to change their minds.

                      That's why the jails will always be filled with criminals.
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                    • Profile picture of the author erickz
                      Originally Posted by L.B View Post

                      end of the day I know people making 5 figures a week of cookie stuffing...your not going to tell them to stop lol. its pointless arguing about the ethics of it. its the internet people can do what they want and most of the time other people are not going to convince them otherwise
                      ya sadly tho, i agreed to this statement..
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                  • Profile picture of the author matthewd
                    TheNightOwl - I don't think I said I was confused... I actually think I said I see where you guys are coming from and just disagree.

                    Steven - Now you are just being a dick. Maybe you did not read everything I have put before getting so smug and acting like you are SOOOO good that you get your clicks and sales no matter what... it doesn't matter if Clickbank is having issues, you are so good that you fix these issues, right?

                    If you would look in my previous posts, you would see that it is saving my ass from this Clickbank tracking issue. 52% of my sales are coming from the stuffed cookie as opposed to 15% before all of their crap started. And as was decided in another thread with a bunch of testing, just clicking the link is often bringing up "affiliate=none" whereas the stuffed cookie got tracked every time.

                    Now, if you would pay attention to some more of what I said... I also agreed that it would be better for me to stuff the cookie AFTER the click. I am not sure on how to do this, but I will look into it.

                    Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

                    Thanks Nightowl. You pretty much explained it better than I could because
                    quite honestly, this is not an area I give much thought to.

                    I concentrate on doing a good presell and let that take care of the rest.

                    Believe me, I make more than my share of sales without having to resort
                    to cookie stuffing.
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                    • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
                      Originally Posted by matthewd View Post

                      TheNightOwl - I don't think I said I was confused... I actually think I said I see where you guys are coming from and just disagree.

                      Steven - Now you are just being a dick. Maybe you did not read everything I have put before getting so smug and acting like you are SOOOO good that you get your clicks and sales no matter what... it doesn't matter if Clickbank is having issues, you are so good that you fix these issues, right?

                      If you would look in my previous posts, you would see that it is saving my ass from this Clickbank tracking issue. 52% of my sales are coming from the stuffed cookie as opposed to 15% before all of their crap started. And as was decided in another thread with a bunch of testing, just clicking the link is often bringing up "affiliate=none" whereas the stuffed cookie got tracked every time.

                      Now, if you would pay attention to some more of what I said... I also agreed that it would be better for me to stuff the cookie AFTER the click. I am not sure on how to do this, but I will look into it.

                      EXCUSE ME? I'm being a dick?

                      You're breaking the TOS of just about every major affiliate program
                      out there and I'M being a dick?

                      Well, one more person I know not to ever do any business with.

                      Wow, talk about an attitude.

                      ** EDIT **

                      PS. You remind me of the guy I got into an argument the other
                      day at the blackhat forum who said it was okay to steal my
                      product because he's struggling to feed his family and couldn't
                      afford it. You can rationalize anything you want when it suits
                      you...but it doesn't make it right.

                      Wow, I still can't believe there are people who truly believe
                      this crap.
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                      • Profile picture of the author matthewd
                        Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

                        EXCUSE ME? I'm being a dick?

                        You're breaking the TOS of just about every major affiliate program
                        out there and I'M being a dick?

                        Well, one more person I know not to ever do any business with.

                        Wow, talk about an attitude.
                        Haha, I was waiting for you to see that... I actually figured the post would be longer.

                        It's funny to hear you say something about someone's attitude.

                        I admit that it is breaking their TOS and I am not saying that breaking any TOS is a good thing to do. Oh, it's not every affiliate program... I am only a Clickbank affiliate.

                        That's fine that you will not do any future business with me... I was calling it how I saw it as you usually say. So, if you don't like it, that's fine man.

                        I do apologize that it offended you, but there was a lot of smugness in your post.

                        ** EDIT **

                        I don't have a family to feed

                        I can't rationalize "anything" Steven. I can rationalize me losing 52% of my sales b/c of a tracking issue and me taking measures to safeguard that 52%.

                        Can you not rationalize that?
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                        • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
                          Originally Posted by matthewd View Post

                          Haha, I was waiting for you to see that... I actually figured the post would be longer.

                          It's funny to hear you say something about someone's attitude.

                          I admit that it is breaking their TOS and I am not saying that breaking any TOS is a good thing to do. Oh, it's not every affiliate program... I am only a Clickbank affiliate.

                          That's fine that you will not do any future business with me... I was calling it how I saw it as you usually say. So, if you don't like it, that's fine man.

                          I do apologize that it offended you, but there was a lot of smugness in your post.
                          Yes, robbing from people (which is what you're doing) offends me.

                          Smug? I've restrained myself from telling you EXACTLY what I think of
                          you so consider yourself lucky.
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                          • Profile picture of the author matthewd
                            Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

                            Yes, robbing from people (which is what you're doing) offends me.

                            Smug? I've restrained myself from telling you EXACTLY what I think of
                            you so consider yourself lucky.
                            How would it make me lucky man?

                            You telling me off is not going to make me cry...
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                            • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
                              Originally Posted by matthewd View Post

                              How would it make me lucky man?

                              You telling me off is not going to make me cry...
                              Matthew, considering I have zero respect for thieves, and therefore have
                              zero respect for you, you're not worth any more of my time.

                              As Garrie said, let us know when Clickbank shuts down your account.

