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*It is beneficial to open a new browser window when you are directing people off of your site and leading them to another.
Visitors may not have finished exploring your site in its entirety when a link catches their eye and they click on it—leading them away from your site. If you take them directly to the merchant site without leaving them connected to your site, they may never return (you will get the credit for the click or sale either way but you'll benefit more from keeping the browser on your own site and opening a new window for them on the merchant site). When they're done making their purchase and close the browser, they may click on another affiliate promotion link if they are still on your site.