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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador Akiva's Avatar
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    Hi everyone! On the request of many ABW members I put together the following FAQ on CJ tracking.

    CJ Tracking Overview

    There are several components that make up the CJ tracking system:

    1. Impression Tracking
    2. Click Tracking
    3. Cookie setting
    4. Merchant reporting

    Explained:

    1. Impression Tracking

    Impression tracking is a seperate system from transaction tracking. The two use different tracking systems and two different reporting systems. When you create a link in the CJ interface, CJ generates a 1x1 pixel code into your link. The information contained in the tracking pixel is the PID and LINKID. Every time the link loads, the tracking pixel contacts the IMPRESSION TRACKING SERVERS and inputs your PID and LINKID allowing CJ to add an impression of a specific link to your account. If you leave the tracking pixel out of your links if for example you use a datafeed or use use server side link redirects, it WILL NOT AFFECT ANYTHING OTHER THAN IMPRESSION TRACKING.

    2. Click Tracking and Cookie Setting

    Click tracking is the heart of the CJ system. Click tracking sets cookies on the users computer and allows for crediting of the sale to an affiliate. When you create a link in the CJ account manager, the link will look like this:
    http://www.qksrv.net/click-PID-LINKID
    This means that when clicked, the link will connect to qksrv.net, CJ's click tracking and cookie setting servers. CJ receives your PID and the LINKID which is referenced to the merchant's ID in a database. At the point of click through, two things happen:
    - A click is recorded in CJ's click reporting servers.
    - qksrv.net sets a cookie including a few parameters: PID, AID and the cookie life. Cookie life is the merchant's cookie limit. So for example at EssentialApparel.com our cookie limit is 365 days. The cookie will remain on the users computer for 365 days after creation. This cookie comes into play when the user completes a purchase and CJ accesses the cookie to get the PID and AID. A few important things about this cookie:
    - The cookie cannot be modified or deleted by anyone other than qksrv.net. This is how cookies work. Only the issuing domain can access the cookie.
    - If a user does not allow access for cookies on their machine, a prompt will pop-up letting them know that qksrv.net wants to create a cookie. The user has the option of accepting the cookie at that point. By default browsers are set to accept cookies so that basically takes care of all internet shoppers.
    - If a merchant uses batch reporting to report sales, this cookie is useless. Here's what happens. When CJ lands the user on the merchant's site, qksrv.net sends along the AID and PID values so that a merchant can grab those values and write their own cookie so that their ecommerce system can track and credit the sale. You can see this in action by clicking a CJ link to any merchant. Look at the resulting URL in your browser. It will have AID=XXXX&PID=XXXXX. A batch reporting merchant will use that information to write their own cookie. At EssentialApparel.com, even though we use CJ's real-time reporting, we grab the PID value and record it with the user tracking information. At the point of sale, it is recorded into our database. If theoretically a sale does not make it into CJ for one reason or another, I will see that in my daily reports and I can manually credit the sale. I have NEVER needed to use this as 100% of sales are credited via the real-time reporting.

    4. Merchant Reporting

    Upon completion of the checkout process, transaction information is sent to CJ via a 1x1 clear pixel. A merchant sends the order subtotal, the merchant ID, and Order ID and the KEEP=YES value. At the same time, CJ accesses the cookie on the customer's machine. CJ checks if the merchant's AID is in the cookie file. If it is, it looks for the corresponding PID and appends all the info together which creates a transaction in the CJ system. The info is recorded in a transaction server. It takes between 20min-1 hour for the transaction to hit the reporting servers. That's why when CJ is having reporting problems you still see your balance move up yet you don't see transactions. Your balance is pulled from the transaction database and not the reporting db.

    How reliable is this system? IMHO CJ has the best and most accurate reporting system from all the big four. Granted, merchants do play games but with the real-time reporting, CJ's system is open to much less fraud. On the other networks, the merchants are soley reponsible for reporting transactions. The network never sees anything on the transaction end. All transactions are batched via a text file and the merchant has total control over what's in that file. Honest merchants will report everything and dishonest ones will remove transactions based on the criteria they choose. Will you ever know? No. Will the networks ever know? No. With CJ's real-time system, CJ can see transaction trends and CJ will notice if the tracking code is off for a period of time - automatically. In addition, CJ can do something about your complaint of non-tracking as they can verify that the merchant's tracking code is installed correctly. On the other networks or batch reporting merchants, there is no way for CJ to see anything - only the batched transactions.

