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  1. #1
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    Why don't more affiliates use referring url vs affiliate id
    I'm interested in learning more about clean urls, where affiliates use the referral url VS an affiliate id to track their affiliates referrals.

    (1) Can you shed any light on what the issues are with using referral urls vs affiliate ids and why more affiliate programs don't offer this as an option?

    (2) Is there any sources out there that provide a list of affiliates that do use clean url vs affiliate ids?

    I am familiar with a few companies that provide affiliates with clean url tracking, such as Wordtracker. I am wondering why if some are able to do it, why not more?

  2. #2
    MasterMike HardwareGeek's Avatar
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    A lot of browsers mask the referral URL
    A lot of AV software hide it
    A lot of people have multiple websites and use 3rd party ad services to promote merchants

    the list goes on.

  3. #3
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    Hi Mike, thank you for that. It does help me wrap my mind around some of the issues.

    I can understand not wanting to have an affiliate program dependent on something a company doesn't directly control. That seems to be the theme of the responses.

    A lot of browsers mask the referral URL
    I assume you are talking about the visitor doing this versus the actual web browser. While I can understand that logic, I don't think it is a lot based on my experiences and logfiles. Maybe I'm wrong. On the flipside, I think some people (maybe as many or more who block the referral url) are also turned off by affiliate links. Its perception.

    A lot of AV software hide it
    That one I can totally understand, but I wonder again if it is "a lot".

    A lot of people have multiple websites
    That isn't an issue. Each site is authenticated with a program like wordtrackers

    use 3rd party ad services to promote merchants
    The use of a clean/referral url is an option in "addition" to having an affiliate id. So in this case, with using wordtrackers case, as an example you can use clean urls for your website and an affiliate id for 3rd party domains. This is not done as a replacement of the affiliate id, but instead as an additional method.

    Thank you for the feedback, as said it does help me get a better grasp of the issues.

    the list goes on.
    I'm all ears and just trying to learn more.

    Am I off base thinking that people don't like affiliate urls? Let me know if so, I don't and part of my reason for asking.

  4. #4
    http and a telephoto
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    A lot of people use url shorteners - not necessarily like bit.ly, but domain based like the pretty links plugin, or domain based like ls, or even using the htaccess file for more advanced. However even with all the link shortening tools so you make links not look like affiliate links, you still have to disclose on your site that your site has affiliate links.

    Shareasale has a link shortening tool built in to their back end for affiliates to use.

    Tracking the way you are asking about isn't likely to be available as a way to solely track affiliate referrals. There are too many ways that can fail. No tracking system is 100% perfect, there have been some discussions here at ABW about networks combining methods and having some methods as a "fallback". Flash cookies were mentioned - although that brings up huge privacy concerns.

    I don't think that consumers in general care about affiliate links, or how links work. Consumers don't care a all that a website could make money on a click. They care that they find information about something they want to buy, they click a link and can buy it.

    As far as the Search Engines treating "clean urls" differently, they know if your link is an affiliate link.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  5. #5
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    Thanks for that Deborah, I agree with you regarding consumers not caring. I suppose my perspective and the connotation I have with affiliate urls is largely based on my experiences with seo over the years.

    As far as the Search Engines treating "clean urls" differently, they know if your link is an affiliate link.
    How so? there is no difference between a link on my site to a website that I have a clean url affiliate relationship with before or after I signed up and authenticated the site with the affiliate.

    That is at the core of my question, and what I'm trying to get at. Consider a world/scenario where all the affiliate links were not recognizable or different to the search engines. Where affiliates didn't have to hassle with this.

    If the "industry" were to move in this direction wouldn't it "greatly" benefit them from an seo standpoint?

    While I understand there are downsides, are the upsides from a search/linking standpoint even a consideration. Consider the wordtracker scenario, as they are a well established and fairly respected company within the search marketing space. They are "offering" clean urls because there are benefits to doing so. I believe they do this because they are aware and recognize this. If they can do it, and have implemented it successfully ... and there are seo benefits ... I wonder why the industry doesn't at least consider it as an added "option" that may provide a substantial benefit.

    Just my view through some thick seo goggles i guess. I do know if I were providing an affiliate program, I would offer it as an option.

  6. #6
    http and a telephoto
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    If that is the only way you affiliate link to Wordtracker, a lot of your potential sales are not going to be reported or tracked. As a long time affiliate and as a long time manager, I would not work with a site that only had that tracking in place. You are at the mercy of too many variables being in place and working the way they should.

    Interesting discussion though. Hopefully some others will jump in with their own views.

  7. #7
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    If that is the only way you affiliate link to Wordtracker, a lot of your potential sales are not going to be reported or tracked.
    That is the case, and sparks the idea of a a/b test come to mind. I don't think I have the data size I need to truly test something like that though.

    As a long time affiliate and as a long time manager, I would not work with a site that only had that tracking in place. You are at the mercy of too many variables being in place and working the way they should.
    I totally respect what you are saying, that's why I'm here. Please understand my questions are to learn, and yes a bit to challenge the status quo.

    Here is the company behind wordtracker's affilate program -

    trackingsoft.com

    Are you familiar with them? And are you familiar with other's doing this also, or are they a lone wolf based on your experiences?

