LinkConnector’s Publisher Discovery powered integration transforms the essential recruiting process by connecting merchants with the most relevant affiliate matches.
"The bottom line is that if your network doesn't accommodate Parallel Tracking you are losing money - period."
Consumers have used coupons for online shopping discounts for over 20 years. As consumer demand for online coupons rose, affiliate websites like RetailMeNot.com, Savings.com, and Coupons.com were created to meet and monetize this demand. And, over time, coupon codes provided by affiliates evolved slightly to increase conversion and value to the Affiliate Marketing relationship. For example, a specific vanity code branded to an affiliate site or a code more easily remembered (e.g., Save10) tends to be more effective than a random code. Coupons specifically designed to increase shopping cart value (e.g., 10% off a purchase of $100 or more) are also used to increase the value of an online transaction for affiliate and merchant partners. These optimization techniques have one thing in common—they represent only minor evolutionary progress when compared to traditional coupons consumers have used for over 100 years. With the plethora of member data available to affiliates today, so much more is possible and significant evolution is inevitable.
Coupon and loyalty affiliate companies have much data about their members. This data includes demographic details, as well as purchase habits and interests. Armed with such data, affiliates could significantly optimize further if they had the ability to present coupons specific to each member. Another level of optimization could occur if these affiliates could react to consumer decisions in real-time, but coupon codes for any particular merchant are constrained by a merchant’s shopping cart and the need for that merchant to create coupons manually and significantly ahead of a consumer’s purchase decision. But what would our Affiliate Marketing world look like if this constraint were lifted? What would be possible if affiliates could create codes on demand that transparently worked in a merchant’s shopping cart?
With the ability to create coupons on demand, affiliates could customize codes to its members based on real-time circumstances. Over time, and with A/B testing, codes could be optimized to each individual versus the general population optimization that occurs today. In this environment, one member might react better to coupons that expire within hours while another may perform better with several days to consider a purchase. Or, a particular member may convert at a much higher rate when offered coupons targeted to certain items already in their cart. With the ability to create member and situational targeted coupons specific to each combination of circumstances, affiliates will begin to add value beyond anything seen before in the Affiliate Marketing industry. This is value only a particular affiliate can contribute with access to their member data and behavior.
Personalized coupons are the inevitable evolution of online coupons as technology allows for real-time coupon creation by affiliates. Much stronger conversion rates, higher shopping cart order values, and greater customer acquisition are all possible with the ability to A/B test and optimize on an individual basis. Of course, this will serve to restore the value offered by coupon and loyalty affiliates once again in our industry.
Choots Humphries is the Co-President and Co-Founder of LinkConnector Corporation.
FeedFront Magazine, Issue 46
The affiliate marketing industry is adapting to another notable tracking technology change. First, there was GDPR, then came Safari ITP 2.0, and now we are dealing with Google’s Parallel Tracking (PT). Needless to say, that has kept our IT Department busy!
The great news for our customers is that LinkConnector has met all these technology challenges head on and conquered them in a timely manner. Today we can report that we’ve solved the issues presented by Parallel Tracking.
What are those issues you may ask? Well, first a little background. Google has announced (see https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/7544674?hl=en) that they will require all advertisers using their AdWords platform to have ads set up to accommodate PT by October 30, 2018.
PT requires advertisers who use tracking links to fill in two more variables in their ads—Final URL and Final URL suffix as they are used when Google determines that PT is available for a click (about 20% of the time currently). For affiliates advertising with the AdWords platform PT will break tracking for Safari 12 users (increasing rapidly) and present additional challenges in getting information about a promotion to the advertiser’s landing page.
Networks, tracking solutions, and tag managers that haven’t provided their customers the variables for AdWords will find that PT breaks dynamic tracking. Most tag managers rely on some dynamic parameter to identify the promoting source. Networks and tracking solutions have always controlled tracking with their redirects. Going forward, the affiliate/publisher will have to assist in maintaining that control by placing the appropriate values into the Final URL and Final URL suffix.
So, what has LinkConnector done for our affiliates to enable their preparation for Parallel Tracking:
When Safari 12 was released on September 17, 2018, over 50% of LC’s merchants were in a favorable position to not feel the effects of ITP 2.0 since they already had LC’s most current version of our Universal Tracking Solution (UTS). Over the past two weeks, LC’s team members have been working hard with our merchant partners and have increased this number to over 80%.
