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Cookie deletion at 30%+

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Thursday April 19, 2007 )

Youch! In more ways than one. According to a survey analysis of 400,000 U.S. home PC’s, 31 percent of users cleared their first-party cookies within a space of a month. So why is this such a problem?

Cookies are used a great deal in metrics, so regular deletion of cookies by a large chunk of your audience can potentially lead to overstated estimates of unique users according to ComScore; which can then interfere with marketing and development strategy. Of course, this isn’t so much of an issue if you rely more on traffic stats generated by server logs.

But there’s a much bigger problem if affiliate marketing is how you make a living that wasn’t mentioned in the ComScore report. Many affiliate programs rely on cookies as a part of click, lead and sales tracking. Let’s say a surfer clicks on an affiliate link on your site and doesn’t purchase on the first visit to the merchant’s site – which isn’t unusual. If that person clears their cookies and then visits the merchant’s site and places an order at a later date; you may well miss out on commissions as your referral data is no longer present in the cookie that was originally set – it’s gone.

With many of the major affiliate networks relying on cookies to track sales activity, I’d hate to think how many commissions are lost each year in this way, but sales leaks are just an unfortunate part of participating in this industry.

There are some extra measures that can be put in place such as IP tracking, but very few people have static IP’s and their IP might change every time they log on or every couple of days if connecting via broadband.

For one of the businesses I’m associated with, in addition to cookies, we also set up coupon codes with affiliate ID’s embedded which acted as an extra failsafe. The purchaser got a discount, the affiliate was better assured of their cash and we wound up with a new client – everyone won.

Some other merchants also provide affiliate specific URL’s such as – the person browsing tends to bookmark that page and come back to that when ready to make a purchase.

Learn more about becoming a successful affiliate, working with merchants and other affiliate marketing survival tactics.


2 comments for Cookie deletion at 30%+
  1. Hi Michael,

    “Some other merchants also provide affiliate specific URL’s such as ”

    this is a great concept, but there should be robots.txt files blocking all of these type of pages from being indexed, as more than likely these pages will be duplicates of another page on the site…. adding too many duplicate content pages could harm SEO efforts.

    Additionally if these pages are indexed and referred by organic search engines, the affiliate will be getting a share of commissions through something that was not actually referred by him.

    Thanks for the great post!


    Comment by augustin — April 19, 2007 @ 10:02 am

  2. Hey Augustin! Yep, that’s a really good point about SEO issues, these pages should definitely be blocked from search enging bots/spiders.

    Here’s an article about using a robots.txt file for those people who may not be aware:

    Thanks for flagging that Augustin!

    Comment by Michael Bloch — April 20, 2007 @ 3:32 am

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