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  1. #1
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Exclamation Is overwriting of affiliate cookies by non-affiliate channels a legitimate tactic?
    My understanding was that only an affiliate cookie could overwrite an affiliate cookie, however it appears that there are some merchants (most?, all?) that are allowing other marketing channels to take ownership of the last click. Is this a legitimate practice? Is this a common practice? Who monitors and polices this? How do we track this?

    There have been numerous posts in the past regarding merchants muddying the affiliate channel with non-affiliate channels such as internal marketing departments, 3rd party virtual help or assistance and 3rd party services that attempt to recapture visitors that have abandoned their carts to name a few. And while I thought that there was a pretty firm line as to what is and isn't allowed to invade the affiliate channel, 2 recent threads have lead me to question those beliefs.

    Since both of the merchants that appeared in recent threads are members of Commission Junction I have spent some time reviewing CJ's Advertiser and Publisher Service Agreements and CJ's Code of Conduct and I can't find anything that would lead me to believe that this is a legitimate practice. In addition, a review of both merchants terms (and in the case of RealNetworks, their Special Terms and Conditions) shed no additional light on this subject.

    The 2 threads that prompted this are StubHub affiliate program fiasco where StubHub has reversed affiliate commissions based on their belief that an internal channel actually earned the last click, even though that channel could not and did not overwrite the affiliates cookie. StubHub has offered no way for affiliates to substantiate their claims and have since stood down until they can "perfect" their tracking.

    The second thread is Good points from CJ this morning... where this post in particular caught my attention. I found this post intriguing because the AM that posted this response says:

    Quote Originally Posted by jclaydon
    To your point of losing commissions if someone does a TM search - you do realize that if someone hits an internal search ad you aren't going to be compensated, right? Any decently sized company is going to map different channels and fire pixels based on the traffic source.
    To me there is just so much wrong with this scenario that I can't type fast enough. So to avoid another of my 14 page posts, I'd really like to get the opinions of some of the experts. So please, AMs, OPMs, affiliates, networks, merchants chime in here. Based on your understanding of affiliate marketing and interpretation of the various networks terms, is negating affiliate commissions in favor of non-affiliate marketing channels a legitimate tactic?

    If this is the case, then return days are really pretty useless and an unscrupulous merchant can have a field day since this would all be outside of a networks ability to track the transaction.

    I'm just sayin'....

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  2. #2
    Affiliate Manager jclaydon's Avatar
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    Yes, this is a common practice. If a customer hits your affiliate link, and then after hits an internal search link, in most cases the search channel will receive credit for the sale and the affiliate pixel will not be fired, hence the affiliate will not receive credit.

    Now, a lot of merchants take steps to reduce this from happening where they can. I know a number of merchants that will not display a virtual assistant when the consumer comes to the site via an affiliate link. If a customer bookmarks a product and comes back later, or they type in the merchant URL or hit an organic link, in all cases I can think of the affiliate will still receive credit for a sale. Only in a scenario where marketing money is being spent to acquire sales will this happen, so paid search or display advertising.

    On the same hand, affiliates receive the same fortune if a customer goes to a site via a paid search link, then backs out and finds your coupon, or likes a particular product and searches for a review etc. and ends up on your page before buying.

    Off the top of my head I don't know if there is any reference to this in the publisher agreements on CJ, although I imagine there is reference somewhere. From a quick skim through I can't find any mention of it, not can I find any reference to tracking relying on the 'last click' principle either. I'll ask some of the guys over there tomorrow for you to give some more insight from a contractual perspective.
    [FONT=Arial][B][COLOR=Navy]Jonathan Claydon | [email]jclaydon@real.com[/email][/COLOR] |[COLOR=Gray] Director - Affiliate and Partner Marketing[/COLOR] |[/B] [COLOR=Blue]Real[/COLOR]Networks, Inc.[/FONT]

  3. #3
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    My experience has been that there are a wide range of practices within the industry, but many merchants do "overwrite" affiliate cookies when clicks come from certain other paid sources (including PPC clicks from Google AdWords, etc. as well as some other paid advertising).

