Remember my last week’s Possibly the Worst Affiliate Traffic Leak Ever post? Well, auditing a client’s affiliate program (on obvious reasons, names and URLs have be kept private), I discovered a situation that was even worse — “for tracking purposes” the merchant was linking some of his internal banners through affiliate links, 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’s just plain terrible. Why? Because here’s what happens with the traffic that affiliates refer to such a merchant:
- Customer clicks on an affiliate link, affiliate’s cookie (Cookie #1) gets set on the customer’s machine to ensure that the commission is credited to the affiliate, should a sale happen;
- Then while browsing the merchant’s website, they click an internally-linked (i.e. between-the-pages) banner that goes through the merchant’s own affiliate link, and Cookie #1 gets overwritten by a new affiliate cookie (Cookie #2).
- Even if the merchant has set their “affiliate commission” at 0% — as was the case with my client — that Cookie #2 will make it impossible for the original 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 affiliate in your program! In fact, I doubt many will promote you after spotting such a leak. Affiliates are investing their time, effort and
often money into marketing merchants on performance-only basis. So, make that performance duly appreciated; and don’t hurt your own affiliate marketing campaign by committing such mistakes.