Internet marketing resources, ecommerce web site design tutorials and  just for fun - free cell phone ringtones!
  Taming the Beast - quality web marketing and ecommerce development services

Affiliates, cookies and commissions

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Sunday September 17, 2006 )

Another suggestion he’s made is the use of referrer information to determine the source of the traffic and then the merchant site places a cookie on the user’s system containing the affiliate ID, rather than the network itself – this is basically the system already in operation with many companies who run their own in-house affiliate software. How that could be implemented by the larger networks I’m unsure – it certainly would be an expensive and messy process for a company the size of Commission Junction to switch to such a system.

Cookie deletion not only effects affiliates, but also the general use of merchant sites where user preferences are stored in cookies and also PPC conversion tracking – Benjamin’s tests showed conversion tracking cookies issued by Overture/Yahoo Search Marketing were blown away by over 50% of the anti-spyware applications he tested. Google’s were untouched :). Just on that point, Benjamin poses the question of why many unobjectionable types of cookies are deleted, yet ones issued by a company such as Google which is known to hang onto user data forever are not.

It’s a very interesting study; read more of Benjamin’s report: Cookies Detected by Anti-Spyware Programs: The Current Status

-->

It’s little wonder increasing numbers of people are using anti-spyware apps given all the nasties out here; but if you’re into affiliate marketing and a member of some of the major networks, you’re probably losing commission revenue as a result of the trend.

It’s somewhat of a double edged sword – we all want to see our users being security conscious, but preferably not at the expense of our affiliate commissions :).

Benjamin Edelman, a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Economics at Harvard University, recently tested eleven anti-spyware applications to see how they handled cookies from 50 advertising and affiliate networks. In his testing, he used free or trial versions of popular anti-spyware software titles and ran them with the program’s default settings and standard update processes.

Of the affiliate networks, Commission Junction, Clickbank, LinkShare and TradeDoubler cookies seemed to be treated the harshest by some of the anti-spyware programs he used in his tests. This is particularly troubling given the popularity of these networks with affiliate marketers.

Of the advertising networks and ad hosting platforms tested, 12 out the 13 had their cookies deleted by the majority of anti-spyware programs used in the test.

Interestingly, anti-spyware from Symantec, McAfee and Microsoft left *all* cookies alone when default settings were used.

Benjamin has also published an application which affiliates can use for calculating the effects on their revenue from cookie deletion, but you’ll need to read his cookie deletion study first to gain a clearer understanding of how to use it and interpret the results.

Benjamin points out that while the issue is a serious concern, actual losses would depend not only on the popularity type of anti-spyware app being run, but also how often a user runs it. However, he does also flag that some anti-spyware software block cookies on arrival. There’s just so many variables involved in attempting to calculate losses.

Benjamin suggests a way that merchants participating in affiliate networks known to experience these problems can stay on the good side of their affiliates – to factor in a bonus payment based on potential losses. Somehow I can’t see many merchants doing that :).

Another suggestion he’s made is the use of referrer information to determine the source of the traffic and then the merchant site places a cookie on the user’s system containing the affiliate ID, rather than the network itself – this is basically the system already in operation with many companies who run their own in-house affiliate software. How that could be implemented by the larger networks I’m unsure – it certainly would be an expensive and messy process for a company the size of Commission Junction to switch to such a system.

Cookie deletion not only effects affiliates, but also the general use of merchant sites where user preferences are stored in cookies and also PPC conversion tracking – Benjamin’s tests showed conversion tracking cookies issued by Overture/Yahoo Search Marketing were blown away by over 50% of the anti-spyware applications he tested. Google’s were untouched :). Just on that point, Benjamin poses the question of why many unobjectionable types of cookies are deleted, yet ones issued by a company such as Google which is known to hang onto user data forever are not.

It’s a very interesting study; read more of Benjamin’s report: Cookies Detected by Anti-Spyware Programs: The Current Status



 

 
Comments for Affiliates, cookies and commissions

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.