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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager dallbee's Avatar
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    Tracking Issues?
    Hey, everyone.
    Lately I've been having an issue with one of our affiliates in particular who is having none of his sales tracked by LinkShare. What I mean is that he not being credited for any commissions (the orders don't even show up in reporting), although his clickthroughs and impressions do appear to be getting tracked.

    None of my other affiliates are reporting this issue, so I assumed it must be something up with his links. Alas, I reviewed the links personally and even forwarded the issue to Merchant Help, and both of us came to the same conclusion: the links are fine.
    Tried putting him in a custom program level all to himself, and that didn't work either.

    Lastly, we assumed it might have to do with over-restrictive security settings on the computer(s) his orders were coming from, so I placed an order myself on my own machine, after having disabled the firewall and dropped security settings in IE7 down to bare minimum.

    Guess what?
    Still no dice.

    Has anyone else experienced this phenomenon?
    It looks like an isolated issue for just this one affiliate, and all of his orders have been credited manually so far, but we can't count on that as a permanent solution.

    --D

  2. #2
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    While clicks and impressions are tracked by Linkshare, aren't sales tracked by the merchant?

    Does this affiliate have sales reporting from other Linkshare merchants?

  3. #3
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Are the transactions included in your LTRANS file that you send to LinkShare? Do you get an acknowledgment back that they processed them properly? Do they show in Non-Commissionable Sales reports? Does the affiliate have non-alphanumeric characters in their 11 character ID? (Mine, for instance, has a "/" in it, and I know others have "*" in theirs. I've always worried that these might not track right with all merchants.)

    I'm very curious to hear what the problem is, once you figure it out.

    You might want to escalate it from your account manager to a technical support person.
    Michael Coley
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  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager dallbee's Avatar
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    Michael,

    That's a good point - I checked his affiliate link, and was very interested to see an asterisk in the partner ID. Curious.
    I contacted LinkShare, who assured me that it wouldn't be a problem, but I did some checking on my own anyway. Alas, to no avail - turns out we've got several other affiliates who I've verified as also having funky non-numerics in their IDs, and they've been tracking sales just fine.

    Regarding the LTRANS, that's just the thing - LinkShare updates the automatic trans file hourly, and sends me daily report...and he doesn't show up on the LS-generated trans file at all. No non-commissionable sales or anything (which makes sense, as all of our SKUs should be commissioned). He's just not in there, period.

    When we manually approve the transaction by uploading our own LTRANS, it's fine, but for some reason it's not being pushed through to LS automatically.

    Thanks for the feedback, though. This is one of the stranger issues I've had with LinkShare.
    I'll definitely update this thread as we make progress on his issue.

    --D

    EDIT: Oh, and snowman, he isn't getting anything from his other merchants either. His site's very new, so we don't know if it's just that he hasn't had any sales from anyone else, or if it's a universal issue with his account. Still, it IS very strange.

  5. #5
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    You don't generate your own LTRANS? What's the automatic LinkShare-generated LTRANS?
    Michael Coley
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  6. #6
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    You mentioned that you don't have any non-commissionable sales since all of your SKUs are commissionable. Any sale from an affiliate link that exceeds the cookie duration (return days) is a non-commissionable sale. I know this isn't the issue here, but just wanted you to know what a valid example of a non-commissionable sale is.

    From what you described in your followup post, this seems to be a Linkshare issue rather than a merchant issue (rare in my experience). What is Linkshare doing to determine what the problem is?

  7. #7
    Merchant & ABW Ambassador
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    Quote Originally Posted by dallbee
    Regarding the LTRANS, that's just the thing - LinkShare updates the automatic trans file hourly, and sends me daily report...and he doesn't show up on the LS-generated trans file at all. He's just not in there, period.

    When we manually approve the transaction by uploading our own LTRANS, it's fine, but for some reason it's not being pushed through to LS automatically.
    Dallbee,

    I am a bit confused as you mentioned "he doesn't show up on the LS-generated trans file". LS does not generate the file, you generate the file.

    If you are able to get access to the LS trans file before it is sent over to Linkshare, it will tell you all the transactions that were generated. If he is not there, there might be a tracking problem from his site or on your server.

    Basically, this is what should happen.
    Order (transaction) is made on your site >> the transaction will capture whatever Linkshare [SITE.CODE] >> Your server passed the transaction to Linkshare via LS Trans >> Linkshare acknowledges that a file is received immediately via email to you or a designated email address >> Linkshare will email you saying xx number or transactios made

    I find it strange that it is happening to just one affiliate. I guess some testing is necessary..