    Nobody wants to talk about it, and I would certainly not be surprised if an affiliate manager denied it (either knowingly lying, or perhaps even not being aware of the actual implementation).

    I'd certainly like to encourage an honest disclosure by merchants, but I'd hesitate to call the practice (if undisclosed) unethical or unfair. There is simply no clear affiliate community "expectation" or ethical standard regarding this practice.

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager jclaydon's Avatar
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    Following up, the logic behind this is that merchants obviously have many acquisition channels. They spend money, a lot of it, in many different areas. Affiliate marketing is generally a small subset of their overall acquisition strategy.

    All merchants track the number of sales via various channels, to judge performance. Search managers want to be credited with sales they drive, just as affiliate managers want the same.

    The last click principle has been the longstanding procedure in ecommerce to allocate sales to various channels.

    I am more than happy to discuss this with anyone directly if anyone would like to contact me.
    [FONT=Arial][B][COLOR=Navy]Jonathan Claydon | [email]jclaydon@real.com[/email][/COLOR] |[COLOR=Gray] Director - Affiliate and Partner Marketing[/COLOR] |[/B] [COLOR=Blue]Real[/COLOR]Networks, Inc.[/FONT]

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador Joshua's Avatar
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    I know that a lot of merchants don't do this, but the proper practice for accounting for sales is that last click gets the sale. I'm not a fan of cart abandonment measures that overwrite cookies, but this generally would occur with search, media, or other CPA/CPL/CPS media/affiliate programs. At the end of the month, if a merchant's internal reports show 30 sales from affiliate, 30 from search, and 30 from banners, they should have 90 sales in their database. There shouldn't be a case where affiliate is listed as having 40 sales, search 40, media 40, and only 90 sales actually have occurred due to overlapping conversion tracking.

    Search may end up paying a manager or agency based on performance, and media could pay the same way, or even pay the ad network on a CPA basis. All channels need to be properly accounted for (except for natural search), or some serious budgeting and accountability issues can happen. At the same time, affiliate should overwrite other channel pixels, including a CPA-based banner buy or from another affiliate network if the program is in multiple networks.

  6. #6
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    Good question, Rematt.
    You will not see it in any agreement, but, yes, jclaydon is right, some merchants do overwrite affiliates cookies when their other marketing dpt are in competition with affiliate marketing, and not only for search.
    Is it a legitimate tactic? Nope. It's never properly disclose.
    GAN, LS, CJ allow it and push merchants to use these tricks. It's why they are shady networks. It's why you have no more transparency in affiliate marketing.

    Don't think only Search, PPC, remember also
    Online Help, third parties or merchants offering coupons to push sales and wash your cookies (LivePerson)
    Cart Abandonment, reminding email overwritting cookies (SecondBite)
    Free Shipping, third parties using affiliate cookies to monetize free shipping for the merchant.
    Rewards, free offers after checkout where third parties get customers credit cards # for multiple billing and overwrite your cookies.
    ...

    You'll find many more tricks used by merchants to take advantage of their affiliates hard work by washing their cookies.

  7. #7
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Here's a black hole of a debate, but a good one.

    At its core it speaks to a real quagmire of marketing thinking, as well as maintaining a decent level of profitability per sale.

    From the merchant standpoint, let's say Zues or Rematt brings me a new customer that is considering buying a $50 item, and I've agreed to pay them 10% per sale. If my mark up is $25 on that sale (which would be exceptional in most cases, considering I'm probably competing against eBay hacks for the same sale), I'm down to a $20 profit on the sale.

    Then let's say the customer doesn't pull the trigger right that moment, and goes out to Google and hits one of my paid ads. Maybe another $1 or so in cost if I run good campaigns, maybe more expensive if I don't... also depends on competition, etc.).

    I'm down to $19 in profit. Assuming I don't lose money on the shipping....

    And it can get worse from there. Maybe the sale is actually completed in an online help window, whereby I owe an internal salesperson a cut too. Or, they abandon again, and a "Second bite" type application finally closes the sale.

    Who gets paid and how much?

