Home / Internet Marketing News / Cookie Stuffing or Cookie Dropping – How Does it Work?

Cookie Stuffing or Cookie Dropping – How Does it Work?

Last month, I came across an article in Business Insider about cookie stuffing, and how two eBay super affiliates got on the FBI shitlist for using it.

It’s a very compelling and shocking story – and I recommend you read it carefully – but what I want to talk about in this post is what cookie stuffing really means, why we avoided it in LinkTrackr, and why you should stay away from doing it yourself.

Shawn Hogan eBay Cookie Stuffing Saga

According to the article, Shawn Hogan, the CEO of DigitalPoint, and Brian Dunning, together generated more than $28 million in affiliate sales for eBay.

However, they did this with many “grey hat” methods at that time, including cookie stuffing. Today, cookie stuffing is a clear violation, but a few years ago everyone and their grandma was doing it without even thinking twice.

cookie dropping for ebay

eBay has also prosecuted other affiliates for cookie stuffing, including a six month prison term for selling tools that can help other affiliates defraud eBay with the same cookie stuffing method. The most interesting part of the article, is that “some marketers do not appears to realize that cookie-stuffing can trigger criminal charges”.

cookie stuffing dangers

Is cookie stuffing illegal?

Damn right it is. You can get away with it for a while, and you may even be doing it by accident. However, it’s still going to get you in trouble eventually.

So What Is Cookie Stuffing?

Every time you click on an affiliate link, the affiliate tracking software places a cookie on your computer. This cookie stores important data about your click, visited pages, and the referring affiliate. When you complete a purchase, the affiliate tracking system will locate this cookie on your computer, and with the information contained inside, reward the referring affiliate with a commission.

With cookie stuffing or cookie dropping however, you can make commissions from people who DID NOT click on your affiliate link at all.

In other words, you’re making money not by referring people to the merchant’s website as you should be doing, but by secretly loading the website (and dropping the affiliate cookie) in the background without the visitor’s knowledge.

Here are some common cookie stuffing methods:

  • Image or iFrame cookie drops – With this method, you insert a 1×1 pixel image or iframe on your website that loads your affiliate link. For the visitor, your tiny image or iframe is invisible, but nevertheless he gets your affiliate cookie on his computer and you’ll make money off his purchase for all the cookies you drop.
  • WordPress plugins – There are some WordPress plugins (I won’t mention them here) that basically do the method above, but in an automated way across all your posts, or only selected ones.
  • Pop-ups or pop-unders – These are very easily blocked by your browsers today, but in the glory days of popups, tons of people used them to stuff cookies.
  • Browser toolbars or malware – Shawn Hogan, in the eBay case, used browser toolbars that he created to implement cookie stuffing. Some computer software you’ve downloaded for free may also be stuffing cookies on your PC every time you use it.
  • Adobe Flash and Flash components – Everyone knows Flash is not secure. You can load an affiliate link in Flash, both you your site and on third-party sites

Cookie stuffing works best for large affiliate programs like Amazon or eBay. Most US consumers buy from Amazon regularly, therefore by loading an Amazon affiliate link using cookie stuffing, you actually earn commissions from the visitor when he checks out at Amazon.com – even though you never actually brought him to any Amazon page.

Cookie Stuffing Script & Software

Before LinkTrackr, I used numerous tracking software to manage, redirect and cloak my affiliate links. Among those was a software called GoTryThis, and one of the features in that particular version I had was cookie stuffing. I used it, it worked, and I made easy commissions.

(I sent traffic to one web host as an affiliate, but also loaded cookies from all their competitors. So even if the visitor ended up buying hosting from someone else, I still got the commissions. )

I did it mostly as an experiment, and never really went all out with it as I felt it was wrong. Also, I understood the risk of using cookie stuffing, and that it might get my affiliate accounts banned.

Today, in LinkTrackr we have link cloaking and conversion tracking, but we made a conscious decision not to include any cookie stuffing capabilities. It can get us, and you, in a lot of trouble. It’s not worth the extra commissions you could be making by using the technique in the first place.

Still, we keep getting inquiries every now and then about cookie stuffing from many affiliate marketers.

Tons of cookie stuffing software still exist, mostly in “black hat” forms and closed groups. Here’s an example of one that proudly proclaim how awesome they are at cookie stuffing:

Cookie stuffing software

Use them, or don’t, you have to decide.

Whatever you decide on, you must be aware of the serious shit you can get into (did you read the article above) when you do cookie stuffing. There must be more legit ways of earning a living!

Click Here For Original Source Of The Article

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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Social Media Secrets: 5 Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

It's plain to see that B2B marketers, at large, see the value in social media. The latest B2B benchmarking research from CMI and MarketingProfs found that nearly two out of three respondents (61%) increased their usage of social media for content marketing purposes in the previous year. Another new report shows that social content is atop the list of focal areas for B2B marketers in the coming year.

