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The Memory Cookie

the memory cookie

Steven Brown

It’s time to understand the core tracking component – the Memory Cookie

At Moonpull we get asked lots of questions about tracking, many of them around what does the cookie do and why is it needed. We have previously talked about how we consider whether cookies are memory and/or eavesdropping cookies.  This time we’re going to break down affiliate marketing into three crucial components and explain the cookies role with each of them. 

Affiliate marketing tracking works
by having all three of these components:



the two

Here’s a little more detail on these three steps

  • The record of the referral needs to record the referring publisher, plus other data such as click references.  This is typically stored in the network’s systems.  The network’s  record is created in different ways according to the type of tracking, one of the most common is on a redirect via the relevant affiliate networks server. 
  • The record of the sale is initiated by a communication from the advertiser to the network when the user is on the checkout process’ confirmation page with the definitive record at the network needing to correlate to the record of the referral. The most common method for the correlation happens on  the advertiser’s site as it has a record (the “memory“) of the referral that is retrieved at the checkout stage.
  • This memory needs to be present at both the referral and sale stages and thus needs to persist throughout the user’s journey, from the initial landing to the checkout. This memory is most commonly achieved using a cookie or local storage set at the time the referral is completed – so when the user has reached the advertiser’s site or landing page – and perhaps also given consent to cookies.

Quite simply, a properly named memory cookie with the right contents is a vital part of almost all affiliate referrals completing on a website. App-based tracking also needs a memory in the same way, but may be recorded server side, rather than on the user’s device.

Many territories have new, or not so new, consent laws applying to cookies.  Equally, the main browser providers (Apple and Google) can and do decide the rules around whether cookie contents can be read at the checkout stage.

memory cookies in affiliate

Memory cookies are key

The need for the memory is a vital concept for affiliate marketers to appreciate with the looming double whammy of: 

  • advertisers increasingly seeking user consent for the cookies and 
  • the restrictions (including the cessation of third party memory cookies in 2024) that browser providers implement within their products (e.g. Safari and Chrome)

Publishers will need to consider whether the referred users have the effective ‘memory’ to facilitate the tracking of their referrals.

Affiliate marketers have to comply with the decisions by others applying to their model and adapt their technology and commercial models accordingly.  The question is, are you making the technical and commercial decisions appropriately to protect and enhance your revenue through the end of 2023 and into 2024?

If you would like to see more of how Moonpull can benefit your business, we’d love to hear from you.