    As for downtime goes, when CJ shuts down your account, all they are doing is shutting down access to YOUR REPORTING side of things. Their transaction servers, which you never see, are always on and functioning. When a transaction is received, it is batched to the reporting database that YOU see. CJ needs different databases so that the network will work efficiently. If everyone was accessing the transaction database, there'd be a huge bottleneck and things would go real slow. By creating a reporting database for publishers and merchants to see transactions received, CJ can fan out the db over multiple servers and spread the load. But doing this creates a lag in the reporting of transactions from the transaction database to the reporting database.
    When CJ is down, ONLY THE REPORTING END THAT YOU SEE IS DOWN. Everything else, which is the critical part of recording transactions, does not need to be upgraded when they do an INTERFACE upgrade since the transaction servers do not have an interface accessible to anyone but internal CJ people. When CJ opens up the reporting system after downtime, they begin the process of having the transaction servers batch the transactions over to the reporting database. It takes up to 24 hours for that process to complete.

    Ultimately CJ has a system that works. Foolproof? No. But then no computer system is fool proof. Just look at your Windows operating system Seriously, IMHO CJ has the most reliable platform from all the networks. I give CJ five out of five for technology.

    BTW I made everything up

    Edited to amend per Todd's corrections.
    Akiva Bergstrom | akiva@affsolutions.com | 718-871-8286

    Affiliate Marketing Solutions by affSolutions - Creator of the Product Showcase Creator™

    Managed Programs: EssentialApparel.com (Join) | SportsFanfare.com (Join)


    Affiliates: Product Showcase Creator Directory | Merchants: License the Product Showcase Creator™!

  2. #2
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    Thanks Akiva
    Very informative post!
    Cazzie

  3. #3
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    Thanks for taking the time to post this. You provided a very good explanation of how CJ tracks txns. I think I should clear up a few points though.

    quote:
    Impression reporting usually does not show up until the next day. If you leave the tracking pixel out of your links if for example you use a datafeed, it WILL NOT AFFECT ANYTHING OTHER THAN IMPRESSION TRACKING.



    It is not true that impression reporting takes a day. It usually takes less than one hour. It is not allowed to remove impression tracking from links - please see the publisher service agreement. It is not advisable to alter the link code generated by the CJ system - in doing so, your data (impressions, clicks, sales or leads) may not get properly tracked.

    The "LINKID" is actually called an AID (Ad ID).

    quote:
    You can see this in action by clicking ANY CJ link to any merchant. Look at the resulting URL in your browser. It will have AID=XXXX&PID=XXXXX.


    Not all advertisers get these values passed in the URL. If you do not see these values in the URL, it does not mean txns are not being tracked. We need to turn off this feature for some advertisers due to how their website works.

    quote:
    That's why when CJ is having reporting problems you still see your balance move up yet you don't see transactions. Your balance is pulled from the transaction database and not the reporting db.


    Actually the database has multiple tables. The two most people are familiar with are txn and performance tables. The txn table is updated first. It shows your balance and the individual txns in the txn reports. Performance reports show the number of impressions, clicks, sales and leads (plus other data). This table gets updated second and there is often a delay between the two reports. Most publisher like to run performance reports and sometimes think things are not tracking but if they run a txn report, they will see sales and leads.

    I hope this helps. FYI - use the FAQs in the help section in the CJ account manager to get more details on tracking and reporting.


    Todd Crawford
    Commission Junction

    [This message was edited by ToddCrawford, CJ.com on February 26, 2003 at 10:54 PM.]

  4. #4
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    Thanks akiva ...

    Todd .. To have a merchant of CJ answer these ? is above and beyond ...

    Akiva is one of the good ones.

    I think all the CJ affiliates here .. Just want some active feedback from you or a rep of CJ.

    Welcome Back

    Dave

  5. #5
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    That's a great post and . . .
    quote:
    I think all the CJ affiliates here .. Just want some active feedback from you or a rep of CJ.
    ditto

    Brian
    aka Cyclone

    If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room~!

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador Akiva's Avatar
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    Hi Todd! Thanks for the good word on my FAQ. I think CJ is the best network out there and I simply want to assure all publishers that CJ tracks.

    I have a response to one of your statements:

    quote:
    It is not advisable to alter the link code generated by the CJ system - in doing so, your data (impressions, clicks, sales or leads) may not get properly tracked.



    Todd, many publishers use server side redirects which requires them to disable impression tracking. In addition, many merchants issue private datafeeds to our affiliates and there is no impression tracking pixel in them. Publishers do not deliberatley remove impression tracking, but some of the time it's impossible to include. I have no problem with that as long as the affiliate knows what they are doing. The question about the tracking pixel has been asked many times so I figured I'd address it.

    BTW congrats on the wedding!

