Cookie Survival: A New Standard

Typically, in the affiliate marketing industry, a contract between a merchant and affiliate can be changed with seven days notice. While it is good business ethics to provide such notice, isn’t it also good business ethics to honor all contract terms prior to said change?

Let’s say a merchant decides to decrease commission from 10% to 5% of a sale. They do so with a seven-day notice to affiliates. Upon such notice, an affiliate must adjust their promotional method to account for the pending decrease in earnings, eliminating any traffic that might no longer be profitable under the new offer. For example, a search affiliate may decide the new maximum bid should be $0.50 per click. But, what about the $1.00 per click the affiliate spent the day before the notice of change?

In our industry, a contract change generally applies after seven days regardless of when the promotion (click) occurred. However, the affiliate could have been making promotional (expense) decisions based on what is now bad information. Or, at a minimum, with the knowledge that a paradigm might shift, there is a constant need to include an expense buffer. Is this good for either party?

In an effort to alleviate this industry issue, earlier this week, LinkConnector added a new protection measure called ‘Cookie Survival’ to its Merchant Terms and Conditions. Now, when an unfavorable change is made to a merchant’s campaign (e.g., decrease in cookie duration, decrease in commission, etc.), the terms that apply when a sale or lead occurs are those that were in place at the time of the affiliate promotion—up to 60 days back.

In the previous example, $1.00 per click was spent by the affiliate to send a prospective customer to the merchant site the day before a merchant changed its campaign terms from 10% to 5% of a sale. If the sale occurred by the prospective customer 14 days later (for a campaign with at least a 14-day cookie duration), the LinkConnector affiliate will now make 10% of the sale, versus 5%; a situation which tends to be the industry standard.

LinkConnector implemented this change to protect the investment an affiliate makes at the time of promotion of the merchant’s products or services.

What do you think? We would love your feedback and response to this policy change. It is intended to be fair to both parties. Is it?

4 thoughts on “Cookie Survival: A New Standard

  1. This is a great change for merchants and affiliates alike. When you have program terms as a merchant you must understand that all of your affiliates are going to promote you and invest their money based on the current terms in the program. We have observed that on average 5%-25% of sales close more than 7 days after the initial click depending on a variety of factors. Most affiliate margins are probably not over 10 percent, if that. Consequently, a commission change without this policy in effect could potentially be devastating to your affiliate program. This change will give affiliates enough time to properly make adjustments without losing money in their campaigns. As a result, I believe this will help merchants retain their current affiliate base by not accidentally burning an affiliate (or 20 affiliates at the same time) and causing them to drop the program. Additionally, I expect this to make affiliates more comfortable with increasing ad spend since they know all clicks sent will be at a the current commission rate and cookie duration.

  2. This is an excellent article and hopefully this leads to other networks adding this new measure to help keep things fair for both sides. We all know the importance of strong partnerships and open communication, however, there are instances like the above that happen and cause a big loss for the publisher after putting a lot of time and energy into helping the relationship grow and succeed. This change will give the affiliates time to make the adjustments without losing a ton of money and burning the relationship. I am hopeful that this will also help affiliates understand what the long term goals are instead of making a quick decision that could lead to a bigger loss all around for the program. Thanks to LinkConnector for taking this big step and making Cookie Survival: A New Standard!

  3. Bravo, LinkConnector. Once again, LinkConnector takes the high road in providing a level playing ground for all players. One of the many reasons I bank on LinkConnector as my affiliate network of choice—they always look out for my program’s best interests Thank you, LinkConnector, the harbinger of affiliate marketing!

  4. As an affiliate, it stinks when a merchant changes their terms. At least now, within LC, I’ll get paid out under the original terms with which I was promoting an offer.

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