The Death Of Link Cloaking

Early this month, I talked about an important change that Google made in cross-domain cookie security and the changes we had made to comply with the new standard.

My immediate response was to make sure that our tools and system comply with the latest requirement.

However, later I realized that the impact is much greater than what I’ve expected.

It may cause ‘the death of link cloaking’….

What Is The New Cookie Standard About?

In simple terms, the new standard has disabled cross-domain cookie usage by default.

So the old way of coding a cookie can no longer work under cross-domain and even cross-subdomain environment.

What Is Cookie?

Basically, you just need to know that cookie is a piece of information that save your affiliate id in a visitor’s browser.

When people buy something, the system will retrieve the cookie (i.e. your affiliate id) and credit the purchase to your account.

What Is The Problem Now?

The problem now is, when your affiliate link is shown in a third-party website, your cookie (i.e. your affiliate id) may not be saved in the visitors’ browser.

This means you will not be paid if your leads buy something.

Who Show Affiliate Link In Third-Party Website?

Many.

  • Most PTC and traffic exchange networks
  • Affiliate marketers who use domain masking (aka URL forwarding), a free service provided by most web hosting, very popular strategy among affiliates.
  • Link trackers that provide cloaking capabilities (including our Trckapp Link Tracker)

What Is The Solution?

The only solution is that affiliate program owners have to update their cookie settings to allow cross-domain usage.

But it can take years for some program owners to finally keep up with the change.

What Can You Do?

These are what you can and SHOULD DO ASAP:

1) If you advertise in PTCs and traffic exchanges that show ads in a timer system (as long as the url in the browser shows their domain name, not yours), check and make sure that your affiliate id works (by navigating around your advertised page using their viewer and see if your affiliate id is still there).

2) Better still, don’t advertise an affiliate link. It’s not a good strategy anyway. What you should do is create an opt-in offer and encourage people to opt-in to your list. You should know by now that LeadsLeap provides all the tools you need, for free. You have no excuse not to start doing what the professional marketers are doing!

3) If you use domain masking or URL forwarding, check.

4) If you use link trackers with cloaking function, check. If it doesn’t work, disable link cloaking. (If you use our link tracker, you can disable link cloaking but still activate real traffic tracking. This way, you can still know whether the traffic you’ve received is real human traffic.)

Impact On LeadsLeap Advertising

The bad news is our conventional ad viewer is affected too.

The good news is we already have an alternative – the ‘Direct View Mode’ that has been running for a year. Most of you should be familiar with it.

It is impossible for us to check every ad to see if the affiliate link works. So the best option for us is to enable ‘Direct View Mode’ on all ads with immediate effect.

To implement ‘Direct View Mode’ on full scale, certain changes have to be made to our reward system.

I have written another post to explain the changes in our ad system.

Be sure to read it.

Any Question?

If you have any question regarding the new cookie standard or affiliate tracking, please post your question in the comments below so that other members can learn too. I will give my best reply.

37 thoughts to “The Death Of Link Cloaking”

  1. I checked my tracking link for the capture page I promote is working fine at the moment.

    Does this new update impact my leadsleap tracking link when I promote on safelist or traffic exchange and do I need to disable the cloaking to avoid the issue.

    Also, if I disable the cloaking will the tracking link still track the conversion sources.

    1. If you disable cloaking, conversion tracking will not be possible.

      But the good news for you is that your affiliate link works in Trckapp. If so, it should work in other safelist and traffic exchanges.

      When you check, please use Chrome. Firefox hasn’t implement the full restriction.

      Side track: If you have a link that does not work in Trckapp, you can forget about posting it in safelist or TE system that uses on-site ad viewer. The only way it can work is by showing the affiliate link in its own window.

  2. As you state, “Better still, don’t advertise an affiliate link. It’s not a good strategy anyway. What you should do is create an opt-in offer and encourage people to opt-in to your list. ”

    The silver lining is that, (A) We should do this anyway, because it is more effective, and (B) it gives us an advantage over the marketers that are not already using opt-in pages.

    We have to adapt to changing conditions. It’s always been that way. The good news is that we have LeadsLeap to alert us to the changes! (Thanks!)

  3. Thanks very much for the update on Google, I use forwarding and had no idea about these changes, when you don’t know, you don’t know, but thanks to you I now do!

  4. Kind a scary, knowing you can lose sales/work for nothing. Guess i’ll have to create optin pages for everything I promote. Thanks a lot for this information.

    1. No. Our link can still be shown as the referral url.

      If you don’t want the traffic source to be traceable, use Trckapp. Then the referral url will become Trckapp. But that’s not the point.

      What Google doesn’t want is unnatural clicks, such as a group of people clicking each other’s ads or you incentivizing people to click your ads. It doesn’t matter where that traffic is from.

      If you advertise a blog, with the focus being the content, having Adsense Ads in it is okay.

