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The Silent Affiliate Marketing Menace: Spybot

If you’re an affiliate marketer, take note, Spybot Search And Destroy, a spyware detection software has now identified several affiliate network tracker cookies as ‘spyware’.

If a user to your landing page runs spybot and deletes your cookie, it means you will not get credit for the affiliate sale.


Spybot already identifies Alexa as spyware, although Alexa tracks the sites you visit and depending on your perspective, it could be viewed as either a web metrics tool, or ‘spyware’.

But having Spybot detect and offer the option to delete tracking cookies from the likes of Clickbank and Azoogle could have massive implications.

Is it all bad?

There is some upside for product creators as it means they will get full credit for the sale (less the affiliate networks commissions).

It is, however, very bad news for affiliate marketers if your cookie gets crunched.

Cookies are the primary means by which affiliate networks track referrals and until something secure comes along, it means as an affiliate you’ll have to be extra diligent in getting your prospect to complete the sale.

This means closing the prospect as comfortably as you can.

Here’re some tips:

  • Promote Programs with High Conversions: Look through the sales page. Would you buy it as a prospect? Doubtless you might find the product very effective, however it could be let down by poor sales copy. If necessary, create your own pre-sales material, reports, or ebooks.
  • Close the Sale Immediately: Do whatever it takes to close the prospect the moment they visit the page. I’m assuming you’re promoting something you personally believe in and are using. If you are sincere and honest in your dealings with your list, this should not be an issue.
  • Maintain Focus: I know some newer affiliate marketers will suffer from the “Chicken Little” mentality. As in “oh no, the Google Slap! Everything is going to bits, oh no, oh no!”. Subsequently with the release of each of the “Death of (insert pet subject here)” reports, they experience the “oh no, oh no, the bit has hit the fan”, it’s easy to lose perspective. But the reality is that you could potentially lose some sales to having your cookie deleted, and sometimes tracking cookies do not lodge correctly and I’ve not received commissions for some transactions too. But if you are going to obsess with a few lost transactions, you could lose sight of the entire picture and go off track. That could be the biggest pitfall of all. Maintain focus on the task at hand.

Bottomline? Be aware that Spybot and other anti-spyware applications might affect some of your transactions, take note of the pitfalls and move on.

You are here to win the war.

40 comments on The Silent Affiliate Marketing Menace: Spybot

  1. Matthias Jash
    December 10, 2006 at 9:48 pm (5041 days ago)

    wau~ It’s sound worry for those affiliate marketer, will this kind of spyware function apply to the most popular Anti Virus like Norton, McAfee or even Windows system itself?

  2. Andrew Wee
    December 10, 2006 at 10:41 pm (5041 days ago)

    Hi Matthias,
    you’d likely have to check with the companies themselves.

    do note that i’m referring to spyware/malware detectors here.

    anti-virus is a different class of software altogether.

  3. Don Wilson
    December 11, 2006 at 9:06 am (5041 days ago)

    That’s a little scary. As a blogger who depends on affiliate products, that could take away my lifeblood. Just yesterday, I was explaining how affiliate marketing works and her first question was, “How can you be sure that you will get paid?” I assured her that since I go through clickbank as an intermediary, there should be no problem. Now, I’m not so sure.

  4. Andrew Wee
    December 11, 2006 at 10:48 am (5040 days ago)

    Don: There’s always challenges in whatever business you’re in.

    the thing is whether you’ll choose to be problem-focused, or solution-focused and take appropriate action.

    even with brick and mortar retail, they have challenges like bad/stolen credit cards, shoplifting, fire/flood damage.

    It’s tempting to say the grass is greener on the other side, but more important to stay the course in what we’re doing and achieve results.

    Too many people give up as they’re reaching their pinnacle of success.

    the saddest thing is that many never know how close they truly were to making it.

  5. SaferNetworkingLtd
    December 13, 2006 at 12:25 am (5039 days ago)

    I find the wording a bit funny… where’s the “now” when Spybot-S&D detects it for more than 3 years already?

    And why do you quote it as “spyware”, when Spybot-S&D tells you quite clearly (just open the description panel at the right) that those are Tracking Cookies, not Spyware?