                              Have a nice life.
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                              • Profile picture of the author matthewd
                                Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

                                Have a nice life.
                                Thanks man, you too!

                                It's funny how you ignored this though:

                                "I can't rationalize "anything" Steven. I can rationalize me losing 52% of my sales b/c of a tracking issue and me taking measures to safeguard that 52%.

                                Can you not rationalize that?"
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                    • Profile picture of the author MarcusXavier
                      Cookie stuffing is just one of those things that is really pointless
                      arguing about because there are 2 sides, and both have their
                      respective point of views. And I think no matter what your personal
                      view on it or any other controversial method is, we have to respect
                      the other side's view.

                      To me, this is what is great about about internet marketing.
                      We have the freedom to choose how we run our own businesses.
                      I for one use many BH methods including cookie stuffing.

                      And I know people don't like it. I respect these people's opinion,
                      but it won't stop me.

                      I choose the way I run my business, and I also accept the fact
                      that I have to take responsibility for all the choices I make.
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        • Profile picture of the author mrdomains
          Originally Posted by Darth Executor View Post


          If you want to stop being a thief and still protect yourself from clickbank's incompetence, stuff the cookie after they click on your link.
          This is an interesting. Could a simple redirectpage between buy button and vendor page do the stuffing?
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          • Profile picture of the author Darth Executor
            Originally Posted by mrdomains View Post

            This is an interesting. Could a simple redirectpage between buy button and vendor page do the stuffing?
            Yes. It's what you'd have to do actually. You should be using redirects as your off-site links most of the time anyway for a number of reasons I won't get into now.
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  • Profile picture of the author awesometbn
    What about web browsers like Firefox with NoScript and AdBlockPlus enabled? Doesn't that bring this method of cookie stuffing to a halt? Just wanted someone to confirm there are ways to stop such behavior on the end user side, if desired.
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  • Profile picture of the author GeorgR.
    well you dont even need to fake "PHP"...you can also specify a 1x1pixel picture and "display" it at some insane position, like 5000pixels to the left of the actual site. works too.

    Edit:

    Classic Method:
    Code:
    <img style="position:absolute;left:-2000px;width:1px;height:1px;"src="http://affiliatelink.org">
    you see that the "source" for that image can be any affiliate link, that link will be excuted and a cookie will be set. Still trying to understand where your "PHP" comes in there, theres no need for any PHP code.
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    • Profile picture of the author zerofill
      Originally Posted by GeorgR. View Post

      well you dont even need to fake "PHP"...you can also specify a 1x1pixel picture and "display" it at some insane position, like 5000pixels to the left of the actual site. works too.

      Edit:

      Classic Method:
      Code:
      <img style="position:absolute;left:-2000px;width:1px;height:1px;"src="http://affiliatelink.org">
      you see that the "source" for that image can be any affiliate link, that link will be excuted and a cookie will be set. Still trying to understand where your "PHP" comes in there, theres no need for any PHP code.
      The PHP method he is talking about isn't needed on your own site...it was just used by forum cookie stuffers mainly. Images in signatures etc...
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  • Profile picture of the author matthewd
    TheNightOwl - I'd be willing to bet that 99% of the people I sell to have no idea about affiliates and cookies getting me a commission. I don't sell affiliate stuff in the IM market.

    Your scenario is based around the person knowing about affiliate links and deliberately trying to avoid "my" affiliate link.

    And I understand you were not saying that I don't give honest, balanced and comprehensive reviews... but I do.

    I am not just throwing up a page that says "Oh, it's SO good... BUY IT RIGHT NOW!!! It will change your life forever!!!"
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  • Profile picture of the author Gail Sober
    Still trying to understand where your "PHP" comes in there, theres no need for any PHP code.
    Using php is just a method of keeping from being discovered stuffing cookies, you can use php to not stuff a cookie if there is no referrer,among other things.
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  • Profile picture of the author matthewd
    Wow, we are not going to agree on this at all.

    I see where you guys are coming from... but I still think your theory has a hole in it b/c the person you are saying deserves the sale didn't make them buy either if they still did a bunch of surfing.

    I do see what you are saying and I am not saying you an idiot or anything... I just say we disagree on it.

    I also think it might be better as he said earlier to cookie after they click... which I guess would just be to send them to a redirect page that also stuffs the cookie?
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  • Profile picture of the author Carlsbadd
    Matthewd,

    Thanks for the information about how cookie stuffing works.

    While I will not directly comment on the morality of it , if it works for you so be it.

    Cramming GIF's with code is and has been going on for a long time and will continue to be a simple way to hide code , for good or evil.

    Don't hate the play'a.... Hate the game
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  • Profile picture of the author Dmitry
    I don't see what is being hijacked? You "stuff" a visitor with cookies. He doesn't buy. Then he hops on to another affiliate's page - he gets his affiliate cookie, he buys from him - the other affiliate gets the commission since he overwrote your "stuffed" cookie. In essence the cookie is still being saved by clickbank and read by clickbank. Now if you could save cookies as if it were clickbank - that would be blackhat.
    Alas I have given up such shifty ways because its like building a business on quicksand.

    But its fun to game any system every now and then
    Totally agree with you man. We should create a secret "blackhat for fun... and profit" society or something

    In the spirit of discussion here's a legal cookie stuffing technique for CB I just came up with. Create a publisher account at CB, then an affiliate one. Make you review page you publisher's sales page. Now send visitors via your affiliate link to your sales page. Voila - they now have you affiliate id in their cookies.

