The “Cookie” Cutter World of Affiliate Marketing

The world of affiliate marketing is unlike any other. In what other business could a kid in a basement run a web site or ad campaign for a Fortune 500 company, yet never have to actually talk with a middle man or someone from the company they are advertising. It’s quite amazing how it all started and what it’s turned into today. But at the same time, as much as things have changed, some haven’t… and in particular I’m talking about how much “cookies” play into the tracking of affiliate marketing.

For those of you who don’t know what a “cookie” is, Wikipedia explains it as:

A cookie, also known as an HTTP cookie, web cookie, or browser cookie, is used for an origin website to send state information to a user’s browser and for the browser to return the state information to the origin site. The state information can be used for authentication, identification of a user session, user’s preferences, shopping cart contents, or anything else that can be accomplished through storing text data.

All you really need to know, is that cookies have been the tracking solution for almost all affiliate marketing since the beginning. However, as time and technology moves on, the decision to keep using cookies, continues to be an ongoing argument and dilema.

With the advancement of mobile marketing, social networks, in-video advertising, browsers removing cookies, users clearing cache and advanced methods of advertising being used, how much of your leads and revenue is getting lost in the mix?

Another battle between merchants and affiliates have been, “who gets the credit for a lead?”. Should it be the first affiliate that sends a cookie, or the last? This has been a huge issued in the online shopping and coupon space.

Today a new cookie-less technology called Adtribution was released from HasOffers, which enables advertisers to see the true influence of multiple affiliate and publisher relationships on a single user. The ability to offer advertisers and affiliates a way to see the full power of brand advertising in addition to lead tracking could result in a whole world of marketing. Though the service is currently in beta, it will be interesting to see the new methods of tracking that companies can offer.

How many times have you been frustrated you spent hundreds of dollars on promoting a brand, only to fail making a profit, but still helping the company promote their brand and products? Did any of this promotion and branding help bring them sales at a later date?

Performance advertising has become an $8 billion dollar industry, and that is just within the US. Times are changing and people are using the internet in more different ways than ever, yet the standard for tracking leads and advertising results has pretty much remained the same.

So I have to ask… what do you think the future holds for affiliate marketing and tracking ad campaigns online? And while we are still going to be using cookies for several more years, do you think the first affiliate or last affiliate should receive the credit for a lead?

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  1. What are the chances that they start paying multiple affiliates for a single sale, based on the number of different referrers?

    I think this would be good for the little guy, not so good for the big guy.
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    1. It's been discussed, but I don't think that will ever happen. The option to get paid a impressions/views fee, while earning commissions on leads is also a possible concept.

  2. interesting post, i worried about cookies when i was massively doing affiliate marketing but im confident networks and merchants are trying to do their job
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  3. I think cookie remained as important as before. I think the first one should get the credit simply because he/she was the first one to actually believe in the marketing that the site is offering.

  4. Adtribution seems like a good method to track leads compared to the cookies. Do you know merchants who offer affiliate marketing that uses it?

  5. Who's saying the clients are the merchants' when the affiliates are the ones that lead them to their product? Just a technological technicality? In the sense that many clients click ''back'' and then return to the merchant's main website, or click the main website of the merchant and the referral's lost. This just kills of affiliates and it's silly. You want fair, invent a better technology that'll really track if the client got there via the affiliate or not. The lawcourts made that decision with poorly knowledge of IT because they hate everything that has to do with the internet, really hate it. They're the ones that sued 1,2 million out of 12 songs of Metallica uploader, purely because Law is a syndicated unionised labour force and the internet is a global competition, defiant in its newness.

    Alex J

    CEO & Founder

    1. Whoever does invent the new technology, and someone will… will get very rich off of it if they do it correctly. You're right, the old style of the internet didn't have many standards or legal decisions in place. The future will be different.

  6. I definitely think the first affiliate should get credit for the sale generated by a click thru and successful sale to a vendors product, or site. They were the ones to bring that product or service to the customers attention right out of the gate. As far as affiliate marketing is concerned it is not going anywhere anytime soon it is too financially rewarding for both parties involved. I do think there will be a few more guidelines put in place in the next few years but other than that it will be business as usual.
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  7. i have heard of this new innovation before but it will take time to deploy this new cookie technology because the whole cookie usage from cookie commands to fetching will take time to deploy it 🙂

  8. Either way, this is certainly adding to the changes that are emerging in relation to the business environment. I would simply say it's just Technological Progress bringing a new dimension to that aspect of business.
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  9. I think that the first affiliate should receive credit for the lead,that's what makes sense to me,although it is a topic for more and further discussion. Speaking about frustration when promoting some brand….you are quite right, we usually end up making money for others, while we ourselves stay left behind, even when we deserve the acknowledgment for our effort. Performance advertising is the top number industry worldwide.
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