Example Cookie-Stuffing Targeting a LinkShare Merchant: Lillian Vernon
The Effect of 180solutions on Affiliate Commissions and Merchants - Ben Edelman

As discussed in Affiliate Code Replacement via Popup "Double" Windows within The Effect of 180solutions on Affiliate Commissions and Merchants, 180 has implemented a system that can set affiliate tracking codes by showing a user a duplicate copy of a merchant's site. These popups set affiliate codes that, in the ordinary course of events, cause 180 (and its advertisers) to be paid commissions otherwise payable to other affiliates, and cause 180 (and its advertisers) to be paid commissions even if no commissions would otherwise be paid. For a listing of affected merchants (as of tests of June 2004), see merchants targeted with double windows. See also merchants I previously found to be targeted with silent cookie-stuffing.

This page shows specific network transmissions that implement 180's double-popup cookie-stuffing, targeting a request for lillianvernon.com made at approximately 10am (Eastern) on October 7, 2004. See also a video (WMV format, view in full-screen mode) confirming what took place, including showing my Cookies folder before and after receiving the 180solutions popup. The thumbnail at right shows the final on-screen display -- the lillianvernon.com site, covered in part by the double popup that reached lillianvernon.com through an affiliate link.

Index of Annotated Packet Logs (details)

Other Targeted Merchants: Double and Silent Popups

In this example, I sought to document how 180 (and its advertisers) can set affiliate codes even when users merely type in a site's domain name (such that affiliate commissions would not ordinarily be payable). My testing proceeded in the following way:

  1. I cleared my cookies, such that any cookies set on my PC were set in the course of the testing shown in my video.
  2. I browsed to lillianvernon.com.
  3. Zango sent a request to 180solutions servers for an ad targeted at lillianvernon.com. This request and response are shown in the HTTP log, below.
  4. Zango opened the LinkShare link specified by the 180 targeting response. I received a 180 pop-up for lilianvernon.com, reached through an affiliate link.
  5. I viewed my cookies, observing that a linksynergy.com cookie had been created. See cookie listing, below.

Consistent with the rest of my site, the network logs below omit my DUID (my unique 180solutions user ID number) as well as the 180 affiliate publisher ID.

In my testing of October 2004, lillianvernon.com is but one of many merchants that remain targeted by 180solutions double popups. Some targeted merchants use affiliate networks; others run in-house affiliate programs. Some double popups reach affiliate links through redirect servers, while others (including this one) entail 180solutions sending users directly to an affiliate link via no other intermediaries.


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HTTP Transaction: Zango Request to 180solutions
keyword trigger
GET /showme.aspx?keyword=.lillianvernon.com+lillianvernon.com&did=762&ver=5.12&duid=531byhiprtvdgvadrfmfcgtxxyrjmg &partner_id=215082838&product_id=762&browser_ok=y&rnd=30&basename=zango
user id
&FDS=1684951040&LAD=1601:1:1:0:0:0&WE=5 HTTP/1.1
Accept: */*
Accept-Language: en-us Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
User-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)
Host: tv.180solutions.com
Content-Length: 1620
Connection: Keep-Alive

data1=[binary data omitted]

HTTP/1.1 100 Continue

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Thu, 07 Oct 2004 14:48:40 GMT
Server: Microsoft-IIS/6.0
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
X-AspNet-Version: 1.1.4322
Cache-Control: private, no-store
Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
Content-Length: 3299

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
<meta name="vs_targetSchema" content="http://schemas.microsoft.com/intellisense/ie5">
ad to be shown
ad_url: <input id=ad_url name=ad_url value=http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=[publisher ID omitted]&offerid=37989.10000079&type=3&subid=0><br>
ad_takefocus: <input id=ad_takefocus name=ad_takefocus value=n><br>
ad_activationdelay: <input id=ad_activationdelay name=ad_activationdelay value=0><br>
ad_resizable: <input id=ad_resizable name=ad_resizable value=y><br>
ad_scrollbars: <input id=ad_scrollbars name=ad_scrollbars value=y><br>
ad_menubar: <input id=ad_menubar name=ad_menubar value=y><br>
ad_statusbar: <input id=ad_statusbar name=ad_statusbar value=y><br>
ad_toolbar: <input id=ad_toolbar name=ad_toolbar value=y><br>
ad_addressbar: <input id=ad_addressbar name=ad_addressbar value=y><br>
ad_fullscreen: <input id=ad_fullscreen name=ad_fullscreen value=n><br>
ad_statustext: <input id=ad_statustext name=ad_statustext value=><br>
ad_theatermode: <input id=ad_theatermode name=ad_theatermode value=n><br>
ad_id: <input id=ad_id name=ad_id value=91969><BR>
keyword_id: <input id=keyword_id name=keyword_id value=513022><BR>
ad_windowtitle: <input id=ad_windowtitle name=ad_windowtitle value="Brought to you by the Zango Search Assistant"><br>
<INPUT ID=kw_exclude TYPE=text style="VISIBILITY: hidden;" VALUE=".exactsearch.net"><br>
<INPUT ID=ad_shown TYPE=text VALUE="y" style="VISIBILITY: hidden;"><br>
<INPUT ID=data1 style="VISIBILITY: hidden;" VALUE="[binary data omitted]">

<SPAN class="957085619-06032003"><FONT face="Arial" color="#ff0000" size="5">Thank you
for your patience.&nbsp; You will be redirected to your destination site in a
few seconds.</FONT></SPAN>

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Resulting LinkShare Cookies
[publisher ID omitted]%3A37989%3A