All affiliate marketers use their affiliate links to promote other people's products or services. The nature of these affiliate links is to carry a parameter (name or a number). The name can either be the affiliate marketer's username or a choice name. The number can either be a generic number or the number of the affiliate's position on the numbers of the affiliate for a particular product or service. Some affiliate marketers choose to cloak their affiliate links while others choose to use affiliate directly. Whichever one you use, it's time you include the advanced direct links into your affiliate marketing techniques.
Direct Links is advanced affiliate marketing feature that allows an affiliate marketer to link directly to an affiliate site without the additional parameters in the URL. The affiliate site/manager tracks the visits/views from your direct link and the sales you make through the direct link will be credited to you and you will get paid the affiliate commission attached to the product/service bought via your direct links.
The main advantage of using direct links is because some people already know what affiliate links look like. They may not click on your affiliate link if they see that you will be making a commission from their purchase. Using direct links will help to avoid this as your visitors will be more likely to click on a link with no affiliate parameters attached. If you use direct links, most of your blog visitors won't know you are promoting an affiliate product/service. Another advantage is that the people who will rather copy the URL to their browser and remove your affiliate parameters won't be able to do this. This makes your affiliate sales secured.
How does Direct Links work
The people you refer to an affiliate product/service through the direct link is recognized by the HTTP_REFERER information sent by the browser. In short, when a visitor clicks on a link on your page, the HTTP_REFERER will be the address of your page. The affiliate system will then check this page in the database, finds that the page belongs to you, and assigns you the referral (and click). This method is dependent on the browser, so it is 90-99% reliable. All the modern browsers send this information.
How to use Direct Links
To use the Direct Link advanced feature, you need to first determine if this is setup by the owner of the product/service you are an affiliate of. You can only use this advanced feature if the affiliate system already has it in place. If not, you will need to contact your affiliate manager and ask for the possibility of doing this for your affiliate links. Your affiliate manager should understand what you mean by direct links or direct linking. If not, you can refer your affiliate manager to this post so s/he could see what you mean.
However, if the affiliate system already has the advanced feature in place, you will have to set up your direct link URLs yourself. These are URL addresses of your own blogs or websites. The URL should be the addresses of where you intend placing your affiliate links or banners. Go to your affiliate dashboard, look for the direct link feature, click on it and define the URLs to use in the banners & links section. Add and submit your direct links and they will be manually reviewed and approved by an affiliate manager/merchant before they will work. When the URLs are approved, every link to the affiliate site even without affiliate parameters will be treated as a referral for you.
Which affiliate sites allows the use of direct links?
For now, I can only refer to Konga's affiliate program. Konga allows affiliate marketers to use the advanced direct links feature. If you know any other affiliate site that allows direct links, you could let me know via the comment box and I'll update this post with your recommendation.