    @Harvey

    You want the rest of the magic formula? Do some bloody research and stop buying eBooks.
    What else could there be...
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    • Profile picture of the author danemorgan
      Originally Posted by Dmitry View Post

      Totally agree with you man. We should create a secret "blackhat for fun... and profit" society or something
      Login or something...

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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Bogowski
    At the end of the day, use your own moral compass and decide if you want to use the technique or not. But you must know that its against the terms of service of the major affiliate networks.

    To answer the why use PHP question ... You should use PHP in this technique because its more secretive to the end user, the browser and any software that might try to block it because as far as your browser is concerned you are just viewing an image.

    The problem with using an image tag is that its easy to spot, and matthewd that is probably the reason that you got caught since someone only needs to view your page source to know what you're doing.
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    • Profile picture of the author JustVisiting
      Originally Posted by Mike Benkovich View Post

      At the end of the day, use your own moral compass and decide if you want to use the technique or not. But you must know that its against the terms of service of the major affiliate networks.

      To answer the why use PHP question ... You should use PHP in this technique because its more secretive to the end user, the browser and any software that might try to block it because as far as your browser is concerned you are just viewing an image.

      The problem with using an image tag is that its easy to spot, and matthewd that is probably the reason that you got caught since someone only needs to view your page source to know what you're doing.
      Exactly! Otherwise the merchant can see you are cookie stuffing! You need to cloak
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  • Profile picture of the author GarrieWilson
    Mathew,

    It might just look like the stuffing is saving you. ClickBank *might* be working on a way to not overwriting cookies unless they are X old. To keep people/buyers from stealing. Or an number of other reasons.

    You say you deserve it, yada yada. Well, here is an example of when you don't.

    I find your site looking for X and don't click the link because the review sucks or you make the product look like it wont do what I need. I go back to Google and a few links down from yours is the creator of the product. His sales letter is great and it conviences me.

    In this example, you stole from the creator. It could also be the reason your stuffed cookies get more sales. Not because you deserve it. This happens a lot, atleast with me.

    Stuff when people click and see if the stuffs still get more.
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    • Profile picture of the author matthewd
      Wow, you guys need to start reading before responding.

      1) People have already given their examples of disagreeing with me. Their's are all the same except you replaced "other affiliate" with the "merchant."

      2) I have said twice now I like the idea of stuffing after the click and I am going to look into how I can do that.

      Originally Posted by GarrieWilson View Post

      Mathew,

      It might just look like the stuffing is saving you. ClickBank *might* be working on a way to not overwriting cookies unless they are X old. To keep people/buyers from stealing. Or an number of other reasons.

      You say you deserve it, yada yada. Well, here is an example of when you don't.

      I find your site looking for X and don't click the link because the review sucks or you make the product look like it wont do what I need. I go back to Google and a few links down from yours is the creator of the product. His sales letter is great and it conviences me.

      In this example, you stole from the creator. It could also be the reason your stuffed cookies get more sales. Not because you deserve it. This happens a lot, atleast with me.

      Stuff when people click and see if the stuffs still get more.
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      • Profile picture of the author GarrieWilson
        Originally Posted by matthewd View Post

        Wow, you guys need to start reading before responding.

        1) People have already given their examples of disagreeing with me. Their's are all the same except you replaced "other affiliate" with the "merchant."

        2) I have said twice now I like the idea of stuffing after the click and I am going to look into how I can do that.
        I read every word, thanks.

        I read more than once how you said what you are doing isn't wrong. How you kept trying to rationalize your actions. Even when you said you would *try* it after the click. That you will "look into it" There is nothing to look into, you put the stuff code in a page and use a meta refresh & JS refresh to redirect. It's simple. Just make sure you have a 10 second delay and put a note on the page that says something like "please wait redirecting. click here if not redirected."

        Also, I said merchant for a specific reason. They don't set cookies. Affiliates do and if an affiliates cookie isnt being set to overwrite yours, then either they didn't get the click either or CB messed up for them also.

        As far as stuffing "saving you," that's an assumption. All you see is more sales but you don't take other pertenant information into consideration.

        For example:

        When you stuff, do you mark the time and date and then compare it to when the sale is made? If not, you don't know if it was your sale or not. Chances are, if the sale isn't made within an hour, you didn't earn it. Yet you assume you did because you received the credit.

        Are you counting clicks on the link to see if it matches sales?

        Lots of things to consider.

        Garrie
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  • Profile picture of the author matthewd
    Were you speaking with your eyes closed too when you said "thanks?"

    Okay, it may be simple to you... I am not good with the technical stuff at all, so it is not simple to me "thanks."

    The site I do it on is a big Joomla site and every time I need to change something, I have to talk it over with a tech guy first and see what it takes and see if I need to pay him to do it for me.

    So... there IS something to look into.

    I have said many times already that I see where you guys are coming from... I understand it; I just personally don't have a problem with it. No need for everyone to get pissy and go into attack mode.
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    • Profile picture of the author GarrieWilson
      Originally Posted by matthewd View Post

      Were you speaking with your eyes closed too when you said "thanks?"
      It was italicized for a reason.
      I have said many times already that I see where you guys are coming from... I understand it; I just personally don't have a problem with it. No need for everyone to get pissy and go into attack mode.
      Disagreeing isn't an attack mode. Showing how you are possibly stealing from people, isn't attacking.

      You are taking it as attacks because you are being defensive about your rationalizations of your actions.

