In my previous article I’ve already reviewed a really good spying service, but there are cases when you want to watch everything with your own eyes, see what works and how it works, understand how and where a user is redirected from a landing. Of course, sometimes you don’t want to pay. This point might be crucial for novices who only make their first steps, but don’t forget we all used to be like them. In this article I’ll try to summarize several hints on spying absolutely free of charge.
For this purpose I use a few plugins for my browser and, surely, a VPN.
Let’s start with VPN. Here you can use any of a great number of free or paid VPN services that are present on the market. It’s up to you, but if you buy a VPN service, choose one with wide choice of geos. That means, if you see a service with only 5-6 countries – don’t buy it, if 20-40 – ok, but make sure that the geos that you’re going to use are present in the list.
Hint: keep in mind that all popular free VPNs as well as well-known and dominating services with paid subscription such as HideMyAss, HideMe, etc., are present in databases of many experienced affiliates who are not lazy to sort out and block them, and you won’t see their landings using popular VPN. It’s up to you to hide from a VPN service or not, I’ll just remind that nowadays you can’t actually hide from the majority of spying utilities, so I will just note it and leave this choice at your pleasure.
Here we have a free spying manual that’s why I won’t spend much time telling you about all possible paid VPN plugins with many countries available. I’ll just say it again – you can use freemium services such as SecurityKiss or alike. However, I understand that many of you would want to know what service I personally use, that’s why I’ll write a bit about my favorite PureVPN. This is a very nice service with a giant pool of IP addresses (in the screenshot below you’ll see how many IPs and countries are there, and I can tell judging by my experience that’s a whole lot). Of course, it’s possible to hide from this service as well, but not everyone will do that. I haven’t seen their IP databases in public access, opposite to the previously mentioned HideMyAss. Prices are quite agreeable, and if you pay for a year it’s like $4.16 a month, and it’s just nothing in comparison with a price of a spying tool (nearly $150-200 a month).
All popular geos are included, the service works very well without sudden disconnects or long periods of inactivity, which are a problem of numerous competitors of PureVPN. So, it’s quite a must-have.
Time to go further.
Once you’ve purchased/downloaded/borrowed a VPN, you need a Firefox browser. I prefer to have a separate browser for spying, in my case it’s Firefox Portable that is stored in a separate folder with all the necessary plugins and tabs, and doesn’t interfere with my regular work.
Setting up Firefox Portable
The first plugin that you’ll need and that I’ll write about is User Agent Switcher. Download using this link and install it. Restart Mozilla.
This plugin allows substituting your User Agent and, therefore, pretend to be any device. An advantage of this plugin is that you are welcome to add a ton of user agent variants that can be downloaded from github. If you still don’t understand what it’s all about and how to use it, here are the screenshots:
1. Click the link and press ‘download Zip’
2. The zip-file download starts; you need only the useragents.xml file, so unpack it somewhere on your desktop.
3. Go to the Firefox Portable settings, then to Add-ons, then choose Extensions and select User-Agent Switcher that is, as I hope, already installed. Press Options:
4. In the Settings, you need to import the useragents.xml file into the switcher the following way:
Then press OPEN and new user agents will be imported into the switcher. Now, if you open the menu of User Agent in the browser, you’ll see a long list of available devices:
Having installed this plugin and connected to the VPN under a certain geo, you can surf some websites pretending to be an Android device and see offers of your competitors.
But that’s not all.
Looking for Websites for Spying
Now you know how to pretend to be a mobile device, but still don’t understand what pages should you visit? There are many options.
1. Look for website domains in the tracker referrer statistics. If you don’t have it, you can take some from my statistics in the screenshot; these websites are suitable for watching banner ads:
2. In the Zeropark network it’s possible to extract domains directly from PopUp campaigns. How? Create a PopUp campaign, enter it and press:
You will see a window with the list of all available platforms:
Registration in the network is simple and there are plenty of websites, so it takes long time to look for suitable ones and choose them. The main point of spying using popup websites is that you’ll need to find websites where a popup will appear immediately after clicking a certain link. Then start working with this site, clean cookies and cache, change a user agent and enter it again and again. Goal: create a database of such websites that you can visit every day and see what’s new and what do your target competitors do. It may take much time, but don’t forget that this way is free and, if used properly, can bring you nice landings and offers.
3. If you have any spying tool, you can take domains from it. I’ve already told about that in my guides.
4. Finally, you can find websites suitable for spying in Google while surfing some popular mobile sites.
It’s really helpful to analyze the whole chain of redirects from a landing/banner to the offer as you can find something useful, understand whether it’s being resold and by who, and try to find a direct way to an affiliate program, thus getting an advantage.
The following plugin will help you with that: Live HTTP Headers
Install it and in the settings choose that it should display only redirects, remove other ticks.
1. Visit the website of your choice.
2. Press ALT in Mozilla to see the menu. Then click on the Tools tab and open the abovementioned plugin:
3. There’s already a lot of info there, so you just need to wait until the whole website is analyzed. Press Clear in the plugin window, and all the redirects are cleared.
4. Now you can click the banner and watch all possible redirects leading from the banner to the landing and then – to the offer.
Here, in the screenshot you can see, for example, that the affiliate’s traffic goes from the admoda network:
And here is their tracking link:
The address of the landing:
This way, step by step, you can learn where traffic goes from the banner to the landing and then to offer networks.
By the way, there’s another way of watching redirects: redirectdetective.com. On this website you just need to enter the link you’re interested in and look where it leads. It’s worth being added to bookmarks as it’s a convenient way to look at a chain of links from affiliate programs to offers. It will help you understand what offers are being resold by who and whether it’s worth working with an offer if it goes through 7-8 middlemen.
Random Agent Spoofer
Finally, we have reached the most interesting point:
A Firefox plugin to substitute your IP: Random Agent Spoofer
It’s worth a separate post as it’s a very interesting tool for spying on both pinsubmit offers under an IP of a required provider and spying without VPN.
The plugin allows substituting your User Agent and IP. Therefore, if you have an access to a good IP/ISP base, for example, from Maxmind, you can install this plugin only and start working.
1. Absolutely free.
2. Doesn’t require additional plugins. Doesn’t require VPN.
1. A great number of websites/networks now don’t allow browsing their pages with the spoofer and see your real data instead, and certain trackers/cloakers can’t be outdone with the help of this method. As time goes there’ll be fewer possibilities to spy using this method.
2. IP/ISP database is required. You can try to look for it on the Internet, sometimes it’s possible to find databases. You can also try to look for a certain provider here.
Despite all cons, it’s still possible to use Spoofer on some websites, so it’s worth doing.
1. Install, click on its menu and tick Random (Mobile) or any other mode from the list:
2. Then move to the Headers tab and insert the IP address of a required country/provider:
That’s all you need to know if you’re brave enough to spy manually, wish you luck in spying!