Cookie stuffing is an unscrupulous marketing technique that is not accepted nor supported by most reputable affiliate networks. Essentially, it’s an act of fraud that lets people earn illegitimate commissions without doing any honest work.
When Internet users click on an affiliate link from a website, a cookie is placed on their computer. That small cookie file is used to give credit to the website owner if that user should make a purchase. With cookie stuffing, multiple third-party cookie files are placed on the user’s computer. These cookies are tied to random products and merchants, many of which have absolutely nothing to do with the page that the user was originally viewing.
Because multiple cookies are downloaded, the user will receive personalized ads for things that they weren’t even interested in. Should they end up making a purchase for one of those items, those cookies will give credit to whoever placed them on the computer.
The problem with cookie stuffing is that no real work was done to market a product. The fraudster who dropped those cookies will get commissions for sales that they had no part in making. To the merchant or company providing commissions, that sale looks like it came from a legitimate affiliate link. However, in reality, the user never even saw an affiliate’s website.
Internet users can fall victim to cookie stuffing from a wide range of sources. The cookies can be downloaded from normal websites, pop-up ads, secret scripts, and even images on a forum. As mentioned earlier, the act is frowned upon by most affiliate networks. There have even been cases of companies working with the FBI to catch these cookie stuffing operations in the act, leading to hefty fines and jail time.