      When ClickBank cancels your account and doesn't pay the funds, be sure to let us know.
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      • Profile picture of the author matthewd
        Originally Posted by GarrieWilson View Post

        It was italicized for a reason.
        Yeah, that was a joke... I guess you're not a South Park fan.

        Originally Posted by GarrieWilson View Post

        Disagreeing isn't an attack mode. Showing how you are possibly stealing from people, isn't attacking.

        You are tacking it as attacks because you are being defensive about your rationalizations of your actions.

        When ClickBank cancels your account and doesn't pay the funds, be sure to let us know.
        Okay, it is just more smug than attacking I guess.

        I am not going to argue with Clickbank about it... they call the shots and as much as I hate what they are doing to affiliates, I am not going to tell them to shove it.

        I sent them a reply asking some questions about it and they never got back to me... I assume it is not a big deal to them and they simply contacted me to be able to say that they did.
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        • Profile picture of the author GarrieWilson
          Originally Posted by matthewd View Post

          Yeah, that was a joke... I guess you're not a South Park fan.
          I use to be. I still find it funny but just dont have the time to watch it. I do plan on getting it on DVD though.

          Okay, it is just more smug than attacking I guess.
          Yeah, smug but I wasnt being smug. Somethings justt dont come across well in the written word.

          I'm not as big of an ass as I appear to be. Promise.
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          • Profile picture of the author matthewd
            Originally Posted by GarrieWilson View Post

            I use to be. I still find it funny but just dont have the time to watch it. I do plan on getting it on DVD though.
            Yeah; I have DVR, so I just set them to record and watch them as I have time.

            [QUOTE=GarrieWilson;253557Yeah, smug but I wasnt being smug. Somethings justt dont come across well in the written word.

            I'm not as big of an ass as I appear to be. Promise. [/QUOTE]

            Yeah, I am sure you are not an ass. I have made myself out to be a pretty big ass in this thread and I really am not that bad.

            Aside from the person that has directly expressed a dislike for me, I am sure there are others that feel that way now.
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            • Profile picture of the author Ruth Hendrickson
              Well this has been a very interesting thread to follow. There's one thing for sure, and that's ClickBank has some problems with crediting the right people with sales.

              Maybe they should hire Matthew to figure things out for them. LOL
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              • Profile picture of the author matthewd
                Originally Posted by Ruth Hendrickson View Post

                Well this has been a very interesting thread to follow. There's one thing for sure, and that's ClickBank has some problems with crediting the right people with sales.

                Maybe they should hire Matthew to figure things out for them. LOL
                That's true, they are having issues.

                I am not the one that realized that stuffing the cookie fixed it though; I actually read that in a thread the other day.
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            • Profile picture of the author zoidberg
              matthewd,

              I'm afraid it IS stealing. Theres a reason its specifically banned in the TOS of all major affiliate networks and programs.

              Unfortunately you are almost certainly stealing a large percentage of your additional sales direct from the merchant, not affiliates. I dont think you will be taking many sales from other affiliates as the last affiliate will overwrite the cookie anyway, as has been mentioned.

              But the merchant will lose often 50%+ of a sale to someone who had no influence in making the sale. You couldnt have - they didnt follow the link.

              I'm not saying your presell page is poor, but in general why should a poor presell affiliate page get a commission when it didnt sell anything? And there are a massive number of poor affiliate pages out there.

              I wonder what you would think of cookie stuffing if you were the merchant, and knew you were losing money to unscrupulous affiliates? I also wonder if your opinion of the rights and wrongs would be different if you didnt know you were making money because of it? If you werent profiting from doing this, would you think cookie stuffing was stealing? I think looking at it objectively, you might.

              Personally I dont think it can be justified.
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  • Profile picture of the author terryd
    Criminals always try to rationalize or justify what they do also...........
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  • Profile picture of the author GeorgR.
    on a side-note, back to the subject, i have a question:

    Doesn't any new cookie overwrite whatever cookie is on the PC?

    So...Mr "BlackHat Stuffer" could stuff Joe User with cookies, but when he goes to my site via valid hoplink he gets a new one...and my cookie is the last recent one..therefore its irrelevant whether someone stuffed him?

    G.
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    • Profile picture of the author matthewd
      Originally Posted by GeorgR. View Post

      on a side-note, back to the subject, i have a question:

      Doesn't any new cookie overwrite whatever cookie is on the PC?

      So...Mr "BlackHat Stuffer" could stuff Joe User with cookies, but when he goes to my site via valid hoplink he gets a new one...and my cookie is the last recent one..therefore its irrelevant whether someone stuffed him?

      G.
      Yeah, the newest affiliate link overwrites the previous one.
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      • Profile picture of the author erickz
        Originally Posted by Marc Rodill View Post

        Hey! GUESS WHAT?

        If you are stuffing cookies, the newest affiliate link DOES NOT, I repeat DOES NOT, overwrite the previous one!

        (UNLESS: They are also stuffing cookies. Very highly unlikely!).

        Did you hear me?

        I am amazed to see that no one mentioned this, but...

        If the "PROSPECT" visits your site, DOES NOT click on your link, visits another affiliate website, DOES click on their link, DOES buy, then you still get the sale if they are not also stuffing cookies.

        This has nothing to do with the hypothetical situation where "they visit the merchant site directly" (which is also stealing, by the way. Open your eyes.)

