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Value Attribution Data: Who Gets Credit for What?

Posted on 8.28.2014

Who Gets Credit for What?


One of the biggest concerns for both advertisers and publishers in the affiliate marketing space is tracking who gets credit for what. 

Website Magazine has enlisted the help of a few very experienced Internet professionals to ask them what are their top reporting concerns. Their insights will help readers also look into other ways to measure the profitability of the affiliate channel. 

Tricia Meyer is an affiliate marketing consultant who has been a publisher for almost 10 years and owns properties such as Sunshine Rewards and Helping Moms Connect. Meyer shares here top two reporting concerns:

*My first top reporting concern* is whether other affiliates (like toolbars or trademark bidders) are overwriting my cookies. Whether I am creating niche content or convincing my members to buy daily deals, I know that I am losing at least a portion of my sales to other affiliates. Only merchants using something like Leapfrog technology can ensure that I am not losing those commissions. 

*My second biggest reporting concern* comes from merchants who do not understand affiliate marketing well enough to properly attribute sales. This could be a merchant who fails to add the proper SKUs to the network for commission or one that frequently makes updates to their website in such a way that pixels get dropped or code improperly transferred over. 

Ivailo Jordanov is the director of product development at Styloko.com - a publisher that drives hundreds of thousands of dollars of monthly transactions to retail partners. Here’s what Jordanov says about ensuring the profitability of the affiliate channel:

Some affiliate networks are in a bad state technologically. Over time, there have been layers and layers of various tracking and other components overlaid over each other on their platform, creating an unstable environment and inevitably causing loss of data in the process. 

Our top two concerns are: 

Lack of stability and loss of revenue. We have had a number of occasions, when we were aware of transactions that had taken place, however they didn’t show in the reports. Upon questioning the networks, in most cases they were able to “find” the transactions and assign the revenues, but this doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. How many other transactions did we don’t know about that simply got lost?

Second concern is hugely delayed reporting, with some networks the reporting doesn’t update for days sometimes, especially on weekends, which causes problems as we manage our own spend based the ROI. If we are not able to see the purchases that we are driving quickly, we are unable to efficiently test and switch user acquisition methods and channels. 

Scott Norwalk is the general manager and vice president of business development at Clicks.net (a Centerfield Media company). He provides his insights on affiliate marketing and proper tracking:

Advertisers, how do you ensure sales are being attributed to proper channels (e.g. affiliate marketing, email, social, search, etc.)?

As an advertiser, we track conversions both upfront (click to lead) and down funnel (lead to sale) on the source level. We pass a unique identifier called a sourceID with each user that becomes a lead. When the lead information transfers into the clients CRM it is done so with the unique sourceID attached. The unique sourceID is passed along with the lead through every step of the sales process. The clicks.net account management team then acquires post lead acquisition data from its clients daily to determine performance by source and channel. The data that is acquired is summarized, and analyzed, by sourceID. 

Advertisers, how do you identify partners that are truly successful at driving profitability? 

Through intense data mining of current partner performance we have created a mold for future partners that have the ability to perform at similar or above levels in terms of profitability. We then approach these partners to join the program. Our outreach includes email, cold calls, LinkedIn, etc. We are always asking key KPI questions such as eCPM goals and traffic sources during our initial conversations to ensure our original impressions hold true and that this partner has a chance to be successful. 

As an advertiser what are your top two reporting concerns for Affiliate Marketing? 

1. Last click attribution vs. deciding factor attribution 

2. The clients ability to collect and attribute sales on a source level. 

As a publisher what are your top two reporting concerns for Affiliate Marketing? 

1. Last click attribution vs. deciding factor attribution 

2. The clients ability to collect and attribute sales on a source level. 

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