FAQ Publisher Guide

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Frequently Asked Questions by Affiliates, for Affiliates - Admin


What is a Merchant?

A merchant (retailer) is an online company who sell their products and/or services through an Affiliate Network. The merchant will pay a percentage/set amount once a transaction has completed. To find out more information on what merchants will pay - please visit the Join Merchants in your Affiliate Account.

What is an Affiliate?

An affiliate (also known as a publisher or advertiser) is somebody whose purpose is to drive traffic to a merchant. They can do this by featuring the banners, text links or products of a merchant on their site.

How do Affiliates make money

If a user is browsing on an affiliates site, sees a product they like and clicks on the link (which takes them through to the merchant page) the affiliate will not be paid.

If however, the user then purchases this product, the affiliate will be paid as they have provided the merchant with a customer.

What Kind of Affiliate am I?

True Content

True Content sites are generally informative sites that provide information relating to the products that are featured on their site.


Forums are interactive sites where internet users go to discuss issues that they are interested in.


Blogs are usually online diaries. They vary in content and will usually put links to products that they are ‘blogging’ about.

Shopping Directories

If you are a shopping directory affiliate you will simply provide a list of all the merchants on your site, including a short description about what they do and occasionally providing reviews of their services.

ShopWindow partners

Shopwindow partners make use of the shopwindow tools and functionality to help power their website.

Voucher Codes

Voucher code affiliates are given voucher codes by merchants which they feature on their site.

E-mail Marketing

E-mail marketing affiliates collect e-mail addresses of members of the public and send them details of offers/deals. They usually have information about the owners of the email addresses, such as their age, location, interests or hobbies, which they can use to split their database into sections and only email certain groups with certain offers or products.

Price Comparison

Price Comparison sites provide an easy to use service that allows users to compare the prices of specific products from a range of merchants.

Cashback and Reward

Cashback and Reward affiliates give a percentage of the commission that they earn back to their users. In the case of cashback affiliates, this is in the form of cash and in the case of reward affiliates, this is in the form of ‘points’ which can be redeemed to purchase other goods.

Corporate Intranet

If you provide companies with an intranet service that offers its users discounts at retailers then you would be a Corporate Intranet affiliate.

Social Networking

Social Networking affiliates are primarily used for socialising with friends but sometimes they have banners or applications that encourage users to shop.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

PPC affiliates promote merchants via search engines such as google. PPC stands for Pay Per Click, so a PPC ffiliate pays the search engine each time a user clicks on their link.

How do I get traffic to my site?

There are two main ways to get traffic to your site: SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (Pay per click)


Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via "natural" (or "organic") search results. The higher a site or page is listed or “ranked”, the more visible it will be as well as more relevant to the user. This can increase the volume and quality of traffic to your site.

In order to improve the ranking of your site you need to consider how search engines work and what people search for. Optimising your website will therefore involve editing and improving content in order to improve it’s natural search listings


Pay per click involves paying a search engine every time a user clicks on a link that to visit either a merchant's website or your own website. You will typically bid on keyword phrases relevant to your target market to ensure that you only pay when you believe there is a chance of a sale.

When a user types a keyword query matching your keyword list, your advertisement may be displayed. These advertisements are called sponsored links or sponsored ads, and appear adjacent to or above the "natural" or organic results on search engine results pages. Content websites commonly charge a fixed price for a click.

How does Affiliate Window track sales?

AW tracks all sales made using AW affiliate links by using cookies.

The tracking process:

1. The user (customer) visits an affiliate website

2. The user clicks through from the affiliate website to the merchant website

3. AW drop a cookie on the user’s personal computer (PC) to show the user has visited the affiliate website and clicked on an affiliate link

4. The user is directed to the merchant website and AW drop another cookie from the merchant’s domain

5. The user purchases an item from the merchant website

6. The merchant confirmation page contains the AW tracking tag

7. AW link the merchant tracking with the previous cookies dropped on the user’s PC

8. Information is passed to AW in the tracking tag, alloweing AW to record the sale (this information includes the merchant ID, referring affiliate ID, order reference number, sale value and commission groups (if applicable))

9. AW's system allocates the correct commission based on the information passed in the tracking tag and the pre-defined reward set by the merchant (either a set amount per tranaction or a percentage of the sale value)

10. Commissions are either approved or declined by the merchant dependent on the order being fulfilled

11. Affiliates can see these commissions in their AW interface

Notes on point 3:

The cookie which is dropped is referred by the Affiliate Window system and is stored on the affiliate window domain. This would be considered a 3rd party cookie from a merchant’s perspective. There are three kinds of links a user could click on to move from an affiliate site.

1) A text link. This would be an AW link behind a hyperlink in some text on the affiliate site.

2) A banner. This would be an AW link behind a merchant banner or logo on the affiliate site.

3) A product feed. This is when an affiliate uses a data-feed from a merchant to display particular products on their affiliate site, in conjunction with AW’s ShopWindow tool. There is an AW link behind each one of these products.

Notes on point 4:

The merchant would have already added a small script onto all pages which will allow for our system to send through a unique variable to then be stored on the domain URL. This would be considered a 1st Party cookie from a merchant’s perspective.

Notes on point 5:

A sale is only tracked if it is completed. This means that the user has to submit all information and payment details required by the merchant and reach the merchant ‘confirmation page’ before it will be tracked as a sale and an affiliate paid commission. If a user leaves the transaction part-way through the payment process the sale will not be tracked and the affiliate will receive no commission.

Notes on point 6:

When a merchant starts to work with Affiliate Window, they implement AW tracking on their site, so that AW can match this information to the information stored in the affiliate links, and in the cookies dropped on the user’s PC.

Notes on point 7:

Affiliate Window works on a ‘last referrer’ policy. This means that if a user visits 2 affiliate sites before purchasing something from a merchant, the last affiliate site they visit will receive the commission.

If both affiliates are using AW links, AW will overwrite the first cookie with a second one to show the second affiliate should receive the commission. This means there will only ever be one AW cookie per transaction on a user’s PC.

If one affiliate is using AW links and the other affiliate is using links for a different affiliate network, the merchant will provide data to AW and the other network to show which affiliate should receive the commission. This process is called ‘de-duplication’.

Affiliate Marketing Reports

eConsultancy UK Affiliate Census - 2009

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