        In essence, and there are no other words for it: you ARE stealing, you ARE a thief.

        Period.


        Before you start on your high horse about how much money you are making from this technique, you should probably learn how it works so that you at least have knowledge about how you are actually stealing another person's commissions.



        52% in sales? Are you kidding me? From 15% before-hand when you weren't using cookies?

        That's a massive spike, and not legitimately possible if you are doing the same things you were doing before to generate sales.

        You add cookie stuffing and your sales go up 37% and you think you DESERVE them?

        You ARE rationalizing. It's nice to have money, we all know.

        But, you're a joke.

        DO ME A FAVOR, track your links to see how many times they are clicked VS. how many sales you receive, and you will notice a HUGE discrepancy.

        Go ahead. JUST DO IT. Do whatever it takes to set it up and post your results (or not, save face, and just stop cookie stuffing damn it).



        This is the bottom-line.

        Now, in your defense mathewd, you may not have known you are STEALING COMMISSIONS right from under other people.

        I recommend you stop, apologize, and rectify this situation, because I can guarantee you that you have lost all credibility with anyone who has read this post.

        Yes, I know what cookie stuffing is. No, I do not, nor ever will, condone the practice.

        It is theft. Your opinion, point-of-view, and agreeing to disagree does not change this fact.

        Pissed off,

        Marc
        OMG! is it true on this statement?
        " If you are stuffing cookies, the newest affiliate link DOES NOT, I repeat DOES NOT, overwrite the previous one! "
        so now the site need not be the last to stuff cookies in order for him to get commission. as long as the customer doesn't clear his cookies, and assuming he doesn't go to another site which is also cookie stuffing, any site who cookie stuffed get the money regardless where the customer clicked on!
        now i know why i was always told to clear my cookies whenever i purchased some IM products from the gurus. coz they know that if the customer doesn't clear his cookies, they will never get any sale, be it that they are the last site the customer visit and click on.
        this is a shame, man! so now how do we stop all these cookie stuffing thing.
        how on earth can we believe in this shitty tracking system?

        no wonder there are some "gurus" out there who are always earning the big bucks...
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  • Profile picture of the author schmutly
    Wow.....What a read.

    You know alot of people have missed the most important part of selling, regardless of cookies. and that is if you can't add VALUE to a customer then your no different than ANY other site, affiliate or otherwise.

    There is a BETTER way to win the prospect and it has always worked since marketing began. That is.......offer value in the form of a REAL BONUS.
    This will always work because at the end of the day reviews are reviews are reviews and the searcher needs that little extra, i think, for using up his time searching for a site/review that 'sells' him on the product.

    And i mean a bonus that 'compliments' the main product and not rehashed junk. Like a report that fills in the blanks of the product your promoting (of which you did get to check out to see if you would 'really' want to buy it yourself)

    Lastly, if your confident in a product i think your review (and bonus) would stand out in the affiliate crowd and people would conceive you as genuine and trustworthy person...another reason why you SHOULD put your face on your review page so a reviewer can see that someone real is giving a real review.Chow,

    Robbie
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  • Profile picture of the author GeorgR.
    could you plain explain this to me...i seem not to get something.

    On BHW i read that people making a fortune with CS.

    So..i stuff up someone with 100 CB cookies, but i would only get credit for a sale if the user (later on) would decide he wants to buy a product, say, from CB.....and if he goes to the vendor page directly and NOT through another affiliate link?!

    So...its basically stealing from the publishers (their profit MINUS commission)...but not from other affilates?

    I am still stumped over those extreme high profit claims over at BHW..key seems to be to do some really dirty things like forum stuffing and stuff thousands and thousands of people...and then depend on how many og those people would buy something in the future directly from the vendor?

    G.
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  • Profile picture of the author rokeby23
    If someone realizes your are "cookie stuffing" they will have a lot less respect for your company than they did before. In the end this could hurt your sales and ruin your repuation as a website owner/company. I wouldn't advise this route guys.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jason Moffatt
      Here's why cookie stuffing is lame, and downright theft.

      Insert "Guru John" (name just made up).

      Guru John has a huge following. Tons of people love John. John also happens to be my number one affiliate. I make good money from John.

      Sadly, John stuffs the hell out of cookies.

      John also has many members who happen to be my affiliates as well. These people don't make nearly the amount of money that John does. They are struggling and hoping to make ends meet through affiliate marketing.

      So, the little guy affiliate goes out and busts his ass to make some sales for my program. And he does a good job. He makes some sales. But guess what?

      John's cookie stuffing has over-ridden the little guys cookie.

      Now, I could just shut my mouth and continue to keep banking mad cashola. I get paid either way. It doesn't matter which affiliate makes the sale, I still get paid the same.

      But it irks the hell out of me.

      And it's stealing from the little guy. And the little guy somehow thinks John is the greatest thing since sliced bread, yet doesn't know that they are having their commissions stolen from their own hero.

      Total bullshit it you ask me.

      Hence why I now ban John and any affiliates I find stuffing cookies for my affiliate program.

      Did I lose out on more sales?

      Yes!

      Did I stand up for what was right?

      You bet your ass I did.

      There may be other instances where I would be okay with cookie stuffing. I'm not exactly sure what those instances would be, but I don't think every cookie stuffer is a criminal that should be hung.

      But when it's stealing from your own community members it's a big problem.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Moffatt
    Also, I'm shocked that anyone would be so stupid as to admit doing this stuff on this forum.

