06
Oct

How Does Affiliate Tracking Work?

Tracking is extremely important when it comes to affiliate marketing. Leads that are generated by an affiliate need to be accounted for accurately, in real-time and most importantly, through an automated process. Reliable tracking allows advertisers to assess how successfully their affiliate campaigns are performing.

Two common types of tracking are cookie tracking and postback URL tracking. Deciding which one to use will depend on the nature of your affiliate program and your internal resources.


Cookies and Conversion Pixels
A tracking link used by an affiliate to promote various offers, includes a unique affiliate ID. When a visitor to a website clicks on that link, the affiliate ID is stored on their browser within a text file, known as a cookie. The cookie stays in the customer’s browser for a short period of time, such as 30 or 60 days, or until the cookie is cleared from the browser manually. This means that if the customer comes back a few days later and completes an action, the lead is still attributed to the original affiliate ID.

A small piece of code known as a conversion pixel, is placed on the merchant’s page that loads up when a customer has completed the desired action. This could be a ‘thank you for purchasing’ or ‘thank you for registering your interest’ page. If a visitor clicks through an affiliate link and reaches the confirmation page, the pixel tracks this in the affiliate network as a sale or lead. It only requires a basic knowledge of html in order to set-up correctly.

As an advertiser it is up to you how long you would like the cookie for your offer to last.

A browser cookie is only tracked within the specific browser, so if the user opens a different browser and completes an action, it will not be tracked.


Postback Tracking
Postback URL tracking uses a server to server approach and is a very accurate method of tracking. However, it’s slightly more complicated than using cookies and therefore requires a little more technical know-how to set it up. If you are running offers on more than one affiliate network, then postback tracking is the best method to use.

Postback or callback tracking as it is also known, stores information on the merchant’s server and this means that no code needs to be placed on the advertiser’s website.

When a visitor clicks on the affiliate tracking link, WOW Trk (the affiliate network) adds an ID tag to the URL of the advertiser, so that when the visitor arrives on the landing page for the advertiser, their ID is updated in the URL. If a lead or action is then generated, the Merchant server sends this information back to WOW Trk using the postback URL.


If you’re unsure which type of tracking you should set-up on your website, think about your technical capabilities. If you have not come across postback tracking for example, it’s unlikely you will be able to to set this up internally. Cookie tracking on the other hand is much simpler. If you need any assistance with your WOW Trk tracking, please get in touch with one of our friendly team members.

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