ClickBank Affiliate Woes: When Tracking Breaks Down

Hardly a day goes by without a forum posting in which ClickBank is challenged about the reliability and integrity of its affiliate referral tracking mechanism - the hoplink system. It cannot be denied that ClickBank's technical infrastructures do not always inspire the greatest level of confidence. But this article sets out to demonstrate that a range of factors play a part in the integrity of affiliate tracking and any one of these can be the cause of those much-reviled commission losses.

Given the reliance of affiliate programs on cookie technology, it is important to understand the problems that may arise from this technology and what can be done to alleviate them.

The browser cookie is an essential ingredient in accurately and consistently allocating commission to the correct referring affiliate. If no referral cookie is present on a prospect's computer when she makes a purchase, no affiliate will collect the commission. With ClickBank's hoplink system (though not necessarily with other affiliate systems), this requirement holds true even if the prospect purchases immediately upon referral.

There are four reasons for missing cookies:

Deletion: Cookies can be deleted through a variety of computer maintenance operations. Some of these are explicit (e.g. instructing the browser to clear all its temporary files) and some are automatic (e.g. software utilities that perform routine, scheduled computer housekeeping).

Expiration: Each affiliate program implements its own policy determining the time period referral cookies will remain valid. Once a cookie reaches its expiration date, it ceases to have any effect on the allocation of affiliate commission. ClickBank's affiliate tracking cookies are valid for 60 days.

Overflow: To comply with the recommendations of the Netscape Cookie Specification, a web browser needs to support the storage of at least 300 cookies. Beyond this level, the browser is free to delete cookies in order to reclaim disk space, on a first-in-first-out basis. In theory, this means that referral cookies may be prematurely deleted if a large influx of new cookies causes the limit to be exceeded. In practice, this issue is no cause for concern, as disk space is now abundant and most modern browsers do not implement such limits.

Rejection: If the prospect's browser is configured to reject cookies, or uses filtering criteria that reject cookies from the affiliate program's domain, a referral cookie will never be created for that user.

Little can be done by affiliates to directly protect against cookie deletion or expiration. Therefore, affiliates should be aware of the issue when selecting products, giving preference to products most likely to generate a prompt purchase. Any product that requires an extensive period of reflection prior to purchase represents an increased risk of commission losses to the affiliate.

Cookie rejection is also a serious issue for affiliates. The current versions of all major browsers are installed with cookies enabled, so it takes a conscious effort on the part of the user to disable support for cookies. However, inaccurate media coverage of cookies has increased the number of web consumers who do systematically reject them.

Fortunately, following a series of recent change to the ClickBank hoplink system, a referral will now only take place if the client computer accepts the ClickBank tracking cookie. This is great comfort to ClickBank affiliates, who can no longer be deprived of their commission because of cookie rejection. Merchants, in contrast, may not be so happy that willing prospects are being turned away because of an errant configuration in their computer.

ClickBank faces a difficult balancing act in attempting to implement systems that are fair to both the merchant and the affiliate. And whilst the company's technology may not always be perfect, it is reassuring to note that not every forum scare story is founded on fact.

About The Author

Copyright © Tim Coulter. All rights reserved.

Tim Coulter is a consultant and software developer who helps netpreneurs to harness marketing technologies.

He is also the author of "ClickBank - The Definitive Guide" The Ultimate ClickBank Tutorial & Reference Manual.

http://www.clickbankrevealed.com/

In The News:

Goodbye Google Academy for Ads, Hello Skillshop  JumpFly PPC Advertising News
A Complete Guide to PPC Ad Formats  Search Engine Journal
What is PPC?  Startups.co.uk
SEO vs. PPC: A Few Forgotten Truths  Search Engine Journal
10 Tips to Win at Local PPC  Search Engine Journal
Pay-Per-Click Advertising  Image Matters
How to run a PPC campaign  Startups.co.uk
7 Great Ways to Work with Your PPC Agency  JumpFly PPC Advertising News
Comparing SEO to PPC  Practical Ecommerce
Why SMBs Should Use Paid Search  MarketingProfs.com

How to Make More Money from the Google Adsense Ads on Your Blog

Numerous bloggers these days are looking to earn extra cash... Read More

The Cost Of Click Fraud

One of the biggest threats to the continued growth of... Read More

How Naming Schemes Impact Adwords Campaign Management

Improving Adwords Campaign ManagementAdwords Campaign Management - Naming SchemesKeep your... Read More

Local Business Advertising & Google Adwords

"I don't need the Internet to advertise - I'm a... Read More

Affiliate Marketing with Google AdWords

One of the best kept secrets in today's affiliate marketing... Read More

The Pay Per Click Mistakes Of A New Marketer

My first real foray into Internet Marketing was a Pay... Read More

Google Adsense, The Smart Way To Earn

Do you want to get paid for posting ads on... Read More

PPC Management: When To Give Up On A Loser

Pay per click (PPC) advertising can be a dream come... Read More

Adwords & Adsense: A Beginners Guide

The Mechanism First a brief glossary of terms: Adwords: The... Read More

Plan Your Way to Pay-Per-Click Campaign Success!

Have you heard the saying, "planning is everything?" Perhaps there... Read More

What Should You Know About Search Engines and Pay-Per-Click?

Here's a fact for you, 85 to 95% of Websites... Read More

How to Use Pay Per Click Marketing, the Emoneyreport Way!

The cycle of affiliate programs and money making ventures goes... Read More

AdWords Campaign Set Up Tips

It's easy to overlook the basics of a strong AdWords... Read More

How to Master Google AdWords - Part 1

Then most difficult aspect of marketing a new product or... Read More

The Evolution of Google AdSense

The web has evolved into a complex "organism" which, to... Read More

Price Your ClickBank Products for Maximum Profit

Choosing the right price for your digital products is one... Read More

Google Adwords ? Online Riches Without Owning A Website Or Product!

Did you know that you can make money from Google... Read More

Posturing Yourself As The Expert By Utilizing Google Search

First, go to google and type "dan kennedy" into the... Read More

The Perils and Pitfalls of Pay-per-click Advertising

In this age of speed dialing, T1 lines and other... Read More

Market Research Means Money

I recently made a critical mistake in my progression towards... Read More

Google Adsense: What You Need to Know!

We read about how to develop a Google AdWord campaign,... Read More

Profit from Adsense with Adwords

Here's a feisty trick where you can profit from Adsense... Read More

PPC Advertising Explained

Advertising on the Internet has always been a bit of... Read More

Pay-Per-Click Fraud Exposed

Has anyone else noticed a disturbing pattern in your pay-per-click... Read More

6 Easy Ways to Increase Your Adsense Revenue

How much revenue do you generate from Google Adsense?Recently there... Read More