Is Cookie Stuffing Or Cookie Dropping – Illegal?

affiliate marketing cookie stuffing and cookie dropping is illigal

Cookie stuffing or cookie dropping is an illegal affiliate marketing technique. It’s when you place a cookie on someone else’s computer without their knowledge. Some people utilize it on their review sites so that they can still earn a commission even if the visitor does not click via their link. 

In other words, instead of leading people to the merchant’s website, you’re making money by discreetly loading the website (and dropping the affiliate cookie) in the background without the visitor’s knowledge. Most people regard it as blackhat marketing. If you are caught employing this method, you may be banned from an affiliate or CPA network.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

A simple explanation of affiliate marketing for those who are unfamiliar with it. Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business compensates one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought in through the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.

The affiliate tracking software sets a cookie on your computer every time you click on an affiliate link. This cookie saves vital information about your clicks, visited pages, and the referring affiliate. When you complete a transaction, the affiliate tracking system will locate this cookie on your computer and provide a commission to the referring affiliate based on the information contained within. 

As a result, many affiliates make money by using cookie stuffing scripts to actually get transactions counted in their favor, when in reality, they were not the legitimate partner to deliver the sale.

The only reason anyone participates in the cookie stuffing plan is to make extra money — it’s truly that easy, depending on how the cookie stuffing campaign is carried out.

Here are some popular cookie stuffing techniques:

So, what is cookie stuffing, and can you do it?

Cookie stuffing with an image is the most basic method of cookie stuffing. Instead of a genuine image, cookie stuffer uses an HTML image tag (<img>) to create a 1px * 1px image that goes to your affiliate link. When the page is loaded, the visitor’s browser will try to load the picture but instead will load the page linked in the tag, and your cookie will be deleted.


The main disadvantage of this method is that anyone with access to your source code can see that the image is simply a disguised affiliate link.

Iframe cookie stuffing is an alternative to image cookie stuffing. To do this, create a 1-pixel iFrame on your page and then have that iframe load your affiliate link. Again, the possibility of being caught here is reasonable, as someone only needs to open your source code to see you.

Plugins for WordPress

There are several cookie stuffing WordPress plugins available and affiliate cookie stuffing software. Plugins are the most convenient approach to packing cookies and sometimes make detection tough. On the other hand, some cookie stuffing plugins are extremely dangerous because they are programmed to drop the developers’ cookies on your users (without your knowledge) or even secretly reroute visitors to a different page.

Read see: What you need to know about CPA affiliate marketing?

Pop-ups versus Pop-unders: Today, popups are easily prevented by browsers, but back in the day, a lot of individuals utilized them to stuff cookies.

Browser toolbars or malware: Shawn Hogan employed browser toolbars he created to conduct cookie stuffing in the eBay case. Some free computer software may be stuffing cookies on your computer every time you use it.

It is, indeed, illegal. You could earn a lot more money than you ever imagined. However, you will have to pay a high price in the long run.

How to Prevent Cookies Stuffing in your Business?

If you have read our post about the future of affiliate marketing without cookies, you already know that the technique of cookie stuffing is dying and will not be relevant in 2023 at all. Since more and more businesses are moving away from the usage of affiliate cookies, it’s safe to say that if you are using an affiliate software that allows server-side tracking, such as Scaleo, you will no longer be prone to cookies stuffing or cookies dropping.

The best way to prevent any unauthorized commissions is through the use of a robust tracking method, that employs commission tracking without cookies involved.

Read our post about all the affiliate marketing commission tracking methods available in 2022.

Consider using affiliate software such as Scaleo to power your affiliate network or affiliate program. This way you can safe guard yourself from unwanted commissions allocation.

Cookie Stuffer was sentenced to 5 months in prison after stealing $28 MILLION on Ebay. To tweet, click here.

I hope you found this post useful. Do not forget to share it with your friends and sign up for our email newsletter to receive more updates like this.

Do you have any other information about cookie stuffing or cookie dropping? If your affiliate business has suffered from illegal cookie stuffing before, you may want to consider using a more robust and secure affiliate software, such as Scaleo.

affiliate markting without cookie stuffing guaranteed

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Elizabeth Sramek
Elizabeth is a Senior Content Manager at Scaleo. Currently enjoying the life in Prague and sharing professional affiliate marketing tips. She's been in the online marketing business since 2006 and gladly shares all her insights and ideas on this blog.
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