The blog of affiliate marketer HeavyT

Tracking….. Is money left on the table? How important is it?

Tracking….. Is money left on the table? How important is it?

Mar 30, 2011

How important is tracking really in affiliate marketing? How important should it be? I tend to think that if you don’t have enough tracking, and gather enough data there could be goldmines in the campaigns that you are currently running. You see tracking is your lifeblood, without it everything will fall apart. Without tracking your destined to failure, pain, and losing loads of $$$$. But if you cant track whats working and whats not, you will at best leave a lot of money on the table because your wasting money on things that aint working.



What to track?
At a high level you want to be able to track the performance of:
•    campaign targets (url/keywords with cpv, and audience demographics/interests with facebook)
•    landing pages & variations
•    offers
•    day & time of day (some offers perform better at certain times / days, ie dating performs better in the evening at at weekends)

How to track?
You can track performance in a number of ways:
•    No tracking, or using a spreadsheet / pen & paper
•    Use tracking features provided by your ad/traffic network
•    Using free tools like Google Analytics
•    Simple php scripts
•    More advanced solutions: tracking 202, cpvlab, bevo

The first couple are free. But besides improving your campaign profit, the advanced solutions have a number of additional benefits:
•    Rotating landing pages and offers
•    Simple to add in additional variants without having to redo your ads
•    Auto optimization
•    Real time statistics
•    Trend analysis

How does tracking work?
The basic principle of tracking is as followed
1.    The ad campaign loads the campaign url from your tracking solution which rotates the landing pages and registers a view
2.    The landing page links back to tracking url to register the click
3.    The tracking solution then redirects to an offer with a subid reference attached (unique reference – see below)
4.    The conversion pixel fires to notify solution of result

Here are some of the key concepts you will need to understand when setting up and using your tracking solution.
•    Tracking url: an URL provided by your tracking solution which it uses to register the views or clicks
•    Rotator: cycles through for example multiple landing pages or offers
•    Subid: A unique ID assigned to each visitor that your tracking solution sends to an offer. Your affiliate network will have reports that show the subid’s of each prospect that converted
•    Conversion pixel: The URL provided by your tracking solution or your traffic network. You will need to submit this URL to the conversion pixel setting of your affiliate network. This URL will be called in the background when your prospect has converted and notifies the tracking solution that a conversion has taken place
•    CTR: Click Through Rate = Clicks / Impressions * 100%
•    CR: Conversion rate = Conversions / Impressions * 100% (Sometimes people take the measure as Conversions / Offer page views * 100%. I recommend using the Impressions as a basis because then you can accurately compare Landing page performance with Direct Linking performance)
•    SUR: Sign up rate = signups / views
•    CPA: Cost per Action = Total cost of impressions / Conversions
•    EPC: Earnings per Click = Total Revenue / Clicks
•    CPC: Cost per Click = Total cost of impressions / Clicks
•    CPM: Cost per 1000 impressions
•    CPV: Cosy per view
•    ROI: Return on Investment = ( Revenue – Cost ) / Cost. 100% ROI means you doubled your money.

Tracking conversions
Conversions can be tracked either manually (looking at the reports or using the subid data), or automatically through a post back URL or conversion pixel.

Your tracking solution will asign a subid (unique reference) to each visitor that clicks through to the offer. By getting from your affiliate network a report that shows conversions with their subid’s your able to identify which targets, landing pages or offers generated the conversion.

This still requires some manual input. Another approach is to use a conversion pixel. This is basically a fake image file that is included on the confirmation page after the prospects has taken the desired action (complete the form). Your tracking solutions then automatically registers the conversion for the relevant target, landing page and offer.

Some networks require that your conversion pixels are on a ‘secure’ server with what is called a SSL certificate. You can recognise these in your browser as sites loaded with https://. When you get your domain name for your tracking solution, I recommend you get this with namecheap as they give you a free certificate, which are domain specific. They also provide clear instructions on installing your ssl certificate.


Credit for the info on this post goes tijn over at


  1. Terry /

    Does p202 work with SSL. I read on masterless samurai blog that internet explorer users can t access pages from p202 links coming from a https page

  2. Morgan /

    I never had a problem as long as the links stayed ssl and a certificate was installed.

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