As a brand, it’s essential to understand where your sales are coming from and which channels are driving the most conversions. However, attribution is more complex than ever. Thanks to increased privacy with the IOS updates and further browser privacy settings being introduced – fully transparent tracking via Google Analytics is a thing of the past. The result? A nightmare for digital marketers. 

In addition to this, customer journeys are increasingly complex. Imagine a customer journey today. It may include browsing social media, searching for customer reviews, and checking out competitor websites before eventually clicking on a retargeting ad and converting. It’s easy to see why attribution can be difficult, right? 

In our latest blog, we’re delving into attribution models and affiliate tracking.  Firstly, we want you to get a clearer picture of where your sales are coming from. Secondly, how the affiliate industry is reacting to tracking difficulties which have developed over the past 12 months. So, let’s get into it! 

Why Attribution is Important 

Although it can happen, most of your customers won’t purchase within a single session. So, when you consider customer journeys, there are several questions you might be asking, number one being which marketing channel should be credited for generating the sale. 

As a business, understanding which marketing channels drive the most conversions is essential to your growth and bottom line. In a nutshell, having an attribution model in place will provide a precise analysis of your channels and touchpoints. Through further analysis, you can determine which touchpoints impact your conversion rates the most. From here, you can assign resources and budget accordingly to garner maximum results.  

Multi-touch Attribution 

Previously, many affiliate networks would work on a ‘last-click’ attribution model. However, as reporting has become more intelligent in recent years, many networks or their partners can offer multi-touch attribution. A multi-touch attribution model will help you determine how much revenue should be attributed to each customer journey touchpoint. 

For example, imagine a customer interacting with three touchpoints in your journey (social, editorial review and a retargeting ad) and spending £100. With a last-click attribution model, the retargeting ad would be solely credited for the sale. With a multi-touch attribution model, all three touchpoints would be credited and attributed a % of the sale. The % attributed is based on the touchpoint’s position in the customer journey. 

By adopting a multi-touch attribution model, you’ll be able to form stronger partnerships with affiliate partners and better align your budget based on all the channels in your customer journey. 

Affiliate Device Tracking 

As cookies crumble and privacy concerns grow, many brands are wondering how they’ll be able to monitor future marketing efforts accurately when third-party cookies are phased out completely. Thankfully, affiliate marketing is an effective way to futureproof your campaigns. 

While affiliate marketing is less reliant on personal consumer data than other advertising channels, the changes in recent years still affect the space. For example, many tracking technologies used for affiliate and partner marketing heavily relied on third-party cookies in previous years. 

In response to increased privacy, affiliate technology providers have created their own proprietary tracking methods that rely on first-party cookies rather than third-party cookies. 

First-party cookies are created and used on a single domain, and they don’t share information with other websites or advertising partners. Therefore, affiliate tracking turns affiliate traffic and data into a first-party cookie, paired with information gathered on your website to provide accurate tracking without the need for third-party cookies. 

Affiliate Tracking VS Google Analytics 

As affiliate networks offer bespoke tracking solutions, you may find discrepancies between your affiliate data and Google Analytics. Discrepancies may include: 

  • Clicks and sessions
  • Conversion rate
  • Revenue

There are several reasons these discrepancies may occur, including: 

  • Google Analytics cannot register cookieless transactions 
  • The cookie consent banner isn’t implemented correctly. 
  • The customers’ browser has a capped cookie expiry. 
  • URL parameters are stripped via redirects.
  • GA is using a different attribution model than your affiliate tracking.
  • End users have opted out of Google Analytics tracking. 

While there can be discrepancies between the two, affiliate tracking and google analytics offer data-rich reporting essential to understanding customer journeys and behaviour, so using a combination of the two is advised. 

We understand that tracking and attribution are complex and a little tedious. That’s why we’re here to help. Get in touch if you’re keen to discuss attribution and tracking in affiliate marketing and how Conversion can help you gain better insight into your customer journeys.