Cookie stuffing or cookie dropping is an illegal affiliate marketing technique. It occurs 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 on their link. 

Cookie stuffing is a type of affiliate marketing fraud in which an affiliate marketer inserts tracking cookies into a user’s browser without their knowledge or consent. These cookies are then used to track the user’s online activity and attribute any subsequent sales or leads to the affiliate marketer, even if the user did not click on an affiliate link or visit the affiliate’s website.

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.

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

Is Cookie Stuffing Or Cookie Dropping - Illegal? - cookie stuffing

Here are some popular cookie stuffing techniques:

Pixel IMG Cookie Stuffing

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.

Cookie stuffing is generally considered to be a fraudulent and unethical practice in the affiliate marketing industry, and it can also be illegal in certain circumstances.

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken action against companies and individuals who have engaged in cookie stuffing and other forms of affiliate marketing fraud. The FTC has the authority to bring enforcement actions against deceptive or misleading business practices, and it has the power to levy fines and seek other forms of legal recourse against those found to be in violation of its regulations.

Many affiliate marketing networks and merchants have specific policies in place that prohibit cookie stuffing and other forms of fraudulent activity. Violating these policies can result in the termination of an affiliate’s contract and potential legal action.

Overall, it is important for affiliates to be transparent and honest in their marketing practices, and to avoid engaging in any activities that may be considered fraudulent or deceptive.

Instead of using the cookie stuffing method, affiliates should focus on using honest and transparent marketing practices that are in compliance with industry standards and regulations. This can include using tracking links and cookies in a responsible and transparent manner, and being upfront with users about the use of tracking technologies.

How to Prevent Cookie 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 stuffing is a form of affiliate marketing fraud in which an affiliate marketer uses an automated script to insert tracking cookies into a user’s browser without the user’s knowledge or consent. These cookies are then used to track the user’s online activities and attribute any resulting sales or leads to the affiliate marketer, even if the user did not click on an affiliate link or visit the affiliate’s website.

To prevent cookie stuffing, you can use a number of different tactics. One approach is to use a tracking link redirect script that checks for the presence of an affiliate cookie before redirecting the user to the target website. This can help ensure that only users who have clicked on an affiliate link are tracked and credited for any resulting sales or leads.

You can also use a cookie syncing tool to synchronize your affiliate tracking cookies with those of the merchant, which can help prevent cookie stuffing by ensuring that only valid clicks are tracked and credited.

Other ways to prevent cookie stuffing include implementing strict policies and procedures for affiliates, using a reputable affiliate tracking software or platform, and regularly monitoring your affiliate marketing campaigns for any suspicious activity.

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 more robust and secure affiliate software, such as Scaleo.

affiliate markting without cookie stuffing guaranteed

What is cookie stuffing in affiliate marketing?

Cookie stuffing, also known as cookie dropping, is a controversial technique used in affiliate marketing where a user receives a third-party cookie from a website without the user’s knowledge or consent. This often occurs when visiting a website or viewing an email or pop-up ad.

How does cookie stuffing work?

When a user visits an affiliate website, a cookie is ‘stuffed’ into their browser, often without the user clicking on any affiliate links. If the user later makes a purchase from the related merchant site, the cookie stuffer gets the commission, even if the user didn’t click on their affiliate link.

Is cookie stuffing legal?

Cookie stuffing is generally considered unethical and can be against the terms of service of many affiliate marketing programs. It’s seen as deceptive because it can result in affiliate marketers earning commission on sales they didn’t directly influence. In some jurisdictions, it might be illegal, especially if it involves deception or breaches of privacy legislation.

What’s the impact of cookie stuffing on genuine affiliates?

Genuine affiliates can lose out on commission due to cookie stuffing. If a cookie stuffer’s cookie is placed on a user’s device after the user has clicked a genuine affiliate’s link, the cookie stuffer may unfairly earn the commission.

How can I protect my affiliate program from cookie stuffing?

Regularly auditing your affiliate program, analyzing traffic and conversion patterns, using a robust affiliate software such as Scaleo and ensuring that your affiliates comply with your program’s terms and conditions can help detect and prevent cookie stuffing. Additionally, using advanced affiliate tracking software can help to identify and block suspicious activities.

Can users protect themselves from cookie stuffing?

Yes, users can regularly clear their cookies, use ad blockers, or adjust their browser settings to refuse third-party cookies, which can help protect against cookie stuffing.

What happens if an affiliate is caught cookie stuffing?

If an affiliate is caught cookie stuffing, they will typically be banned from the affiliate program and may have their commissions withheld. They could also face legal action, depending on the severity of the breach and the jurisdiction.

Last Updated on May 25, 2023


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.