“You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.” – Abraham Lincoln

It can be difficult to get started in the affiliate space, the competition is rough and the industry changes rapidly. Putting your hard earned money on the line in hopes of a return has caused more than a few hearts to skip a beat. For this reason, more than a few good affiliates have gone astray and tried their hand at a few dirty tricks to increase profits.

While some tactics may seem successful on the surface, others can come at high risk to your campaign. Here we find a breakdown of some of the dirty tricks that may threaten the health of your offers, and methods for identifying and avoiding them.

Falsifying Conversions

Of Conversions tracked by affiliate networks, an average of 11.4% are believed to be fraudulent. Although this statistic will vary greatly from one network to the next, fraud accounts for millions of dollars annually across the industry. The best thing you can do to arm yourself and your offers against fraudulent conversions is to gain an intimate understanding of how your system functions and monitor it closely. Some networks rely heavily on third-party fraud and risk detection services. If you are not an internet guru, this may be the option for you!

Cookie Stuffing

An all too common practice in the software marketing space, cookie stuffing takes many different forms. This blackhat marketing technique can be used to create records of illegitimate affiliate sales. Cookie stuffing occurs when a user visits a website and receives a third-party cookie from an affiliate website that will attribute any qualifying transactions back to the affiliate- typically without the knowledge or consent of the user.

Spam, E-mail and Search Engine

In need of some “natural enhancement?” Although not as prevalent of a problem as it was in the past, there’s hardly a person out there who hasn’t been a victim of spam e-mail campaigns. While most users have gotten wise to this game, and many terms and conditions prohibit this type of behavior, some affiliates will still try this method of generating leads. Spamdexing also finds favor with some, and continues in this same vein of undesirable behavior. This is a practice of deceiving search engine indexes by methods such as the frequest use of keywords and the creation of pages, often devoid of meaningful content, for the sole purpose of increasing page rank and traffic.

Malicious Redirects

In some of the worst cases you may find your offers involved with an affiliate who is willing to use malicious Iframes or javascript to achieve their goals and attempt to boost their numbers. It can be rather difficult to tell if malicious code was inserted intentionally by the site owner, or if they were simply hacked due to a weakness in their sites security. Yet, when it comes to user experience, if you receive an infection on your computer, intentions matter little. Whether used for fraud, cookie stuffing, phishing, or to spread malware, malicious redirects can be very difficult to spot, and cause significant harm.

Only Join Reliable and Honest Networks

When evaluating a prospective network, look for experienced Affiliate Managers working for transparent and forthcoming companies. A strong system of core values and a strict adherence to business ethics should be at the foundation of any network with which you associate. The best networks will offer support in the form of Risk Analysis, Compliance, and Quality Assurance.

Affiliate marketing is a booming industry, estimated to be worth $4 Billion by 2014. For this reason it is imperative that one not allow a few dirty tricks to cause distrust, and obscure the benefits of an honest network. Take your time to research, read reviews, and find out what sort of reputation your potential network enjoys. Do your due diligence and you will be rewarded with a network that provides new and exciting offers to keep your campaigns fresh, and the clicks converting.