Affiliate Tracking And AdButler

Read Time: 6 minutes

Affiliate Tracking is a piece of AdButler that isn’t often focused on. Although more of an advertiser than a publisher feature, it’s an important part of growing your business or blog and generating traffic to your advertisers. I’m not an expert on affiliate tracking, and I’m not going to focus on the best way to find affiliates (there’s plenty out there on that). Instead, let’s look at how AdButler’s affiliate tracking works.

We’re going to break down what affiliate tracking is, how AdButler can do it, and the best way to set it up. There isn’t a huge difference between measuring affiliates and general display tracking, but, as with anything, the small details can make a huge difference. Let’s get started.

Affiliate Tracking?

Imagine you’re running an online store where you sell really nice potted plants. You’re doing pretty well, and after checking your traffic stats, you see that a whole bunch of your traffic comes from a series of botany blogs. You decide to reach out to those botany blogs with a sponsorship deal: For every sale you get from those blogs, you’ll give them two dollars. The blogs agree and you’re in business. They’re now going to place your banners on their website.

With this setup, though, you’re going to need some sort of tracking to figure out where your sales are coming from. In other words, you need tracking for your affiliates.

With affiliate tracking, you’re almost always looking for three stats: Impressions, Clicks, and Conversions. Conversions allow you to know when people make a purchase or perform an action. Impressions and Clicks are important because they help you optimize your banners and figure out which banners are doing the best.

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You probably already know how impressions and clicks are tracked in AdButler: You create the zone and campaign, then pass the zone tags onto your affiliates to display the banners. If they’re using WordPress, you can even give them a publisher-specific WordPress key so they can make use of our AdButler plugin.

Tracking conversions is the next step, and it’s probably the simplest thing in AdButler. If you go into any zone on your account, on the right-hand side you’ll see a ‘Get Conversion Tags’ button. Clicking it will generate the conversion tag for your account. If you place the tag on where you want to count a conversion, like your potted plant checkout success page, AdButler will record a conversion if that person has clicked on one of your ads.

Tracking conversions gives you the final piece of the puzzle, and, if a click is the start of your sale, a conversion acts as the end. Or, you can use conversions for newsletter signups or article reads or anything, really. You just need to keep in mind that a click is always the start of a conversion.

Now, just as we have tags for tracking conversions, AdButler can actually track affiliate performance without using our banners. If you go to the assignment page for a banner/campaign there are ‘Manual Tracking Links’ unique to that instance. The tracking links allow you to log clicks and impressions whenever you want. You’ll use them in more unique situations, such as when someone links directly to your page, or mentions you in a video. The click tracking link will redirect people to the banner destination while collecting a click, and the view tracking pixel logs an impression with each load.

Doing It Right The First Time

When setting up your AdButler account, it’s always best to think of what you might need in the future and not just your current needs. Keeping that in mind, let’s look at what our affiliate system needs:

  • Keep your affiliates separate
  • Be able to switch out banners easily
  • Attribute conversions accurately
  • Streamline the process so you can add new affiliates easily

Four simple goals. To keep affiliates separate, we’ll make each one its own publisher. That way when running statistics you can select the publisher and see how only they are performing. You can also make use of our user account system to give them direct access to their statistics.

Similarly, you’ll want to create an advertiser to host all your own banner campaigns. You’ll be able to look at your performance as a whole and create campaigns which allow you to assign bundles of banners to each affiliate/publisher. There’s a bonus here, where you can use one campaign for all your publishers, and anytime you add a new publisher, you just assign the campaign to their zone. One campaign also allows you to look at where your conversions are coming from by running our statistics platform.

In summary, to fulfil all the goals above, you’ll want a system of:

Advertiser->Campaign->Publisher->Zone

or

Yourself->Banners->Affiliate->Placement

The best way to see individual performance would be with our ‘Statistics (beta)’ interface. You’ll want to make sure you’re in the ‘Banners’ view, with only one publisher and one advertiser selected. This view will give you all the information you need, broken down by banner.

The last thing I’ll add is if you’re going to use our manual tracking links, you’ll want to add a ‘holder’ banner directly to the zone and bypass the advertiser/campaign interface. The holder banner will never be displayed (make sure to disable it), but it’ll act as a conduit for the manual tracking links.

Feel free to comment below if you have any more questions or found the article helpful.

Liam Workman


Liam is an account manager and blog king at SparkLit, the SaaS company behind AdButler and FourEyes. He loves rock climbing, hiking, coding, and being your friend.