    You seriously don't think people will rat you out?

    I mean blatantly taunting Clickbank to terminate your account? Not wise.
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    • Profile picture of the author matthewd
      Originally Posted by Jason Moffatt View Post

      Also, I'm shocked that anyone would be so stupid as to admit doing this stuff on this forum.

      You seriously don't think people will rat you out?

      I mean blatantly taunting Clickbank to terminate your account? Not wise.
      I admitted to it and admitted to my reasoning as well.

      It is not blatantly taunting Clickbank, it was proven the other day that this is solving the Clickbank tracking issue and I was bringing that up to people and showing them numbers.

      I also admitted to the fact that it would be better to stuff after the click, which is what I am going to try to do once I talk to my tech guy on Monday. I had never thought about this until it was pointed out above.

      I understand that I am outnumbered in my thinking and I am open minded, so I definitely think I could be in the wrong if every one sees it differently.

      Honestly, before today, or yesterday or whenever this damn thread started, I had never even thought of it affecting other people.
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      • Profile picture of the author Jason Moffatt
        Originally Posted by matthewd View Post

        Honestly, before today, or yesterday or whenever this damn thread started, I had never even thought of it affecting other people.
        At first I didn't think it was a big deal either.

        Until I experienced first hand a very nice Warrior get ripped off on my affiliate system.

        And while I could of just been like F-it, deep down I knew it wasn't right. And I want my reputation to last decades, not just a short time in the IM scene.

        By running my business this way I will gain the trust and respect of honorable and admirable people who will still be around in ten years. And the little guy affiliates will know that I will always do my best to ensure they are getting a fair shot at making money too.

        While it may appear to some that I sacrificed tens of thousands of dollars, the truth is I've positioned myself as one of the good guys. Someone who can be trusted to stand up for those who are getting the shaft.

        Like I said, there may be some instances where cookie stuffing is not as bad as this particular scenario I described. I'm really not sure and don't know enough about it. However, when it comes to my business, I want all my affiliates to have a fair chance.
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        • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
          Originally Posted by Jason Moffatt View Post

          At first I didn't think it was a big deal either.

          Until I experienced first hand a very nice Warrior get ripped off on my affiliate system.

          And while I could of just been like F-it, deep down I knew it wasn't right. And I want my reputation to last decades, not just a short time in the IM scene.

          By running my business this way I will gain the trust and respect of honorable and admirable people who will still be around in ten years. And the little guy affiliates will know that I will always do my best to ensure they are getting a fair shot at making money too.

          While it may appear to some that I sacrificed tens of thousands of dollars, the truth is I've positioned myself as one of the good guys. Someone who can be trusted to stand up for those who are getting the shaft.

          Like I said, there may be some instances where cookie stuffing is not as bad as this particular scenario I described. I'm really not sure and don't know enough about it. However, when it comes to my business, I want all my affiliates to have a fair chance.

          Well Jason, this was the last straw...you really ARE one of the good guys.

          Bless you.

          You've got a fan for life.
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    • Profile picture of the author Dave Patterson
      Originally Posted by Jason Moffatt View Post

      Also, I'm shocked that anyone would be so stupid as to admit doing this stuff on this forum.

      You seriously don't think people will rat you out?

      I mean blatantly taunting Clickbank to terminate your account? Not wise.
      Not to mention the fact they HAVE been known to visit this forum and read the latest threads pertaining to them over the years when they WERE having issues they were working to resolve...
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    • Profile picture of the author Clyde Dennis
      Originally Posted by Jason Moffatt View Post

      Also, I'm shocked that anyone would be so stupid as to admit doing this stuff on this forum.

      You seriously don't think people will rat you out?

      I mean blatantly taunting Clickbank to terminate your account? Not wise.
      This was the very first thing that popped into my mind as well. It's like you're begging them to whack you. No?
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  • Profile picture of the author Gail Sober
    I don't see how cookie stuffing can be an actual fix for these cookie setting problems anyway. If there is a problem with cookies being set then it won't/shouldn't matter whether the merchant site is loaded via a faked image or by them clicking your link.

    If the server and browser aren't communicating properly, the cookie won't be set regardless of which method you use.

    Am I missing something?

    How is it possible to load the merchant site via a faked image and set a cookie if the same cookie can not be set by them clicking the link.
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  • Profile picture of the author Wendy Maki
    Hmmm. Interesting debate.

    All I can think of is how many times I've landed on a site that I back right out of because it's obviously some kind of spammy cr*p. Now I have a *reason* to be annoyed by those sites. Do I want them to get money because I wasted a quarter of a second of my time on their site? Heck no.

    Makes me want to clear my cookies (or maybe toss them??)... I've always kept my cookies on principle because I want credit to go where credit is due...
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  • Profile picture of the author GarrieWilson
    HarveyJ,

    Oh yeah, because they make more money if the affiliate doesn't have to be paid.
    You need a clue.

    They, CB, make the SAME. Poor tracking *could* cost them more because of less affiliate promotion.

    All this could EASILY be solved by a combination of cookie and sessional tracking.
    Session tracking can't be done for FUTURE sales. You would need to use IPs and cookies.

    And the PHP method is there so that the stuffing can be controlled. If you really wanted, you could use it as a round robin or tempo method, where every visitor gets something different, or only one in so many get it.

    As it is, I think only one in so many get it in here...
    Are you accusing Allen of cookie stuffing?
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    • Profile picture of the author JazzOscar
      In my opinion it's not that difficult to see what's ethical and what's not in this context.

