As with anything profitable, the affiliate business has its share of people who would rather steal your sales commissions than create a bonafide sales program of their own. In order to hijack your affiliate site, the thief replaces your affiliate link with theirs. They do this by using adware programs that write over your affiliate id with theirs. For instance, if the merchant site is www.greeeeatproducts.com and your affiliate id is 12345, the URL used to credit you with commissions is www.greeeeatproducts.com/12345. If the hijacker’s affiliate id is 67890, the overwrite sends the sales to www.greeeeatproducts.com/67890.
The good news is that affiliate marketplaces, such as Commission Junction and Linkshare crack down hard on these thieves, called hijackers, by tracking them and banning them from their programs. The bad news is that they just pop up elsewhere.
But there is something you can do – it’s called cloaking, which involves creating a directory that links a substitute affiliate ID to the one given to you by the merchant, and displays the substitute. A site visitor will see the new, simplified affiliate ID, and not your “real” one, but when he clicks on it, he reaches the merchant site through the actual assigned id. This can be accomplished by using utility programs, many of which are free on the web. But, two important caveats: Be certain your merchant or affiliate marketplace’s contract does not prohibit any alterations, additional links or changes of this nature, or you could be mistaken for a hijacker yourself and be thrown out of their program. And be certain, if you decide to use such a program that you copy your affiliate link exactly, or you will not be identified as the party due the commissions.
Karen Kari's articles and more information on the affiliate business can be found at: