Affiliate Links on Facebook

Recently an affiliate of a network using HasOffers wrote a blog post about our links not being friendly for social media sites like Facebook. The exciting part is that we actually know a few things about posting links on these sites and would love to share that with you now.

How Social Media Sites Scrape

When you submit a link to share on Facebook or another social networking website, they pre-populate data about the site. The process works like this:

  1. User submits a URL to share.
  2. Website uses server side scripting to access the URL.
  3. The script gets the page title from the meta – the content in the <title> tags.
    • <title>Affiliate Tracking Software – Manage Your Own Affiliate Network</title>
  4. The script gets the description from the meta.
    • <meta name=”description” content=”HasOffers, affiliate tracking software. Track and manage your affiliate program with unlimited affiliates & fast reporting. TRY IT FREE.”>
  5. The script gets the first image on the page. If there are multiple images on a page, which there usually are, it selects the first image on the page by default.

New HTML Meta Tags

A few months ago, Facebook adopted Open Graph Protocol as a standard for pulling information about pages. You can include these new Open Graph tags on your web pages. These new Open Graph tags allow you to specify exactly the content to share. So instead of just scraping the web page for the data, it will use the specified data instead. This gives you more control to make the connection between a web page and how it’s shared by a user on their profile or wall.

<title>The Rock (1996)</title> <meta property=”og:title” content=”The Rock”/> <meta property=”og:type” content=”movie”/> <meta property=”og:url” content=”http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117500/”/> <meta property=”og:image” content=”http://ia.media-imdb.com/rock.jpg”/> <meta property=”og:site_name” content=”IMDb”/> <meta property=”fb:admins” content=”USER_ID”/> <meta property=”og:description” content=”A group of U.S. Marines, under command of a renegade general, take over Alcatraz and threaten San Francisco Bay with biological weapons.”/>

 

Facebook OGP implementation: http://developers.facebook.com/docs/opengraph/

More information available here: http://ogp.me/

“Share Format” for Affiliate Links

Before OGP became the standard, our engineers actually developed a way to improve how affiliate links are shared. They called it the share format. When you take a HasOffers tracking link and set the format to share – &format=share – the ad servers display an intermediary page. This intermediary page loads specific information about the offer. When social media sites scrape the link for content, they pull the data from this page instead of the advertiser’s landing page.

The intermediary share page displays the offer title, offer description and offer thumbnail. The share page then uses a meta refresh to direct the user to the landing page for the offer. Most scraping scripts don’t follow meta redirect so the websites pull the data from the intermediary share page.

http://go.hasoffers.com/aff_c?offer_id=10&aff_id=6938&format=share

Our engineers haven’t had a chance to implement the OGP tags on the share page, but I assure you its in the development queue. The current share format still works very well on Facebook as well as other sites that don’t pull OGP data.

Affiliate Links Blocked by Facebook

Most social networking sites have strict policies regarding spam. We certainly understand and respect their policies. Facebook, LinkedIn and others will implement blocks to prevent potential spam. These blocks are implemented on the domain as well as the IP address associated with the domain. If just one of your affiliates abuses these social networking sites, it will ruin it for all your other affiliates. Advertisers and networks must monitor their affiliates to ensure their domains don’t get blocked. This process is very similar to how email services block emails from sources identified as spam. Even good emails can sometimes get caught in these filters; posting affiliate links on social network sites is the same.

Affiliate programs can ensure their links aren’t blocked by Facebook and other sites by having their tracking domains operate on a custom IP address. The IANA allots Internet companies like ourselves a certain number of IP addresses. We provide these dedicated IPs to Enterprise clients only. If you are HasOffers Basic and Pro client and want to ensure your affiliate links can be posted on social media sites, you should think about upgrading to Enterprise for a dedicated IP address. This way another network’s affiliates’ activity isn’t connected to your network’s tracking domain.

I hope this helps bring some clarity to the issue of sharing affiliate links on Facebook.  There will always be new filters and blocks to prevent potential spam, and we certainly understand the importance of providing the tools people need to be compliant.  Keep your eyes peeled for those updates regarding OGP, and good luck.

Lucas Brown
http://www.tune.com

Lucas and his twin brother Lee began their first businesses before starting high school in their hometown of Elma, WA. They quickly found this world suited him, launching other successful businesses in college and reporting their first million dollars in revenue as sophomores in their dorms. Developing unique solutions for their own ad network, Lucas had the foresight to white-label their technologies to empower other businesses, which quickly became the birth of TUNE. As Chief Product Officer, Lucas leads agile product teams that strive to quickly meet the needs of an ever growing client base. As a founder, Lucas and his twin brother Lee supported the company in the beginning, growing to profitability by 2010. Lucas' expertise in complex business models, integrations, implementations, and his constant drive for innovation make him a cornerstone of this Seattle based startup. Lucas graduated from Babson College in Boston, MA.

  • Msaladie

    When are you going to release open graph metatags for tracking links?

    Thank you

    • http://www.hasoffers.com Peter Hamilton

      @Msaladie Ad servering technology will include the update for open graph metatags on the share links in 3 to 6 weeks! :)

  • http://impressthenet.myopenid.com/ Doug Miller

    Thanks for the timely information.  I actually had a task on my list to do some work to customize the titles served up to the facebook bots (dropping the site name from them) but it can all be done in my metatag generating file using OGP.

    Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CuttingEdgeOffers Jeff

    Very insightful stuff… I posted this on our Facebook page for our affiliates to see.

  • John

    Hello, my Facebook Ads account was banned for promoting affiliate links. Is there any way I can get my account back even though they said “This decision is final”.

    Thanks a lot!

  • Pingback: Using Research to Perfect Your Affiliate Offer

  • http://www.facebook.com/pwneshwar.zuckerberg Pwneshwar Zuckerberg

    You can also use a special url shortener like pwnzuck.com which allows you to bypass the facebook ban