Why You Need Affiliate Tracking and What Can Go Wrong

23 March 2023
Reading: 6 min

With the development of marketing, many new promotion channels and ways of interacting with users are coming into the life of the affiliate. Along with this, promotion strategies for advertising campaigns are becoming more complex and require more control. When it comes to advertising effectiveness analytics, experienced affiliates will definitely mention trackers. It’s a multi-faceted way to monitor the flow of your efforts and budget, so you can sleep well at night. Now let’s explore the specifics of this kind of analytical method at the affiliate’s work.

Tracking basics

Advertising tracking is an analysis of the intermediate performance of an advertising campaign. Used both to gain insight into the quality and behavior of the target audience and to improve the efficiency of budget allocation between advertising channels.

To effectively implement the principles of tracking in affiliate marketing, experts use a special tool called a tracker. It is software for automating the collection, processing, and analysis of information on advertising campaigns. It helps to track conversions, evaluate the effectiveness of an advertising campaign, split traffic, switch advertisers, and much more.

Why You Need Affiliate Tracking and What Can Go Wrong

Why do I need a tracker?

Tracking technology is chosen by many advertising experts, marketers, affiliates, and other professionals because it offers many opportunities to improve the quality of their work. Among them are:

  • The ability to increase the speed and efficiency of traffic flow analysis. Information about creatives and traffic sources will be collected in one place. Built-in filters allow sorting traffic by GEO, operators, devices, and other parameters. This allows advertising campaigns to be positioned more accurately.
  • The ability to redirect traffic according to the specified parameters — you do not have to stop the advertising campaign to change the affiliate network when the limit of leads or offers is reached.
  • Maximum profit. Due to the traffic tracking and its redirection feature, you can direct the users to separate offers or filter them by countries, languages, and other criteria. This is important because, for example, some advertisers pay more for leads from specific countries.
  • Create detailed reports on the campaign. It will show its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Running split tests. This is needed to divide the flow of users between a single page, an offer, or a direct address.

Summing up, the functionality of the tracker is vast and varied. The tool is needed to select bundles with maximum conversions, as well as to reduce the operational costs of a campaign. Some tracking apps can help bypass Facebook moderation and hide campaign statistics from advertisers, or create landing page templates for faster launch of ads.

Types of trackers

There are several types of affiliate marketing trackers on the market. Most often, they are distinguished on the basis of their purpose and function. Let’s take a look at two of the most popular types.


This is an application with a normal installer that needs to be activated on the server.


  • Fast response time due to no barriers between the system and the application
  • Possibility to run unlimited traffic volume thanks to the server speed
  • All collected information is automatically saved to a secure server


  • Expensive to maintain
  • Need of experience and knowledge about maintenance and server setup
  • The speed of dealing with traffic from other GEOs (far away from the actual server location) is rather low

Server trackers are a great option for an affiliate who is targeting advertising campaigns in the near abroad or has clearly chosen the GEO to work with.

Why You Need Affiliate Tracking and What Can Go Wrong


With this type of tracker, the affiliate does not need to download the software and install it on a dedicated server, as all the procedures are done in an online format. Campaign data is recorded in the cloud and is available for viewing 24/7. And their level of protection is as good as that of a server-based tracker type.


  • High data transfer rate due to automatic selection of server and GEO for campaigns
  • No need to know the technical details of the server to configure the tracker


  • Paid rates that depend on the number of events

Economically, it is more profitable to use server-based trackers, but in terms of functionality and performance, the cloud trackers are far ahead.

Why You Need Affiliate Tracking and What Can Go Wrong

Tracking issues

There you have it, tracking is a useful practice to optimize your advertising campaigns. What can go wrong? However, tracking can fail. In this unit, we take a look at the three most popular tracking issues and how to prevent them.

1. Broken affiliate links

Bad affiliate links mean that customers clicking on an affiliate link or display ad won’t get to the right page. They will either get a link failure notification or a 404 error message. In some cases, the customer is simply looking for another brand. In other cases, they will search for your brand online and still buy, but the sale will not be tracked and attributed to the affiliate who made it.

For such a case, there is a list of recommendations:

  • Replace existing links, banners, and coupons with new ones instead of uploading new ones separately. 
  • When making website changes, avoid changing URLs or, if this is not possible, redirect the old URLs to the new ones.
  • When changing website URLs, remember to update relevant creatives

Why You Need Affiliate Tracking and What Can Go Wrong

2. Problems with tracking software

Whether you work with an affiliate network or directly with an advertiser, you rely on third-party tracking software for affiliate sales. Nothing is perfect, and the software or plugin you install can fail.

When this problem occurs, check how many sales with specific discount codes have been tracked and how many of them were actually received. This way, you can identify tracking problems early on and resolve them before they negatively impact your affiliate program statistics.

3. Payment gateways and checkout issues

The tracking process starts with an affiliate click (when a customer clicks on an affiliate link or display ad) and ends at the shop’s order confirmation or thank you page. This is where the tracking software picks up an affiliate cookie or special discount code and attributes the sale. Sometimes the tracking software cannot read this information and does not record actual affiliate sales.

To verify that the tracking is working properly, you can place test orders using all available payment methods and make sure the buyer successfully navigates to the order confirmation/thank you page. If you find cases where this doesn’t happen, your technical team will surely be able to help. You can also work with payment processing or funding providers to resolve the problem.

Final thoughts

For those who still consider the tracker an unnecessary waste of resources when launching an advertising campaign. Once again. The tracker in affiliate marketing is like a GPS in a new location, it allows you to: track sites, landing pages, and creatives that generate conversions. It also helps to detect the user’s device type, operating system, GEO, and IP, clear bots for further optimization, hide unwanted content, and even build complex automated funnels. In short, an indispensable tool in developing your affiliate competencies.

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