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    The Best Link Cloaking Software?

     
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    kleinmeulman



    Joined: 19 Apr 2004
    Posts: 40

    PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 11:24 am    Post subject: The Best Link Cloaking Software? Reply with quote

    What is the best link cloaking software out there not just for clickbank links but for everything?

    I have heard that the clickbank links break out of frames so it reveals your affiliate link to the world is there any software that will not do this?

    Thanks

    Paul
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    Harvey Segal
    Site Admin


    Joined: 23 Mar 2004
    Posts: 3148

    PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 4:16 pm    Post subject: Re: The Best Link Cloaking Software? Reply with quote

    kleinmeulman wrote:

    I have heard that the clickbank links break out of frames so it reveals your affiliate link to the world is there any software that will not do this?


    Paul,

    Affiliate Cloner will solve this problem and can be used
    for any affiliate link not just ClickBank.

    See the review here

    http://www.clickbankguide.com/productreviews.htm#affiliatecloner

    Harvey
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    wayne



    Joined: 13 Apr 2004
    Posts: 762

    PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Harvey,

    The one problem I have with this is, most people cloak their affiliate
    links because they are afraid of another affiliate stealing the sale.
    However, if I click through on the link you gave on your site using the
    Affiliate Cloner software, and scroll on down the page to the order link,
    I can see this link in plain site:

    http://www.clickbank.net/sell.cgi?sellfire4k/38/Both_Great_Ebooks

    Now, if I wanted to get the commission myself, it doesn't make any
    difference that you cloaked your hoplink. The merchant's nickname is
    in plain site in the order link (sellfire4k). With your example it helps
    because there are more than one product on the merchant's page, but
    with most merchant's that have only one product on their sales page,
    this won't help with other affiliates taking the credit. As long as I have
    the merchant's nickname, I could use my hoplink with their nickname and
    get credit for the sale. This is why I think it is more important for the
    merchant to cloak the sales link first. Just cloaking the hoplink itself won't
    do it, both the hoplink and the sales link need to be cloaked.
    Also, this software uses javascript and ActiveX to work, so if your visitor
    disables these you won't get credit. You might gain some sales one way,
    and lose some the other way.

    Wayne
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    SunilTanna



    Joined: 14 Apr 2004
    Posts: 138

    PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 5:34 pm    Post subject: Answer to original post Reply with quote

    The original posts raises quite a few interesting points


    1. The break-out of frames thing is usually implemented using JavaScript and/or Meta-Refresh

    There are a couple of thoughts that I have about this:

    (i) A particular merchant may implement break-out of frames on their own site even if the particular affiliate system they use doesn't have it build-it.

    (ii) Of course you do NOT want to frame somebody's site, if that somebody does not want to be framed.

    - There *might* be legal and/or contractual issues around this (e.g. affiliate rules might not allow it). I'm not a lawyer, go find one if you want to talk about this

    - I think it would be unethical to attempt to frame somebody's site against their wishes.


    2. For ClickBank, the easiest (and free) way to stop hop= appearing in the address bar at a merchant is to get that merchant to use a simple redirect. This should work regardless of whether the merchant has a cloner or what not, and regardless of whether the affiliate has a link protecting tool, and for ALL affiliates who participate in that merchant's program.

    (i) Merchant sets ClickBank home page (in their account) to the redirect script, e.g. something like http://www.merchant.com/redirect.php or http://www.merchant.com/redirect.asp or http://www.merchant.com/cgi-bin/redirect.pl (etc). Of course merchant needs PHP/ASP/CGI compatible hosting as appropriate.

    (ii) If using redirect.php, this file should contain something like (be careful not to add extra spaces or blank lines)

    <?
    Header( 'Location: http://www.merchant.com/index.htm\n\n' ) ;
    ?>

    (iii) If using redirect.asp, this file should contain something like (be careful with spaces/blank lines again)

    <%
    Response.Buffer = TRUE
    Response.Clear
    Response.Redirect "http://www.merchant.com/index.htm"
    Response.Flush
    Response.End
    %>

    (iv) If using redirect.pl, something like

    #!/usr/bin/perl
    print "Location: http://www.merchant.com/index.htm\n\n" ;
    exit ;



    3. There are a number of variations that you might want depending on the affiliate program and your requirements. For example:

    (i) HTML - Frame the merchant, conceal the link

    (ii) HTML - Don't frame the merchant, go via an intermediate page with meta-refresh

    (iii) HTML - Don't frame the merchant, don't go via an intermediate page, try to hide the link in your original page as encoded code

    (iv) ASP versions which frame or don't frame the merchant

    (v) PHP versions which frame or don't frame the merchant


    4. Additionally another thing that you want to worry about is whether your protected link itself loses some sales/traffic. Some link protection tools only work with JavaScript-enabled browsers, and not all users have JavaScript.


    5. And finally there are all the places to think about where the link is shown:

    (i) In browser address bar

    (ii) In your HTML source code

    (iii) In browser status line when user mouse overs a link

    (iv) In browser status line while a new page is loading


    These can all be hidden reasonably well (but not perfectly), at least to the extent they are not in plain sight, if all the circumstances are right.

