As the page title suggests, there are two common meanings of the word "cloak" as it relates to affiliate marketing.
We've received a number of inquiries about our "Cloak" redirect type in Pretty Links, and how it is different from any other type of redirect. We will cover that in more detail below.
But first, let's start by understanding the word cloak itself. To cloak means to hide, cover, or disguise something.
So by that meaning, aren't all shortened links of any redirect type technically cloaked? YES!
Most Common Form of Cloaking - Link Shortening With Redirects
To shorten a long, ugly affiliate link down to a shorter/prettier URL is a form of cloaking. In fact when you scour the internet on the matter you'll find that more times than not, when the author of an article mentions "cloaking", they're referring simply to any kind of link shortening.
Link shortening is a great way to "cloak" your affiliate links and create short memorable URLs that are easy to share. But it goes beyond that, they also help prevent commission hijacking by masking (cloaking) your affiliate ID from commission hijacking scripts. So, if you're interest is in protecting your affiliate links from commission hijacking, whilst also benefiting from pretty and easy to remember URLs - then any form of link shortening will do.
Least Common Form of Cloaking - Target URL Masking
So what's the other form of cloaking? The other form of cloaking is actually hiding the target URL from the visitor, such that they cannot see it in their address bar, even after clicking on your shortened affiliate link. There's a couple of ways to do this, but Pretty Links does it with iFrames. Pretty Links includes additional redirect types for this called "Cloak" and "Pretty Bar". These types of redirects will load the target URL in an iFrame thereby hiding the Target URL from the user's address bar. This form of cloaking has largely been frowned upon by many merchants and SEO experts and is generally not recommended for affiliate marketing. In fact many merchants have taken measures to block this form of cloaking completely.
So what type should I use?
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