Remember my last week’s Possibly the Worst Affiliate Traffic Leak Ever post? Well, reviewing one affiliate program (on obvious reasons, their name and domain name have to remain discreet), I’ve discovered a situation that was even worse — “for tracking purposes” the merchant was linking some of his internal banners and links through affiliate URLs, going through an affiliate account they owned. And even though I believe that this particular merchant wasn’t fully aware of what they were actually doing (or did it with wrong intentions), that is plain terrible. Why? Because here’s what happens with the traffic that affiliates refer to such a merchant:
1. Customer clicks on an affiliate link, an affiliate’s cookie (Cookie #1) gets set on the customer’s machine to ensure that the commission is credited to the referring affiliate, should a sale happen;
2. Then while browsing the merchant’s website, they click an internally-linked banner (i.e. a graphic that links from one page of the website to another page within the same website) that goes through the merchant’s own affiliate link, and Cookie #1 gets overwritten by a new “affiliate” cookie (Cookie #2).
3. Even if the merchant set their “commission” at 0% — as was the case with this particular brand — that Cookie #2 will make it impossible for the actual referring affiliate to get their compensation.
Apparently, this isn’t a unique situation. I’ve seen Eric Nagel tweet the following just yesterday:
C’mon, merchants, that won’t go down well with any (smart) affiliate who has already joined your affiliate program!
In fact, I doubt that many will keep promoting you beyond the point of spotting such a terrible “leak”. Affiliates are investing their time, effort and
often money into marketing your brand and product/service, and do so purely on performance basis. Make that their work is duly appreciated, performance is honored, and don’t hurt your own affiliate marketing campaign by committing silly mistakes like this one.