Saturday, December 09, 2006

How Are Affiliate Sales Tracked

by Lea Beven

Affiliate Networks use a variety of methods mostly Tracking or Referral Codes and Cookies.

Referral Codes:

This is a unique code that is attached to the end of a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) in the link from your website to the Merchant's website. This code will identify you, via your Affiliate Group Account, as being the referring agent who is entitled to Commission for any purchase made by the Customer. For example, if the Merchant's website URL was then the link you would use might look like this, where 12555 is your Account Number with that particular Affiliate Group.

The problem with using Referral Codes by themselves is that if the Customer does not buy anything during that visit to the Merchant website but returns later on, via a different route, to purchase something then you will not get credit for the referral. To get around this some Merchants log Customer's IP (Internet Protocol) Addresses with the Referral Code so when the Customer returns later on they know who made the initial referral. But there are still problems with this as some people have a Dynamic IP Address, which means it changes every time they sign on to the internet.


A Cookie is a very small piece of information that a website puts on your computer so that it can remember something about you at a later time. What this means is that you are still credited as the referral agent even if the Customer visits a Merchant website and then goes away, but returns later on by going directly to the Merchant's website and not by clicking through from your website. Most Cookies are set to remain active for a period of time, like 30 days or maybe 90 days, in some extreme cases Cookies are set to remain active for 9,999 days! However, some Merchants use what are called Session Only Cookies, this means that they only remain active for the duration of the Customer's current visit to their site.

Whichever method is used, you must remember that some (few) Merchants are only interested in paying you Commission if an immediate purchase is made, i.e. during the Customer's current visit to their site. On the other hand, most Merchants are happy to pay you Commission for the lifetime of the Customer or lifetime of the cookie (say 99 days), so no matter when they return or how much they buy you will still get Commission on every sale. The details of what each Merchant will pay is usually listed in the Merchant Program on the Affiliate Group's website. These details can often affect which Merchants you chose to take on and display on your website.

Don’t just dream about making money on the internet, have a go. It is quite simple to start. Affiliate Expert Lea Beven has 6 years experience of running and developing affiliate websites, owning over 80 sites in that time. Learn from her tips and tricks about the simple way of making money legitimately online.

As described by forum users, Lea is a serial networker who loves to share information about affiliate marketing. She openly shares problems, pitfalls and secrets in affiliate marketing with the public, even down to personal information on her mistakes and websites. Now working part time with regular clients that really want to make money, she prefers to keep business small and personal.

Contact information: To book Lea for interviews or consultancy work you can view up to date details here

More on this article: Lea has written a free guide about affiliate marketing that is available online at

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