Freeloaders Affect Your Online Marketing

shutterstock_36138994We can define a parasite as one who “obtains benefits from a host which it usually injures.” Within the context of marketing, parasite activity is well known and exists both in the off-line and online arenas. Off-line, organizations sometimes try and feed off the buzz created by an existing event or activity, such as the example of the airship blimp advertising something unrelated to the major spectator event that it flies over. In affiliate marketing this is a particularly heinous kind of offence, as the parasite can effectively steal commissions from the rightful recipient.

Many who participate in what is called, with good reason, “black hat” marketing, advocate the use of cookie stuffing and other tactics to redirect commissions that are rightfully due to someone else. There are some browser plug-ins which are charged with the crime of activating automatically and redirecting potential clicks.

You should be very careful when installing a browser of any kind and really think whether you need anything other than your standard browser bar. Almost always, the answer is – no, you don’t.

Many affiliates or those who are indeed just involved in online marketing in any way are not generally aware of this problem, but should be. There are individuals and organizations dedicated to the black art of parasite marketing and you will surely come across them at some stage during your career. If you run an affiliate program, be careful who you accept into this program and whose pop-ups you may invite, as these can also siphon valuable funds away from you.

Note that you should only partner with trusted third-party networks when affiliate marketing and beware of spyware which can hijack and replace your affiliate ID on a remote computer.

It is quite eye-opening to see the lengths that parasites will go to, to steal your commissions. For example, invisible I-frames, hidden banner ads, redirects within signature icons in forums, and these are quite apart from injected spyware or adware.

Be sure that you only use a trusted network or interact only with merchants who are fully aware of the implications of parasite activity. Remember that some networks actually advocate parasitism.

Make sure that you have your computers regularly checked for the presence of malware, adware, parasite ware and other shady invaders.

Do you have any evidence of parasitic activity to report?

Adam Toren

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