How Does Affiliate Tracking Work?
In order to track the activity and effectiveness of affiliate marketing, you need two things: an affiliate link and a cookie.
What is a cookie?
While not edible, browser cookies are pretty sweet. A cookie is a small text file of information downloaded on to your computer via your web browser when you access certain websites or click on links. Cookies are extremely common, can only be read by the web server that placed it, and don’t contain information about the visitor directly. They just provide a way for websites to recognize users, and are responsible for online experiences like saved login information, saving items in an online shopping cart (even when you’re not logged in), and more. Cookies are widely used in online marketing for tracking, personalization, and remarketing purposes.
At EPN, a cookie lets us know that a visitor was sent to us by a particular publisher, so we can mark anything the visitor buys as commissionable to the publisher. Since cookies enable us to recognize users who have been to the site before, we can track sales generated from the traffic you drive even when the sale doesn’t happen immediately after clicking on your link. EPN will pay you commission on all attributes sales within the cookie window – or duration of time between when the cookie is placed and when it expires. EPN’s cookie window is 24 hours.
EPN includes other parameters to aid you in your performance tracking, like Campaign ID, Tool ID, and more.
What parameters does EPN use for tracking?
EPN links have several parameters specific to our network.
Here is an example of an EPN link generated from the Link Generator and directing to the eBay.com homepage:
Let’s look at the components within this example link:
711-53200-19255-0: this parameter is the Rotation ID, and indicates that this link is for the eBay US program. There will be different numbers for other eBay programs – eBay UK, eBay DE, etc.
1?icep_ff3=1: this parameter indicates where on the eBay site the link is going. This will also change depending on the type of link that’s generated, and from which tool.
Pub=1234567890: this is your unique publisher ID, which we use for tracking and reporting. You will see your ID in place of the 1234567890 in this example.
toolid=10001: this indicates which tool generated the link. In this case, it was from the Link Generator tool. There are different ID numbers for the other tools. Tracking this information enables you to see performance by tool within our reports section.
campid=1234567890: this is the unique Campaign ID from your account. Every EPN link must be associated with a Campaign.
customid=: if you were using Custom IDs, this is where it goes in the link. Click here for more info about Custom IDs.
ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg: this parameter details where you are pointing the traffic on the eBay site. You can point traffic to any page on the site – the homepage, search results, etc. – and this will change to reflect your specified landing page.
Reliable affiliate tracking allows you to assess how successfully your affiliate campaigns are performing.
- Cookie Window: Since cookies enable us to recognize users who have been to the site before, we can track sales generated from the traffic you drive even when the sale doesn’t happen immediately after clicking on your link. EPN will pay you commission on all attributed sales within the cookie window – or duration of time between when the cookie is placed and when it expires. EPNs cookie window is 24 hours.
- Multi-browser: A browser cookie is only tracked within the specific browser, so if the user opens a different browser and completes an action, it will not be tracked.
- Multi-device: Whether you use a banner, a text link, or a feed, you have to create an affiliate link to ensure proper tracking. Use extreme caution if you decide to manually modify any parameter in the link. We suggest that you always get your EPN link from a tool provided by EPN, such as the Link Generator tool, or the Bookmarklet tool. We cannot guarantee tracking if the link has been modified.