Affiliate Marketing: Cross-Device Tracking

Are affiliates compensated fairly?

Photo oof multiple devices: desktop, latop, notepad, and mobile phoneOnline sales are tracked and affiliates are paid a portion of sales.  The issue is that there are multiple influences or impressions that go into the creation of one sale.  Yet most systems attribute the full sale to the “last click”.

This type of affiliate attribution is common. However, customers often research their options before making a choice. The research phase might take place over hours, days, or longer and might take place over multiple devices.

Recently was in the market for a new umbrella – it’s beginning to rain in southern California.  But I am a picky shopper – I want a double layered umbrella that has a reflective silver coating on top to be used in the summer when it’s over 110 degrees Farrenheit in the shade.  And, it might be nice if the umbrella had vents to avoid inversions in high winds.

So, I spent some time on my mobile phone checking out options.  (I love shopping and social media, so I could do this forever.)  I found several good options after I figured out that searching for a “sun umbrella” was only turning up huge, stick-in-the-ground beach umbrellas.

So I tried “sadvertisements on Google for spf umbrellaspf umbrella” and Voila! I found the perfect umbrella for rain and high heat.  There were multiple competitors offering similar products, all of which will give me the sun and rain protection I want for extreme weather.

But which affiliate will be compensated for my eventual sale?  After tiring of my search I closed by browser, turned off my phone, and went to bed.  I will get the umbrella at some point soon, but that might happen when I’m logged in at my desktop when I have more time.  So will the original affiliate (that was tied to my mobile research) get the credit for influencing my sale?  I made my mental choice already.

Marketers have been having trouble with affiliate attribution because most consumers have multiple devices.  One solution is CROSS DEVICE TRACKING.  While cross-device tracking may infringe on privacy rights, it may provide valuable information to marketers and a better understanding of which affiliates are truly influencing sales. The struggle is to connect the customer’s research phase and purchase phase of the sale.

What do you think?  Should the FTC allow cross-device tracking?

Sources: CampaignLive and MarketingWeek

Author:Robin Yerian.  Robin studies Marketing and Business Administration at California State University, Northridge.  She has received an honorable mention for her secondary research regarding the millennial generation in association with the national American Marketing Association case competition for eBay in which she provided consumer insights.  Robin is the student assistant responsible for managing client relationships, communications, and social media for the Wells Fargo Center for Small Business & Entrepreneurship at CSUN.


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