It’s also fair to say, based on various data points and conversations with folks in the biz, that most of us feel we could be doing better with social. The size of the audiences on these platforms make them essential to any digital strategy, but breaking through suppressive algorithms and showing clear ROI is a perpetual challenge for brands.

One pivotal key to excelling with social media marketing is understanding all the tools you have at your disposal. Each platform offers a number of capabilities that seem to be underutilized by marketers who either don’t know they exist, or don’t fully recognize their potential impact.

With this in mind, we’re setting out to highlight some of the most useful yet overlooked features for driving results on social media platforms. Today we're focusing on the channel most pertinent to B2B marketers: LinkedIn*, with its member base of more than half a billion professionals.

Take Notice of These 5 Marketing Tools & Features on LinkedIn

Whether your goal is building brand awareness, generating leads, or boosting conversions, these five fundamental functionalities can provide a big assist if you aren't taking advantage of them already.

#1: Robust (and Now Simplified) Audience Targeting

LinkedIn recently overhauled its Campaign Manager tool (the interface through which marketers build, manage, and measure ads) around an objective-based advertising framework. The basic purpose of this initiative was to make it easier for users to align every element of their campaigns with the overarching objective. One of the slickest improvements to come out of this is the audience setup experience, which is now simpler and more intuitive.

From a B2B marketing perspective, the depth of available professional targeting parameters is by far LinkedIn’s biggest relative advantage compared to other social platforms. Nowhere else can you accurately filter audiences based on facets such as Job Title and Job Seniority. This provides unparalleled ability to reach decision makers and purchase influencers directly.

The revamped interface makes it quicker and more straightforward to select a qualified audience in line with your campaign goals.

[embed]https://youtu.be/AAx60JxxWFg[/embed]

#2: Revamped LinkedIn Analytics

The latest Social Media Marketing Industry Report via Social Media Examiner found more than half of respondents (54%) either uncertain or disagreeing that they are “able to measure the return on investment (ROI) for my organic social media activities.”

This is another area of Campaign Manager that LinkedIn recently spruced up. Given that advertising on this platform tends to be more expensive than other social networks, it’s especially important to ensure you’re getting return on that spend. The new reporting experience makes it easier to see results at a glance, and make optimization tweaks on the fly.

The underlying appeal of LinkedIn’s targeting facets also applies to its reporting mechanism; you can get an aggregated look at who is viewing and engaging with your content (i.e., which companies, which job titles, which experience levels). These insights can help you align your LinkedIn strategy and even your content marketing strategy more generally.

#3: Content Suggestions

Can’t figure out what to share on social media? That’s a common enough challenge. The Content Suggestions tab, found on the top nav bar within LinkedIn Page admin center, offers ample inspiration. It serves up a list of third-party articles your defined audience is engaging with — essentially a readily available stream of targeted, trending content.

Not only does this make it easy for marketers and social media managers to find share-worthy content that’s more likely to resonate with their followings, but it can also fuel employee advocacy efforts.

#4: Website Retargeting

Retargeting is a popular digital marketing tactic, which involves serving ads to people who’ve already encountered your brand. The element of familiarity, plus a concrete demonstration of past interest, tends to drive considerably higher clicks and conversions than standard ads.  

Through its Matched Audiences feature, LinkedIn allows you to place a pixel on your company’s website, then serve ads to people who’ve visited it before, while they’re on LinkedIn. It’s a great way to follow up with someone in a different context. One especially savvy approach is to create customized retargeting creative based on the specific section of your site a person visited (i.e., upper-funnel messaging for someone who went to your “About” page, and lower-funnel for someone who checked out a solution page.)

[embed]https://youtu.be/SgXlOH-1pPk[/embed]

#5: Lead Gen Forms

This might be my favorite marketing tool on LinkedIn, and it definitely seems like one that more B2B brands could be utilizing. Lead Gen Forms are leveraged in combination with various types of ads, enabling your company to collect valuable contact info (and additional data about a prospect) from an individual who downloads something of value with minimal friction.

Unlike most gated-asset forms, which require a user to tediously fill out multiple fields, Lead Gen Forms automatically populate based on the member’s LinkedIn profile data. As such, it takes only a couple of seconds to get through the process. Because you’re attaining a more comprehensive snapshot of people who download, you can better qualify them as leads in comparison with other form-fills that often procure only a name, phone number, and email.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34Xe1E59N6A&feature=youtu.be[/embed]

Step Up Your LinkedIn Marketing Game

LinkedIn can be one of the most valuable components of a holistic B2B marketing strategy. As mentioned earlier, there’s no denying it’s a pricier place to play than most other social networks, but you’re also paying for access to a higher-quality audience. Using the five features above can help you understand, segment, reach, and engage this audience efficiently while closely tracking the impact of your efforts.

Another underutilized tool on LinkedIn is video, which has been a key focus for the platform recently. Learn about all the metrics and specs for video on LinkedIn, as well as every other major social network!

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Social Media Secrets: 5 Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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