Blog Owners: Be Careful of Cookie Stuffing

cookie stuffing

Cookie stuffing sucks

No, this blog post is not about a cookie recipe :) This blog post is about cookie stuffing, and one major reason why you should stay away from blog advertisers who insist for their banner ads to go with a certain tracking script.

You monetize your blog with banner ad spots sales. You are hoping that your hard work in building your blog is finally paid off by getting noticed by advertisers as a good place to promote their products.

Then it finally comes – you have an inquiry for banner advertising. The advertiser seems eager to advertise on your blog, and you are as eager as the advertiser. After the agreed ad placement pricing, the advertiser then ask you to add the banner ad on your blog – along with a tracking code that is said to be a click or traffic tracker.

If you receive such request, be warned – you have just been approached by a cookie stuffer.

What is cookie stuffing?

Here’s a riffin’ on cookie stuffing from Wikipedia:

Cookie stuffing (or cookie dropping) is a blackhat online marketing technique used to generate illegitimate affiliate sales. Cookie stuffing occurs when a user visits a website, and as a result of that visit receives a third-party cookie from an entirely different website (the target affiliate website), usually without the user being aware of it. When (if) the user visits the target website and completes a qualifying transaction, the cookie stuffer is paid a commission. Depending on the terms of the affiliate agreement a qualifying transaction may refer to creating an account, making a purchase, completing an application (loan, credit, etc), or subscribing to a newsletter.

There are several ways to do cookie stuffing, but one of the most common ways is by adding a so-called tracking script – usually a .swf file (a Flash file extension.) in a frame (using iframe HTML tag.) It’s not visible to you and your visitors, as it’s only sized at 1×1 pixel. But the impact is great.

Of course, if you are not aware of it, you would just agree to cookie stuffer to display his/her banner ad. The cookie stuffing file is not harming your blog, but it could harm your reputation – and it’s illegal.

Dealing with cookie stuffers

I have been dealing with cookie stuffers in the past for two different blogs. Both were using the same method – looking for ad placement on blogs, tell that a small tracking code is necessary to track traffic and click, and the file is using .swf extension within an iframe HTML markup tag.

Cookie stuffers are not dangerous people :) All they want is to increase their money via affiliate sales. However, what they are doing is illegal.

So it’s best to tell them that you are not comfortable working with their banners and the tracking codes. Offer them to display the banners without the tracking code. Chances are, cookie stuffers will withdraw from the deal when their plans are foiled!

So, be careful, as not all advertising opportunities are created equal :)


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