Technology impact on affiliate performance over Black Friday:
Insights from the Moonpull1000
For many publishers, networks and indeed advertisers in ecommerce, Black Friday weekend is the peak trading period for the whole year. Sarah Beeskow-Blay of Silverbean was one of the first to report initial results in Linkedin with strong figures. Online sales were up 2.3% over 2021 and 48% of all Black Friday eCom purchases via mobile devices. Delayed payment purchases also saw a 48% jump as well.
It is crucially important therefore with all this for the effort to expect and results to be as strong as possible. For affiliates, it is equally crucial that commission is not lost due to tracking issues.
Moonpull is designed to audit and identify many of the reasons for tracking failure, notably in the affiliate handover. As part of the service to users, Moonpull also runs a regular independent audit of around 1000 affiliate links across the major networks to gain broader industry insights.
Introducing the Moonpull1000
Since mid 2022 Moonpull has run a scheduled audit of around 1000 affiliate links covering a selection of networks, geographies and market sectors and has been running for several months during 2022.
Moonpull ran the most recent Moonpull1000 specifically to examine how the technologies of affiliate marketing have influenced the sector’s Black Friday experience.
To give an idea of the issues that can arise in the ‘affiliate handover’, we highlight three advertisers where Moonpull identified issues each from different networks.
1 Keen Gardener (Affiliate Future)
The affiliate tracking is third party only, with the main offer graphic going to a 404 not found page.
The lack of first party tracking means sales on Safari are unlikely to track and the offer graphic issue is likely to dampen conversions further.
2 Maplin (Webgains)
A newly-introduced (perhaps in the last fortnight) consent-driven user control over the tracking configuration. Previously it had been showing a bar with a simple Dismiss button:
This is particularly significant given that as the network involved has shared that it doesn’t have third party tracking in place, following the GDPR changes in 2018. Publishers may well have been expecting one level of performance, but it may be lower by the proportion of sales not tracked due to declined user consent.
3 Martha Stewart Wines (Impact)
The Martha Stewart website recently introduced a redirect to Wine Insider (wineinsiders.com/curators/martha-stewart-wine-collection?referrer=MSW) leading to an incomplete first-party cookie, although third-party tracking remains in place.
Similar to Keen Gardener, the lack of first party tracking means sales on Safari are unlikely to track and again publishers may have been expecting one level of performance, but it may be lower by the proportion of sales not tracked.
Variations in Advertiser Tracking Setup
These three issues are representative of those identified by Moonpull, and are typical in that issues are more often in the advertiser implementation and not the publisher or network set up.
Beyond these three, the Moonpull1000 Black Friday analysis identified:
- There is still a range in network’s clients having meaningful consent processes over cookies (where cookies can be accepted or declined) and similar technologies. They range from 63% for one UK network to just 20% for one US network.
- Of these, 44% control the presence of some or all elements of tracking for one network down to 13% in the UK, and even lower in the US.
- Advertisers with first party cookie issues range from 4% to 11% of a network’s advertisers.
In all cases, the variation mainly reflects the networks’ advertiser mix. Where first party tracking is compromised, anything from 5% to 14% of sales may go untracked. When this fails and third-party tracking is in place, ITP rules in iOS, Safari and Mozilla will result in around a third of sales not being credited.
Planning for 2023
Looking forward to 2023, the increasing adoption of Moonpull in major affiliate networks will help to spot some of these issues. Larger publishers are also relying the Moonpull audits to identify potentially compromised tracking, often to check an advertiser link before putting a campaign live.
About the Moonpull1000
The Moonpull1000 is a project to track and highlight the impact of technology changes on affiliate marketing.
On one level it exists to help all parties understand the impact of issues when traffic is sent to advertisers where complications and subtleties exist. For many, lost commission is not just lost revenue but a much larger proportion of profit. It can also lead to poor business decisions because the performance of an advertiser is mis-represented.
On another level the affiliate industry is undergoing unprecedented legal and technical evolution driven by consent and cookie deprecation changes. As a first-party tracking model this offers opportunity if managed correctly, and the Moonpull1000 can be used by the industry as a data set to help be in a more competitive place in the marketing mix once Chrome third party cookie deprecation is implemented.
Clearly tracking is complicated so Moonpull uses best efforts to identify tracking matters, it may be in some instances there are technologies or processes it is not aware of that compensate for the issues identified.