Affiliate Programs and Preventing Cookies

One of the frustrations that we have had as affiliates, is the fact that we have sometimes lost hundreds of dollars worth of commissions because the person we have referred to a program has been cookied by someone else. This has been most frustrating because we have known the person personally and also know that we have lost commissions.

The Key Issue

Imagine spending hours of your time over the course of several months, telling someone you know about this you wonderful program. Finally, they decide to try out this program that you have been recommending. You check your sales and find out they have joined and you have lost the commission.

How did it happen? 

It happened because they got cookied by someone else in the process. I know this because a very dear friend decided to join a program with our affiliate link.

What Happened?

  • They clicked on our link
  • Then spent a couple of hours on Facebook
  • They then finally brought through our link

We checked the commissions and discovered that we missed out. This was not the only time. We were frustrated and the person who clicked on our link was frustrated because they wanted to give us the commission. This happened to us several times even though we were the first direct referrer.

We estimate we have lost thousands of dollars worth of commissions from this. 

The only reason we know this is because we have a close relationship with all the people we referred to the program. Most affiliates who send out links or who just write blog posts would have no idea of the money that they have lost.

Because of this, we checked with the product owner why we had lost our commissions. We were told that in each case we were not the last referrer. However in every case, we checked with the person concerned and they were not aware of clicking on any other links. They had purposely clicked on ours.

The issue was that in each case, the people we referred had been cookied by other people.

This happens a lot in the internet marketing game – especially when you associate with a savvy internet marketing community.  The product owner told us that we needed to market better to ensure we got the commission. Basically, we were told we needed to offer a bonus to ensure the person brought the product on the spot to reduce the risk of them being cookied.  I accept that. Perhaps we did not market aas well as what we should have. We were also naive. We still thought we would get the commission.

The Average Punter Does Not Understand Cookies

The problem though is that the vast amount of people we introduce into the program do not understand cookies. How do you explain to them that they need to buy straight away to claim their bonus. To the average punter, straight away might mean 2 hours time. They still think that you are getting the commission and they are getting a bonus.

This means that sometimes you adopt sales tactics to push the person into purchase. That is, you will adopt scarcity tactics to create a sense of urgency.

We now have both bonuses and sales tactics as a way to ensure you get a commission for the people you refer.

What if you had a program that helps eliminate the technical aspects of cookies?

Nanacast handles this better than most affiliate programs. This is because it tracks by IP and tracking code. However, there is no perfect solution. Firstly many IP addresses are dynamic so in many cases tracking by IP address is only one part of the solution.

The good news is that this can be achieved using email parser in Aweber. Dave Wooding, a talented programmer whom we often refer people to for Nanacast and vBulletin integration servies also has written up a blog post on using the Nanacast Aweber Parser for Adding an Affiliate ID which will also help overcome the issue of cookies.  This solution works AFTER the customer has been acquired with your affiliate ID. The best use of this is for lead generation. Once you acquire someone on your mailing list you are set.

I recommend you check out his post. I appreciate Dave’s technical work arounds to problems such as this.


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