De-duping for affiliates

What is De-duping in Affiliate Marketing?
It’s a process of comparing, identifying and validating legitimate sales. The comparison in de-duping means that the merchants compare sales against all the referring campaigns to identify the last or genuine referrer of the sale. The normal practice with all the major affiliate networks is to offer the sale bounty to the last referrer.

Why merchants de-dupe sales?
Merchants generally implement tracking facilities to identify the referrers with each click on the website. A customer may be referred by several affiliate websites and finally makes the purchase. Who do you think should get the commission on the sale? Should it be the last or first referrer? Well, let’s assume it would always be the last referrer in our case and also based on how UK affiliate networks operate.

What is Local Cookie?
If the merchant’s affiliate campaign is available from more than one network then it becomes tricky. Both networks would like to claim the commission of the sale. How do merchants setup conversion tracking so that only one network is honored with the commission? It is fairly easy as all networks in the UK offer a solution called Local Cookie that helps merchants identify the last referrer based on their cookie.

Let me explain with an example.
Merchant Uzbekistan program is available on two networks in the UK. A user John has been referred from affiliate A website and the cookie has been dropped by the first network. Let’s assume that John had decided to make a purchase from this retailer. In order to get extra discount he trawls for a voucher code from the internet. Finally he has found a valid voucher code and made the purchase but the voucher code affiliate was promoting the Uzbekistan program from network B. Network B also managed to drop a cookie on John computer to track the sale. If the local cookie code is implemented then only one network acquires the conversion data and it’s always the last referrer. Who do you think should get the commission on that sale? Should it be affiliate A or B?

De-Duping against other campaigns?
How many merchants de-dupe sales against other campaigns? Well, I don’t have answer to that but this is something affiliates should be aware of and could ask the merchants. In the above example we had two affiliate networks competing for the sale based on user clicks from referring campaigns.

Let’s make it spicier and add all the promotional campaigns from Uzbekistan merchant. Just to give you a intimation, these could be 10 price comparison sites, 5 search engines, 50 media campaigns, 2 affiliate networks, 50 links, 10 corporate partners, 5 data providers, 10 review sites, email campaigns, SEO and much more.

Here some sample questions for you to ask the merchants.
- Do you de-dupe sales against other affiliate networks?
- If yes, do you also de-dupe against other campaigns? i.e. PPC, Media, email and even SEO.
- If yes, how do you honor/validate the affiliate sales?
- I would personally be slightly cheeky here and ask which technology/software/agency do you use to validate the sales? Although it is not important to know!

Once you have established that the merchant is de-duping the sales against other campaigns, you really need to explore how and more importantly when do they validate the sales? There are two ways merchants normally validate the sales.

De-Duping process for merchants.
The first process is simple and automated that the merchant only passes the conversation data back to the merchant based on the last referrer scenario. There is no need to manually update the commission status on the network because only valid conversion data is being passed on to the relevant network. Affiliates should have two main concerns at this stage.

1 – If only last referrer is honored, has the de-duping conducted against all paid (PPC) and nonpaid campaigns (SEO, Links, Referrals)? Do you think it’s fair?

2- Secondly, how does the merchant honor the affiliate if the user is referred online but the sale is conducted offline i.e. phone? Also, do you know what other means of offline payments are offered by the merchants and how are they being tracked? It is interesting to view that several merchants offer free print catalogues to customers where the intent or interests is initiated online by affiliate but the sale is later conducted on phone, through offline catalogues etc.

Tip: Always analyse website payment methods and leakages i.e. phone sales, offline catalogue requests. You could ask the retailer to track the catalogue requests and to include in the affiliate proposition.

The second process is when merchants manually (could be through csv file) validate the commissions. It could be processed daily, weekly or even monthly. That entirely depends on T&Cs agreed between the participating merchants and networks. Do you see your sales being declined once a month from particular merchant? You should be asking reasons both from the network and merchant.

Without naming the merchant and the agency, I have seen about 10-20% sales being declined during the bulk validation through the second process mentioned above. The analytics data was processed once a month and sales were being de-duped at the end of the month.

My only concern (including two previously of course) here is that affiliates can loose confidence in the merchant if sales were initially shown but later declined although it doesn’t matter if the status remains pending during that period. Isn’t that better not even to show the sale on the network if the last referrer is not an affiliate?

Why merchants de-dupe?
The most obvious and honest answer from a merchant would be is that they do not wish to pay to more than one referrer for a sale. If they give you a different answer then my suggestion for you is try to ignore them with their affiliate campaign. Merchants could be purchasing, directing traffic from more than one campaign and not all of them work on aka CPA model. For example merchants have to pay for CPM or CPC campaigns that are irrelevant if the sales are accomplished or not. It was interesting to discover that a leading search engine even ask for pre-payment before the ads are delivered. I believe they don’t trust that merchant would pay them on time or even at all. Affiliates may like to explore that how many sales are rejected or not even reported because of de-duping process?

Summary
- De-Duping in affiliate marketing is a process of comparing, identifying and validating legitimate sales.
- De-duping is legal for merchants if conducted honestly and openly.
- Affiliates should be aware of the de-duping process with the merchant they promote.
- Don’t be shy to ask which campaigns are being included during the affiliate de-duping process?
- Don’t blame the merchant for de-duping. They do care and want to build long term loyalty with you.
- It is fair to merchants to de-dupe but not to the extent of adding non-paid campaign click referrals.

Good Luck!

Favourite Posts

De-Duping for Merchants

A series of ten blog posts explaining practical affiliate marketing for affiliates. xplaining practical affiliate marketing series of ten blog posts explaining practical affiliate marketing for affiliates.

UK Affiliate Networks in Detail 2 - 10

A series of ten blog posts explaining practical affiliate marketing for affiliates. xplaining practical affiliate marketing series of ten blog posts explaining practical affiliate marketing for affiliates.

Setting up a Cashback website?

A series of ten blog posts explaining practical affiliate marketing for affiliates. xplaining practical affiliate marketing series of ten blog posts explaining practical affiliate marketing for affiliates.

Selecting a profitable affiliate website segment for your project

A series of ten blog posts explaining practical affiliate marketing for affiliates. xplaining practical affiliate marketing series of ten blog posts explaining practical affiliate marketing for affiliates.

UK online retailers and affiliate marketing agencies

A series of ten blog posts explaining practical affiliate marketing for affiliates. xplaining practical affiliate marketing series of ten blog posts explaining practical affiliate marketing for affiliates.

 

© 2016 adeelfarooq.com. All Right Reserved

Email : adeel@ileaddigital.com

Skype : adeel_ilead

Call UK : +44 207 078 7676