How to Spot Affiliate Cookie-Stuffing Fraud with PageXray by FouAnalytics

When you run a PageXray on a site or page, and you see a large number of pages that are neither ad serving or ad tracking domains, you are likely looking at affiliate cookie-stuffing fraud. Yes, they are loading entire pages in the background to make it appear that a user clicked a native ad, content widget to come to the page, when the user did not click anything. This is also how they do affiliate cookie stuffing, creating the appearance of clicks on affiliate links.

Here’s an example of a PageXray - https://pagexray.fouanalytics.com/q/bongino.com

In the PageXray below, notice domains like acehardware, bestbuy, bhphotovideo, anntaylor, hilton, hotels.com, macys.com, marriott, etc. None of these are ad serving or ad tracking domains. When you see this in a PageXray it tells you those pages are being loaded in hidden windows or iframes. Once those pages are loaded, the affiliate cookies are “stuffed” without the knowledge of the user. This is because the user never clicked on all 100 of those pages to visit them. But in the future, if the user does complete any purchase on any of those sites, the affiliate gets a revenue share, which they didn’t deserve..

By the way, this is how they deliver fake traffic too. Notice sites like aarp.org and cbs.com. These are content domains, not ecommerce sites like the others in the list. Each pageload is counted as traffic, which means programmatic ads also loaded. Because this user was on a real device, the visit would even me marked as NOT invalid by current fraud detection tech. So they are getting away with simple ad fraud too.

If you see this in the data, please let me know. I am tracking additional examples of affiliate fraud, via cookie stuffing by loading hidden affiliate webpages.