How Tracking Cookies Enables Affiliate Marketing

affiliate marketing cookiesFor today’s post, I wanted to take a minute to explore an industry that is relatively unknown to the average individual, but is actually behind a huge percentage of online sales: affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is a $15 billion a year industry. Yes, that’s billion with a B, and yet if you were to go around and survey most internet users, the overwhelming majority would have no idea what it is or why it’s important, least of all how cookies play a huge role in enabling this industry.

Affiliate Marketing Basics

Basically, affiliate marketing is a form of sales and marketing where a company creates unique tracking links to give out to website owners and bloggers who promote their products.

The scenario is this: you read a blog about home gardening, and in it they recommend a specific brand of tools, or show you where to buy next year’s tomato seeds online, or just about anything.

You click the link and, because your favorite blogger recommended it, you buy the product. At that point, the blogger earns a commission from the sale. Commissions can vary anywhere from 4% to upwards of 50% of the purchase prices, depending on the products (digital products, like an online course or piece of software, pay more than physical products, like your garden rake).

It’s win-win…for the company and blogger. The user often has no idea what just happened behind the scenes, let alone the details of how it happens, despite rules put in place by the FCC.

Learn more about affiliate marketing basics on Facebook.

The Role of Cookies

So how do cookies come into play in this scenario? Well, almost none of the tracking would be possible without them.

In the scenario I described above, the user goes directly from the blog to the website where he immediately purchases the product. What’s far more common, however, is that he leaves that site, and then comes back later to make the purchase.

The blogger still receives the commission,as long as the user returns within a prespecified amount of time. Amazon, for example, pays affiliate based on 24-hour tracking cookies. Other programs will pay affiliate up to 30 days after they click the initial link!

All of that is managed by cookies, and is yet another reason why you should be careful about how you manage your internet privacy.

Read more about affiliate marketing on Google+, or check out the Affiliate-101 Twitter page.

How Cookies Effect Search Engine Optimization Efforts

search optimization cookiesLast month, I received an inquiry from one of our readers here at, asking about the impact of cookies and search history on search results and, as a result, search marketing for businesses.

Today I thought I’d take a few minutes to go through the topic in more detail, so you can have a better idea of what’s involved.

How Cookies Impact SEO

The short answer is that yes, your cookies and search history do have a tremendous impact on the search results that appear when you look for any given keyword.

Google’s search algorithms have gotten increasingly sophisticated in recent years, and now take into account all of your information when providing results.

Some of that information includes:

  • IP address
  • Geographic location
  • Previous searches
  • Browser history and cookies.

Even when you use the famed “incognito” feature, Google still has access to your history, and can attempt to tailor your results to your history.

Web Service Media, a firm for SEO in Richmond, Virginia, with a comprehensive and professional search engine optimization service, writes that the use of all of your data across search results is blatantly evident.

They state:

This is evident if you look into the details of your account via your google dashboard. This is an area where Google presents you with all of the information it knows and tracks about you, and as you can see, that information might be way more than you thought they would know.

Do you think it’s not being used against you when you search, or to display ads that they think are more relevant, and hence able to make them more money?

If not, then, well, I think you’re a little naive.

The long and short of it is that they can use cookie tracking to constantly increase the data they gather on you, and then they can use that data however they please.

For more information, you might want to watch this video on how the new cookie laws in Europe impact SEO strategies for businesses:

How Online Security Impacts Banking, Investing, and Options Trading Systems

online security and bankingFor me personally, one of the scariest areas of internet security comes down to banking and online investing systems.

I, like millions of other Americans, use these systems every single day, and I believe they’re one of the most vulnerable areas where a hacker might infiltrate the system and gain access to my personal information.

Security in Online Banking and Investing

When it comes to security in online banking and investing systems, unfortunately about the best thing you can do is hope that your bank or investment provider is up to date on all of the latest measures.

You, as an individual, can’t really do anything to change how your financial systems are run from a security standpoint.

Some of the leaders in the industry are Wells Fargo for banking and Ameritrade for investing, and those would be my two recommendations, based on a security standpoint.

I also really believe in some of the leading options trading providers out there. I’m a bing fan of the Autobinary Signals with Roger Pierce platform, as I am of the Trading Pro System. You can read more information about this and a review of Trading Pro System to learn more.

Click here to learn more about where to Study Options Trading strategies, including the Iron Condor strategy.

The Gaping Hole in CyberSecurity

cyber security and investingHowever, just because there’s not a lot you can do about the systems implemented by your bank or online investing or trading platform, doesn’t mean there’s absolutely nothing you can do.

You might be surprised to learn that the gaping hole when it comes to cybersecurity actually has nothing to do with the security and fraud detection services offered by most leading financial firms.

Instead, it has to do with your internet connection. More specifically, your DNS provider.

DNS is the system that computers use to route through to the internet. So, anytime you connect your computer to the internet, your computer connects to a local DNS server, which acts as a relay channel to website servers, sending your requests and returning the websites you want.

