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Why merchants should enable affiliates to earn on their “in-app” sales

Why merchants should enable affiliates to earn on their “in-app” sales


Today’s proliferation of smartphones and tablets among consumers risks breaking the affiliate tracking chain as users regularly jump between different devices, browsers and apps during their purchase cycle.

As one of the leading affiliate merchants in its category, Rebtel are proud to introduce a cross platform tracking solution that ensures affiliates receiving compensation for their work, regardless of the point in the chain when the sale is generated.

The mobile revolution is already upon us

Since the launch of the iPhone in 2007, the mobile industry as we know it has been redefined and new standards for how people use their phones in their everyday life have been set.

As the computing power and mobile internet connection speeds continuously increase, consumers spend a growing amount of time with their smart devices and in some instances to the extent that they replace traditional PCs.

Mobile phones have gone from being a mere practical tool to becoming an indispensable tool in our daily lives in just a matter of years. As such, these new platforms have also become a prioritised investment and in present day, you’ll have a hard time finding anyone under the age of 30 who doesn’t own a smart device.

Subsequently this also means that the likelihood of any given online shopper, which you go through great lengths to reach, also owns one.

Smartphones and tablets change consumer shopping behavior

Consumers are now researching their next purchase on the fly whether that’s on the bus, the subway or while waiting in line. However, most users do still prefer to make their online purchases from the comfort of their laptop or desktop computer (even if dedicated apps are also becoming an increasingly common and practical option).

The point is that many users both have a 2nd and a 3rd device that they actively use during different stages in the purchase cycle. In some cases they’re even used simultaneously.

More screens and more fragmentation bring more problems

When users effortlessly move from one device to another they bring all of their experience and knowledge with them, but not their browser cookies. Regardless of using a 1st or 3rd party cookie, it’s still useless if the actual sale is performed on a different browser or device than what was used during the pre-purchase stage.

Depending on the industry and the general adoption of mobile devices, this phenomenon is becoming an increasingly growing headache for merchants and advertisers alike.

This is especially problematic for those merchants whose products or services are suited to be purchased and consumed on a mobile. Due to that fact, it’s vital to identify a solution that brings transparency to how advertising efforts interact between different websites and devices.

In-app shopping brings added complexity

To complicate matters further there are some merchants who offer native apps in an effort to improve the buying experience for recurring purchases. Some advertisers solely rely on these “in-app” purchases for their business.

Since apps in general and iOS apps in particular are often completely separated from the native browser, the tracking between an affiliate and these app sales becomes even more difficult.

Introducing cross platform tracking

At Rebtel, we strongly believe that it shouldn’t matter if the user is making a purchase from inside an app, on a mobile website or on the traditional web. Sales referred from affiliates should always generate commission for the partner.

That is why we, as one of the first merchants, have developed a new and groundbreaking tracking solution that’s completely agnostic to where the sale was executed.

The key to Rebtel’s tracking solution is a ”sign up page” containing responsive design elements that automatically adjusts the content regardless of the device being used.

This means that an iPhone visitor will get iPhone specific content, while a desktop browser will see something else. Since we are able to use the same page for all visitors, we can also store the affiliate identifier together with the users account information at an early stage.

If a specific user makes a purchase at a later stage, that sale is tracked and subsequently reported directly from our servers. This is done regardless of what site, device or app that was used by the customer. It also means that we aren’t dependent on having to match a specific cookie in the browser.

Next step – app download tracking?

A next step in this process we are now considering implementing support for app download tracking after the successful launch of our sales tracking. We look forward to move forward with this project supported by the affiliate program provider TradeDoubler whose newly developed mobile tracking technology will make it possible for us to pay affiliate commission for app downloads as well.

Leading by example

By sharing these ideas with the community, we hope that more merchants will follow suit and implement new tracking solutions that can attribute sales to the right source not withstanding where it was performed.

If more merchants follow our lead, we can make sure that the affiliate channel continues to grow within the mobile eco-system and leading publishers put more effort into developing new and interesting solutions for the ever increasing amount of mobile internet traffic. Instead of paying for empty downloads, this would enable us to focus on achieving true ROI - something we as merchants, as well as you, would mutually benefit from.

Written by Peter Bäckström (Head of online marketing at Rebtel)

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