      Let's say ClickBank has a problem that make's you lose money that should really have been yours.

      * If you apply some method that reverses the effects of the problem, leaving you with exactly the amount of money that should have been yours initially, not affecting any third party negatively; Ethical.

      * If you apply some method that more or less reverses the effects of the problem, leaving you with more or less the amount of money that should have been yours initially, affecting ClickBank or some third party, be it the merchant or another affiliate, negatively; Unethical.

      If your method makes you receive even one amount that should have been received by someone else, then the method is a setup for theft.

      Easy as that!
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  • Profile picture of the author erickz
    hi there, as a newbie, i am totally clueless about this cookie thing and now i do know after the information provided by Mike here. thks Mike.

    i totally agreed on this as a BLACK HAT method and anyone who does this stuff is by all means indeed "stealing on others commissions".

    imagine all those people (or rather newbies in this case, as it is always we newbies who lose out to the more experienced marketeers who does all sort of tricks and stuff) who had beforehand done the hard work of pre-selling or worst spend money on ppc to get the customer to reach their sale pages and make the customer click thru. but if the customer did not buy this time round, then a few days later they decided to buy after hearing some rave reviews about the product on some forums etc and they went to google for the product. they opened up all the top 3 to 5 sites on the 1st page linked to this product but then buy directly from the merchant. but guess what, those people who have got the person who clicked thru never got any credit or sale for the effort they put in, why?
    because the commission will always be "hijacked" by the site who managed to rank higher in the searches pages.
    now so are we all going to start stuffing cookies to protect our own interests, because the scenario now is not on who is the last person who successfully pre-sold and make the customer clicked thru, but on who can be the last person who make the person viewed or visited their website before they made any purchase and bingo they got themselves a sale!
    is this the strategy we are looking at?
    so why put a link there for the customer to click if you gonna stuffed a cookie there?
    no need any sale copy, no need any pre-selling, no need to have fancy sale page etc..
    no need to click, cause if you happens to be the last site they visit before they purchased, you got a sale anyway.
    i just hope that clickbank clears up all this mess, and really look into this problem seriously.
    and btw, to all newbies, i think we gonna stop paying ppc to drive traffic to affiliate products cause nobody knows if we actually got the sale a not.
    the IM industry is really getting tougher and tougher to learn, adapt and make a living (for the newbies of course) ..
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  • Profile picture of the author GarrieWilson
    iMericks,

    It's not true. The stuffed cookie will be overwriten IF someone clicks a hoplink. CB isnt a first cookie affiliate program.
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    • Profile picture of the author sarahstaar
      [DELETED]
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      • Profile picture of the author Eric Lorence
        Originally Posted by sarahstaar View Post

        I have always used the code below for my adwords programs
        <IMG height=1 src="http://xxx.forexbro.hop.clickbank.net/?tid=xxx"
        width=1>

        However when i put this code on some sites that had quite good traffic from Google i noticed after about two weeks my traffic dried up and my Google Ranking dropped off.

        This has happened to 3 of my sites... Should i be using PHP ?????
        Well, that is stuffing right there.

        The same as
        <frame>height=1 width=1 src="http://xxx.forexbro.hop.clickbank.net/?tid=xxx"</frame>
        Or any one of a dozen other methods.

        They have been talking about how it is stealing, and not how to perfect the method.

        As far as Google is concerned, they sometimes have problems with hidden objects such as what you described, or hidden text.

        Though I cant speak for anything else that may have hurt your rank.

        Just to clear up any confusion...

        If you are stuffing cookies, the newest affiliate link DOES NOT, I repeat DOES NOT, overwrite the previous one!
        This applies to affiliates whom prefer to link directly to the CB payment page, using their own copy, and bypassing the publishers pitch page.

        Some marketers believe they are insuring their commission by stuffing in those cases, because the direct CB payment page tracking is subordinate to standard hop link cookie.
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  • Hmmm, all very interesting. Some say stuffing is always wrong and that's the end of the story ...and others that it depends on the intent.

    Could not the entire problem be wiped out from both sides of the fence if clickbank introduced another system to both recognise and reward a referrer?

    So let me change the tack of this thread if I may.

    What doable system could clickbank institute to credit an affiliate sale that did not involve cookies at all?

    I'll be interested not only in your creativity in suggesting a system but also in how (the proposer or other forum members) can demonstrate how the new system might also be gamed....i.e the potential flaws.

    Over to you chaps....
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  • Profile picture of the author madison_avenue
    One way to combat cookie stuffing is to offer a bonus if someone buys through your link. Also ask the buyer to clear his cookies before purchasing. You may even get the added benefit of another name on your list!
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  • Profile picture of the author MichaelPaul
    Wow Interesting thread. I knew people loose affiliate commissions due to cookies, but what I did not know was you could use a method called cookie stuffing... I had never came across that before. Cool I just learned something...
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  • Profile picture of the author Jon Alexander
    Originally Posted by Mike Benkovich View Post

    Hey Warriors,

    What I'm about to share is extremely black hat.

    Lots of talk about cookie stuffing lately and it seems that many people don't know what it actually is. I thought i'd try and explain it and hopefully that might help some people understand why cookie stuffing is not the reason clickbank is screwing up.

