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ClickBank Link Theft: Is It Really That Bad?
By: Tim Coulter
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    2005-05-15

    Table of Contents:
  • ClickBank Link Theft: Is It Really That Bad?
  • He then used...
  • Merchants can also...

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    ClickBank Link Theft: Is It Really That Bad? - He then used...


    (Page 2 of 3 )

    He then used paid advertising to generate a small but rapid influx of web traffic to his sales page. He was pleased with the sales results - 13 immediate buyers for his product - but was astonished to find that 46% of them were referrals from affiliates other than him. Clearly, 6 of the 13 buyers were already ClickBank affiliates who had used their own affiliate accounts to secure illicit discounts on their purchases.

    Of course, this is just one isolated experience. But other marketers have conducted their own trials and tend to agree that the overall rate of commission losses may be as high as 35%. Clearly, the problem is serious enough to have a significant impact on affiliate income.

    There is a consensus of opinion among marketers that link theft is worse on products aimed at the online marketing community - the suggestion being that marketers are knowledgeable about the affiliate process and thus better able to manipulate it to their advantage. There are also large variations in theft levels between different types of affiliate programs.

    Affiliate networks, such as ClickBank, are much more susceptible to hijacking than standalone programs. This is because of the greater statistical likelihood that any given referred prospect will already be a program member. Few prospects would go to the effort of joining a new affiliate program, merely to secure an illicit discount, but many would be tempted by easy savings from an existing program membership.

    Before ClickBank introduced its current hoplink procedure, it was possible for a link thief to misappropriate the commission on a purchase, simply by re-invoking the hoplink process using a manually entered URL. The ease with which a dishonest affiliate could "type and steal" made it an attractive target for casual thieves.

    But this loophole was eliminated as part of a range of security enhancements introduced by ClickBank in August 2002. And referral security was further tightened during the October 2003 upgrade to the hoplink system. Although these measures do not constitute perfect solutions to the ongoing problem of link theft, the progressive enhancement of the referral system is helping to deter the casual hijacker.

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