Affiliate programs use cookie life time parameters to determine how long a relationship will exist between affiliates and visitors after visitors click on affiliate links.
When a customer buys a product within a defined time frame, affiliates receive commission. After this period, affiliate commissions will not be assigned to customers, since the cookie has already expired.
Customers (merchants, affiliate program owners) often ask us how long the cookie life should be for their affiliate program.
In my experience, it doesn’t matter so much how long your cookie life time will be for accurate tracking, but it matters a great deal to your affiliates.
A lot of affiliates believe, that amount of their commissions will be much higher in affiliate programs with cookie life Many affiliates believe that their commissions will be higher in affiliate programs with cookie life times of 365 days rather than affiliate programs with cookie life times of seven days. Is it really true ?
Many merchants believe that affiliate commissions will be much lower in the event of short cookie lives (e.g. 1 day). There are also affiliate programs with cookie life of 3 or 6 hours, which I consider crazy and counter-productive.
So let’s take a look at a use-case.
The image below shows statistic “Days to purchase” from Google Analytics of Quality Unit web site:
If I will set ….
Cookie life: 1 day
Over 93.5% of all sales took place within 24 hours, so affiliates will get nearly all commissions despite the short cookie life.
Cookie life: 7 days
96.43 percent of all sales will still be tracked correctly if cookie life time is set to 7 days… there is little difference between 1 day and 7 days
Cookie life: 30 days
98.21% of sales are correctly tracked. Should merchant define one day instead of 30 days, he would save 5% of all commissions – not much if we know that affiliate motivation could drop by 50%.
Set the cookie life time to 365 days or more! For you (as a merchant), it will make little difference whether the cookie lifetime is 1 or 365 days. Show your affiliates that you care about their commissions.
It is recommended that affiliates keep cookies for 30 days. Values less than 30 days cause affiliates to worry about commissions. As you can see, setting up a short cookie life will not save you much money, so why should your affiliates be worried?
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