    We know Google is getting their money for sure. Does the affiliate deserve some? Absolutely. They put the eyeballs there first. Second Bite? Guess so... we still hadn't made the sale at that point.

    We can see where this is going. The erosion of profitability for any one sale, especially since I haven't even gotten into overhead. maybe there was a dropshipping fee to the merchant for that particular product, or simply the cost of fulfilling the order. Maybe there was display ads on other websites we can show that consumer also saw. Or maybe when they came back and made the purchase finally, they hit a vanity URL the merchant only uses for a TV ad....

    The proliferation of web advertising (and traditional), and the splintering of the channels therein, has created quite a conundrum for tracking, and for properly awarding the "commission" to the right channel.

    It simply isn't as cut and dry as it used to be, no matter how much we want it to be.

    I still believe rewarding GOOD affiliates is one of the best strategies an online merchant can utilize. Affiliates though have to realize that not all merchants will be able to SEE that. Because the click trails dissipate faster than jet trails these days.
    Kevin Webster
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  8. #8
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Just wanted to throw in to this too that I think it's important, in the context of the Nexus discussions happening throughout the country, that we maintain that affiliates are in fact an advertising channel, and not commissioned sales people.

    I think that distinction is important in this discussion as well.
    Kevin Webster
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  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador Joshua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus
    Is it a legitimate tactic? Nope. It's never properly disclose.
    GAN, LS, CJ allow it and push merchants to use these tricks. It's why they are shady networks. It's why you have no more transparency in affiliate marketing.
    You forgot to add ShareASale to that list. This isn't a network-by-network thing - It's an industry wide, standard practice to only count sales based on the last click's channel. It's implemented on the part of the merchant, and not on the network. All networks would LOVE if they could force advertisers to honor an affiliate cookie over a later cookie from a different marketing channel, but that isn't going to happen.

  10. #10
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jclaydon
    Yes, this is a common practice. If a customer hits your affiliate link, and then after hits an internal search link, in most cases the search channel will receive credit for the sale and the affiliate pixel will not be fired, hence the affiliate will not receive credit.
    jclaydon, thanks for your candid response.

    Quote Originally Posted by jclaydon
    Off the top of my head I don't know if there is any reference to this in the publisher agreements on CJ, although I imagine there is reference somewhere. From a quick skim through I can't find any mention of it, not can I find any reference to tracking relying on the 'last click' principle either. I'll ask some of the guys over there tomorrow for you to give some more insight from a contractual perspective.
    I have thoroughly reviewed CJ's TOS as well as yours and StubHub's and there is no mention of alternate channels being allowed to suppress the affiliates cookie or nullify return days. So it appears that merchants are defining their own payment channels without declaring them in their TOS or explaining that return days are conditional.

    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    I'd certainly like to encourage an honest disclosure by merchants, but I'd hesitate to call the practice (if undisclosed) unethical or unfair. There is simply no clear affiliate community "expectation" or ethical standard regarding this practice.
    Mark, I think you're absolutely right that lack of disclosure isn't necessarily underhanded. I'm beginning to believe that some merchants just assumed that this is a legitimate accepted practice in the same way that some (most?) affiliates assume that it isn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus
    Don't think only Search, PPC, remember also
    Online Help, third parties or merchants offering coupons to push sales and wash your cookies (LivePerson)
    Cart Abandonment, reminding email overwritting cookies (SecondBite)
    Free Shipping, third parties using affiliate cookies to monetize free shipping for the merchant.
    Rewards, free offers after checkout where third parties get customers credit cards # for multiple billing and overwrite your cookies.
    ...

    You'll find many more tricks used by merchants to take advantage of their affiliates hard work by washing their cookies.
    More things to consider when a merchants conversion rate suddenly changes. Too often we look internally at our PPC campaigns, on-site content and code for issues. We look at the merchant's site for traditional leaks but don't always see these additional barriers to commissions even if we follow the order all the way to completion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin
    The proliferation of web advertising (and traditional), and the splintering of the channels therein, has created quite a conundrum for tracking, and for properly awarding the "commission" to the right channel.

