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Old 12-17-2001, 10:19 AM   #1
TSSR
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Unhappy Unknown person manages to get my affiliate account suspended...

Hi,

Just wondering if anybody else has had similar problems and how the they got round it - if they ever did...

I won't mention the program in question as I am still in conversation with their admin - sufficient to say its a fairly well known one.

The program is based on CPA - second click. i.e. Click on a link on my site, get to the 'results' page click on a link their and I get paid a little - you know the type of thing.

My account has been showing perhaps 2-3 clicks a day for the last few weeks. I tried to login in over the weekend and find that my account has been suspended. I emailed the admin to query the situation and was informed today that the account generated over 100 clicks (in a row) via a proxy server somewhere and had therefore been disabled due to fraudulent activity.

Now give me the benefit of the doubt here everyone - I have no knowledge of how or who generated these clicks. Maybe someone has a grude against me, my site, or the world, but upshot is that my account is suspended due to no fault of my own. My worry is now that this someone could do the same with other CPA affiliate programs I operate.

Is there anyway of stopping this sort of thing as it seems to me that anyone can get anyone else's affiliate account in disrepute with just a couple of hundred clicks - generated manually or automatically and that there is no protection against such an event.

Any advice greatly appreciated.

Last edited by TSSR; 12-17-2001 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 12-17-2001, 10:43 AM   #2
TSSR
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Talking Issue Resolved !

Have just heard back from the affiliate program admin.

They've taken a look at my account and are going to reinstate it - hooray ...

But what's to stop it happening again ...

TSSR
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Old 12-17-2001, 11:38 AM   #3
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You should ask admin what really has happened and then show us the result.
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Old 12-17-2001, 11:42 AM   #4
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So which affiliate program was this?
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Old 12-17-2001, 12:03 PM   #5
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Although it has never happened to me yet, I always check the statistics of my pay per click/search based programs to see if the ctr matches the traffic for that day, after a while you can predict to a degree how many clicks you will get for any given day.

If I did notice a spike in traffic I would not hesitate to contact the admin of that program and ask him/her to review my account. I'm sure you were the target of one of your competitors. Great news to hear it worked out in the end.
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Old 12-17-2001, 12:29 PM   #6
TSSR
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Well, I'd suspect that the affiliate program in question would prefer if I didn't mention it by name...

The issue raised remains regardless of which program we're talking about - how do you protect yourself against malicious attempts to get your affiliate account into disrepute.

The kind of thing that came to mind while thinking about this were:

... the program keeps track of your daily average clicks - if you get a day more than, say, 25% above that average then you don't get paid for anything above that value. That's probably a bit drastic as blips in your traffic might be large than that an you obviously want to get paid for these valid 'blips' - but you get the general idea...

...all the clicks in the case under discussion came via a single proxy server. Again my thought would be that the affiliate tracking software could look at this type of unusual traffic and only pay based on what has been 'normal' for your account to date. Again maybe a bit drastic - but I rather loose a little valid income every now and again in order to keep my account in order.

TSSR

Last edited by TSSR; 12-17-2001 at 12:30 PM.
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Old 12-17-2001, 12:44 PM   #7
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Some kind of spider could have been traversing your site

One of my sites was once hit by some kind of image search engine than tried to OCR all the banners or something like that.

If you can figure out what the person/spider's IP is, block them from future access to your sites using .htaccess (apache) on the security tab in MMC (IIS)
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Old 12-17-2001, 12:44 PM   #8
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It looks like the system worked the way it was supposed to.

That bogus traffic, whether caused by a robot gone haywire or some malicious hacker attacking you personally, cast a doubt on ALL the traffic you have ever sent. The merchant has no way of knowing whether you were trying to cheat or not, but they took a look at the circumstances of the case and your site's history and gave you the benefit of the doubt.

Personally, I'm in favor of merchants taking a very hard line with would-be thieves. Widespread fraud has wiped out most CPC programs and caused the rest to drastically reduce their payouts. And let's face it: the VAST majority of intentional cheating is done by webmasters, not by their enemies trying to get them in dutch with sponsors.
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Old 12-17-2001, 01:05 PM   #9
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Joma,

I totally agree with your comments. But the problem remains that even if only 1% of webmasters having their affiliate accounts suspended are really due to a malicious third party, it remains a significant problem for a significant number of honest webmasters.

Might I suggest that if you had been the subject of such an incident (assuming you haven't already) you would feel slightly different... (this all said in a mild bantering tone - no bad feeling intended )

As you say, the affiliate program, has given me the benefit of the doubt but I have still lost out here as my account will always be under slightly more suspicion than those that have not had this kind of incident.

If the affiliate program themselves are not in a position to add additional safeguards perhaps the onus is on the webmaster to take additional precautions.

One way that comes to mind is for the clicks to be sent via a script on my server, where I can do my own validation, before sending the click onto the program. I realise that in practice this probably wouldn't work as someone (as always) could use this script to generate fraudulent clicks - again. But maybe someone with more technical savvy than me could confirm/deny that this would be possible.

TSSR

Last edited by TSSR; 12-17-2001 at 01:06 PM.
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