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  1. #1
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Affiliate's Opinion on Attribution??
    So I have been working with attribution for several years for various reasons. We publish the attribution ratios for the programs but not completely sure how it comes across to affiliates. What is your experience (if any) with programs running attribution? Do you see a lift in commissions? Decline? Would like to start a general conversation in this thread, don't be bashful.

  2. #2
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    I don't have a huge issue with attribution if the split is between "other affiliates."

    But one merchant I'm with (Patagonia) also includes themselves in attribution. From what I can gather from their TOS, if a person visits their website at some point in some "unknown past", then visits an affiliate site and follows an affiliate link, the commission is cut due to attribution (Whenever I've seen this in my reports, I always have the "influencer" rate, or 40% of the total commission). What bothers me the most out of it is the vagueness of it all. How long ago is the visit to the merchants site valid for attribution to happen? A day? A week? A month? A year? Forever?

    I don't like that vagueness. That type of vagueness is one reason I dumped another outdoor program (on a different network). Patagonia still converts ok for me, so I keep them for now. But they definitely don't get the promotion they otherwise would due to this vague attribution model.


  3. #3
    Member gibson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    What is your experience (if any) with programs running attribution?

    could you state what attribution is? some readers may not know.


    We publish the attribution ratios for the programs

    could you give examples? or what is common?
    The internet is a fad.

  4. #4
    Affiliate Network Rep JCrooks - AffiliateWindow's Avatar
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    Attribution means splitting the commission between the parties that were part of the path for the consumer from first click to purchase. There are many different ways to do it; some companies use fixed percentages, others use position in the chain or how long the chain of clicks was.
    Last edited by JCrooks - AffiliateWindow; November 23rd, 2015 at 10:53 AM.
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  5. #5
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I have the same concerns with attribution. I have a feeling it leads to lower commissions with most implementations.

    Does the merchant pay lower CPC rates on Google AdWords if the searcher has already been on their site, or comes back later? Of course not. Why should affiliates be any different.

    I do think attribution REPORTING should be a useful tool for merchants to determine the VALUE of affiliates. If they see an affiliate generating a lot of clicks, but seldom generating a sale unless the customer also comes through another channel, that's a low-value affiliate (and possibly even a cookie stuffer or other unethical affiliate). On the other hand, if many sales come even when the affiliate is the only click and the affiliate is often the last click before a sale is generated, that's a very valuable affiliate.

    I see it as very similar to the way new customers used to be handled. In the "old days", merchants would give a "new customer bounty" on top of the commission, recognizing that new customers were valuable because now the merchant can market to them. Then at some point, the new customer bounties went away. And then some merchants started offering a different commission rate for new vs. existing customers. In every case I can recall, they didn't raise the commissions for new customers, but instead DROPPED the commission for existing customers.

    This is why affiliates are almost always suspicious of new technology and methodology. It seldom benefits us, but instead is used as a tool to further reduce our commissions.
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  7. #6
    Affiliate Network Rep JCrooks - AffiliateWindow's Avatar
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    Actually, Michael, we've found that many affiliates who generate clicks which ultimately result in sales are quite a valuable part of the process, even if they weren't the final click. In fact, at Affiliate Window, we actually created a tracking process to see who helped along the way. We call it "Assists" and each merchant can find it in our interface. We encourage merchants to reward these affiliates via a bonus strategy. Many new technologies are indeed used to help affiliates, because the better care we take of affiliates, the better the merchants will do!
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  8. #7
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    The most common model I have seen is the 40/40/20 attribution rule. That means the commission is split into three commissions if three affiliates are responsible for bringing the customer to the merchant and closing the sale. The first is the introducer, second the influencer and third the closer. Under the current system without attribution the closer or last click would get 100% of the commission. Under the attribution they would only get 20% of the commission. If attribution is working fully then in a case where there is only one affiliate in the click stream that affiliate would get the rolled up total or 100% of the commission.

    Where this is important to non-coupon affiliates is if you are the introducer or influencer and you can get a part of the commission for the sale rather than zero. In this state its an effort to reward affiliates like bloggers, content sites, reviewers as Introducers. Influencers could be a pay-per-click affiliate that brings the consumer back to the merchant when they are making a decision to buy.

  9. #8
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    jimh009 I checked and Patagonia has a 60 day cookie so the attribution clock would start with the first affiliate click through to the merchants site. So within that 60 day window if another affiliate enters the click stream then they share in the commission. If a consumer googles directly to the merchant site there is no cookie set. Make sense?

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    jimh009 I checked and Patagonia has a 60 day cookie so the attribution clock would start with the first affiliate click through to the merchants site. So within that 60 day window if another affiliate enters the click stream then they share in the commission. If a consumer googles directly to the merchant site there is no cookie set. Make sense?
    I'm not sure you're right Chuck. Here is it from the full TOS:

    Affiliate referrals that are a first-time visitor to the merchant's websites are called an "Introducer" referral. An Introducer referral will receive their full commission on a sale unless other affiliate referrals take place before that visitor has finalized their purchase. In this case, the other referrals will receive a set percentage of the commission payout and the Introducer referral will receive the remaining commission percentage.
    * Affiliate referrals that have visited the merchant's website in the past but haven't started the checkout process are called "Influencer" referrals. The final Influencer referral will receive 40% of their commission payout.
    * Affiliate referrals that are made within 60 minutes after the visitor has entered the checkout process on a merchant's website and the visitor finalizes their purchase within that time frame are called "Checkout Influencer" referrals. The final Checkout Influencer will receive 10% of their commission payout.