    Give me a call if you need help, or you can call your account manager

  8. #8
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    Hi dallbe,
    I exactly experience the same and am waiting for any solution either by my merchant yoox.com or by linkshare. Thousands of clicks an imps are recorded but not any sale. Yoox says that the links are set up correctly and linkshare says nothing to it. I executed a testsale through my website but this sale does not appear and yoox gave mne no answer on that issue, although I received the merchandise already and mailed them the order# and everything so that they can figure out what happened. I believe that s.o. here is a sales thieve and no one. either linkshare nor yoox.com has any interest to solve the problem. I am working on leaving linkshare and yoox.


    roland

  9. #9
    Merchant & ABW Ambassador
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    Guys,

    I mentioned this to one of of my contacts at LS and they told me that if I can get a # or email address, they will personally follow up with the person.

    Please shoot an email to eric.ewe /at/ wyndhamvo.com if you would like to see this passed up the ladder. PM also works but Dallbee will not be able to do so.

    Thanks

  10. #10
    Affiliate Manager dallbee's Avatar
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    All,

    Apologies for the confusion on the definition of an LTRANS. I get a daily confirmation from LS of all the transactions that have posted by our affiliates, and have a habit of logging in throughout the day and checking the "transactions" tab for any abnormalities or strange goings-on on the fly.
    As a result, I've come to think of that daily log as my LTRANS from them. Probably not the correct terminology (CTRANS, maybe? Confirmation of transaction?), so that may well be contributing to the confusion.

    Interestingly, today I did get confirmation from our tech contact at LS that there are some non-alphanumeric characters that do sometimes cause problems. Specifically, any "*" or "/" in the affiliateID gets turned into a "." or "_", respectively, when passed through LS's servers and on to the landing page. So the landing page code that our tracking sees is not necessarily the same as the affiliate ID.
    I was not previously aware of this, and I'm getting a little curious about that. Forwarded the info to our developer for further inspection.
    Michael may have been close to hitting the nail on the head after all!


    And Eric,

    Thanks for the info and the offer. I'm on a friend's laptop right now and am pressed for time, but will most certainly forward you my contact information when I get into work tomorrow morning.
    I'd be welcoming of any additional input on the matter.

    Thanks again, guys. Catch you all in the morning!

    --D

  11. #11
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    Roland, does your Linkshare ID have a non-alphanumeric character in it?

  12. #12
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    Roland, does your Linkshare ID have a non-alphanumeric character in it?
    The quick solution there is to turn that character into an ASCII equivalent, so the / which becomes a _ is changed to a %2F. Change the * to %2A . And then see if that tracks

    Cheers

    Chris
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  13. #13
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    Chris, I know you are trying to be helpful here, but telling an affiliate to change his Linkshare ID is not a good idea at all.

  14. #14
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    Hi,

    no, I have no non-alphanumeric character in my aff id. The best is that I executed a test sale and told yoox.com the order # but they can not find the sale either although the merchandise arrived here some days before.


    roland

  15. #15
    Merchant & ABW Ambassador
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roland
    Hi,

    no, I have no non-alphanumeric character in my aff id. The best is that I executed a test sale and told yoox.com the order # but they can not find the sale either although the merchandise arrived here some days before.


    roland
    Roland, i passed the info to the guy at LS.
    I think the problem lies with the merchant. If they cannot find the order, then technically, it would be hard for them to report the order with the LS site.code to LS in their LS trans. I would lean towards merchant tracking.

  16. #16
    Affiliate Manager dallbee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WyndhamVacationR-EricEwe
    [...] I think the problem lies with the merchant. If they cannot find the order, then technically, it would be hard for them to report the order with the LS site.code to LS in their LS trans. I would lean towards merchant tracking.
    I'm going to have to agree with Eric on this one.

    Roland, It sounds like you're having exactly the same problem as my affiliate, but you are getting commissions from other merchants, right? I ask, because the affiliate in question here just received commission on an order from Home Depot today, so we now know that his problems aren't universal - it's somewhere within our implementation of the LS tracking code.
    That's quite possibly the same problem with your merchant.
    It might be worth checking to see if their backend is developed in ColdFusion; ours is, and our developer suspects that something being passed in the affiliate's ID string and/or the landing page ID is breaking the code.

    It's just going to be finding out what, exactly, is wrong, that's going to be the real adventure.

    --Dan

  17. #17
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    Eric said "if you cannot find the order," but you said you have manually reported this affiliate's sales. How can you manually report something you cannot find?

    Home Depot is a CJ merchant, not Linkshare.

    I suspect this has to do with the non-alphanumeric Linkshare ID that you said Linkshare tech support acknowledged can be a problem. Are you still pursuing that?

  18. #18
    Affiliate Manager dallbee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowman
    Eric said "if you cannot find the order," but you said you have manually reported this affiliate's sales. How can you manually report something you cannot find?

    Home Depot is a CJ merchant, not Linkshare.

