Cookie-Stuffing Targeting
Cookie-Stuffing Targeting Major Affiliate Merchants - Ben Edelman

This page reports cookie-stuffing by, targeting

As of November 4, the page was #2 in Google results for "dentalplans coupon" (without quotes). This URL consists of a frameset as follows:

<frameset rows="106,*" frameborder="NO" border="0" framespacing="0">
<frame src="/dentalplans-coupon-top-frame/59442" name="coupon-top-frame" frameborder="no" scrolling="NO" noresize marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" bordercolor="0">
<frame src="/dentalplans-coupon-link/59442" name="coupon-main-frame" frameborder="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0">

The bottom frame, /dentalplans-coupon-link/59442, performs a redirect to

GET /dentalplans-coupon-link/59442 HTTP/1.1
Accept: image/gif, image/x-xbitmap, image/jpeg, image/pjpeg, application/, application/, application/msword, application/x-shockwave-flash, */*
Accept-Language: en-us
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
User-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)
Connection: Keep-Alive

HTTP/1.1 302 Found
Date: Thu, 04 Nov 2004 17:11:41 GMT
Server: Apache
Accept-Ranges: bytes
X-Powered-By: PHP/4.3.4
Content-Length: 0
Connection: close
Content-Type: text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1
X-Pad: avoid browser bug

The net effect is that when a user follows the Google search result, cookies are set automatically -- precisely the definition of cookie-stuffing. Had wanted to both frame the dentalplans site and avoid the risk of cookie-stuffing, it would have needed to tell Google not to index its framing pages, e.g. using META tags or a robots.txt file to that effect.

Notwithstanding that the net effect of the HTML code above is to stuff cookies (setting cookies automatically when users reach this page via direct links from search engines or elsewhere), the affiliate may or may not have intended cookie-stuffing to result. See discussion on ABestWeb. Unlike the other FRAMESET cookie-stuffing examples reported on this site, the page shown above included no META tags or other text to specifically attract search engines. The absenec of such META tags weakens the inference that specifically intended to attract direct traffic from search engines to this FRAMESET, to stuff cookies on such traffic, and to earn commissions as a result.

I captured the resulting on-screen display in a video (WindowsMedia format, view in Full Screen mode). I also preserved a full packet log of these findings.

In my testing, this is but one of many affiilate web sites targeting this and other merchants. For example, the current number one Google result for "dentalplans coupon" is , which uses cookie stuffing precisely along the lines of that shown as to consumernow's targeting of Toshiba and Netzero. See also's targeting of