Thursday, 13 December 2007

Affiliate marketing faces traffic hijacking

A report by the Sydney Morning Herald today examines the increasingly disturbing practice of 'cookie hijackers' on the Internet intercepting web traffic from affiliate programmes to earn the referral fees fraudulently.

It says that the NSW Police Fraud Squad's computer crime unit is now examining hundreds of pages of evidence compiled by online companies which have lost millions of dollars to 'shady' operators who use Trojan software and other techniques to hijack the affiliate identification cookies from legitimate affiliate websites that are promoting links to online merchants in return for sales or advertising commissions.

DMG, who run some of the largest affiliate programmes in Australia, claim that their business and connected affiliates have lost up to $1 million in the past 18 months, with numerous online merchants having had their cookie trails deliberately manipulated by rogue affiliates which receive the commissions instead of those that have legitimately directed users to a website.

This is clearly an issue that needs to be resolved by the affiliate programme managers to ensure the credibility and effectiveness of their systems and to ensure the security and transparency of the affiliate marketing programmes that they operate.

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