Conversion Attribution in Affiliate Marketing is a Hot Topic

Within the first 40 hours of going live, my post on split commissions in affiliate marketing has become the most commented one (over the past 30 days) on

Split commissions in affiliate marketing

The already-posted comments give a lot of good food for thought.

Here are just a few excerpts from the comments that affiliate marketers, many of which are well-known industry’s veterans on both sides of the Atlantic, have published so far:

Kevin Edwards, Strategy Director at Affiliate Window:

I firmly believe multi-attribution at present, or potentially at any time in the future, is not viable solution.

… every piece of analysis I’ve done or seen presented shows very few affiliates are involved in a typical sale. My own research found the majority of sales have just one affiliate referrer. … I found from looking at three different sectors that an average of 1.2-1.3 affiliates are involved in an average sale.

Todd Crawford, Co-Founder of Impact Radius

… this compensation model [split commissions between the first and the last referrer] would encourage forced clicks type behavior.

If there were split payouts based on who generated the first click, there would be more efforts focused on forcing a click every time they hit certain websites – a la johnny appleseed – setting as many cookies as possible in hopes that some percentage are a first click cookie

Hero Grigoraki, Client Services Director at Webgains UK

In my opinion, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to commission attribution… I advocate that this is something for each merchant to evaluate, taking in the equation all their online channels, and attributing value to touchpoints.

Kellie Stevens of

… one of my primary concerns with split commissions is whether or not merchants have both accurate data (or an understanding of the data) and a grasp of the affiliate channel in general to make good decisions attribute value in meaningful ways. No doubt there are merchants who are able to do this. But there are merchants who I have serious concerns about.

Maria O’Flynn, Director of Strategy and Insight at TradeDoubler

Publishers generate their sales through any and all of the above forms [[reward and voucher sites, display advertising, paid search, price comparison sites, etc], and depending on the product, the brand and media heritage, season, and promotional activity of the brand and its competitors, one size does not fit all.

It is high time that advertisers invest in understanding what happens behind last click, that networks and media agencies proactively assist these efforts, and that CPA publishers strive to add incremental sales and customers.

Conversion attribution in affiliate marketing (and digital marketing overall) is an extremely interesting topic. As expected, there is no easy answer to this. Much research is yet to be done to take advantage of something as delicate as a true split commissions model, and do it in a way that is beneficial to all parties involved.

1 thought on “Conversion Attribution in Affiliate Marketing is a Hot Topic”

  1. The only problem today is that the web is almost saturated with affiliate programs and small sites promoting 3rd party products.
    Google is also punishing sites excessively promoting affiliate programs… in fact, the mere presence of affiliate ads could ruin your site – if affiliate marketing is your primary objective/activity.
    It’s harder in 2012 and will be a lot harder in 2013 for anyone working as an affiliate!

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