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I am having a problem understanding how the spyware hijacks the sales. I think I can see how it could if it is limited to the major merchants like Amazon and eBay, but does it also apply to small "mom and pop" type sites who offer affiliate programs?
In other words, it is safe to simply list the true affiliate links (without cloaking) for smaller affiliate programs?
You get a visitor to your site. That visitor clicks on #*$!.com who you link to on an affiliate basis.
The spyware customer who targets #*$!.com visitors then has their page load over yours, with their affiliate link.
They get the sale. You get shafted.
[edited by: Rob_Cook at 11:21 pm (utc) on Jan. 18, 2007]
the other thing you can do is to do a google search such as
site:www.linkshare.com "parasite free"
or something like that, for the different affiliate programs. That should bring up a fairly decent list of merchants within the program who profess to have zero tolerance for parasites - Read the individual merchant info.
The reason that parasitic/scumware programs exist is because it is tolerated by the affiliate programs and the merchants. They make their money and don't care if the honest publishers get the dirty end of the deal.
However, working with those merchants who are parasite free should help things for publishers.
If there alternative merchants who run clean programs, move on and let the AM know you left because you don't like the idea of them allowing those practices.
A popular Firefox Plugin that lists the "true" cost of an ebay auction (it shows a little box with the shipping/handling fee + item cost).
This Firefox plugin also changes all of "your" affiliate ID codes for all ebay auctions (and all CJ/linkshare affiliates) to their own. They hijack your sales - they make the money, because your ID has been removed and replaced.
Some affiliate managers let them into their programs so they get in that way. Some don't know much about the subject and don't have a clue. Some do know and let them in anyway. It's not in the merchant's best interest but it can make the affiliate manager look like a superstar. Like they're really bringing in the sales when it's really the adware is just sitting there targetting the merchant's domain. So most of the time the merchants are paying for traffic that otherwise would be free. Dumb.
But for those that want to run a clean program, there are services out there (not many) that will monitor their program for them, since it's a lot to look after.
[edited by: TrustNo1 at 11:51 pm (utc) on Feb. 1, 2007]