    Interesting discussion though.
    Its interesting from a topical standpoint to me, as I asked ... but I'll admit it has also helped me learn a little bit more about your side of the business. Thank you, always learning

  8. #8
    http and a telephoto
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    I haven't worked with trackingsoft. I have worked with other inhouse programs, and helped build one actually. It's ok to "challenge the status quo", that makes for great discussions and debates and helps us all learn. However some things just don't work as advertised. There is a reason that the major networks are cookie based and don't rely on referral urls. Affiliate networks have a vested interest in links working and tracking, most inhouse programs are bought and paid for and don't have recurring commissions tied to them. It also sounds like that was built as more of an advertising tracking platform, which would have different requirements and if the tracking wasn't perfect, it wouldn't matter.

    Again, I am not that familiar with that particular company, I went to their site for an overview.

    Different isn't always bad, however when your livelihood depends on accurate tracking, wouldn't you want to go with what is established and people are already using to make money consistently?

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador Joshua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logan View Post
    Here is the company behind wordtracker's affilate program -

    trackingsoft.com

    Are you familiar with them? And are you familiar with other's doing this also, or are they a lone wolf based on your experiences?
    Trackingsoft's platform is the only one that I know of that supports "clean linking". Clean linking has an SEO benefit for the advertiser, as well as affiliates trying to keep their site clean of affiliate links (if you're worried about getting dinged by the search engines for affiliate links, which is probably nothing to worry about these days). I'd suggest normal links over clean linking for affiliate programs, and see this feature more as a use for an advertiser or agency trying to build SEO link profiles to boost rank, while at the same time seeing if any of the links actually delivers results aside from rankings. I know some SEOs already have custom tools that do this, but it's not a huge thing - Mainly for purchasing links on high PR/traffic sites, in obvious locations. That's not too popular anymore, though.

    Trackingsoft is a solid platform. I used their system a few years back while helping manage a search marketing campaign (for a client that used their system as an overall media tracking/ad server solution), and now as an affiliate of a company using it as their affiliate system. I've never used their clean linking.

    A few months back, TrackingSoft was acquired by iMarketing - http://www.imarketingltd.com/index.c...0692/pid/10261 - So if it's a good enough platform to put iMarketing's high profile clients on (and warrant a full buyout, from what seemed to originally be a partial stake), I'll still be comfortable using it as an affiliate or advertiser (if I ever work on an account using their tracking technology again, in the future).

  10. #10
    Affiliate Manager qualityunit's Avatar
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    Clean linking is just another name of "Direct links" implemented in Post Affiliate Pro.

    As I remember, in PAP it is implemented more than 4 years already.

    You should do research before you will post a message like:
    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    Trackingsoft's platform is the only one that I know of that supports "clean linking".
    [SIZE=3][FONT=Arial]Viktor Zeman[/FONT][/SIZE]
    [B][URL=http://www.qualityunit.com/]Quality Unit [/URL][/B] Founder and [B][URL=http://www.qualityunit.com/postaffiliatepro/]Post Affiliate Pro[/URL][/B] developer

  11. #11
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    Thank you for taking the time to let me know about that

    I don't think it's a big deal, Joshua did say it was the only one that he knew of. Any info is appreciated. By nature, it seems like it is limited and only so many are aware of a few.

  12. #12
    Affiliate Manager qualityunit's Avatar
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    yes, no big deal.
    [SIZE=3][FONT=Arial]Viktor Zeman[/FONT][/SIZE]
    [B][URL=http://www.qualityunit.com/]Quality Unit [/URL][/B] Founder and [B][URL=http://www.qualityunit.com/postaffiliatepro/]Post Affiliate Pro[/URL][/B] developer

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador Joshua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qualityunit View Post
    Clean linking is just another name of "Direct links" implemented in Post Affiliate Pro.

    As I remember, in PAP it is implemented more than 4 years already.

    You should do research before you will post a message like:
    Sorry, I didn't know about the feature in PAP. I know the feature has been in TrackingSoft's platform for a while, now, due to my past experience with the platform.

    Either way, it's not a very popular feature anywhere you look.

  14. #14
    Affiliate Manager qualityunit's Avatar
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    If I look into our affiliate program, from 3500 affiliates use direct links just 128 affiliates, so you are right, this tracking method is not so widely used. For merchant it has still sense to offer it as additional option to standard link formats.

    I see more reasons why it is not widely used:
    - 1. affiliates are afraid, that direct links will not be correctly tracked - some of them even can't imagine how it is possible, that we will be able to track it - it is more psychological problem
    - 2. Affiliate can't track in detail statistic - e.g. if one banner worked better as another, with direct links you will not be able to track it ... for more skilled affiliates it is technical problem


    In PAP we added anchor links last year and this seems to be more successful link format as direct links (more than 50% of new PAP installations use this format of links)
    Format of link can have following formats:
    www.example.com/product/#affiliateid
    or
    http://www.example.com/product/#a_ai...b_bid=bannerid

    Advantage is, that for search engine it is same link as www.example.com/product/
    but affiliates can still track detailed statistic
    [SIZE=3][FONT=Arial]Viktor Zeman[/FONT][/SIZE]
    [B][URL=http://www.qualityunit.com/]Quality Unit [/URL][/B] Founder and [B][URL=http://www.qualityunit.com/postaffiliatepro/]Post Affiliate Pro[/URL][/B] developer

  15. #15
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    I always use redirect URLs. I know my readers know its an affiliate link, I just dont want to stuff it in their face.

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