Fraud in affiliate marketing

Andrew Olekh
4 Min Read

The work of SMM is full of unexpected difficulties, every week we have to interview difficult heroes, but this time we plunged into the darkest depths of affiliate marketing to learn about fraud from the master of the dark arts.

Our journey began in the back streets of a suburb illuminated by neon advertising with hieroglyphs. Our guide, an orphan hired for bitcoins, explained that no one knows the meaning of these signs, which were hung here only to create an atmosphere, and most likely do not have an adequate translation. Finally he led us to the stairs to the basement. Nearby lay picturesquely scattered garbage and plush rats from a cartoon. “There are no real ones,” our young guide explained. “Actually, this is a rather expensive area, and I’m not an orphan. You come here, but it’s time for me to go to a pottery master class.”

Puzzled by this beginning of our journey, we went down to the basement, where a master of the dark arts met us behind an iron door. In reality, just an AI-generated image on a tablet in a completely empty room. “You didn’t think I’d show you my true colors, did you?” – he said. And from the acoustics we guessed that he was sitting in the next room, and this was the same boy who brought us here. Not wanting to spoil the show for the master of the dark affiliate arts, we went straight to the questions.

Is it easy to be an Internet scammer, we first asked. “No, it’s not easy,” the interlocutor replied with a sigh, “firstly, let’s immediately make it clear that the concept of “fraud” is not associated with hobbits, and you promise not to put Elijah Wood in the illustrations. Secondly, affiliate marketing is not so simple , and it’s even harder to cheat. Gone are the good old days of pay-per-click programs. Bot farms are closing, bot farmers are selling their last bot farming boots and bot farming pitchforks. They are ready to take on any dirty work, like promoting bad YouTube videos by using comments. Serious programs have long had tools that monitor suspicious activity.

We realized that “fraud” is not associated with hobbits, so maybe cookie stuffing has nothing to do with baking? “Imagine it doesn’t, cookie stuffing monitors users and rewrites purchases. It’s a pretty dirty business, but we’ve learned to deal with it with the help of monitoring and special tools.” What about Brand Bidding, we asked. “No comment, next question.”

Okay, then tell us about Domain Spoofing or cloning. “Oh, this is my favorite. You could say it’s an “honest scam”, checking for attentiveness. Create a site that is almost exactly the same as the original, just a small typo in the address bar, unnoticed by anyone, and you’ve caught a gullible user.” At this point, our interlocutor began to laugh, shouting the words “URL hijacking”, “typosquatting”. The empty room felt somehow uncomfortable.

We felt it was time to end this interview and asked if there were any ways to protect yourself from fraud. “Quite simple, monitor traffic, track suspicious activity, such as surges in sales and in general any deviation from the usual pattern. and if you are too lazy to do it manually, there are a bunch of paid programs that track this automatically. See, I am absolutely honest with you, no deception. Let’s also communicate that you will not distort my words and not ElijahWood me”.

We said nothing.

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