Cloaking: What Is and How To
This article is written for beginners and those who have just engaged in affiliate marketing and heard about cloaking, but have not understood yet what it means and whether they need it.
Cloaking (from cloak — a cloak, a mask, cover)
What Is Cloaking?
Most often cloaking is used for concealment of our lending, redirects and various information that refers to the sources of the traffic we drive.
There are several sides cloaking is used against:
- the advertiser
- affiliate network
- bots/moderators of large advertising networks (Adwords/FB, etc.)
- moderators of other traffic networks
There can be different reasons for an affiliate marketer to hide his source of traffic and the main can be in the fact that the traffic source has been restricted by the advertiser. However, that is not the only reason as usually you also need a reliable method to hide successful steps from competitors.
There always will be affiliate marketers, who prefer to use stealth schemes of driving traffic; just as there are always people, who are engaged in gray or even black SEO methods. Someone can think that cloaking is very profitable, however, it is doubtful. As has been shown in practice, it is always better to build fair long-term relationships with CPA networks and advertisers and, if you have a traffic source that is almost restricted by an advertiser, you need to negotiate it; in the most cases, the restrictions are implemented to prevent driving up, not because the traffic source is bad.
Most of the affiliate marketers enforce cloaking, when they work with affiliate networks they cannot really trust. Well, that is not a very good idea; it is better to work with reliable CPA networks than waste your time risking the money you can lose if the fraud will be disclosed.
By the way, this article is written not to inspire new affiliate marketers to get involved in cloaking; the purpose of this article is to explain the basics of cloaking, show some cloaking moves that are often used, and prove that you cannot build nothing long-term based on cloaking.
However, if your purpose is to hide successful moves from competitors, it is worth considering cloaking, as you know that the best way to find the best advertising strategy is to steal it from your competitor and all the sources can be easily displayed.
Basic Cloaking Moves
Here you are going to see basic cloaking moves. There are different types of cloaking services, most of those are paid, some of them are integrated trackers and so on. In this article, I will tell you about the main opportunities of the most important tool for any affiliate marketer, a tracker, and ways to cloak with its help.
There is a simple logic used. We adjust traffic so that the tracker shows a specified country as a traffic source:
In controls of a campaign, we click “Add rule” and we point out that we accept traffic only from the country specified in a campaign.
Logics: if the country does not correspond to the Country parameter in a campaign, then traffic goes elsewhere.
You can also direct traffic from the specified countries to the corresponding landing pages and, if you deal with global offer, you can customize your campaign to accept traffic only from specified countries.
Cloaking by tokens
This method concerns to modern traffic networks and cloaking from them. Any traffic network gives us a chance to use its tokens.
Theory: when a user clicks a banner No. 123, this parameter is transferred to a tracker by means of a macro, and in statistics we see that the user has come from a banner No. 123, though the source was from the list of restricted ones by an advertiser.
The easiest way to disappear from competitors and visitors is to use an IP cloaking of popular VPN. Some bases lie in the network, some happen to merge on torrents, you can also find them in professional chats and on forums, it is necessary to bring some efforts to collect the base, plus, it is necessary to monitor updates of bases. Also in the separate list of IPs, it is possible to bring together moderators, spy service and so on. You can set the rules of tracker so that it will redirect all of them to the destination you specify on.
The ISP cloaking works a little different. Example: you need only traffic from some small country; take all its ISP and set the rules: if ISP not corresponding ISP1, ISP2, ISP3, a user goes to white landing page.
The mentioned above ways of cloaking are the basic ones, and those are regularly blocked and tracked by affiliate networks, spy services and advertisers. Once there is vulnerability found by the cloakers, it always takes a little time for affiliate networks to develop efficient means of protection, so there is no way to make cloaking profitable in a long-term perspective.