Affiliate fraud remains a huge concern for marketing teams and advertisers. Affiliate marketing is a potent tool for driving traffic to your company’s website. But it can also be a breeding ground for abuse by unscrupulous affiliates.
Affiliate fraud can come in many forms, and cookie stuffing is one among them. Affiliate programs offer passive income streams for numerous web publishers. But threat actors are leveraging newer ways to exploit them.
Most companies are focusing on session hijacking prevention with affiliate tracking services to safeguard their affiliates. Apart from session hijacking, cookie stuffing is another way through which malicious affiliates can exploit the campaigns. Nowadays, affiliate tracking platforms monitor cookies to avoid affiliate fraud. Here are some essential things to learn about cookie stuffing in affiliate marketing.
Cookies are an Inseparable Part of Affiliate Marketing
Cookies are small files that contain data specific to a user and the website. In affiliate marketing, marketers work with first-party and third-party cookies. The main purpose of a first-party cookie is to recognize users and deliver personalized experiences.
Websites create first-party cookies to boost user experience. Vendors develop third-party cookies to offer targeted ads and track the activities of their users. Publishers also rely on third-party cookies to notify retailers when users click on their affiliate links.
Affiliate marketers need to attribute sales to a user clicking on ads. They rely on cookies to convey information to retailers. Cookies track the online activities of users, and that’s why they are an integral part of affiliate marketing. By deploying the right affiliate marketing tracking platforms, you can reduce risks associated with cookie stuffing.
What is Cookie Stuffing?
When a user clicks on an affiliate link on the publisher’s website, the credit goes to malicious affiliates. Threat actors execute this fraud with the help of cookie stuffing. Threat actors drop third-party cookies onto the web browsers of your users.
These cookies are malicious, and your marketing team ends up paying the commission to the nefarious affiliates. Cookie stuffing is always a serious concern for your marketing team.
It takes away money from legitimate affiliates who worked hard for the campaigns. During cookie stuffing, your company has to spend unnecessarily on reimbursing legitimate affiliates. In affiliate marketing, cookie stuffing creates wrongful attribution.
Ways in which Malicious Affiliates Drop Cookies
Unscrupulous affiliates leverage many methods to drop cookies. Here is a list of some common procedures malicious affiliates use to drop cookies.
A pop-up is a common feature in modern-day websites. It notifies users about offers and discounts. But malicious pop-ups can transmit malware to the users’ devices. It is essential to invest in malware solutions to protect the integrity of your affiliate network. Users should be careful when installing third-party pop-up apps.
- Image cookie stuffing
- Pixel cookie stuffing
- iFrame cookie stuffing
- Browser hijacking and cookie stuffing
Why is Monitoring Cookie Stuffing Essential?
Reputed affiliate marketing tracking solutions monitor your network for any signs of cookie stuffing. They help you to maintain the security of your affiliates. Cookie stuffing can be hazardous for your organization’s reputation. You will find it challenging to recruit reputed and experienced affiliates when cookie stuffing happens. Here are some reasons why monitoring cookie stuffing is crucial.
Tracks Web Browser’s History
Cookies can track and monitor the browser’s history. But malicious affiliates will always use these cookies for their own advantage. It can result in users losing trust in your company’s online portal. The reputation of the brands will take a hit.
Violates the Users’ Privacy
During cookie stuffing, the users don’t get the chance to customize their cookie preferences. It can violate the privacy of your users. Your brand may also violate data regulations due to cookie stuffing.
Loss of Revenue
Your company’s in-house marketing team pays commission to legitimate affiliates who fetch leads. But during cookie stuffing, you tend to pay commissions to malicious affiliates. It will increase unnecessary expenses as you have to reimburse the legitimate affiliates.
Risk Factors associated with False Insights
During cookie stuffing, the risk of deriving false insights is always high. Threat actors feed false information to your marketing team about affiliate campaigns. They also inflate various types of data. Decisions based on these wrong data sources will affect your campaign.
How do Virus Positive Technologies help you Monitor Affiliate Fraud?
Virus Positive Technologies (VPT) is your one-stop option for ad fraud detection. VPT constantly monitors your network for any signs of cookie stuffing and alerts you. The advanced methodology of VPT identifies non-compliant behaviors. Safeguard your affiliate network with VPT’s futuristic solutions.