Unfortunately, it’s also ripe with security issues. It’s relatively easy for a hacker to go in to an area where there is shared local DNS (think any coffeeshop or restaurant), and download all of the data that’s passed through the system since the last recent.

Now, this data is encrypted, but it isn’t encrypted at the same level of your financial institutions, and an experience professional could hack it fairly easily.

So what’s the solution? Don’t access any of your financial data or investments when you’re in a shared space. Use private personal or company networks to do so, and you’re far less likely to be a victim of such an attack.

I hope this post helps give you a better understanding about how online security impacts banking, investing, and options trading systems.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Sample FTC Privacy Policy

When you’re starting a website business, or even if you’ve had one for years, one of the most important, but often neglected aspects of running your site should be your FTC privacy policy.

This is something that is easy to forget about, but is actually hugely important, and could save you millions of dollars in lawsuits should you ever have any consumer issue with your website.

When You Need a Policy for Your Website

when you need a privacy policyIn my view, every single website needs to have an FTC privacy policy of some sort, but exactly what the policy needs to be is going to vary from site to site.

Privacy policies are most needed whenever your website is tracking any sort of information. That could be an email signup or form submit, a membership registration, or even simply the act of tracking and holding user cookies.

Basically, any time you’re coming into contact with user information, you need to have a policy in place to clearly state when and how you will use that information, and inform the user of exactly what pieces of data you’re going to keep track of.

Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of consumers never think about or look at these policies. Even when terms of service agreements are placed directly in front of them, they simple click yes and move on.

But, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be prepared and protected just in case an issue does arise.

Also, if you use email to market your website or services, then you need to make sure you apply with the FTC Can-Spam act. Check out the video below for more info:


Sample Privacy Policy

I think the best resource to go to for finding a sample policy is straight from the horse’s mouth. The FTC published a model form guide that you can use to help determine which privacy policy acts are most relevant to you, and the type of wording is common for each.

There’s also a free sample privacy policy from the BBB, which you could cut and paste into a page on your website. Simply change your site or company name in the slots provided, and you should be covered for the overwhelming majority of circumstances.


Do I need a privacy policy?

adroll advertisingAs part of responsible business practices, we require that any website that collects visitor information disclose their data practices through an easily accessible privacy policy.

How Information is Collected Online

There are a number of ways that visitor information is collected. Some information is volunteered by the visitor, such as submitting personal and payment information as part of a transaction or when submitting information to a “Contact Us!” form. Information can also be collected through background processes, such as for analytics or marketing programs like… retargeting!
Not sure if you collect visitor information? Below are just a few possible website functions that involve the exchange of information:
  • Retargeting
  • Transactions
  • “Contact Us” forms
  • Website/Visitor Analytics
  • Website optimization
  • Customized user experience
  • Membership/login portals
  • Email subscriptions

Learn more about adroll and how bids work with this video:

What are your privacy policy requirements?

The link to your site’s privacy policy should be clearly visible on all pages where you’re collecting personal information—not just your homepage. A good practice is to provide a link to your privacy policy right below all forms where a visitor is entering their information, as well as in the footer. This will ensure your privacy policy is prominently visible to your visitors.
We require that your privacy policy, at minimum, does the following:
  • Describe what personal information is collected.
  • Describe how this information will be used by the company.
  • Describe how this information will be transferred to third party companies.
  • Describe how you use cookies.
Provide instructions on how users can modify or delete their personal information.
  • Provide instructions on how users can opt out of future communications.
  • Finally, websites that collect sensitive personal information, such as bank details and credit card numbers, must use a secure processing server (https://) when collecting this information.
Need an example privacy policy? Privacy policy content is unique depending on the data practices of the website, but feel free to check out ours! AdRoll’s privacy policy is available in our footer. There are also some services—such as—that can help you generate your privacy policy.

How do I explain my partnership with AdRoll?

AdRoll uses anonymous third party cookies to enroll your visitor in your retargeting program. To disclose this partnership in as part of your cookie policy, feel free to use the language below. Keep in mind that this is language is not a replacement for the privacy policy requirements above, but can be added to your existing privacy policy to further educate your visitor on how their information is used.
As you browse [company website], advertising cookies will be placed on your computer so that we can understand what you are interested in. Our display advertising partner, AdRoll, then enables us to present you with retargeting advertising on other sites based on your previous interaction with [company website]. The techniques our partners employ do not collect personal information such as your name, email address, postal address, or telephone number.  You can visit this page to opt out of AdRoll’s and their partners’ targeted advertising.

How To Delete Cookies

  1. To delete cookies in the desktop
    • Open the desktop, and then tap or click the Internet Explorer icon on the taskbar.
    • Tap or click the Tools button , point to Safety, and then tap or click Delete browsing history.
    • Select the Cookies and website data
      1. To delete cookies in the desktop
        • Open the desktop, and then tap or click the Internet Explorer icon on the taskbar.
        • Tap or click the Tools button , point to Safety, and then tap or click Delete browsing history.
        • Select the Cookies and website data check box, and then tap or click Delete.

      box, and then tap or click Delete.