Affiliate Uses Screenshot to Create Phony Merchant Site

Affiliate Copies Merchant's Site

Blackhat affiliates frequently come up with new tactics for driving traffic. While the specific details of these tactics may vary, they're all based on similar concepts: brand imitation, misrepresentation, or other attempts to confuse customers. During the course of our brand monitoring, we catch a wide variety of affiliate abuse—from ad hijacking to the republishing of exclusive coupon codes.

sam.engel
Nov 21, 2013

Display URL Violations Continue to Slip through on Bing

Whenever we come across particularly suspicious-looking ads in the course of our monitoring, we flag them for investigation. These ads often turn out to be affiliates cloaking their links, laundering their referers, or running a questionable script on their page.

sam.engel
Nov 12, 2013

The Endless Chain of PPC Arbitrage: Lessons from Monitoring SaveSmart

How is PPC arbitrage similar to Six Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon? It may sound like the setup to a bad joke, but here's the point I'm hinting at: PPC arbitrage can produce multiple layers of removal from the user's intended destination. Arbitrage can essentially take a user from intermediary to intermediary, potentially without ever resolving on a landing page with any useful content.

sam.engel
Sep 18, 2013

New Ad Hijacking Tactic: Redirects through Dropbox

Affiliates who violate their programs' PPC policies are always trying new ways to hide. One of the most common tactics employed by ad hijacking affiliates (who display the brand's domain in their ad, pass the user through their affiliate link, and then send the user directly over to the brand's site) is to redirect through disposable URLs or front sites. This enables them to hide their HTTP referer, preventing the true source of the traffic from showing up in the affiliate manager's reporting tool.

sam.engel
Aug 21, 2013

Diverted Traffic on Google Mobile: How LINE App Is Growing in the US

As we've learned from a number of investigations in the past, popular branded searches can often become the target of search arbitrage or other brand bidding schemes. Advertisers choose to poach these terms because they're searched frequently, relatively cheap to bid on, and associated with a trusted brand (thereby easing users' skepticism and luring them in).

sam.engel
Jul 31, 2013

Search Arbitrage Site "5earch" Goes Silent

Search-Arbitrage-on-5earch.com

When it comes to brand bidding and trademark abuse, the breaking stories often center around new schemes and tactics. But today we have some more positive news. 5earch.com no longer seems to be actively engaging in search arbitrage. And furthermore, the site doesn't seem to be active at all anymore.

sam.engel
Jul 22, 2013

Law Professor Eric Goldman on the New FTC Disclosure Guidelines

FTC Logo

The latest FTC disclosure guidelines (or .Com Disclosures) issued by the Federal Trade Commission have left many marketers wondering how they should respond. Expanding on the original FTC disclosures from 2000, these 2013 guidelines have been updated with new requirements for blogs and social media, among others. Early indications suggest that these requirements are rather stringent—which should pose some interesting challenges for the affiliate marketing industry, particularly in the area of compliance.

sam.engel
Jul 11, 2013

Exposing Some New Trademark Poachers

We've recently completed a pair of investigations: one centered around coupon sites and another on the URL shortener ADFly.

sam.engel
Jun 27, 2013

Game of Thrones Brand Gets Targeted in Paid Search

Misleading Game of Thrones Ad

This Sunday marks the season finale of HBO’s popular “Game of Thrones” TV series, which actually set a record for piracy earlier this year. The data from that record-setting season opener was rather impressive: over a million downloads within 24 hours and more than 163,000 users simultaneously sharing a single torrent.

sam.engel
Jun 6, 2013

Advertisers Brand Bidding on Social Media Sites’ Logins

In a recent BrandVerity investigation, we identified a new form of advertising arbitrage. That arbitrage relied on a special form of low-cost clicks: ads targeting branded keywords related to logins, sign ins, and other account activity. For example, an advertiser would bid on something like “Bank of America Login” and then load their landing page with ads based on a much more expensive keyword, such as “low mortgage rate.”

sam.engel
May 2, 2013
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