What is Cloaking ? Cloaking means you show one landing page to a certain percentage of the audience, and a different landing page to the rest.
Here are some scenarios where you might want to cloak:
Banned Offers :: Want to run an offer that’s banned on a traffic source? Lets use Bing as an example traffic source, and gambling as the offer. You can’t show the reviewers the gambling landing page because you’ll get banned, so instead the cloaker will detect if someone is working for Microsoft, and it sends them to another page of your choosing. You can send to any page, but we’ll go with an iPhone slots game. However, the cloaker sends everyone else to your “real” landing page which is the gambling website.
Banned Landing Page Techniques:: Perhaps you want to get really aggressive with your landing page to increase your conversion rates. Maybe techniques such as exit pops or GEOIP scripts are not allowed so cloaking the reviewers can send them to an alternative page instead.
Other Affiliates:: A year ago I was in a bidding war for a very competitive spot. What really annoyed me is every time I improved my landing page, this fuckboy would rip my page a few hours later. This would erase any competitive advantage I had and it was basically a race to the bottom of the barrel, and only the traffic source was winning. I checked my IP logs and took down the top IP addresses that visited my landing page. With that information, I wrote a simple script that redirected people with these IP addresses to a different landing page of mine. For the next few months they stopped copying my new landing pages and just stuck with my old one. The improvements in my landing pages allowed me to bid higher and higher until they just gave up and went away.
Where Do People Cloak? Google, Bing, and Facebook are the most popular traffic sources for cloaking because the volume’s the highest. You can write a cloaker for any traffic source though.
How Do Cloakers Work? Each cloaker has their own technology and some work better than others. Here are some of the basic methods they use.
IP Collection – The software has a database of the IP addresses of the reviewers. This can be as simple as launching a campaign, pausing it, and recording any IP’s that visit the page. Referral URL’s – If someone is coming from dev.facebook.com, it’s probably a reviewer. GeoIP – This method is quite simple. If you’re running traffic in Italy, then only allow traffic from Italy. Sometimes the traffic source reviewers are in UK or USA, and they’re not going to be able to see your page unless they have an Italian IP address. Ban the city – Does the traffic source only have reviewers based in Montreal, Canada? Then they can just block any visitors from Montreal.
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