Attention All Affiliates!
Your income is under attack and many people are taking a free ride on your web sites.
The affiliate industry is probably on the verge of a major shake-out as new technologies are increasingly blocking more banner impressions and further interfering with cookie tracking. These various technologies are all ushered in under the guise of "privacy" and everyone agrees that internet privacy is a valid concern. However, privacy concerns are now making a publisher's right to earn money from their content take a back seat to privacy hysteria which threatens the livelihood of many smaller publishers. The net result is lower affiliate revenues and merchants getting a partial "free-ride" off affiliate programs hosted on innocent publishers sites.
Worse yet, the uneducated privacy concious web surfers don't even realize their actions could jeapordize the very free sites they may use daily and depened on for their information!
Technologies directly impacting affiliate programs:
- 3rd party cookie blocking.
- Options to autopurge cookies daily, weekly, monthly.
- AdAware purging of valid "tracking cookies"
- FireFox blocking 3rd party images
- Norton firewall blocking banner servers
- Pop-Up blockers
Banner blocking is at least a level playing ground as the neither the publisher, affiliate service (CJ, LinkShare, etc.) or the merchant profits from lost impressions. However, when a browser blocks a cookie from a valid banner impression it allows the merchant to profit from affiliate impressions without paying for the affiliate service provided.
3rd party banner blocking can easily be thwarted by loading the banners from the publishers web site instead of from a 3rd party banner server. The banner images can either be copied to the publishers server or server side technology can be employed to "download" the image on the fly to track impressions on the affiliate server. However, now that we've displayed the banner and bypassed the blockers this still doesn't solve the bigger problem of getting credit for lost sales due to discarded cookies.
It's obvious that the weak link in the chain is the cookie and there are some methods that could be employed to detect blocked cookies. This situation is obviously causing the renaissance of CPC and CPM programs which are now primarily text ad based like AdSense and AdBrite which only count the click or impression and don't need any further cookie tracking.
What's the solution?
- Serving images from the publishers server instead of the affiliate server
- Automatically suspending access to content when cookies are actively blocked
- Soliciting companies that make cookie blocking and discarding technology to distinquish between
"white hat" and "black hat" cookies and let us keep our 30/60/90 day referral cookies.
- Charge access to content sites as an ad-free alternative for cookie blockers
Maybe the current technology is just too limited and vulnerable to sustain the future of affiliate programs and it's time to move on as the blocker technologies force it's demise.
Hope this gives you some food for thought and would love to hear other's opinions on this topic!