    I suspect this has to do with the non-alphanumeric Linkshare ID that you said Linkshare tech support acknowledged can be a problem. Are you still pursuing that?
    My bad - it's Tech Depot. The affiliate told me "Home Depot" in his e-mail, and Fridays are always busy so I just took him at face value.

    As for reporting his sales manually, we can find them in our order system here just fine - they're placed, paid, shipped, and everything's great. It's just that LS isn't reporting them in either his account or ours, and therefore isn't commissioning him. So I've been uploading the transactions manually to make sure he gets credit where credit is due.

    Not exactly the same issue as Roland's, but frankly, Roland's posts sound like a merchant-side disconnect to me, and I'm not totally convinced that they just "can't find the orders". Randomly losing orders into the ether would be a pretty dodgy way to run a business, so I think something else is up.
    Just offering suggestions for him based on what I've found over here so far, so he can pass that long.

    And yes, we're still very skeptical of the non-alphanumeric characters as the culprit(s). As I said, our developer is looking at the LS tracking code to see where we're losing this affiliate's tracking.
    The non-alphanumeric characters are still suspect #1 in that.

    --Dan

  19. #19
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I think in general the non-alphanumeric characters aren't an issue. I know I've had sales with pretty much every LinkShare merchant I've promoted. If there problems, I would expect it to never track (like Dan's affiliate).

    I would expect that this would be a standard thing for LinkShare to test with merchants before bringing them live. I'll try to find out, and recommend it if it isn't currently a standard test.

    I know that LinkShare has multiple ways of working with these special characters. For instance, I know that "/" is converted to "%2F" with some merchants and "_" with others.

    Still, I would rather not have special characters in my links. You never know how different browsers are going to handle it and whether or not it'll track when something unusual happens.
    Michael Coley
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  20. #20
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I just checked my active LinkShare merchants with 100 or more clicks, and only four (all with 250 clicks or less) have recorded no sales. Looking at the four, they are all ones where the "/" gets converted to "_". One is managed by an active participant here, so I'll ask if he will do a test order.
    Michael Coley
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  21. #21
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    Hi,

    what I experienced is the following: yoox is transforming the linkshare aff id to a yoox id like that:

    ^http://www.yoox.com/item.asp?cod10=xxxxxxx3&TP=112xx^

    If a customer clicks through to an item which is sold out the id is like that:

    ^http://www.yoox.com/?TP=113xx^

    The yoox id changes and the link shows the homepage from yoox. So what I supect is that the process of transforming the linkshare id to yoox id would be the problem.
    In the meantime yoox contacted me assuring that they and linkshare are working on that issue.

    roland

  22. #22
    Affiliate Manager dallbee's Avatar
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    Well, the problem has not yet been discovered, but we're making headway.
    I spoke to Eric's contact at LS earlier, and he had some valuable insight into the situation.
    It may not be *exclusively* a problem with the non-alphanumeric characters being transformed, but there were some known issues with that in older merchant accounts (like, pre-2004), so changes were made to the tracking code after that time which rectified it.
    Our program is right on the cusp of that era, so in combining that with the fact that we're running a somewhat archaic ColdFusion backend, it remains a distinct possibility.

    (sidebar: Michael, I don't know how long you've been running as a merchant with LS, but that might bear contacting LS about if your program is of that vintage and issues tracking those 4 affiliates you mentioned persist.)

    Another point we discussed is possible attribution. I don't know how much multiple-window-shopping the affiliate or his customer(s) do before finalizing an order, but it's marginally possible that his click is getting scooped up by another channel, or a last-in cookie that isn't his own.
    That's not my primary concern in this instance, but I'm not about to rule out any legitimate possibility.
    In you guys' experience, does click mis-attribution like that occur pretty normally, or is it kind of an anomaly?

    --Dan

  23. #23
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    Dan, Michael is an affiliate, not a merchant. He was referring to how his Linkshare ID (with a / in it) displays on those specific merchant landing pages.

    How could your affiliate's click be scooped up by someone else if the sale is showing on your internal reports attributed to his Linkshare ID?

  24. #24
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    Chris, I know you are trying to be helpful here, but telling an affiliate to change his Linkshare ID is not a good idea at all.
    Snowman, I know for a fact that making this change makes no impact on the ability of LinkShare to track, I have been manipulating LS links for a long time The issue could be that the merchant is unable to capture the / and * hence the reason to try the ASCII code which every data system can capture.

    Tks

    Chris
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  25. #25
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    Hi D


    Lately I've been having an issue with one of our affiliates in particular who is having none of his sales tracked by LinkShare. What I mean is that he not being credited for any commissions (the orders don't even show up in reporting), although his clickthroughs and impressions do appear to be getting tracked.
    Were his sales tracking/reported before and this is a recent issue with them not being reported, or is he a new affiliate that has never had sales before?

    Cheers

    Chris
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