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affiliate tracking

Part Of the series of articles on

The tracking conversation:4

part four

There is one ever-present topic within every conversation between affiliate marketers serious about improving their performance: the tracking conversation.

This article continues the conversation and lays out the specific issues for affiliate publishers.

affiliate tracking


Publishers need to take control of tracking issues

Effective tracking is a core issue for publishers, that is usually left to the networks to monitor. This may be simply by noticing a drop in conversions or to a loyalty publisher member claiming missing cashback.

Monitoring Missing Commission

Generally, affiliate networks do a sound technical job, which can be compromised by an advertiser’s tracking implementation going awry. Monitoring missing commission has historically been a bit ad-hoc – and answers typically only come after a wait for the advertiser to respond. Quite simply, effective tracking is too important an issue for any affiliate publisher to leave unmonitored – it should be a key management or board-level concern.

Every publisher loses out in the perhaps $0.5bn-$1bn of missing commission because of affiliate tracking issues every year. Taking control of this is one of the easiest ways for a publisher to manage their business success and add to the bottom line.

Networks and advertisers often view maintaining tracking as a challenging quality assurance role, however publishers will have a different perspective and see it as a ‘hygiene’ responsibility for them to maximise revenue.

Publisher, Network and Advertiser Roles

Publishers rely on the networks and SaaS tracking partners for a number of reasons. At the top of the list is managing the advertisers’ commission framework for referrals. From our years’ experience in network and publisher roles, the team at Moonpull know that this is not an easy task – and all experienced publishers know this too.

Publishers rely on advertisers to manage the stock holding, stock sourcing, customer management, warranty provision and many other tasks. Publishers seek the best advertisers that offer the ideal mix of the best conversion rates and EPCs and which are unstinting in undertaking such merchant tasks. Such advertisers are usually also managing the competing challenges of multiple advertising channels and legislative compliance successfully.

From a publishers viewpoint, it’s the networks’ and advertisers’ responsibility to deliver reliable tracking as their core service to them. That leaves the publishers to make evidence-based commercial decisions on how, when and to what extent to form relationships with a range of advertisers.

Affiliate marketing works best as a relationship

That said, the objectives of all parties need to be aligned. Advertisers and publishers need to feel they are each participating in a professional affiliate marketing relationship. That is regardless of their respective commercial processes and thought processes. These of course should be aligned to ensure strength in the ongoing relationship.

This is sometimes compromised by tracking issues created, often inadvertently, by advertisers. They are negotiating competing requirements from managing affiliates, along with other channels, whilst also needing to be compliant with PECR, GDPR or similar legislation. The occasional breakdown in tracking is therefore not too surprising, and perhaps even expected.  However, it is reasonable that advertisers are judged on how quickly issues are identified and addressed.

Moonpull helps publishers to monitor tracking

For any publisher who has been impacted by any of these issues, the benefits of using Moonpull are clear. Publishers using Moonpull’s platform have found that deeplinks (often with complex redirect paths) are more likely to drop tracking parameters and/or javascript. This usually leads to tracking failing.

Publishers rationale for using Moonpull is to effectively focus on these key matters:

  • Reviewing links to their top-earning advertisers for affiliate handover or memory cookie issues that compromise commission
  • Checking deeplinks – associated with vouchers, automated campaigns or  sector-specific marketplace sites – at scale
  • Checking specific deeplinks in product review content
  • Understanding how advertisers’ cookie consent platforms and users’ responses all impact affiliate tracking
Moonpull analysis

Operationally, Moonpull’s benefits include:

  • Detailed insights into issues to communicate with the network and the advertiser and achieve better and quicker resolution
  • For publishers with subnetworks; reassurance for customers that you’re being proactive, so gaining competitive advantage. They will welcome knowing you’re maximising their revenue

  • Where tracking does go wrong, daily monitoring keeps you informed for compensation discussions.
  • Knowing the nature of an issue (e.g. is it limited in scope or all pervasive) helps you decide whether to ‘suspend’ use of an advertiser’s links

The Publishers View

We’ve been in conversation with a number of publishers in recent months as part of the development process for Moonpull.

Warrick Lambert of Redu commented: “Affiliate tracking still gives rise to too many unknown issues when we’re deciding which brand or product to promote. What Moonpull’s tracking analysis does is to take the risk out of the process and gives assurance that a link will work and track before we run a promotion”.

From initial view and use of the platform, James Little of Top Cashback said: “Having dug into Moonpull’s data, we can now get visibility on where and why tracking fails and commissions being lost, in granular detail – and enables us to have conversations to fix the issues. It’s one of the most exciting developments I’ve seen for some time.”

Take Full Control

The biggest benefit for publishers is in taking control of all of the above. Being in possession of the fullest dataset possible of tracking and conversions provides the means for efficiency in the publisher business fulfilling its commercial objectives.

The recent shortlisting as Best Innovation in the Performance Marketing Awards is a testament to the importance of the issue and how Moonpull is addressing it.

Moonpull is a truly invaluable tool to help publishers achieve this simply and effectively. Speak to us about your own challenges and to see how the Moonpull platform can help your own business avoid those lost commissions.

Steven Brown, Moonpull

Join in the Tracking Conversation

Part One: The Tracking Conversation

Part Two: When to Appraise Tracking

appraise tracking image

Part Three: Cookie Consent Platforms

The Tracking Conversation Join in The Tracking Conversation on Linkedin

Read More: About Moonpull