    It simply isn't as cut and dry as it used to be, no matter how much we want it to be.
    This seems to be the consensus so far. I'd really like to hear from more merchants and AMs (and OPMs) to get their take on this practice. It would also be nice to hear from one or more networks on whether this is really intended by their merchant agreements or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin
    I still believe rewarding GOOD affiliates is one of the best strategies an online merchant can utilize. Affiliates though have to realize that not all merchants will be able to SEE that. Because the click trails dissipate faster than jet trails these days.
    AMEN to that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua
    It's implemented on the part of the merchant, and not on the network. All networks would LOVE if they could force advertisers to honor an affiliate cookie over a later cookie from a different marketing channel, but that isn't going to happen.
    This raises the issue of tracking, what mechanism is in place to verify that the alternate marketing channel did indeed generate the last click? If merchants are cutting the network out of the tracking loop, we have to rely on the merchant's integrity, and unfortunately some merchants have proven that they can't be trusted.

    So everything that I've heard so far is that this practice is in place and accepted by some merchants. I don't believe that it's accepted by affiliates because I believe most affiliates like myself were unaware that this practice was so widely utilized (I could be wrong).

    To me, any merchant produced mechanism that would allow an affiliate commission to be usurped should be declared in the merchants TOS. While some merchants may see this as "business as usual", I'm not so sure most affiliates would agree.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  11. #11
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    Duh ... this has been going on in commissioned sales for more than a century. Who, how and what the merchant pays for the sale is been a debating point between sales people and merchants. In the insurance business, which is probably the oldest, they
    have things called 'agency' laws ... and the contracts specify who gets paid, what, when and how.

    In AM, there are no contracts ... there is a bunch of legal garbage, but they are not really contracts since they have more holes than a collander and are so one sided that no one that even an insane person would okay them, if they had to do it face to face with the merchant. And since most AM never read the things and okay them anyway, what do you expect.

    Retail is a tough business ... and since the net makes everyone just about equal ... that is a 'commodity' only the most efficient survive. And that means, lower costs
    and be a thief if you can get away with it. And online getting away with it is not a problem.

    Advertising in the traditional form prevents much of this from happening, but it also means fixed costs for merchants and fixed revenue for publishers. More ads more money. More sales more money acrues to the merchant.

    The real culprit is WALL STREET and the concept of growth ... it's not okay to grow 2% which means your business will double in 36 years ... or even 6% which means it will double in 12 years ... it is like a balloon, it has to grow until the balloon pops.

    Everyone measures their success by their stock price, which is essentially stupid, since to SPEND any of that stock price increase you have to sell the stock. And the company doesn't even get the money. Until the culture disconnect the idea of what a business is suppose to do from the idea of the stock market as business, the problem will exist.

    In the internet based world, companies will be hard pressed to last 20 years.

  12. #12
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    It's a fairly common practice. I would guess that somewhere between 20 and 40% of merchants do this. It's probably higher on LinkShare and Google with larger multi-channel merchants and batch tracking, and lower on ShareASale and similar networks with smaller merchants and pixel tracking.

    I can understand and respect having my affiliate cookie overwritten when a click-through occurs from a paid advertising source like in-house PPC, but I know of several merchants who override affiliate links when a click occurs from an in-house newsletter. That's just not right. If I send a customer to a merchant and the customer signs up for a newsletter, receives a newsletter the next day, clicks through a link in it, and buys something, and the merchant withholds affiliate credit, that's just wrong.

    What's even worse is something like Second Bite, where the customer could click through from my affiliate link, add an item to their cart, then doesn't checkout right away for some reason. The next day, they get an email from Second Bite (that looks like it's from the merchant) reminding them that they haven't completed their purchase and if they click through a link in it, Second Bite gets credit for the sale. When I find a merchant doing that, I notify the affiliate manager. If they refuse to get rid of Second Bite, I remove them from my site and promote their competitors.