Almost all of the remaining 20% of merchants are actively working to upgrade their LC tracking to eliminate the effects of Apple’s ITP 2.0 changes. LC expects this number to approach zero within a couple of weeks.
A BIG kudos to LinkConnector’s merchants and employees who have diligently prioritized efforts to successfully minimize the effects of this industry-wide shift in tracking.
Read more about LinkConnector’s tracking solutions enabling affiliate programs to be Safari ITP 2.0 compliant: http://blog.linkconnector.com/technology/safaris-itp-2-0-program-ready/.
So, 2018 has been an interesting year for our Technology Team here at LinkConnector (LC). As we always do, we created a list of initiatives to tackle this year, but it turns out that others had different ideas. First there was GDPR and its affect on Privacy, now there is the Safari Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) 2.0, and soon we will be implementing a solution to deal with Google’s Parallel Tracking.
What’s the Challenge?
If you haven’t heard, Apple is implementing Safari ITP 2.0 into its release of Safari Version 12 on September 17, 2018. ITP 2.0 is a more stringent standard than ITP 1.0 that Apple introduced in 2017. In short, ITP 2.0 could severely impact affiliate tracking of users who use Safari browsers in the future as it does not allow cookies to be set other than on the merchant’s website.
Ok, so you’ve heard of Safari, but thought that Chrome and Firefox are the browsers everyone uses. Well, not really, particularly when you think of mobile browsers (remember that iPhone in your pocket?).
Safari has nearly 14% browser market share in the U.S. (Firefox, once the market leader, only has 5%). Now, that 14% number looks big, but it is much larger for affiliate networks like LinkConnector that are heavy with cost per sale and mobile conversions.
Our Safari click percentage is 17% and it is 27% for transactions (events). That means if not properly dealt with, tracking could be lost on up to 27% of all transactions. Well, not quite, as the high end is more likely 21% since 20% of the Safari traffic comes from older Safari browsers that aren’t likely to be updated. So, do we have your attention yet?
Ok, so what’s the good news?
The good news is that LinkConnector has been working this issue for some time now and put our solution into place in mid-August. The LinkConnector solution complements the cookie-based tracking traditionally employed by networks acting together as belt and suspenders to increase our tracking capability. In fact, since LC implemented its ITP 2.0 solution, there’s been a lift in tracking for Safari browsers of 11% (growing from 27% to 30%).
What should you do?
LinkConnector Merchants generally use one of three tracking methods.
LC merchants can now leverage UpSellit’s suite of customer recovery products, such as email remarketing and onsite conversion optimization with little extra effort.
So, you want to promote your products in LinkConnector, and you want to have it happen—like yesterday. Well, not much beats preparation in life and launching a campaign is no exception. There are a multitude of things that you need to do, but let’s concentrate on the highest priority items first.
Eighty-one percent of U.S. merchants surveyed in a 2016 Forrester report have turned to affiliate marketing in search of differentiated marketing content or new opportunities for driving ad revenue to their sites. Couple this with nearly half of marketers in the U.S. that plan to ramp up budget for influencer-focused campaigns in 2017 (eMarketer) and you will see a key commonality between two seemingly unrelated statistics: a strong need for brands to break through digital marketing barriers, such as channel saturation and device overload, to effectively reach their target audience.
It is the end of 2016 which was a good year for LinkConnector and our technology. So, it is time to look forward to 2017 and the technology challenges and opportunities it will present. Instead of simply taking a parochial view of LinkConnector’s technology, let's look at the technology challenges facing the performance marketing industry in the next year.
LinkConnector’s Universal Tracking Solution (UTS) enables our merchants to execute tracking code dynamically for multi-network and in-house programs.
The LinkConnector API gives affiliates the ability to pull reporting, campaign, promotion, link and feed data related to their account. It can return data in CSV, JSON and XML formats, and supports many input parameters, which allow affiliates to filter the results based on only the data they desire. Integration with the LinkConnector API allows you to pull data into your platform to automate previously manual data aggregation tasks, track commissionable events and gain instant feedback on A/B testing, post new promotions as soon as they are available, and many other useful applications which can help to increase your commissions.