| Sunday May 29th 2016

Blackhat SEO: Cookie stuffing

First things first, what is an affiliate?
seoTo increase traffic and sales, certain companies run affiliate programs where they will pay you a nice bit of money for each person you put through to them who purchases an item. For example someone may run an eBay banner on their site and if a user was to click onto that and buy something then the site owner running the banner would earn a little bit of money.

Next, what is cookie stuffing?
Each time you send someone through to the affiliate site (e.g., eBay), then a cookie will be dropped onto their system which lets eBay know exactly where the user originally came from and then if they buy something you will be sure to earn a little cream off the top. Cookie stuffing or cookie dropping basically involves forcing this cookie onto visitors computers without them even knowing its happening and never sending them onto the affiliate site (e.g., eBay). The normal place for this to happen is large busy forums which have thousands of users passing through every day and having multiple cookies dropped onto their systems for different companies without even knowing.

What’s wrong with this?
The affiliate is paying you on the basis of you introducing traffic and sales to their website. However you’re not actually doing this, you’re forcing cookies onto their systems in the background and when they go and buy something from eBay you’re claiming a little bit of money for it. eBay are paying you for traffic you didn’t even introduce and therefore you’re defrauding them. They were going to have the sale regardless of you, the only reason you’re being attributed for the lead is because you used shady tactics to drop a cookie.

eBay Partner Network earnings

Another problem with this is that your cookie may overwrite the cookie of a legitimate affiliate who is working hard to generate genuine traffic. So you’re taking money that they would have earned.

Let me compare this to another regular online fraud… People have been known to run Google AdSense on their sites but instead of having legitimate clicks, they use JavaScript to force the user to click on an advert without even knowing. By having the advert clicked they have just cost the advertiser money for a lead and earned themselves a little bit of cream. Usually the end user will not see the resulting page of the ad click. Similar level of fraud.

What affiliate companies does this effect?
The methods used are pretty universal and can be used effectively against everyone from ebay to poker companies.

How are the cookies dropped?
See this page on cookie stuffing.

Preliminary conclusion
I’m not lawyer and I’m not really one to judge what’s right or wrong. To me, you’re claiming money for putting leads through to them which you actually aren’t which seems like fraud.

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2 Responses to “Blackhat SEO: Cookie stuffing”

  1. fs says:

    Cookie stuffing isn’t fraud. If an advertiser is willing to pay $50 commissions for every sale, then it clearly can’t be a case of fraud if that $50 goes to a cookie stuffer instead of a boy scout affiliate marketer. The advertiser isn’t being ripped off, and neither is the boy scout because the $50 was never theirs in the first place…

  2. mmr says:

    After so many weeks I am able to find a blog providing good information about the affiliate programs. I am glad to see that there are still few persons on the internet who are NOT using auto blog posters. Creating a blog like yours and maintaining it are difficult tasks but you managed it. Ok! Come to the point.

    However, you have tried to give good information about affiliate programs but I am still against affiliate programs. I mean fault is not in the affiliate programs but in the people. They do not want to work hard and leave the programs after some time. Now, you might be thinking, if I am against affiliate programs then why I am here at your blog.

    Actually I am doing some sort of research on affiliate programs and when started reading your blog, I sticked to it and could not stop myself writing comment. I am not so much against affiliate programs, but my nature is a sort of experimenting. I keep on doing experiments for making money in new ways. If you visit my website, clicking on my name in this comment then you are bound to get amazed.

    If, I write more about my site then you will think that I am spamming and I do not want to get my comment considered as spam. So, again from the beginning, you have done a very good job! Hard work is appreciated! Well done! Thanks for providing such a nice detailed information. Keep it up!

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