Affiliate Marketing Tracking Software Explained
The affiliate tracking software that a company chooses is a crucial decision. Affiliate program software must be able to generate and track links, attribute sales, and disburse payments efficiently. Users typically desire omnichannel analytics, custom reporting, automation, deep linking, fraud detection, and API/integration capabilities. The software should be reliable and support relationship building between advertisers to publishers. Moreover, the design and interface are critical as well.
Hosting & Software
An affiliate program is either self-hosted, i.e., files are stored on the merchant’s computer/server, or hosted on the software developer’s server. Self-hosted software can be proprietary or commercial. Hosted solutions appear in three forms, that is, private portal, private affiliate network, and open affiliate network software. When a program is hosted, you can assume the software belongs to the development company.
Proprietary software is typically created by a developer who works for the advertiser. It isn’t a far stretch for someone with development experience to create an affiliate tracking application.
Some affiliate tracking software companies enable advertisers to self-host, for example, iDevAffiliate and Post Affiliate Pro. A self-hosted affiliate program would appear as yourcompany.com/affiliate or affiliate.yourcompany.com, for example.
Private portal software enables affiliates to see only one merchant program when they log in. Case in point, FirstPromoter and Tapfiliate provide private, branded portals with programs hosted on their servers. The domain address would look like this: yourcompany.tapfiliate.com.
Private network software allows affiliates to monitor multiple merchants from a single dashboard. However, affiliates cannot see other merchants on the network until they join those programs. Impact Radius offers a private network (publishers must apply to join their marketplace/affiliate network).
Open affiliate networks–such as Commission Junction (CJ), ShareASale, and FlexOffers—allow affiliates to search for and access multiple merchants. An affiliate network is akin to an online marketplace. Naturally, programs are hosted by the network.
Popular Tracking Methods
Various tracking methods are available including:
- Client/device identification
- Cookies including flash, first-party, third-party, HTML5, etc.
- Digital/device fingerprint
- Internet protocol (IP) address including IPV4 & IPV6
- Server to server (S2S)
Prices vary for software, and like other goods, “you get what you pay for.” For example, some applications feature out-of-date interfaces and numerous bugs. Self-hosted, private portal, and private network software are available for purchase and monthly subscription.
Affiliate networks typically charge signup, annual renewal, and transaction (override) fees. If transaction fees don’t meet a minimum monthly amount, the merchant must pay the difference. The minimum monthly amount is like paying a subscription fee. Custom and enterprise plans may be available.