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Tracking Methods in Affiliate Marketing

In order to guarantee the payment of a commission it is necessary to track transactions (sales/leads). In the process an interrelationship between the network and the merchant or his entrusted agency arises. In the end the tracking will be secured within the networks. The merchant will therefore have to integrate a so-called sale/lead pixel on the order confirmation page or the registration page, which passes the information onto the network. 

In affiliate marketing transparency in tracking is the highest priority.

In affiliate marketing transparency in tracking is the highest priority.

With regard to data protection laws it should be mentioned that no user-related information will be forwarded during this process. It will only be detected that there has been a contact with an advertising medium before the transaction, and which publisher has been involved. Thereby the transaction can be classified to the respective publisher, whereupon he can be rewarded with a commission.

Common tracking methods:

Session tracking

The most frequently used tracking method is usually done via URL sessions. The advantage is that a transaction will be recorded whether the browser allows cookies or not. The publisher’s ID will be transmitted by a link in the advertising medium. The disadvantage of this tracking method is that it cannot be tracked if the user leaves the site or closes the browser, consequently interrupting the session.

Standard cookie tracking

This tracking method is mainly used in combination with session cookie tracking. When coming into contact with the advertising medium in the user’s browser, a cookie will then be set. The cookie contains different information such as the ID of the mediation publisher, link type, and identification number. If a transaction takes place with the merchant, the program will report the completion to the network. The information will be read and the transaction will be classified to a publisher who will then receive a corresponding sale or lead commission. However, this method does not take effect if user cookies in the browser are deleted or entirely blocked.

Fingerprint tracking

The difference to other methods is that a digital signature consisting of IP address, browser, and computer configuration will be generated. Every user leaves an individual “finger print” while carrying out his or her transaction, which results from the user’s data and system settings. Fingerprint tracking is considered to be a very uncommon method. Albeit rarely offered in affiliate marketing, it is considered a trend in this sector.

Flash cookie tracking

Flash cookies are an alternative method to set cookies. They are, however, not common practice. There are two types of cookies, which are saved differently.

Standard cookies are saved in a predefined folder and can therefore quickly be deleted or blocked. Flash cookies are saved in folder of the Adobe Flash Player. A deletion of browser cookies does not work. Flash cookie tracking is only possible with users who have the Adobe Flash Player installed. The original purpose of flash cookies was to store necessary data on the computer.

Apart from the ones already mentioned there are other methods as well involving HTML5, for example. No matter which method you choose from in the end: when it comes to affiliate marketing it is important not to rely only on the network for tracking. It is advisable to implement your own tracking, which supports the system and can thus produce similar results.

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