FAQs: Affiliate & Partner Marketing Tracking

Posted on Monday 01 November 2021 | IAB UK

What is affiliate and partner marketing? How does tracking work within it? And why does it matter? Our FAQs explain all

As affiliate and partnership marketing continues to see strong growth, it is vital that you have the optimal tracking set-up to maximise impact when you’re running an affiliate programme. 

To help with this, we have worked with our members to produce a set of FAQs on affiliate and partner marketing tracking. 

1. What is affiliate and partner marketing? 

With its payment on performance model, the affiliate and partner channel allows brands to connect with thousands of blogs, influencers, price comparison sites, coupon and cashback and reward programmes, which generates millions of new customers for retailers of all shapes and sizes. 

Our latest Digital Adspend report shows that affiliate and partner marketing is performing strongly, growing by 10% in 2020.  

2. Why is affiliate and partner marketing a good investment for brands? 

The robustness of the business model and its ability to track sales even as third-party cookies become obsolete makes affiliate and partner marketing an appealing option for brands.  
Because the channel doesn’t rely heavily on personalised identifiers to track sales, with the tracking information used primarily to apportion sales and commissions to affiliates rather than target personalised ads, it’s also a privacy-conscious option. 

3. How does tracking work within affiliate and partner marketing? 

Affiliate marketing tracking allows brands to record the clicks, impressions, and sales delivered by their affiliates, publishers and partners. These interactions can take place on all digital devices and can also occur offline. 

Brands can integrate affiliate tracking that stores first-party cookie data that captures the details of affiliate interactions - including the publisher whose site the user clicked through from, details of the product clicked and time of the click, as well as the sale that is then paid out on. 

4. What about third-party cookies? 

Affiliate and partner marketing doesn’t rely on third-party cookies to track user behaviour and therefore will not be majorly impacted by Google’s decision to phase out third-party cookies in 2023. Every major technology provider will have their own tracking methodology, but typically they will use a variety of tracking options, including first-party cookies, all designed to ensure they capture the maximum amount of impressions, clicks and sales.  

5. Why is this important? 

Google has announced Chrome will no longer support third-party cookies from 2023, while Apple’s Safari and Mozilla Firefox already block them. Therefore, if brands want to continue tracking the performance of their online activity, it’s vital they look at how certain marketing channels, such as affiliate and partner marketing, can support this. For more on User ID changes, take a look at our hub here.  

6. What else can affiliate and partner marketing track? 

Affiliate technology providers have created tracking solutions that can track across devices, including in-app and cross-device. They can also offer brands the ability to track both online and in-store sales. This means brands can see the full contribution of affiliate and partner marketing across the entire consumer journey. 

7. How do I find out more? 

Eight major affiliate and partner businesses have created a guide to how affiliate marketing tracking works and how it can futureproof your ability to continue to track in this privacy-conscious age. Read more here

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