The Magnitude and Misfortunes of Affiliate Tracking

Online tracking practices are chasing to maintain their robustness in a world where online tracking is getting harder, and affiliate tracking is under the microscope like never before.

Connected Path Co-Founder, Anthony Clements presents a 25-minute video session on affiliate tracking and its challenges, which after a decade of hiding in the background has become affiliate marketing’s most talked about topic over the last 12 months. Crucially Anthony discussed what the future of affiliate tracking looks like and what advertiser and publishers can change immediately to improve their businesses.

Affiliate tracking is based on the principle of ‘click-out CPA marketing’. It was built for a desktop web environment, and little has changed in ten years. Now that change is being forced primarily by developments in browser privacy. But while ITP has raised the need for tracking innovation, this is a much deeper and more endemic issue than simply browser privacy settings.

The OpenWPM study led by Arvind Narayanan, alongside a growing consumer mistrust of online tracking and privacy practices sparked major change - with browser companies introducing the likes of Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) and Firefox 65.

Timeline of Factors that have Challenged Affiliate Tracking

Starting in 2005 we take a look back at the milestones that have challenged the accuracy of affiliate tracking, from the introduction of smartphones heralding a new mcommerce and app ecosystem for shoppers, through to the legislative changes such as the ePrivacy Directive in 2012.

Affiliate Tracking Timeline

What is the Present Day Situation?

The present day situation of affiliate tracking is one of endemic inaccuracy. Driven by its inability to keep pace with changing internet journeys. In the video we discuss the six key issues facing affiliate tracking, in order of importance (note; that the highly publicised issue of web browsers restricting access to cookies only makes #4!) 

  1. Poor compatibility with mobile journeys

  2. Limited control due to container tags

  3. Lack of accuracy due to probabilistic fingerprinting

  4. Web-browsers restricting third-party tracking

  5. A worsening climate of consumer trust

  6. Tracking is used as a USP with no industry standard

What Does the Future Look Like?

From near term actions that advertisers and publishers can make, to the longer term vision of affiliate marketing Anthony discusses server-side tracking, card linked offers, single use vouchercode tracking, universal baskets, and finally, biometric signals.



This is a weighty topic and one that has affected the industry for a number of years. However we try to give publishers, advertiser and agencies some tangible points around tracking practices that they can use to improve their businesses right now. We hope you enjoy watching this video session.