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How serious is affiliate commission theft?

Is affiliate commission theft still an issue or is it exaggerated

     
7:10 pm on Aug 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Hi everyone.

I'm wondering what people's thoughts are on affiliate commission theft and if it's actually something that needs to be considered by affiliate marketers.

It seems that a lot of scare stories come from those looking to promote cloaking software etc.

For the past couple of years I've been using javascript redirects and have also placed my affiliate links in htaccess. Is it actually worth it?

Some thoughts would be much appreciated.
12:18 am on Aug 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I've tried some informal 'tests' over the years and never saw any noticeable bump in conversions when using redirected links

Most people aren't familiar w/affiliate marketing and don't care about your commission.

The ones that are can always steal or negate your commission anyway regardless of what your link looks like. But I can see where people that market products designed for affiliates would have a problem...

People say google doesn't like affiliate links. But I also think they don't like excessively redirected links. Keep in mind that most affiliate links already redirect at least once.
12:28 pm on Aug 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, I might stop using htaccess for affiliate links, considering that's not what it was intended for...
2:43 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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javascript and htaccess won't protect you from bad actor affs, neither will "cloaking" software.

you might try the afsrc=1 thang for a small dose of mild protection.

best bet is to work with merchants in clean networks like ShareASale, Avantlink and Buy.at.
9:39 pm on Aug 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Many thanks, hadn't heard about the afsrc=1 method.
2:28 am on Sept 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I think this USED to be more of a problem than it is. I have been an Amazon affiliate since 2001 and this was an issue several years ago, but Amazon DID go after the offenders and as far as I can tell this has not been a problem recently.
3:48 pm on Sept 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, I've been in the affiliate game a while and I've never come across any sort of theft. I do wonder if it's all a little bit overblown.
5:41 pm on Sept 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Prudence:
I do wonder if it's all a little bit overblown

My story is `several million referrals, not a single cent in payment'. All from many years ago, as I stopped all affiliate action as soon as realising how much of a rip-off it all was.
1:20 pm on Sept 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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this might open some eyes...

revenews.com/kelliestevens/affiliates-indicted-for-cookie-stuffing/
2:18 am on Sept 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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So the OP asked about recent experiences. Alex, your experience was "many years ago" and it's not clear from your post if it was the kind of theft the OP asked about--which I took to be link hijacking, not non-payment by merchants or other problems. And RhinoFish, that's an interesting case but involved activity prior to 2007.

Anyone actually have bad experiences with link hijacking or cookie stuffing in the past couple of years?
4:34 am on Sept 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Cookie stuffing, parasitic toolbars, browser hijacks, adware, are all big problems which will cost you commissions. And most merchants, networks, and search engines could care less. But these all take place off of your own site. Nothing you can do on your own site to prevent this type of thing.

You can block bots or infected browsers, etc., but you wouldnt get anything from them anyway.

Its just the cost of doing business as an affiliate.
3:13 pm on Sept 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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purplecape:
not clear from your post if it was the kind of theft the OP asked about

My post was a straightforward refutation of the OP's statement "in the affiliate game a while ... theft ... it's all a little bit overblown".

I could not find anything in the opening post to respond to: how can the affiliate possibly know if they are being ripped off or not? My own case was unusual: whoever was doing it was so greedy that they took *every* single sale, so it was obvious, but I expect that that rarely happens.

The most likely source of theft with myself was of ID substitution by proxy server. The affiliate ads were routed through my ad agent, and shown when they had no stock to serve. So, all referrals were routed through that agent, and their servers became a proxy to all affiliate clicks. It has taken me years to work that one out; I've also never seen it referred to anywhere else.

Finally, what makes you think that the method above is no longer employed?
8:47 am on Sept 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

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"I could not find anything in the opening post to respond to: how can the affiliate possibly know if they are being ripped off or not"

AlexK. My intention was to invite people to share their thoughts regarding any experiences of commission theft, so thank you for your contribution.

Your case, I suspect is not representative of the entire affiliate industry. Your refutation IMO, is therefore erroneous.
9:52 pm on Sept 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Alex, it's hard to prove a negative, but I keep my ear open in several places on the web, and if the problem you had were a common and current one, I think I would have heard about it. But who knows? There's very little definite information in this area.
10:49 pm on Sept 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Affiliate commission theft is difficult for small affiliates to identify, even harder to prove, and it's easy to get embroiled in paranoia that sucks time away from profitable activity.

I deal with the issue (which I firmly believe is real) by being selective about the merchants I promote, and also by giving preference to those who provide the best return on the traffic I send them.

I don't have the technical skills to monitor for multiple kinds of evil-doing, but profit in my pocket measured against traffic sent is a straightforward metric to base decisions on.

If one merchant is performing poorly with my traffic you can bet I'll start testing someone else.

several million referrals, not a single cent in payment


Using my metric it wouldn't have taken several million referrals to spot that there was a problem.

stopped all affiliate action as soon as realising how much of a rip-off it all was


There are good merchants out there, I will personally attest to that.

affiliate ads were routed through my ad agent, and shown when they had no stock to serve.


Whatever else might have been right or wrong in your situation, targeting like that is unlikely to perform well at the best of times.
 

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