Understand Tracking Technology


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

Tracking Basics

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

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

Those involved in these events are:

  • The consumer 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. The advertiser is provided with confirmation of the transaction to the network server. It is possible to resend that data later if necessary. 
  2. Browser-based: The data is transmitted from the browser using a pixel. This pixel should not be removed. There is no method of confirming the advertiser receives that data. If there is an issue in communicating data, there is no way to go back and recover it. 

 Success Tip

There are also variances created by Google’s parallel tracking and Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) that may impact your program. You can view an advertiser's tracking methods and how they report transactions in advance.

Tracking Details Comparison

Server - Enterprise Service
Real-time data transmission Yes, but it can be delayed by batches
Network cookie-dependent No
Offers item-level reporting Yes
SKU-level offers Yes
Cancellations/Returns processing Same process, additional coding
Tracking data is encrypted Yes
Average days to implement 10-30 days +/-
Browser - Performance Tag/Pixel
Real-time data transmission Yes
Network cookie-dependent Yes
Offers item-level reporting Yes
SKU-level offers Yes
Cancellations/Returns processing Manual
Tracking data is encrypted No
Average days to implement 5 days +/-

Importance of Cookies

Affiliate sales are often tracked by Cookies, these are small text files sent by the origin site on a user’s browser. Cookie life, or return days or hours, is set by the advertiser program. Though GDPR changed how cookies are used in advertising, cookies are still important to the process.

Next Steps

As you continue to learn, it is important to understand how link code works.

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