    From the way I read it, if any person has visited Patagonia's website in the past (within an "undefined time frame) than any affiliate sales that might later arise from it are at the 40% level (aka, the Influence rate which I see a fair amount of).

  11. #10
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    For a visitor to be tracked they have to set a cookie in their browser which is a function of clicking through an affiliate link. To my understanding attribution does not compare a cookie from a merchant site visit with affiliate site cookies. They are exclusive of each other.

    From the way I read it, if any person has visited Patagonia's website in the past (within an "undefined time frame) than any affiliate sales that might later arise from it are at the 40% level (aka, the Influence rate which I see a fair amount of).
    If the person visited the merchant after being referred by an affiliate then they are tagged with a cookie as an introducer. If they visit from another affiliate referral they get another cookie and that affiliate is considered an influencer.

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    For a visitor to be tracked they have to set a cookie in their browser which is a function of clicking through an affiliate link. To my understanding attribution does not compare a cookie from a merchant site visit with affiliate site cookies. They are exclusive of each other.
    That's the part I don't like. It is too vague. Nothing in the TOS says that explicitly - and it should. I'm left guessing. But since I just dumped one merchant that took "attribution" to a whole new disaster level, I'm admittedly not inclined to be too trustful of merchants that now use it. All the more so when the TOS is vague and not explicit about it.

  13. #12
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Its complicated and hence why I started the thread. T&Cs generally do not go into the mechanics of the tracking process and wouldn't get into this much depth. On another note I was talking with a merchant recently that is seeing great success with attribution. Due to it they see that they have many influencers but only one is getting commissioned. They are asking if the network can pay out multiple influencers and I am working with the network to get that implemented. The merchant will most likely pay a higher split to the influencer group so more affiliates get commissioned.

  14. #13
    Affiliate Network Rep JCrooks - AffiliateWindow's Avatar
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    You absolutely should be able to ask the merchant or the network to fully explain their policy. Transparency and complete honesty should always be the foundation for relationships.
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  16. #14
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I agree that you should push the AM/Network for a complete explanation of how attribution works. Its complex so no one should feel bad for not understanding it.
    Last edited by Chuck Hamrick; November 2nd, 2015 at 02:35 AM.

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  18. #15
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    I like the idea of attribution if it keeps a coupon site from grabbing all of the commission during the checkout process, but I too have seen my commissions decreased by attribution, particularly for things with a long sales cycle. For instance, say you introduce the customer to the merchant via a targeted deep link. Two days later, the customer does a Google search on the merchant's name and arrives via the merchant's PPC ad which is targeting terms like "merchantname.com" and "merchantname". Should I have my commission reduced because they navigated back to the site via Google Adwords?
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

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  20. #16
    Affiliate Network Rep JCrooks - AffiliateWindow's Avatar
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    That's why it is important for merchants to clearly explain their de-duping policy up frontso you can decide if you want to work with them. We require our merchants to identify what they de-dupe against as part of their program background information. Then each affiliate can easily see that information in advance and know whether their cookie may be de-duped against PPC or not. Then the decision is yours, not the merchants!
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  21. #17
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    isellstuff, the answer is no you should not have your commission cut. The attribution I am working with does not include cross channel. Its the decision of the merchant if they value the affiliate channel and they pay when the affiliate cookie is present.

  22. #18
    Newbie Sarah - AvantLink's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimh009 View Post
    I'm not sure you're right Chuck. Here is it from the full TOS:

    Affiliate referrals that are a first-time visitor to the merchant's websites are called an "Introducer" referral. An Introducer referral will receive their full commission on a sale unless other affiliate referrals take place before that visitor has finalized their purchase. In this case, the other referrals will receive a set percentage of the commission payout and the Introducer referral will receive the remaining commission percentage.
    * Affiliate referrals that have visited the merchant's website in the past but haven't started the checkout process are called "Influencer" referrals. The final Influencer referral will receive 40% of their commission payout.
    * Affiliate referrals that are made within 60 minutes after the visitor has entered the checkout process on a merchant's website and the visitor finalizes their purchase within that time frame are called "Checkout Influencer" referrals. The final Checkout Influencer will receive 10% of their commission payout.

    From the way I read it, if any person has visited Patagonia's website in the past (within an "undefined time frame) than any affiliate sales that might later arise from it are at the 40% level (aka, the Influence rate which I see a fair amount of).
    Jumping in here! I actually work with the Patagonia program at AvantLink, and it is definitely not our intention to be vague about the attribution model. We've actually tried to do quite the opposite, we sent an email describing the model before putting it into place as well as updated it in our TOS. The terms you copied above are actually not Patagonia's terms, those are the standard terms AvantLink adds to each merchant account who implements attribution - making it a requirement that it is always listed within the account. I do agree the terms can be a little hard to understand if you are not familiar with attribution or a merchant's particular model, but as Chuck stated - you are always welcome to reach out to the AM if you would like an explanation. As this thread has shown, there is so much information that goes into attribution and every merchant handles it differently, which may be where the sensed vagueness comes from, there really isn't one explanation that fits every merchant's model under one umbrella. If you do have any questions about the model and how it's set up for Patagonia, I would more than happy to answer your questions. Feel free to shoot me an email, shohman[@]avantlink[.]com (no brackets). <-- I hope that's ABW approved (putting my email address in my reply) - if not I will delete!

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  24. #19
    OPM/Moderator Hectic GHC's Avatar
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    Attribution may cut your commission slightly but it increases your conversion. More conversion equals more money in the long run.
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