Disturbing Cookie News

A press release by Jupiter Research has some unsettling news for net marketers.

The report found that as many as 39% of online users may be deleting cookies from their primary computer monthly, undermining the usefulness of cookie-based measurement and leaving many site operators flying blind.

More alarming news:

According to a recent consumer survey cited in the report, 52% of online users indicate a strong interest in stories and articles about Internet security and privacy, while 38% of online users believe that cookies are an invasion of their security and privacy online and 44% of online users believe that deleting or blocking cookies will protect them.

I just have to look at my own surfing habits to see what direction this is heading in. My browser is set to automatically erase all cookies once it closes, and I have my handy dandy little cleaner I run to wipe out all cookies and temp files before I shut down or reboot.

I think it’s pretty clear where cookies are heading and merchants/networks of affiliate programs need to realize that cookie based tracking is soooo 1990’s and it’s time to come up with new technology.

FAST.

I think this problem is reflective in the CPA/CPC debate. More and more affiliates are realizing that CPA isn’t “working like it used to”. The fight against parasites/adware, failing tracking systems (ie. cookie based), and merchants/affiliate managers who aren’t affiliate friendly with their methods – all this adds up to making CPC look more and more attractive to an affiliate marketer.

Do merchants and/or affiliate managers *really* want to see a shift of CPC becoming *the* strong choice for affiliate marketers?

Thanks to ThreadWatch for the heads up.

Cookies Crumbling Drama & Confusion

Well this article seemed to have died a tragic death, there’s no more talking, no response and no clarification forthcoming. And I waited over a week! πŸ˜† I did want to make sure I wasn’t reading what I was reading, but you decide for yourselves what the story is.

I think this is definitely an article all affiliates should read and be aware of:

Cookie Duration & Best Practices

A few quotes:

Jeff Molander Quote:

Simply stated, I have recommended to many clients that they NOT allow affiliates to collect commissions after a 12 to 24 hour window. Why? It’s all about how you view affiliates as a marketer.

In my opinion, you need to ask yourself, “what, exactly, is the value of an affiliate if the referred traffic converts today… on its own… versus a week from now (which may mean that the transaction resulted from other interactions)?” The answer should drive your decision on cookie duration and set your business rule relating to commission (a practice that is, granted, not popular now but is gaining momentum).

Beth Kirsch Quote:

You made a very dangerous assumption here that I think is untrue for most merchants and certainly every program I have ever been involved in as consultant or merchant.

Most merchants, and everyone I know for sure, have programed their backend so the affiliate only gets the credit IF and ONLY IF the customer returns straight to the merchant’s domain directly. If the customer returns through Biz Rate, Google or some other channel, the affiliate does not get the credit.

No rational marketer would do anything else.

Brad Waller Quote:

I can’t say what others do, but any “rational” merchant would use some methods to determine where the sales came from, and part of that method should overwrite cookies or otherwise make sure you are not crediting affiliates with sales they did not produce.

John Bresee Quote:

Thanks for the comments on the article. I assume that all savvy merchants are attributing the sale to the most recent campaign. If CPC (or whichever paid campaign) drives the sale then the affiliate should not be paid. That is an external campaign. However if the sale is driven by the newsletter then I am happy to credit the affiliate.

I believe–and I’m happy to be alone on this–that the modern day affiliate is a hybrid of an advertising partner and a commissioned sales rep. The old models do not work in evaluating this individual. I believe that as long as the affiliate is the most recent referrer then we should continue to pay the affiliate. Much as you would a commissioned sales rep who’s accounts continued to produce sales.

So what’s going on here? What’s all the chatter about?

What a few are discussing here are methods that merchants should be (or are currently) doing. Such as overwriting affiliate cookies if a buyer came through a search engine, PPC campaign (inhouse), or other methods.

You know that affiliate agreement you accepted when joining that merchant’s affiliate program? Does it say:

Your cookie will be overwritten by our inhouse PPC campaigns, by organic search listings, and only gets the credit IF and ONLY IF the customer returns straight to the merchant’s domain directly.

Or does it say:

Your cookie is good for 45 days.

So which is it, and what’s goin on?

To be clear here, they are NOT talking about cookies being overwritten by another affiliate.

I’m tellin ya, CPC is looking more and more attractive every day.

😎

Yahoo Publisher Network

Yahoo Publisher now has a page up and you can submit your email to be notified when it launches:

To support the publishing community, Yahoo! will be introducing new products and services-including publishing tools, advertising products and access to our Yahoo! audience. Our products will leverage the Yahoo! network to provide the most value for small publishers.

Competition – hey it’s a good thing!

It’s Heating Up – Commission Junction

In this thread over at ABW: Fix Reporting, I’m Losing Lots Of Money affiliates are growing more frustrated with the recent tracking problems.

I’m squeaking in an odd sale, but this month on a whole has been one big FLOP on Commission Junction. The CJ rep is stating that sales aren’t affected, it’s just traffic tracking lags, but I have to look at some new approaches – it’s time to move on a bit. This month really choked.

