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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager DHirsch's Avatar
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    Detecting ShareASale Cookie on Visitors
    Does anybody know how we'd go about detecting in a visitor has a ShareASale cookie? I'm guessing they use a standardized name, but it would be great if anyone knew what the naming convention is and if it uses the shareasale.com domain.

    The reason I ask is I'd like to detect it and alter some variables in my cart and analytics program to know that the sale came through an affiliate (don't care which one, just that it did come through the program). We've been using URL parameters on the inbound links, but that seems to present problems if the user found our site one way (say through our own Google PPC ad), then came back through an affiliate (say, a coupon site). In that case, the credit goes to the PPC ad as it was the original source.

    So, can anyone shed any light on this subject? Or perhaps tell me why its a bad idea?

    Thanks!

    Daniel

  2. #2
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    Only the server that delivers a cookie can read a cookie (unless you're doing some very naughty scripting).

    The usual technique here is to set up your links with a unique parameter for ShareASale (e.g. the clicks are redirected to http://www.MerchantName.com/product12345.php?ref=sas) and then when the consumer enters your site with such a link, you give the consumer a cookie that identifies them as someone who was referred by ShareASale, and then you can re-read "your" cookie later.

    This is one technique used by some merchants who use multiple affiliate networks -- they don't want to fire the "tracking pixel" for the sale transaction for multiple networks, only for the last-referring publisher (affiliate) and network.
    Last edited by markwelch; July 16th, 2010 at 08:26 PM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by DHirsch View Post
    We've been using URL parameters on the inbound links, but that seems to present problems if the user found our site one way (say through our own Google PPC ad), then came back through an affiliate (say, a coupon site). In that case, the credit goes to the PPC ad as it was the original source.
    Your PPC was the first click, the affiliate cookie is set by the affiliate click and would get credit for the sale.

    Mark, there are issues with creating a special parameter within Shareasale, custom created links won't have it and neither will return visits by a cookied shopper.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly View Post
    ....Mark, there are issues with creating a special parameter within Shareasale, custom created links won't have it and neither will return visits by a cookied shopper.
    Very good point about custom-created links not including the tag. I wonder if any current multi-network merchants have this as an "undiagnosed issue"? (Yet another good reason to avoid multi-network merchants whenever possible.)

    I don't understand your point about return visits (assuming that the merchant's cookie uses the same duration as the network cookie, I don't recognize an issue, but I'm sure I'm missing something).

    On the issue of "who gets credit, PPC or affiliate?" I think the answer is "yes." Merchants need to start looking at solutions that can recognize the impacts of "multiple influencers" (PPC, organic search, CPM advertising, as well as a variety of different types of affiliates, including coupon sites and incentive sites, if merchants will work with them). Currently, most merchants implement "last referrer" systems, while some use "first referrer whose cookie hasn't expired" with a few merchants adopting more complex "single-winner" systems like "last referrer before item added to cart," or "last referrer before entry into checkout system," or "last referrer, unless there was an earlier referrer within XX minutes before the transaction."
    Last edited by markwelch; July 16th, 2010 at 11:09 PM.

  5. #5
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    At Shareasale it's last cookie gets the sale, you can't change that.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  6. #6
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly View Post
    At Shareasale it's last cookie gets the sale, you can't change that.
    It's good to be aware of a network policy.
    I find this topic confusing but I am glad Loxly stated a solid fact.

    Whether or not the affiliate likes that "last cookie rule" is open to interpretation but at least a stated solid fact can assist in affiliate decisions.
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
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  7. #7
    Member esnagel's Avatar
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    I recently had a SAS commission reversed because the user originated w/ a internal PPC campaign, but I was the last click (maybe this merchant). While it may be SAS's policy that last click wins, I didn't feel it was worth fighting it.

    Quote Originally Posted by DHirsch View Post
    In that case, the credit goes to the PPC ad as it was the original source.
    Not really... maybe the affiliate was the one that closed the sale, and without the affiliate, there would have been no sale.

  8. #8
    Affiliate Manager
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    The thing to do is to talk to SAS about using the SSAID parameter. They will tack this on to all links, custom or not.

  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager DHirsch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by esnagel View Post
    Not really... maybe the affiliate was the one that closed the sale, and without the affiliate, there would have been no sale.
    While I agree that is possible (and in some cases likely), I was actually referring to how our analytics program credits the sale (we use Omniture SiteCatalyst). Its configured to credit the first touch point, because I'd argue that's the one that is most responsible as a general rule.

    As an update to anyone curious, we found a way to get better tracking on this in SiteCatalyst. They have a Campaign Stacking feature, which will track in a single variable up to 5 campaign sources of a single visitor. So if a visitor finds us through Adwords and then clicks on an affiliate link before buying, it'll show as Adwords>SAS. This looks to be tremendously useful in seeing how frequently the affiliate networks are generating first contact versus being involved later in the process.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by esnagel View Post
    I recently had a SAS commission reversed because the user originated w/ a internal PPC campaign, but I was the last click (maybe this merchant). While it may be SAS's policy that last click wins, I didn't feel it was worth fighting it.
    Unless that is in the merchant TOS that sale should not have been reversed.

    In DHirshs case, as long as it is for internal tracking and not to use to reverse legitimate sales, that kind of tracking is important to merchants that have the capability to do that. We did a merchant abcs podcast that was posted to the Affiliate ABCs forum here where one of the things we discussed that merchants should have their own analytics that back up the tracking data so they know where their sales are coming from and can answer questions from affiliates that have asked why a specific sale hasn't tracked.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

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