This is a question we hear quite frequently. The term itself can be a bit confusing to the behavior it is describing. So what is cookie stuffing?
What is being described is the practice of automatically simulating a physical click of an affiliate link. Cookie stuffing is commonly used to describe a simulated click happening on a web site versus a simulated click happening through adware. Occasionally people will use the term in conjunction with adware.
When a simulated click of an affiliate link occurs, the clickstream happens as it normally would if a real person had physically clicked the link. The affiliate link is sent to the respective Network (or Merchant in the case of an in-house program) servers, the click is recorded and tracking cookies are placed on the end user’s computer. Hence the term cookie stuffing since in many cases the most obvious sign that something has happened is the appearance of the tracking cookie(s) on the computer.
There are many ways to technically automate or simulate a physical click of an affiliate link. The term cookie stuffing generally encompasses any of the various ways of achieving a simulated click of an affiliate link.
Cookie stuffing describes the result of a behavior rather than the actual behavior itself. As such, we prefer the term forced click.