It has reinforced one important focus: gotta mix stuff up. The current project with Clickin It Rich that I’m doing will lead to some new directions for me.

Clickin It Rich Work Group

I’m a big fan of Michael Campbell’s after I read his ebook Revenge Of The Mininet. This ebook is a ‘step above’ all the affiliate handbooks out there IMO and is geared more towards the intermediate or advanced affiliate. I was able to really pull a lot of useful, workable information and apply it to how I operate online as an affiliate. This isn’t just ‘basic’ info provided – it’s REAL info!

Well Michael sent notice earlier this month that another one of his ebooks Clickin It Rich has just been updated for 2005 and new bonus products have been developed. What does that mean?

Price Increase Alert! πŸ˜†

The package is sitting at $49.99 right now because he’s still developing the last two bonus products:

Bonus #5 – Writing a Profitable Newsletter – Coming Soon!

Bonus #6 – Quick & Easy eBook Publishing – Coming Soon!

But he’s increasing the package price when all the bonuses are done (he still has to update his sales page too). And you know – he does increase when he says he will. So I just bought the package this week. Why? Because I grabbed it at the lower price yet I’ll still be able to grab the bonuses when they’re ready. And I didn’t hesitate because my experience with his products and information has always been positive.

I’ve now finished reading through the updated Clickin’ It Rich and the package materials:

Bonus #1 – The new 30 page Action Plan, follow Fast Track #1 and you could be making m0ney online in as little as five hours.

Bonus #2 – Keyword Hotlist – These motivated searchers are looking for immediate solutions to their problems. (Hint: Sell them the solution using Fast Track #1)

Bonus #3 – The Top 25 Markets, a list of the hottest product and service categories for 2005.

Bonus #4 – The original Clickin’ it Rich MP3 audio interview.

Here’s my review:

The Clickin It Rich ebook is at a beginner/intermediate level. If you’ve been involved with Affiliate Marketing for any length of time, you probably don’t need to read the ebook. It is a great piece though for beginners, yet it’s still a nice read for the more advanced. What’s unique about this is that the package as a whole is beneficial to *both* beginner and intermediate level affiliates.

What really made this purchase worthwhile for me were the bonuses:

Bonus #1 – The new 30 page Action Plan, follow Fast Track #1 and you could be making m0ney online in as little as five hours.

Bonus #2 – Keyword Hotlist – These motivated searchers are looking for immediate solutions to their problems. (Hint: Sell them the solution using Fast Track #1)

Bonus #3 – The Top 25 Markets, a list of the hottest product and service categories for 2005.

So what am I going to do with the information? I’m going to follow the first two fast tracks provided in the Action Plan, work with the Keyword Hotlist and post my progress here on the blog as a Work Group.

The first Fast Track involves building pages for Adwords and ppc.

The second Fast Track involves building pages for affiliate products and Adsense combined.

The third track is a Career Building Track that involves more long term development such as SEO, product creation, newsletter building, etc. I won’t be including this track in the case study here.

I think it would be fun if we had a bunch of us working on the package together. So if you have it – great – crack it open and let’s get to work. If you don’t have the package yet, scoop it here and start reading so you’re ready to start the project: Clickin It Rich – 2005 Update

I’ll be posting the stages at I’m at and the progress and results. Since we’re doing a public work group, and yet respecting Michael’s work by not revealing the details – I’ll be making the posts generic but enough info to reveal the progress for readers to track. If you have questions, tips or comments – post them. Please note though that I may have to edit them if I feel the information is too revealing and infringes on Michael’s work. But still post! There’s no problem being detailed in your comments, it’s a quick edit if I need to.

Link Cloaking Script With &afsrc=1 Tag

DesignerWiz.com is offering a free link cloaking script that automatically appends the &afsrc=1 tag at the end, offer found here:

Free Affiliates Link Masker Redirect

FEATURES:

Affiliate links that point to an internal URL destination (your server cgi-bin) will allow you to effectively hide some of the banned affiliate URL’s that are commonly removed from the marketing pages by the visitors Anti-AD security programs they have running on their computer.

The Affiliates Link Masker Redirect Control Panel provides you with a password secured login area, click stats and referrer log.

The Affiliates Link Masker Redirect Control Panel will automatically add the ‘&afsrc=1’ append tag that some parasite software agents stipulate must be present if you use a redirect script.

I haven’t had a chance to try this (yet), but it looks to me like this would be for sites that have a limited amount of affiliate links. Seems you add one link at a time in the control panel – so this may not be your answer if you operate large datafeed driven sites.

The &afsrc=1 tag ‘supposedly’ works against parasite applications (affiliate theft/hijacking) that follow the COC (Code Of Compliance) that CJ, BeFree and Performics offer.

Still worth a look for the smaller sites IMO.

Thanks to DesignerWiz for the fab freebie offer!