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?