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Tracking and Visibility at ASW24

Tracking and visibility panel at ASW24

Steven Brown

With Affiliate Summit West 2024 over, the work towards a Flight To Quality for both publishers and advertisers now starts.

In what felt like one of the most impactful Affiliate Summits in several years, the talk of third-party cookie deprecation and consent platforms, not to mention the whole challenge of affiliate tracking and visibility itself, has never been so loud.

Publishers and advertisers recognise that the Flight to Quality is a positive concept, needing both insight and understanding to ensure adoption is impactful.

Affiliate Tracking and Visibility

Affiliate Summit tracking panel session

This important Tracking Session at ASW24 was highly attended – industry luminaries James Little (Top Cashback) and Angela Ballard (CJ) joining Moonpull CEO, Steve Brown, on stage to discuss the challenges around tracking, expertly moderated by Lissette Alvarez (Capital One Business Deals).

The word in the exhibition halls – that deprecation is happening and can be managed – needs underpinning for advertisers who will be impacted by two key areas:

    • Those that thought they had a good first party solution, but don’t (as sales are actually being recorded by fallback methods)
    • Those without a good first party implementation.

Many at Moonpull are old enough to remember Y2K.  All ended well because- to summarise a massive herculean effort in one phrase – businesses had it as a “board level issue”.  Deprecation can end similarly with the same focus and effort.

Every month is crucial.  Moonpull’s data shows there is lots to do.  Recent issues we’ve seen include:

    • An advertiser with a 30 second first party cookie, rather than the intended 30 day one
    • An advertiser creating a first party issue by having a redirect that un-capitalises one character which broke the first party tracking
    • New offers being tagged incorrectly
    • New CMPs break first party tracking

Part of the effort is recognising that ‘tracking is not fixed’, instead that it is to be ‘managed’ going forward. Every week, upwards of 2% of advertisers’ affiliate links show a change in implementation.  And management needs diligent and ongoing monitoring.  

Publishers’ Responsibility

Moonpull continues to advocate responsibility for promoting offers that track also rests with publishers, as well as with networks and advertisers.  One of the examples we use is that if you’re about to send 10,000 clicks to a deeplink, it’s best practice to test it yourself.

We identified that it was not generally known that there are good reasons why first-party tracking needs closer “always on” monitoring compared to third-party tracking.  Third party tracking is very reliable and therefore a good fallback solution, whereas first party can break for reasons such as a tag being accidentally omitted from a page.

These emphasise the need for ongoing diligence by networks, agencies, publishers and advertisers alike.  

The good news is it is usually easy to see if a link is tracking well, as the presence or absence of a memory cookie is the easiest pointer to this.  

User Consent and Tracking

And then there’s the other elephant in the room, user-consent and how that will impact the channel further. ASW is an international conference with its attendees and the conversations reflecting this were less evident.  

BA Cookie consent Jan 2024

Currently its impact on tracking and thus incomes for those rewarded on performance is mitigated by fallback tracking usually being ever present, at least on Chrome.  Deprecation is removing this fallback.  User consent needs to be talked about.  

Recommended Actions for Publishers

The recommendation we’re giving publishers is to talk to a small number of advertisers now about their commercial relationship when consent controls first party tracking and learn from those conversations and build to a larger number of conversations month by month. 

Moonpull publisher round table, November 2023, discussing moonpull tracking language

Our key takeaways and recommendations to publishers following ASW and the November Publisher Round Table

    • Monitor their important advertisers on a weekly basis.  It establishes a baseline of those that are reliably managing first party tracking.  Such advertisers can be included in the publisher’s personal ‘quality’ cohort going forward.  Advertisers with inconsistent results can be evaluated in more detail.
    • Identify those advertisers without a good first party implementation today.  A manageable exercise is to identify the advertisers within this subset that are important to the publisher and engage with the advertiser.
    • Use your Business Intelligence, if you have it, to emphasise the concern and use Moonpull’s reports to highlight where you see tracking is likely to be going wrong.
    • Advertisers that engage constructively and positively can be added to the ‘quality’ cohort for post-deprecation promotion.
    • Testing new promotions, new links, or those flagged by other methods (e.g. cashback query rates) to understand their tracking status.

While this is from a publisher perspective, the collaborative actions for improving the advertiser-publisher relationship flow from the process. The simplicity of the question, “is the memory cookie present”, means that for almost all programs and offers it’s easy for everyone to have the confidence to engage in tracking monitoring and conversations. 

User consent matters clearly need managing and the approach to this feeds into the ‘Flight to Quality’ decision making, but overall we see that, as with Y2K, decisive action should see the year out positively.  

To explore and discuss any of these issues further, please get in touch with us.
Please drop us a line on the Contact page

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