  5. Thank you, Kenneth, very much indeed for being the first person to give us this important news. I think this affects all of us, marketers, and it’s really nice of you to announce it in a way that even I, as someone who didn’t really know what cloaking was in the first place, could get what you meant.

  6. Does this new rule affect Clickback affiliated cloaked links, if hosted on my website ?

    I also use IBOtoolbox to add affiliated links, and they hide them with “Click here”

    1. It affects all links that are cloaked, whether it is hosted on your site or not.

      But Clickbank complies with the new standard. So it is okay.

      When you cloak, it’s better to use http instead of https for the cloaked link. I mean cloaked link, not Clickbank link. This is because Clickbank will redirect the hop link to the merchant website. If any part of the merchant’s site is not https, the connection will be broken and an error page will be shown instead.

      Some TE’s ad viewer uses https. This can break the connection while navigating if any part of the merchant’s site is not https.

  7. I have a question. While surfing a yellow box comes up saying unusual activity detected. What is this and what unusual activity is it talking about?

    1. It is just a warning. You are still being credited. Please click the ‘Learn More’ link to find out more.

      The most common unusual activities are clicking every ad at 5 seconds, or 60 seconds interval. The formal suggests that you are basically just clicking ads, not surfing them. The latter suggests that you’ve seriously surf every ad for more than 60 seconds, which is also not quite possible.

      Although it is just a warning, please do not ignore it. If the issue persists, your account may be flagged.

    1. Cloaked links means showing a website inside a different web address. For example, showing Google homepage inside yourdomain.com. Some people call it masked link.

    1. It is okay if the link you are promoting complies with the latest cookies standard.

      Then the next question is, how would you know if it complies? A programmer can technically check how the cookie is set. To most people, the only way to find out is load your affiliate page in cloaked environment, then navigate to the payment or subscribe page and see if your affiliate id is still intact.

    1. Trckapp is not a traffic source. It is a tracker. Hence the question is not relevant.

      For example, traffic exchange is not a safe adsense traffic source. So if you use Trckapp to track, that traffic is not adsense safe. But soload is a safe adsense traffic source. If you use Trckapp to track, that traffic is adsense safe. Safe or not safe depends on where the traffic comes from.

      1. if i get leadsleap source views and use trackapp cloack my refer source will be trackapp, right ? but it is safe ?

        1. Strictly speaking, traffic from LeadsLeap is not Adsense safe because LeadsLeap is classified under traffic exchange.

          Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean Adsense accounts that are shown in LeadsLeap will be banned by Google. The key is ‘Do No Evil’. If you advertise your blog with Adsense, it is perfectly okay. But if you advertise a page that is flooded with Adsense ads with an intention to hoax people into clicking the ads, you are likely to trigger Google’s fraud detector.

          Put yourself in Google’s shoe, then you’ll understand what is Google’s intention. As long as you send quality traffic that are genuinely interested in the ads in Adsense, there is no reason why Google wants to take action against you. But if you are trying to game the system, safe or not safe, Google is going to take action for sure, sooner or later.

  8. I have had a good lesson with tracking with all the different situations. This is wonderful although l am afraid whether newbies will be in position to understand all this fast enough. However, clocking links is indispensable in business otherwise you may be doing work for some much wise person. Many people in the world seem to enjoy frustrating others where income and profit is concerned. So it will not be surprising if some one boldly takes over your share of income just to see how much it affects you.

  9. Honestly, I think that Google is biased and is bought out by us and should work on regulating itself, not the ones that pay it. Top results in a search engine should be based on credibility and if the works are cited properly in MLA or APA formats, not based on popularity and traffic because you still may get false information and rumors as a result. This then makes Google inaccurate and untrustworthy. Plus, why would they take our money for ads, then turn around and nearly put us out of business? The rules should be more transparent and be openly displayed at all times from the gate.

    I have been self taught and working on affiliate marketing for the past 10 months now day and night, have spent a couple thousand dollars until I was completely broke with only $20 to my name right now, and have gotten thousands of views, hundreds of clicks, but only 8 optins and 0 sales, and a total of $20 in commissions from numerous affiliate programs combined!

    Was it me? Did I miss a step or something? or is it Google’s new policies? I swear I followed all the steps in the programs and trainings. I am trying hard to not lose hope and give up, but this confusing and frustrating!

    What would be the best order of steps to use for LeadsLeap’s resources? from link trackers to funnel builders and etc. as a rule of thumb or guide?

    Thank for the 411 on Google’s updates, policies, and procedures that no one else cared to mention! Hopefully these answers will help!

  10. Thank you Kenneth for the information. As I am not confident with the technicalities I will do as you suggest and follow through to the payment or subscribe page and see if everything is in order.

  11. Thanks Kenneth, Norm and others that put emphasis on Doing the Right Thing at all times and I totally concur. Amen and Amen.

    Thanks Kenneth, you have most definitely helped many of us see a little further down the road.

    Bless You All,

    Sam
    Texas

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