    Item (i) Can be hidden completely if using frames, or if not using frames provided merchant takes some steps (e.g. some cloner tool or redirect as per item 2 above)

    Item (ii) It will still be present in the code, but it won't have to be easily readable if you use some affiliate link protecting tool. That is not to say that some expert might not be able to decode it (but experts usually have better things to do, we hope!)

    Item (iii) Should be hidden, especially if you use frames or an intermediate page

    Item (iv), I don't believe there is an absolutely perfect solution. The only way to hide the status line is using JavaScript. Non-JavaScript browsers will see it. Additionally if merchant doesn't allow framing and doesn't do cloning, then it may be briefly visible as JavaScripts will not be running at this time. If merchant does the redirect from item (2) this may reduce the time that it's visible for.



    Okay that's it.

    In short:

    (A) Every affiliate program is different. Check the rules, especially on framing

    (B) 100% protection - I don't think it can exist.

    (C) Pretty good protection is possible for most situations. We do offer a program for link protection, Affilaite Protection Rocket, so you can see whether it covers the particular situations that you want. Incidentally this was just (within last day) updated to add option 3(iii) from above.
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    SunilTanna



    Joined: 14 Apr 2004
    Posts: 138

    PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    wayne wrote:
    The one problem I have with this is, most people cloak their affiliate
    links because they are afraid of another affiliate stealing the sale.
    However, if I click through on the link you gave on your site using the
    Affiliate Cloner software, and scroll on down the page to the order link,
    I can see this link in plain site:

    http://www.clickbank.net/sell.cgi?sellfire4k/38/Both_Great_Ebooks


    So does that mean we need a protector for the clone-protector?

    I don't know the answer to this one - but could it be that maybe it is okay even if in plain sight... as the "thief" can't alter the page on it's original domain, and if they try to modify the link and buy it will fail as the referring page will be detected as wrong by clickbank (I believe ClickBank requires order link and thankyou page must be on same domain)

    Alternatively maybe the cloner could be modifed to go via a redirect rather than via sell.cgi. If the redirects were numbered, this would conceal the code... of course I don't know if the cloner can do that

    P.S. Red-faced admission of the day, I spelt the name of our own product wrong in my last post, it is of course, Affiliate Protection Rocket
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    wayne



    Joined: 13 Apr 2004
    Posts: 762

    PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    All the merchant needs to do is use a server side redirect using htaccess
    to cloak the sales link, although I don't know how you would get all
    merchants to do this. Then the affiliate could also use htaccess to
    cloak the hoplink, and the merchant nickname would not be visible
    anywhere. But as long as the merchant uses the regular sales link on
    his page, no cloaking of the hoplinks will help as far as other affiliates
    getting the credit for themselves. If all that is cloaked is the hoplink,
    and the merchant is using the standard sales link, all I would need to
    do is get the merchant nickname from the sales link, clear the cookies
    from my machine, and use my hoplink to get credit, it wouldn't make
    any difference if the affiliate's nickname was showing in the address
    bar or not.
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    SunilTanna



    Joined: 14 Apr 2004
    Posts: 138

    PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Wayne, I think it matters if it's in the address bar because it tips people off that it's an affiliate link. This affects two things

    (a) Whether they start to go looking for ways to half-inch the commission

    (b) Whether they truly trust your recommendation. If they see an affiliate link, even a honest recommendation, often times people start to think may be the link was only there to get their money
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    wayne



    Joined: 13 Apr 2004
    Posts: 762

    PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    This is just my opinion, but I think most people won't even know what
    the ?hop=xxx in the address means unless they are already familiar
    with Clickbank. And if they are familiar with Clickbank, and the
    merchant's nickname shows in the sales link, then that is all they need.
    Most every other affiliate program uses a link with your id in it, but
    with Clickbank once you are an affiliate you belong to every program in
    the network automatically, unlike the big 3 networks where you need to
    sign up to each one individually.


    Last edited by wayne on Wed Apr 21, 2004 12:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    SunilTanna



    Joined: 14 Apr 2004
    Posts: 138

    PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    I agree most people don't know hop= - it depends on what you're selling

    If you're selling diet books or golf books or something, it's rather unlikely that they know or care

    If you're selling webmaster stuff, then they might


    There are other affiliate programs where you get all or most of the links/banners straight off. Some of them might call themselves some thing other than "affiliate programs" as they might mostly focus on pay per lead
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    wayne



    Joined: 13 Apr 2004
    Posts: 762

    PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Just so no one misunderstands me, I am not saying it isn't a good idea
    to cloak your hoplinks. And if you are promoting internet marketing
    related products, which I don't, then it is a very good idea to cloak
    your links. But I think using server side redirects work as well as
    anything. But I just don't think that cloaking hoplinks is enough, if you
    are worried about other affiliates using their hoplink to get credit, then
    the sales link must be cloaked on the sales page also. All they need is
    the merchant's nickname to steal the sale, not the affiliates nickname.
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    kleinmeulman



    Joined: 19 Apr 2004
    Posts: 40

    PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2004 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Does anybody else have any suggestions?

    Paul
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    Charles Kenney



    Joined: 13 Apr 2004
    Posts: 12
    Location: Deep In The Heart Of Texas!

    PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2004 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    You can get a free affilliate link cloaker at this site. (I am not an affilliate)
    www.web-automation.co.uk

    Charles.
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