The best way to accurately track and measure your campaign performance is to use tracking links. Measurement platforms, like CAKE, leverage tracking links in order to track a consumer’s click and conversion on a digital marketing campaign and attribute it back to traffic source to measure campaign performance. However, as the industry changes, there are times where it is more effective to use a different tracking method, referred to as direct linking. For example:
- Measuring Google and Facebook ad performance: tracking links account for the large majority of how performance marketers track and measure campaign performance. But media platforms like Google and Facebook often reject third-party tracking links.
- Minimizing redirects: tracking links can lead to multiple redirects, which in some cases create a delay that leads to a poor consumer experience.
Direct linking addresses both of these challenges.
What is Direct Linking?
Direct linking allows affiliates and publishers to send consumers directly to an advertiser’s landing page from an advertisement, email, or other marketing material and attribute conversions and campaign performance back to the affiliate or publisher that generated the traffic.
With CAKE’s Direct Linking feature, marketers can utilize the landing page URL with appended query string tracking parameters — instead of a tracking link — as the destination for the consumer when clicking on the ad.
Challenge one: Track and measure campaigns on media platforms like Google and Facebook
Media platforms want to validate the landing page that the consumer is being sent to, but with tracking links, that destination page could be different every time the ad is clicked on. So, platforms like Google and Facebook will often block tracking links to make sure marketers use the actual landing page URL in the ad and create a consistent ad experience for the consumer.
This enables performance marketers to quickly and easily spin up campaigns with media platforms like Facebook and Google that might reject tracking links, and effectively measure and optimize those campaigns.
Challenge two: Minimize redirects from tracking links
You can also use direct linking to minimize redirects that occur with tracking links. In some cases, multiple redirects can cause longer loading times between the ad and the landing page which results in poor user experience and consumer drop-off.
By using CAKE to read tracking parameters behind the scenes, you can send the consumer directly to the landing page. This reduces redirects and minimizes the time between clicking on the ad and getting to the landing page, helping affiliates and networks create a better consumer experience and improve Conversion Rates (CVR) and Earnings per Click (EPC) metrics.
Considerations when using Direct Linking
In the cases when you need to use direct linking instead of tracking links, keep these considerations in mind.
- Direct linking does not allow for first-party cookies. It relies on third-party cookies for tracking and measuring conversions, which is highly inaccurate given today’s browser restrictions on third-party cookies. To utilize this type of tracking, you will need to use cookieless conversion tracking (also known as server-to-server tracking) with a Postback URL.
- Direct linking does not allow for monetizing click traffic using 302 redirects. For instance, if the campaign is capped or expired, or if there is a more optimal landing page for the consumer’s region or device, a direct link would not be able to send the consumer to the optimized landing page because the consumer would have already been redirected to the landing page URL used within the ad.
Having a good understanding of the pros and cons of each type of click tracking method will help you make the best choice to accurately measure your campaign performance. Here at CAKE, our best practice is to use tracking links to accurately measure campaign performance and optimize click traffic, however, if you’re experiencing the challenges detailed above, then direct linking might be a good solution for you.
If you are a CAKE customer, please contact your CAKE Account Manager or Technical Support today to learn more about direct linking within CAKE. Or visit our Knowledge Base article for details on how to configure Direct Linking in CAKE.
To learn more about CAKE and our measurement solutions, reach us here.
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