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.

16 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.

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