    Please also not that this is on massive user request. Whenever we tried to remove those, users were getting on our roofs complaining that other software detects those, but ours not. Funnily, it’s actually the in later comments named Adaware which started this behaviour, which misnamed Alexa, etc. ;)

  6. Andrew Wee
    December 13, 2006 at 8:41 am (5039 days ago)


    Hey, I wanted to say I find Spybot to be a good piece of software.
    I’ve been using it on my personal computers for at least the past 2+ years.

    Spybot picks up stuff that Ad-Aware doesn’t detect and I like the immunization capabilities for your software.

    Till recently, Azoogle and Clickbank cookies were not registered as tracking cookies (or as i call them spyware) till the more recent updates.

    The end result is still the same though.
    If a user decides to delete the cookie, the affiliate does not get credit for the transaction.

    I suspect most will delete the tracking cookies unless they were flagged as ‘neutral’ instead of appearing in the “Problem” window.

  7. John Tan
    December 13, 2006 at 11:49 am (5038 days ago)

    I am sure that a way out. Worry will cause us not to do anything but anyway how many of you are using the spybot before Andrew mention about it. I guess there are still lot of people out there that are not that IT savvy.

  8. Andrew Wee
    December 15, 2006 at 6:42 am (5037 days ago)

    the only way to know is to test it out.

  9. Shawn Richards
    January 19, 2007 at 12:38 am (5002 days ago)

    You are missing the “big picture” and the crucial problem with Spybot. Forget the cookie issue, Spybot completely blocks Commission Junction urls in the imported hosts list.

    What is the point of that? CJ isn’t a spyware site and they certainly don’t allow spyware/adware related sales.

    Why kill off revenue streams for affiliates by completely blocking access to legitimate websites?

    Spybot is a great product for cleaning malware but they are just as bad as the overzealous spam blocking admins who don’t check the real source of the problem before blocking a domain.

    Before SaferNetworking makes a comment about “their duty to protect the community” just think about this; without referrals and backlinks, where would Spybot be today?

    Come on people, stop running around screaming “the sky is falling” and concentrate on the real problem sources. If you were all that worried about your privacy on the Internet, you wouldn’t be using another business that has your personal information and logs your activity when you get connected. The Internet doesn’t exist anymore, it has been replaced by a myriad of privately owned networks using the original Internet protocol. Malicious software writers exist, target them, don’t attack the revenue streams that support the Internet community.

  10. Ted
    March 31, 2007 at 3:04 am (4931 days ago)

    We have to evolve to survive. I appreciate your attitude. Focus and determination will win everytime. Concentrating on closing the sale immediately is sound advice.

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8 Pingbacks & Trackbacks on The Silent Affiliate Marketing Menace: Spybot

  1. Spybot Killing Affiliates, 007 Style · Profit Geek
    December 12, 2006 at 10:19 am (5039 days ago)

    [...] This is just something to be aware of, because the James Bond of spyware may be coming for you. Hopefully Spybot fixes this problem soon. Check out this blog post for more information on the subject. [...]

  2. The Dollar Factory Blog » Around the web on December 11th
    December 12, 2006 at 11:50 am (5039 days ago)

    [...] In the meantime, Jeremy (Shoemoney.com) informed us that Andrew Wee (whoisandrewwee.com) found out that the Spybot Search And Destroy spyware removal software deletes Azoogleads and Clickbank affiliate marketer cookies. I understand how this is bad news for affiliate marketers, including myself, but seriously I don’t get what the big fuss is about. Have people been living under the illusion that cookies are a bullet proof method for guaranteeing affiliate sales? In case people have not noticed all these years, it is rather trivial to set your web browser to delete cookies when closed or just decline them all together. On the positive side, testing shows that Adaware leaves affiliate cookies untouched so start pitching Adaware to your friends and family. [...]

  3. [...] spybot cracking down on affiliate cookies anti-spyware app spybot’s latest patches detect and destroy cookies from azoogle, clickbank, doubleclick. so take note. i blogged abt it here: The Silent Affiliate Marketing Menace: Spybot at Andrew Wee | Blogging | Affiliate Marketing | Social Traffic Generation | Internet Marketing __________________ Andrew Wee Blogging and Affiliate Marketing [...]

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