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Affiliate Marketing Scams

Sep 1, 2008
Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money, but it also relies on a certain amount of trust between affiliate and publisher. Because of this it is important to know what to look out for when it comes to affiliate marketing scams, whether you're a publisher or an affiliate.

Publisher Scams

Affiliate marketing relies on the publisher or network accurately tracking which visitors are sent by which affiliates, and then rewarding those who send the traffic that converts to sales. A corrupt publisher could not pay an affiliate all they are owed, or pay a lesser percentage than advertised to try and take more of the profit.

If you're an affiliate and worried about being scammed by a publisher or network, then it's best to stick with one of the more reputable affiliate networks as they are known to be legitimate. Some examples are Clickbank, Commission Junction and PayDotCom. You need to be more careful when signing up to publishers own affiliate programs as these have more potential to be dishonest.

Affiliate Scams

There are also ways an affiliate can attempt to scam a publisher by tricking them into thinking a sale or action has been made and hence gaining commissions.

For example, some publishers pay per click instead of per sale. It is possible for an affiliate to try and set up a script that mimics online behaviour to make the publisher think traffic is being driven to their site when in reality the traffic is worthless. This is one of the main reasons why paying for PPC traffic from an affiliate is a much less popular model than per sale.

In rare cases, an affiliate may try to purchase a product using money that isn't theirs. For example through a hacked Paypal account or stolen credit card.

The best way for publishers to prevent affiliate scams is to check each application individual and only pick the ones that have a well run and reputable website. However this isn't always possible with affiliate networks.

A common method for affiliates to gain sales without actually sending the visitor to the sales page is through a technique known as cookie stuffing. Cookie stuffing is when an affiliate places a tracking cookie on every visitor that enters their site, so that if the visitor then goes and buys a product the affiliate gets the sale even though they didn't send the visitor. Publishers don't want to pay commission on a sale just because the customer visited an affiliate's site beforehand, so this is another example of an affiliate scam.

The majority of affiliates and publishers realise the great benefits for each side when it comes to the affiliate-publisher relationship. If handled correctly, a publisher can make many more sales than otherwise possible with an affiliate program and an affiliate can make a lot of money. Scams will always be found out in the long run and will damage a business when they are. As an affiliate or publisher it's important to keep out eye out for potential scams.
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