Understand Tracking Technology


Tracking is the attribution of action or the aligning clicks to orders. Publishers are paid for the actions that originated from the clicks that they are generating from their websites. A reliable and trustworthy tracking system is important to ensure publishers get properly compensated and that advertisers are protected from fraudulent activity.

Tracking Basics

In the tracking process, there are two critical events that are captured:

  1. The click from the publisher’s website
    • The time and date of the click
    • The publisher’s website.
  2. The transaction is on the advertiser’s website. This includes:
    • Advertiser’s website
    • Date and time of the transaction
    • Amount of the transaction and the currency
    • Order number associated with the transaction.

The key players specific to these events are:

  • The consumer that is completing the transaction
  • The publisher or affiliate
  • The Rakuten Advertiser Network
  • The advertiser or merchant

Two Categories of Tracking

There are two primary categories of tracking.

  1. Server-based
    • The data is transmitted from the advertiser’s server to the network server.
  2. Browser-based
    • The data is transmitted from the browser (using a pixel) to the network server. 

In server-based, the advertiser is provided with confirmation of the transaction to the network server. It is possible to resend that data later on if necessary.

With browser-based, the browser is transmitting the data directly to the network server. There is no method of confirmation that the advertiser receives that data. Additionally, if there is an issue in communicating that data, there is no way to go back and recover the missing data.

Importance of Cookies

Cookies are small text files sent by the origin site on a user’s browser. Though there have been some changes to how cookies are used in advertising (see how the GDPR changed the way cookies are used), cookies are still important to the process. Affiliate sales are often tracked by cookies. Cookie life, or return days (or hours), is chosen by the advertiser program.

Offerings Enterprise Services  Performance Tag (Pixel)
Server-based or Browser-based Server Browser
Real-time data transmission Yes, but can also be delayed and is available in batch


Network cookie-dependent  No Yes
Offers item-level reporting Yes Yes
SKU-level offers Yes Yes
Cancellations/Returns processing Same process, additional coding required Manual
Tracking data to the network is encrypted Yes No
Average days to implement 10-30 days +/- 5 days +/-


Keep in mind that batch is delayed/latency reporting rather than real-time.

Next Steps

Read more about tracking here:

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