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Quit Bugging Me!

Many online affiliates are being bitten by software that wrongly credits Web site referrals. Are you a victim?

This story appears in the March 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Small online merchants who are members of the Web's affiliate marketing programs are becoming concerned about a relatively new technology referred to as parasiteware, which credits the wrong party when online stores tally commissions for Web referrals. In typical affiliate transactions, consumers click on a link from a Web site that points to a product on a merchant site such as Amazon.com. If a customer decides to buy the product, Amazon pays its affiliated Web site operator a commission for the sale, which is usually 5 to 15 percent of the purchase price.

Now, some online merchants are noticing they are not getting their commissions. Why? In some cases, parasiteware overwrites, intercepts, appends to or changes a performance marketing tracking link so that credit is registered to a third party for whom the link was not originally coded.

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