    Another big issue is the lack of disclosure that any of this is happening. The merchant contract says that they will provide a certain number of return days. If they're not honoring that for undisclosed reasons such as these, that's a breech of contract.
    Michael Coley
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  13. #13
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    What's even worse is something like Second Bite, where the customer could click through from my affiliate link, add an item to their cart, then doesn't checkout right away for some reason. The next day, they get an email from Second Bite (that looks like it's from the merchant) reminding them that they haven't completed their purchase and if they click through a link in it, Second Bite gets credit for the sale. When I find a merchant doing that, I notify the affiliate manager. If they refuse to get rid of Second Bite, I remove them from my site and promote their competitors.
    More merchants need to integrate this as an IN HOUSE practice, instead of outsourcing it and using it as a warped piece of the affiliate channel.

    My shopping cart allows me to reach out to abandoned carts without dropping a cookie that interferes with affiliate traffic. I'm not entirely sure why a merchant would want to pay for it.
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  14. #14
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    I can understand and respect having my affiliate cookie overwritten when a click-through occurs from a paid advertising source like in-house PPC, but I know of several merchants who override affiliate links when a click occurs from an in-house newsletter. That's just not right. If I send a customer to a merchant and the customer signs up for a newsletter, receives a newsletter the next day, clicks through a link in it, and buys something, and the merchant withholds affiliate credit, that's just wrong.
    Amen. Merchants need to track newsletter performance of course and many think the only way to do that is to use some sort of cookie-based tracking which overrides the affiliate cookie to do that.

    The best way is to use a third party tracking or your own redirects to track these things.

    So Affiliate 123 sends a visitor. He signs up for the newsletter. His cookie remains, assuming that the person does not visit another affiliate link or perhaps an internal PPC campaign. Now when the newsletter goes out, it is tracked using another cookie that does not override Affiliate 123's cookie.

    Affiliate 123 gets the sale credit...after all HE/SHE sent the visitor in the first place...and the merchant still gets to track things.

    I look at this way...who made the MOST effort? The affiliate or the merchant?

    The affiliate got them to the site, provided the merchant with a warm customer (maybe not hot, but warm at least), got the merchant an email address and name, and all the merchant did was send an autoresponder email.

    The affiliate DESERVES the commission, plain and simple.
    Matt McWilliams
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  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador VampireSkunk's Avatar
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    Affiliate marketing is for merchants first and foremost a customer acquisition channel.

    Every new customer we send to a merchant is potentially a customer for life.

    Affiliates absolutely deserve to be credited for that initial sale, even if other channels muddy the waters. Even if the merchant ends up making a loss on that sale. The lifetime value of a customer is worth much more than any small loss they might incur on a single transaction.

    An affiliate's compensation is quite pitiful for what we're providing. Which is customers. The lifeblood of any business.

  16. #16
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattMcWilliams
    I look at this way...who made the MOST effort? The affiliate or the merchant?

    The affiliate got them to the site, provided the merchant with a warm customer (maybe not hot, but warm at least), got the merchant an email address and name, and all the merchant did was send an autoresponder email.

    The affiliate DESERVES the commission, plain and simple.
    I don't see it even as a matter of effort. The affiliate got the consumer to the merchant's site, that's the affiliate's job. It's the merchant's job to close the sale. Regardless of what means the merchant uses to subsequently close the sale, the affiliate still did his job and should be compensated. If the merchant needs a third party or additional internal marketing channels to help them do THEIR job, that's fine. But the payment for those services should come out of their end. THE AFFILIATE DID THEIR JOB!

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  17. #17
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    The affiliate got the consumer to the merchant's site, that's the affiliate's job.
    Exactly. And that's the precise distinction that makes affiliate marketing an advertising channel, and not a commissioned sales channel.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua
    You forgot to add ShareASale to that list. This isn't a network-by-network thing - It's an industry wide, standard practice to only count sales based on the last click's channel. It's implemented on the part of the merchant, and not on the network. All networks would LOVE if they could force advertisers to honor an affiliate cookie over a later cookie from a different marketing channel, but that isn't going to happen.
    You're right, no network is immune including Shareasale.
    The difference is that Shareasale gives its affiliates better tools to increase the transparency. A merchant can't manipulate the sales in the dark once the tracking pixel is fired. They can void the sale but it will be there for everybody to see.
    LinkShare has a non-commissionable sale report but no epc.
    If a cookie resulting in a sale is erased by a different marketing channel, we should be able to see it in a report. That's a major problem with these networks. I'm not asking to be paid if it's not the result of my work. I want to know what did happen to my clicks.

