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I run a fairly successful online store. I would like to join an affiliate network to drive more traffic to my site, and I would like to know what sort of technical effort this involves.

Let's say that I apply and get approval from one of the common affiliate programs (rewardStyle, Rakuten, CJ Affiliate, Skimlinks, etc). What happens then, at a technical level? Do they provide a JS tracker? Do I have to implement something in my backend? Is it something else?

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There are a lot of different affiliate programs out there, each usually has their own special target audience. All will use JavaScript that can be dropped onto the page.

Affiliate Window, or AWIN as they now go by, are who I have used in the past. https://www.awin.com/gb


Tracking Code Example

The tracking code will be similar to what you have used for tracking transactions from Google Ads etc... Your website developer is usually a good person to implement this.

AWIN's tracking code looks like the below:

var AWIN = {};

AWIN.Tracking = {};

AWIN.Tracking.Sale = {};

/* Set your transaction parameters */

AWIN.Tracking.Sale.amount = "{{totalAmount}}";

AWIN.Tracking.Sale.channel = "{{channel}}";

AWIN.Tracking.Sale.orderRef = "{{orderReference}}";

AWIN.Tracking.Sale.parts = "{{commissionGroup}}:{{totalAmount}}";

AWIN.Tracking.Sale.voucher = "{{voucher_code}}";

AWIN.Tracking.Sale.currency = "{{currency_code}}";

AWIN.Tracking.Sale.test = "{{isTest}}";


Every affiliate is different. If you want to know more about the AWIN code, there are some on their Wiki page.

Hope this helps. Reply if you want more details.

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Its often a tracking pixel.

A tiny image, naked to the eye (usually 1 pixel wide by 1 pixel tall) is hosted on a server, and on the page you want tracked, you add the HTML or JS code that contains the link to the pixel

Every time the page loads that has the pixel on, the pixel is fired (loaded), which is then recorded as an event of what ever you are tracking. Such as the pixel firing on a payment confirmation page.

So its usually a pretty simple implementation of adding a js or html tracking code to a page.

There is also Server-Based tracking which is not as simple to set up but more accurate. This is where information associated with the user, affiliate, and the offer is stored on a server and is attached to an identifier, usually Transaction IDs or Affiliate IDs.

The advertiser (you) has to store the unique identifier and pass it back to the tracking server of the affiliate network when a user completes an event that is tracked. This is called a server postback.

Many affiliate networks offer both types of tracking, the tracking pixel being the easiest and quickest to set up, but the choice can depend on your development resources.

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  • Thank you. Both your answer and Jason's were good and I had a difficult time choosing which one to award the bounty to. In the end I went for Jason's as it provides an example and a link to documentation of one such network. Keep up the good work. – pablobm Jul 12 '18 at 7:30

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