Affiliate tracking can be a tricky concept to grasp, especially for new businesses trying their hand in affiliate marketing. Don’t worry though, we’ve got the basics covered right here!
What Is Affiliate Tracking?
Affiliate tracking is simply the process through which marketing activities are managed and tracked by businesses.
This is usually done through affiliate tracking systems that keep track of all sales, conversions and clicks done on affiliate websites. Doing so enables the network owners to be updated about their affiliates’ progress, and know which ones are driving traffic and boosting sales. Tracking can be of two types: client-based and server-based.
This type of tracking relies on using cookies to store information about the users on their computers. The client in question is none other than the user’s browser where the cookie is embedded! When a user clicks on an advertisement, a cookie is placed on their browser.
If the user gets to the final sale page where conversion occurs, a tracking pixel that had been placed there sends the information obtained through the cookie back to the tracking platform. This records the conversion for the affiliate.
Client-based tracking is the simplest and most common method used by advertisers. All an advertiser needs to do is place the tracking pixel on the conversion page and the rest is taken care of.
The second type of tracking, also called server to server tracking, does not involve cookies in the process. In this form of tracking, there is no requirement for anything to be placed on the user’s desktop. Thus, even if the user disables the cookie on their browser, no conversion is lost through this feature of the tracking system.
The users are presented with a unique tracking link, clicking on which directs them to a landing page. The link enables the affiliate system to generate and store identifiers for their users, each distinctive to them, allowing information about the users to be collected and analyzed. This occurs through the creation of a transaction ID, which is then passed through the tracking URL on to the server which is hosting the landing page.
The ID is stored by the advertiser, and once the transaction is complete, it is sent back to the affiliate tracking system through a post-back URL.
Although server-based tracking does not use third party cookies, it may make use of first party cookies. This is because these aren’t usually disabled by most users. Doing so allows conversions that may occur later instead of that very instant to be tracked and recorded.
In order for an advertiser to employ this form of tracking however, it must have access to the kind of technology or platform needed to send ahead such notifications and requests.