  19. #19
    Affiliate Manager jclaydon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus
    You're right, no network is immune including Shareasale.
    The difference is that Shareasale gives its affiliates better tools to increase the transparency. A merchant can't manipulate the sales in the dark once the tracking pixel is fired. They can void the sale but it will be there for everybody to see.
    LinkShare has a non-commissionable sale report but no epc.
    If a cookie resulting in a sale is erased by a different marketing channel, we should be able to see it in a report. That's a major problem with these networks. I'm not asking to be paid if it's not the result of my work. I want to know what did happen to my clicks.
    Sharesale will have the same problem and experience as any other network - if a merchant channel maps sales to certain acquisition sources based on selectively firing a pixel you will never know who received credit, and I don't believe they have any way to report that those sales were credited to a different channel.

    I don't believe LinkShare's non-commissionable sale report has anything to do with this either - my understanding of that is it allows affiliates to see when sales are made but are not commissionable because they are gift cards etc.

    The scenario discussed in the OP does not mean that merchants are going into the networks and reversing sales after the fact - the tracking pixels will never be fired in the first place, or batch systems will not send those through as sales.

    For example, at Real we use a number of tracking variables to determine how we fire tracking pixels on confirmation pages. Our main variable is pcode. Pcode=cj in a cookie and the query string and a CJ pixel is fired for a valid lead. Pcode=srchrv and our search channel is credited. This is all based on the last click scenario and the cookies that are subsequently dropped during that click. The affiliate cookie still exists on the users end, but our system reads the search cookie as well and since it is the most recent, the search pixel will be fired and not the affiliate pixel.
    [FONT=Arial][B][COLOR=Navy]Jonathan Claydon | [email]jclaydon@real.com[/email][/COLOR] |[COLOR=Gray] Director - Affiliate and Partner Marketing[/COLOR] |[/B] [COLOR=Blue]Real[/COLOR]Networks, Inc.[/FONT]

  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador Joshua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus
    You're right, no network is immune including Shareasale.
    The difference is that Shareasale gives its affiliates better tools to increase the transparency. A merchant can't manipulate the sales in the dark once the tracking pixel is fired. They can void the sale but it will be there for everybody to see.
    LinkShare has a non-commissionable sale report but no epc.
    If a cookie resulting in a sale is erased by a different marketing channel, we should be able to see it in a report. That's a major problem with these networks. I'm not asking to be paid if it's not the result of my work. I want to know what did happen to my clicks.
    As for the voiding sale issue, you can see in CJ if a sale has been voided.

    As for your second point about having the network have some way for you to tell you if a sale was made, but non-commissionable because of another marketing channel, this would have to be done one of two ways - 1. The merchant reverses (de-dupes) all transactions at the end of the month/week/day that had that problem, and then you end up in a StubHub situation. Not ideal for affiliates. 2. A merchant build a system to track whether another channel cookied the user after the affiliate channel, and was able to apply a dynamic variable called "overwritten" or something similar to the affiliate pixel when fired (like dynamically inserting order cost, but way more complicated). That would require a complicated setup on the end of the advertiser, and would force networks to redo their tracking systems to accept something like that.

    Tracking where sales came in from multiple clicks, then only crediting one pixel, but keeping track of the others is quite a challenge on the technical end. Many merchants would love to keep track of all of the channels involved the the progression on a single sale, but that's extremely complicated to build. Unfortunately in the current environment, transactions either need to not show up, or be reversed at a later point. The second is much more complicated than the first.

    Apparently there's a company in the UK, TagMan, that creates solutions to help merchants figure out what pixels to fire and track, but I'm not sure that they provide a way for the merchant to see all channels that ended up in a sale (though I'm guessing it does).