    Akiva Bergstrom
    Business Development
    akiva@essentialapparel.com
    800-556-2937 ext 751
    www.essentialapparel.com
    6% PER SALE ~ RECURRING COMMISSIONS FOR 1 YEAR ~ ABW MEMBERS CONVERT AT LESS THAN 1/30 ~ DEDICATED AM WHO'LL DO ALMOST ANYTHING ~ TONS OF CASH WAITING TO BE TAKEN! ~ PARASITE FREE ~ PRIVATE FORUM AT ABW

  7. #7
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    I just wanted it to be clear that CJ cannot guarentee that links will track if they are altered. Publishers may need to alter the links but they also should know what they are doing and test them to be certain they still track.

    Thanks again for your support and effort to explain things.

    Todd Crawford
    Commission Junction

  8. #8
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    If Tod is saying it's against the rules to take out the 1x1 pixel image, that's all I need to know.

    We are all aware of some big affiliate sites that do just that, and it is unclear as to if they have some special privilege to do so.

    I would love to be able to leave them out of big pages where I have several merchants placed, but am inclined to follow the rules.

    Bandwidth, vistor perceptions, and surfer habits are things I worry about. The image links further bloat my page size, and I'm sure they freak out many visitors with slower connections looking at the status bar when the 1x1 images are counting down.

    I used to mask the merchant codes in the status bar, but this was bloating my pages as well. I took the onmouse masking out and it made no difference in sales, and is saving me in bandwidth costs.

    Although visitors may not care about what the link information says in the status bar, they may care alot about what the status bar says about how many items are yet to loaded on a page upon entry.

    It's mostly all about visitor page load perception with me. Secondly bandwidth.

    When merchant links toward the top of a page are showing significantly higher impressions than for any merchant links toward the bottom of the page.... alot of visitors are concluded to be leaving whenin the time it takes for the little 1x1 images to all load.

    I want to expand and try more new merchants that are bombarding me with their e-mails everyday.

    I don't like asking myself if I have room for them.

  9. #9
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    IMHO if the merchant gives an option to allow URL redirects for a certain link, then we can leave the tracking pixel out that link.
    Todd, please correct if I am wrong.

    IRS

    Don’t ask why the ball doesn’t come.

  10. #10
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    First, I don't think I agree that is an advertiser is 'batch'instead of real time can be determine by the appended AID...PID... in their URL. Because the advertiser can simply do a redirect to their main page after they have plant the cookie.

    Also, for my advertisers, they all use their own cookie. So only refeered sales are send to CJ, not all sales.

    finally, TERMS are DEAD and HUMAN are ALIVE ... there are some time rules which are ridiculous in our life, even our enforcer realize it. But they have no way to remove the rule to protect themselve as an 'insurance'. You can do what you want, they just pretent they see nothing, but if anything happen, they reserve all the rights so you can't say anything.

  11. #11
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    Thanks Aktiva for a very useful information.

    I still need your further explanation about the merchant reporting:

    quote:
    Upon completion of the checkout process, transaction information is sent to CJ via a 1x1 clear pixel.


    What will happen if there is no 1X1 pixel?

    IRS

    Don’t ask why the ball doesn’t come.

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador Akiva's Avatar
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    IRS,

    Simple. No sale is recorded. That's what "no tracking" is all about. CJ has an integration team check for the pixel before a merchant is made live in the CJ network. That's where the game playing on the merchant's end is.

    Akiva Bergstrom
    Business Development
    akiva@essentialapparel.com
    800-556-2937 ext 751
    www.essentialapparel.com
    6% PER SALE ~ RECURRING COMMISSIONS FOR 1 YEAR ~ ABW MEMBERS CONVERT AT LESS THAN 1/30 ~ DEDICATED AM WHO'LL DO ALMOST ANYTHING ~ TONS OF CASH WAITING TO BE TAKEN! ~ PARASITE FREE ~ PRIVATE FORUM AT ABW

  13. #13
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    Aktiva,

    Thanks for your quick response.

    But sorry I am far behind, you see that I am a newbie. You mentioned that the tracking pixel will not affect anything other than impression tracking. Are you saying that 1x1 clear pixel (Merchant Reporting) is different with 1x1 tracking pixel (Impression Tracking)?

    IRS

    Don’t ask why the ball doesn’t come.

  14. #14
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    dear Aktiva,
    Could explaning more if i have more than 1 site but i only have 1 account at cj, specially about PID, i use datafeeds too.
    from example, site A PID : 100001 ;site B PID : 100002, and datafeeds PID: 623431. I use data feed on site A & B, its would tracking or not ??