    - Say I have a 1 page review site for 'Strip the Fat' that pulls in 100 unique visitors per day
    - 10 of those people click on my affiliate link
    - 1 of those people buy, good for one sale a day
    - Lets say 1 other person reads my review, and then goes DIRECTLY to the sales page without clicking my links. I wont get cash for the sale

    Now, wouldn't it be nice if we got commissions for everyone who visited our website if they purchased. Whether or not they clicked on our affiliate links? You bet your butt it would (despite being against every major affiliate companies TOS). This is where cookie stuffing comes in.

    - Inside my page I place a 1pixel image. Something like '/images/thisisa1pixelimage.jpg'
    - The thing is, this image isnt actually an image. *SHOCK*
    - The trick is, I have secretly told my server that this is a PHP script. So instead of displaying the image, it parses the file and tries to execute it.
    - Inside the image/php script I redirect to my affiliate link which drops the affiliate cookie on a users computer.
    - So now, EVERY SINGLE PERSON who visits my page gets the affiliate cookie on their machine, whether or not they click my link.
    - Beyond that, you could post that image anywhere on the entire web and anyone who views it will get a cookie dropped on them. Which is why you should never allow images to be loaded from other sites in your forums.

    That's cookie stuffing at its very finest. There are countless ways to use this technique, almost all of them black hat. For example, have you ever noticed that once you open up one spam email, the next week you get 50 of them? The spammer has dropped a 1pixel image into your email, so by opening up the file you are verifying your existence because the 1pixel image runs a php script that says 'hey, the guy at hello@hotmail.com just opened me'.

    So think about it, if cookie stuffing was the culprit then you wouldn't be seeing affiliate = none . You'd be seeing affiliate = spammer the whole time.

    Anyway, just like Uncle Ben says to Peter Parker 'with great power comes great responsibility'. Don't use this for evil

    cookie stuffing WILL get you dropped by the networks, no matter how hard you try to cloak it.

    here's why.

    Your account ends up with a massive impression rate, and a terrible click thru rate.

    That's an easy collar for the affiliate managers on the nets, and they love to ban people like you. They even have little competitions, to see who can catch the most 'badasses'.
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  • Profile picture of the author Louis Raven
    Hey guys is there a legitimate way to "stuff" the cookie?

    What about loading the affiliate link as an exit pop-up? Visitor.A comes to my site and exits.. from there the affiliate page pops up.

    Is this also considered "stuffing"?

    Also, if visitor.A comes to my review page and reads a review that makes him want to buy but DOESN'T click and goes direct to the site, I believe in all fairness and honesty I should be awarded the commission as it's my review seen last.

    Louis
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  • Profile picture of the author vikiz
    Hi Mike ... the method you was described is very interesting. Can you explain the steps in detail. I hope you understand because I'm newbie and don't know about website....Thanks
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  • Profile picture of the author Jullian
    I think id like to learn how to do this lol
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  • Profile picture of the author webguycanada
    Thanks for the information about how cookie stuffing works.
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  • Profile picture of the author MarioSotojr
    This is an interesting information thanks
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    Don't Let Your Site Open To Attacks! Learn How To Secure Your Wordpress Site The Right Way (No Plugins Required) Plus Learn How TO Get Your Sites Running At Lightning Speeds All The Time Even On Shared Hosting! Click Here To learn More
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  • Profile picture of the author zeurois
    FALSE

    The email providers are baning that for years already. For instance, did you notice yahoo asks you if you want to see the images inside an email before displaying them? Same for outlook express.

    This works only for websites and not emails and it works in a various ways, including img, script, iframe, or anything that can pull an external resource.

    Originally Posted by Mike Benkovich View Post


    That's cookie stuffing at its very finest. There are countless ways to use this technique, almost all of them black hat. For example, have you ever noticed that once you open up one spam email, the next week you get 50 of them? The spammer has dropped a 1pixel image into your email, so by opening up the file you are verifying your existence because the 1pixel image runs a php script that says 'hey, the guy at hello@hotmail.com just opened me'.
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  • Profile picture of the author Samuel Lee
    Thanks for the detailed post, its seem to be a common way for others to hijack your affiliate links these days. Affiliate link prevention is becoming more secure and more cautious, and it makes you glad you're a member of the warrior forum at times like this! Many thanks for your post, will double check my affiliate links asap!
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  • Profile picture of the author John Atkins
    Short Explanation of Cookie Stuffing:

    Getting a commision from buyers that have not actually clicked your affiliate link.

    I suggest that you stay away from cookie stuffing unless you really are an expert in blackhat techniques.
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  • Profile picture of the author hernan10
    Steve...

    suppose you are a salesman selling a TV.. you are the one who introduces the customer to the product.. you showed him what is there to like and if his money is worth it.. but for some reason (any reason) he din't buy it then... he comes in the next day and doesn't find you there... and says " hey i need that sony tv" .. some other guy pops in.. and closes the deal and robs your comission.....

    does that sound fair to you?
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    • Profile picture of the author Hililuud
      Originally Posted by hernan10 View Post

      Steve...

      suppose you are a salesman selling a TV.. you are the one who introduces the customer to the product.. you showed him what is there to like and if his money is worth it.. but for some reason (any reason) he din't buy it then... he comes in the next day and doesn't find you there... and says " hey i need that sony tv" .. some other guy pops in.. and closes the deal and robs your comission.....

      does that sound fair to you?
      You are trying to justify a all the time solution for a sometime situation.
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  • Profile picture of the author gundammeister
    Wow this is really interesting stuff.
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