    Some interesting reads on the subject:
    http://econsultancy.com/blog/3211-38...iliates-survey
    http://econsultancy.com/blog/3235-q-...icate-payments
    http://www.dgmmarketing.com.au/blog/....aspx?Entry=12

  21. #21
    Newbie Tookings Rick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin
    Exactly. And that's the precise distinction that makes affiliate marketing an advertising channel, and not a commissioned sales channel.
    I think my line of thinking is similar...in simple terms "the last *external* event that pushed the traffic to the site should get credit".

    If the traffic then does something "internal" on the site, such as signs up for a newsletter, abandons a cart, etc...and eventually gets back to a sale from there...the affiliate should still get credit, as the sale would never have happened otherwise. That is the key point to be "fair".

    But, if the sale later happens via a the merchants "external" PPC, marketing campaigns, etc...I can see where the merchant could argue that they were responsible as the last source of the traffic. This just shouldn't be something that hooks the traffic to not pay the affiliate, if the hook is based on the site itself and would never have occurred without the affiliate providing the traffic in the first place.

    At a program I worked with, we paid double/etc across these lines. (Internal sales people, internal promotions, internal cart abandon recoveries....if the affiliate was the last party to get the traffic to the site before we knew anything about them...they still got credit.)

  22. #22
    15 years and counting
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    Joshua - As for the voiding sale issue, you can see in CJ if a sale has been voided.
    Yes, but it's only for reversed sales, CC fraud, item sent back... If a sale was cancelled before being accepted, you will not know it.
    Some merchants are simply erasing sales. I've been working with some merchants at CJ from the beginning. Before 2000, I could have huge commissions for single sales, not anymore. Some merchants are keeping for them what they consider wholesale sales.
    It's happening with Shareasale, too, but at least you know it, not with CJ.
    The affiliate channel has too many interferences to be trusted.

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador Joshua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus
    Yes, but it's only for reversed sales, CC fraud, item sent back... If a sale was cancelled before being accepted, you will not know it.
    Some merchants are simply erasing sales. I've been working with some merchants at CJ from the beginning. Before 2000, I could have huge commissions for single sales, not anymore. Some merchants are keeping for them what they consider wholesale sales.
    It's happening with Shareasale, too, but at least you know it, not with CJ.
    The affiliate channel has too many interferences to be trusted.
    How would a sale be cancelled before it's accepted? If a merchant is on pixel tracking (as most are), as soon as that pixel fires, the transaction is reported to CJ. There's no way, to my knowledge, to reverse that sale in CJ without the sale actually showing up in CJ's system (CJ reports both transaction reported time/dates + posting time/date). I've been on the merchant side before. Even an automated process that would run to reverse transactions if a pixel fired, but the credit card declined (after the pixel fired, for a merchant who was on a slight CC processing delay) would show up in CJ as reversals when the reversal actually took place before the posting time. If the order credit card was corrected, the automated script would manually post the transaction to CJ, showing the original order, the reversed order, and the re-posted order with a modifier on the order ID.

    As for merchants "erasing" large sale amounts that don't show up at all - That's not erasing sales. That's just programming their site not to fire an affiliate pixel if a sale is over $XXXX. That's just shady, if it's not disclosed.

  24. #24
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    Joshua, never heard of batched sales at CJ. The merchants only report what they want the affiliate to see.
    I've never been on the merchant side, so I can't be affirmative on all the tricks they are using to don't pay an affiliate.

  25. #25
    http and a telephoto
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    Quote Originally Posted by jclaydon
    Yes, this is a common practice. If a customer hits your affiliate link, and then after hits an internal search link, in most cases the search channel will receive credit for the sale and the affiliate pixel will not be fired, hence the affiliate will not receive credit.
    In *your* world it may be a common practice, in reality it is *not* a common practice and it makes any merchant *very* affiliate *unfriendly*. If I consult with a company that chooses to overwrite affiliate cookies with newsletters, internal search, or any other methods, they get told why that is a bad idea. If they insist, they don't get me as an AM.

    You have shown already that your company engages in a lot of affiliate unfriendly tactics. Not surprised you do this as well.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

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