Seven Key Points on Cookie Consent for Affiliates

BusinessMarketing & Advertising

  • Author Chris Tradgett
  • Published July 5, 2022
  • Word count 876

Everyone has become used to talking about cookies and how managing compliance is crucial for anyone involved in marketing - particularly at the consumer level. For us in the marketing industry, we’re also acutely aware that the days for third party cookies are numbered - or over entirely for some.

For any marketer promoting via mobile channels, the move to first party cookies has been a given following Apple’s ITP launch in 2017. Any web traffic via Safari, which now accounts for 19.1% worldwide (May 2022) will not be tracking any third party cookies, so you will need to check that your advertisers are using first party cookies as a default.

Most networks have issued guidance on cookie and privacy compliance for publishers especially since the onset of the GDPR in 2018. There are now also a plethora of consent management tools out there with often conflicting messaging. So for some publishers we've spoken to, it leaves them unsure of what they actually need to put in place.

Consent Management Platforms

Most advertiser websites will now present a new user with a cookie consent choice, often before the page content is visible. This is sometimes home-grown tech though increasingly provided by companies like OneTrust, Tealium and others. Most of course are targeting users in the higher volume retail sites, as their pricing is based on user volume.

For an affiliate website, the costs may seem to be onerous - taking $$ away from your bottom line. It doesn’t have to be too costly and smaller sites even qualify for the free entry level.

So shop about and find the best solution for your own website. For Wordpress sites there are plenty of simple plugins available - just check out the marketplace - and of course other web tools and platforms provide similar plugins.

Taking all this on board should get you a fair way towards ensuring that your own affiliate business is properly compliant. So here’s a checklist to help:

Seven key points that any affiliate needs to put in place:

1 -Assess the impact of GDPR, PECR and CCPA on their websites and business;

  • Check whether compliance will mean changing user flows

  • Understand any commercial changes needed

Ensure your main networks and advertisers are using first party tracking cookies

2- Ensure transparency for website visitors - including, of course, affiliate disclosure;

  • Ensure messaging about cookies and affiliate commission disclosure is clear and unambiguous

3- Ensure any personal user data is securely stored where strictly necessary and processes documented;

  • Ensure you have written documentation on your data policy

  • Use 2FA access where possible

4- Upgrade privacy policies and include a cookie consent capture;

  • Check your cookie consent complies with local and global regulations

  • Privacy policy templates are readily available to base yours on if you’ve not got one already - it makes your site appear more trustworthy and it’s good for website SEO

5- Anonymize user data where practical;

  • Cashback or membership websites of course need to store user data. Where data is securely stored, make sure any other reporting tools anonymize user IDs to stay compliant

6- Keep up to date via affiliate networks’ latest information;

  • Subscribe to your affiliate networks GDPR page or portal - and to their newsletters

7- Assess the advertisers being promoted to ensure that their CMPs are compliant and don’t interfere with affiliate tracking

  • As advertisers are still in process of implementing their own CMPs and changing their policies, stay aware of changes in EPCs and conversions

  • Ensure the advertisers you promote comply with web users in your target market

Keeping all this front of mind will ensure that your own websites and the advertisers your sites are promoting remain compliant with privacy legislation.

Keeping up with Tracking

The story doesn’t end there of course, most ecommerce websites are complex entities with a lot of technologies involved. Many also undergo continual changes along with inventory; even website structures change as new ranges appear.

Making sure the affiliate tracking works is of course important, but it’s worth bearing in mind that other technologies and channels may well take precedence in the tech dev queue. Anything product or revenue related will get first call - followed by PPC and GA changes as there are $$ implications if they don’t work. Affiliate is usually down the queue, as any hard pressed network account manager will tell you, so publishers need to be aware of this.

Keeping on top of that is crucial and a regular check on EPCs and conversions is usually a barometer to any changes.

Tracking the Tracking

The Moonpull platform is uniquely configured to give affiliates analysis in granular detail. The outputs also provide a comprehensive picture to pass through to an advertiser, which helps them implement a fix more quickly and ensure that tracking is not compromised and the advertiser / publisher partnership damaged.

Moonpull puts the tools in the hands of affiliates to understand this and let the networks and advertisers know how to fix it. It is also a step towards reclaiming the commission erosion and adding 5% extra revenue to everyone’s bottom line.

Read more about compliance for affiliates on the Moonpull Blog

Chris Tradgett has been in affiliates for 20 years, network, client side and in tech data. Most recently in providing publisher discovery services and working with Moonpull in providing granular analysis of affiliate tracking and cookie compliance. The latest article: https://moonpullpartners.com/affiliate-guide-to-cookie-compliance/

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