INside Performance Marketing
Are Long Cookie Lengths Really Needed?

Are Long Cookie Lengths Really Needed?

It has long been common practice that advertisers set their click cookies to a 30 day window. Depending on the type of product being sold, the lag time between the initial click and a sale can vary. To investigate how long the typical lag time is between click and sale we researched clients across four sectors to see whether this varies.

One thing to be considered is different affiliate promotional types are able to convert traffic at varying rates. Typically loyalty/reward and voucher code sites are primed to ‘close’ sales with their business model so the click to sale lag is highly likely to be minimal. There is a perception that ‘content sites’ on the other hand could be used as a research tool where customers are not in the mindset to buy so click to sale is likely to be longer.

We are able to look at the affiliate type for each of the advertisers we have investigated to see if they have any bearing on the sales lag.

Advertiser #1 - Telecoms

The first advertiser is a large telecoms provider. 70% of their sales were made within the same day of the click. Furthermore, 68% of these sales were made within an hour of the click – the majority of these within ten minutes. This accounts for 47% of total sales being driven within the first hour of the cookie window.

This advertiser saw a further 18% of sales made in the second day of the cookie period and 95% of the sales were completed within the first week.

The majority of sales for this advertiser are delivered through affiliates that are classified as content affiliates. This advertiser does not have any loyalty/reward sites delivering sales for them through Affiliate Window. The short sales lag therefore indicates that content sites are also highly effective at converting traffic within a short cookie window.

Advertiser #2 - Travel

The second advertiser is a large travel operator offering a range of products from flights through to package holidays. Travel is often considered to have a more complex decision making process involved therefore longer cookie lengths could feasibly be recommeded. However, when looking at the results it is again evident that the vast majority of sales occur within the first day of the cookie window. This advertiser saw 83% of their sales take place within the first day. 87% of these were within the first hour – 72% of all sales for the advertiser.

Less than 1% of sales for this advertiser were made in the final ten days of the cookie window.

Around 25% of the sales are generated through loyalty/reward affiliates which could help account for the short lag time between click and sale. A further 20% of sales are delivered through content sites however, indicating that they can also convert relatively soon after the initial click through.

Advertiser #3 - Electrical

The third advertiser is an electrical retailer. Again, certain high value products can be considered to be a more complex decision with a lot of research taking place before the transaction occurs. This retailer saw 84% of all sales made within the first day. 93% of these were made within the first hour, accounting for 78.5% of all sales. Again less than 1% of sales were driven within the last ten days of the cookie period.

The nature of this advertiser means the majority of sales are delivered through incentivised sites with both cashback and voucher code sites delivering high sales volumes. This could be why the majority of sales are generated within an hour of the initial click. However, other affiliate types have also converted in a short time frame.

Advertiser #4 - Telecoms

The final advertiser is another telecoms merchant. 89% of their sales were delivered within the first day of the cookie window. A staggering 96% of these were within the first hour meaning that 86% of all sales were made within the first hour of the cookie being set. This is the highest of all the merchants that we have investigated.

Only 2.5% of sales for this advertiser were delivered after the tenth day and only 0.02% were generated on the final day of the cookie window.

When looking at the affiliate promotional type on the campaign, 42% of sales are generated through affiliates that are classified as content being their primary method of promotion. A further 20% are generated through loyalty/reward sites and 10% through voucher code sites. Again this indicates that content sites have also been converting traffic effectively within a short timeframe.

In Conclusion

We obviously can only look at affiliate data so can make no assumptions about when sales’ paths were initiated via non-affiliate channels. However, when looking at the data contained within this article, it is evident that they majority of sales driven through the affiliate channel occur within an hour of the first click. This highlights the effectiveness of the affiliate channel to finalise the decision making process and influence the sale.

When setting a cookie length it is worth considering that although the vast majority of sales fall within the first day, even within the first hour, a longer cookie period is still attractive to affiliates. One option would be to set a longer cookie window to stand out from the competition safe in the knowledge it is unlikely to result in a significant increase in expenditure.

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Matt Swan

Matt Swan

As a Client Strategist at Digital Window Matt works with advertisers across both Affiliate Window and buy.at platforms. The role involves working closely with the account management and business development teams on delivering and optimising affiliate campaigns.

Matt also works on research projects both for individual clients and overall market trends. He has recently undertaken research into the mobile network sector and also investigating the growth of m-commerce within the affiliate channel.

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