  15. #15
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    If the transaction is recorded via a pixel, then presumebly sales can fail to be recorded for quite banal reasons not related to fraud, such as temporary connectivity problems to CJ, buyers clicking on before the connection's made etc.?

    What about if buyers have graphics turned off?

    (may be stupid questions, but I don't know exactly how this pixel works)

  16. #16
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    quote:
    What about if buyers have graphics turned off?


    It is true that if the end user had images turned off, the pixel tracking would not track.

    If you think about it a minute, anyone that can't see images (i.e. what they are trying to buy) is probably not a shopper.

    I don't think this affects tracking in the real world, only theoretically.

    Todd Crawford
    Commission Junction

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador Akiva's Avatar
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    IRS:

    Yes. There are two different tracking pixels. The merchant's tracking pixel inludes transaction information. CJ receives the tracking information via the pixel and credits the sale.

    -------------------------
    dh:

    Doing what you do is fine. A Site PID will credit sales to that site. Your account PID won't credit it to a specific web site but it will still be credited.

    -------------------------
    MJCB,

    Theoretically there can be numerous problems but in actuality I have never ever seen any reporting problems. CJ has extensive data center setups that are always on so connectivity problems is not that much of an issue. Dishonest merchants will play games and not include the tracking pixel. When people complain about "no tracking" that is what they are referring to. Also the pixel takes about 1/2 a second to connect to CJ. It's instantaneous.

    Akiva Bergstrom
    Business Development
    akiva@essentialapparel.com
    800-556-2937 ext 751
    www.essentialapparel.com
    6% PER SALE ~ RECURRING COMMISSIONS FOR 1 YEAR ~ ABW MEMBERS CONVERT AT LESS THAN 1/30 ~ DEDICATED AM WHO'LL DO ALMOST ANYTHING ~ TONS OF CASH WAITING TO BE TAKEN! ~ PARASITE FREE ~ PRIVATE FORUM AT ABW

  18. #18
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    quote:
    Doing what you do is fine. A Site PID will credit sales to that site. Your account PID won't credit it to a specific web site but it will still be credited.
    To be clear - there is a difference between your account number (CID) and you Website ID (PID). Do not create links and substitue your account number (upper right corner in account manager) with your Website ID. It will not track for your account.

    If you have an older account (pre 1999), some of you may have an identical CID and PID but this is not the case for most of you.

    Todd Crawford
    Commission Junction

    [This message was edited by ToddCrawford, CJ.com on February 28, 2003 at 02:26 PM.]

  19. #19
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    Thanks Todd and Akiva for answering my questions.

  20. #20
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    ------------------------------------------------
    To be clear - there is a difference between your account number (CID) and you Website ID (PID). Do not create links and substitue your account number (upper right corner in account manager) with your Website ID. It will not track for your account.
    ------------------------------------------------

    So Todd it's would be okey if i use datafeeds
    (My CID == PID datafeeds ) on 2 sites??? will still be credited ???

  21. #21
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    Nice post Akiva. Thank you for your nice summary of how tracking/reporting works at CJ.

  22. #22
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    >It is true that if the end user had images turned >off, the pixel tracking would not track.


    >If you think about it a minute, anyone that can't
    >see images (i.e. what they are trying to buy) is
    >probably not a shopper.


    >I don't think this affects tracking in the real
    >world, only theoretically.

    Unless the computer being used has, or has had, kazaalite installed on it at some stage. Then, all traffic to www.qksrv.net and www.commission-junction.com is being blackholed by Windows.

  23. #23
    I like traffic lights
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    And if you don't think kazaalite putting www.qksrv.net into their downloable HOSTS file is a problem, reliase that kazaalite.com have an Alexa traffic ranking of 13,906

    And that's just people still actively using kazaalite.

    All the old users STILL have the offending HOSTS file on their computer, blocking all traffic going through CJ.

    And if you don't think the kazaalite distributed HOSTS file is hurting CJ and it's advertisers and publishers, just edit your

    c:\windows\HOSTS

    or

    c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\HOSTS

    file and add:

    www.qksrv.net 127.0.0.1

    to it and save it, and try clicking on a text link for a CJ merchant.

  24. #24
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    This topic is always on TOP, let's see if I can unlock the position by reposting.

    Fer

  25. #25
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    I am getting emails from users fairly often telling me that my links don't work. And every time, I send them instructions on how to fix it, I get a happy email back from them (I tell them how to fix the HOSTS file).

    What the big four need to do now is get new tracking domain names and switch to them (let the old ones continue to work of course), and I'd bet our revenues would go up immediately once we switched out our links. Might have to repeat the process every 6 months to a year if Kazaa Lite proceeds to ban the new domains, but at least we'd be fighting back.

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