The Best Affiliate Tracking Platforms of 2017
Feel like it’s time for you to check a list of the best affiliate tracking platforms you can use in affiliate marketing?
Go for it!
This industry has one not-so-secretive secret: tracking, analyzing and optimizing all your actions is the name of the game!
In particular, Media Buying is all about performing a thorough and complete analysis and then tracking all your campaigns and actions.
And even more important: are you losing money with a campaign?
If not, how much are you doing with it? And where is it all happening?
Tools such as tracking platforms are essential to simplify testing, organize your campaigns, and analyze the actions you’ll have to take.
In case you wanna scale up volumes, these tools are simply crucial!
Affiliate Tracking Solutions
The purpose of this article is to give you a review of the 4 most well-known affiliate tracking platforms in the market (Voluum, ThriveTracker, AdsBridge, FunnelFlux) and to compare them qualitatively and quantitatively.
These are all pretty well-established platforms in the market with a lot of experience in the industry.
At the end, we’ll come up with cool conclusions about which one deserves the highest grade.
It will be difficult to decide but let’s begin this journey!
Voluum is one of the most popular affiliate tracking platforms around. It has a whole lotta features, which makes it one of the most complete platforms in the market.
Voluum doesn’t have a self-hosted platform service. It’s all about cloud-hosting. This approach allows for a focus on the cloud-hosted service and its features.
The cloud service is an awesome motivation for many hopeful affiliate marketers who wanna get to know this platform. You know you won’t need to invest in servers or their management.
In fact, all services are managed by the platform, which really does mean that a heavy burden has been taken away from your life.
The fact that Voluum has data centers in different countries will surely have a positive impact on your performance. The click loss and latency will be lower, which means more profit for the user.
Cloud hosting offers other advantages, such as data protection. You’ll definitely feel more secure against third parties than if you manage your own server, or shared servers.
We’re not saying that this is true for everybody.
Even so, if you’re a pro on managing servers, we imagine you’d like to have your own solution. This is a very interesting solution for newbies who are only at the start of their road to success, and also for experienced clients who don’t wanna waste their time.
Integration and Capabilities
Voluum has created a lot of cool services which really simplify your life. The fact that these guys have also founded an ad network – ZeroPark – also helps you understand why the platform is made for the user.
An easy integration with a variety of platforms – it’s clear that one of the most important features in a tracking platform is how simple it is to integrate traffic sources and affiliate networks. On Voluum, you’ve got a great number of platforms which are already created and ready to go.
For example, it’s very easy to integrate with any one of these predefined traffic sources:
Wanna know more about the Voluum integration?
A great variety of stats – Voluum has a great variety of stats you can check and analyze.
You can analyze Affiliate Network, Countries, Carriers, Clicks, Browsers, Browser Version, City, Connection Type, Conversions (clickid info), Country, Day, Day of the Week, Device Type, Hour of the Day, IP, ISP, Landers, Language, Mobile Carrier, Models, Month, OS, OS Version, Offers, Referrer, Referrer Domain, or State/Region, among others.
As you can see, you’ve got a lot of stats which allow you to make the best possible solutions after thoroughly checking your detailed analysis. It really goes deep into granular results.
Simple Stats Visualization – the goal is not only to have a great number of stats but also to think about how to present them to users. Voluum makes it happen, alright!
It’s implemented tree structure tables, which makes it simple to both visualize and analyze. Moreover, it’s super fast.
Split tests – a split test is really gonna be essential as you increase the number of campaigns in which you use Single Offers. Split traffic, analyze the best offers and drive 100% of traffic to your best one.
Landing pages – Single offers and landing pages are obviously related. A good landing page for the correct offer will boost your revenues high into the sky. A landing page rotator is paramount to test and split traffic. When you find the right combination, you know what to do. Drive all your traffic to it, like a master who makes money faster!
Costs are one of the main points to consider when you choose a tracking platform.
Check the following image to see the packs Voluum has got for you:
As for other platforms, the prices vary, depending on the features you want and – even more important – on the volumes you wanna reach.
Prices: Voluum is great when it comes to this aspect. Indeed, it even has a calculator on the homepage, which informs you about how much you’ll pay.
We can tell you that Voluum isn’t the cheapest solution.
The question you should ask yourself is: regardless of the costs, is it suitable for my traffic and the way I work?
If you wanna give it a try, sign up with Voluum here!
ThriveTracker is one of the most important platforms in the market.
As soon as you go through the registration process, you receive a presentation email that’s pretty well-structured explaining the three main products the company has to offer:
- ThriveTracker – the main product, the tracking platform, to be used in all existing traffic sources (Ad Networks, DSPs, Facebook, Twitter and other traffic sources)
- POFpro Ad Platform – the aim of this project is to easily integrate affiliates with the “Plenty of Fish” dating network. This platform simplifies the life of all affiliates. It’s super intuitive and allows you to scale up in a short period of time.
- AdultAdsPro Platform – a great way to connect tracking platforms with ad networks. This new feature allows you to automate media buying:
- Easy Campaign creation – you can easily create campaigns in bulk.
- Clean data – you have access to granular data such as specific browsers, hour or targets.
- Banners optimization – it’ll be easy for you to get combinations between the best banners, spots or campaigns.
- Split test – you can always split the traffic between your landing pages and check the best-performing ones.
Apart from these fantastic features, you’ll also be able to take advantage of awesome algorithms which automatically optimize your campaigns based on CTRs, ROIs and loss.
These are interesting features, no doubt about it. Even so, let’s focus on the main product this platform has got for you – ThriveTracker
Just like on all other tracking platforms, the Hosting and Pricing are very important. We’ll discuss the pricing below so let’s now focus on the options available.
If you wanna run a trial period, you need to use it as a self-hosted platform. This means you’ll need a server to run it.
But not all news are bad news! You get that sweet optimal performance with the Cloud Service that’s connected with the Amazon cloud infrastructure. Isn’t it cool? Fast redirects worldwide!
ThriveTracker is so sure of its performance that – according to the platform – “no tracker performs faster than ThriveTracker.” The company is so certain that it even allows you to provide a competitor’s campaign link. Then, it’ll show you that indeed its platform is faster than the competition.
There are many solutions that come along with the cloud solution:
- You’ll have access to a great number of domains for a single install
- A cloaker/Bot filter is included in the pack
- You’ve got access to multiple-user access
- You can control and restrict options for each sub-user
- A Landing Page Pixel for click tracking is available. It’s a great feature if you work on Facebook, Twitter, Adwords among others, because you can set your landing page as a final destination URL. It’s perfect to use with CDN, as it decreases the latency and therefore increases performance.
Integration and Capabilities
ThriveTracker is simple to integrate and it’s “Mobile friendly” as it’s specifically optimized to have the lowest latency on mobile traffic. You’ve got data for country, carrier, OS, device, browser and other parameters.
You can set up a group of rules to redirect traffic to different landings or offers. You can set dayparting and weekparting, setting up hours and days.
Additionally, you’re able to create split tests:
- Test different offers for the same landing page
- Set up different landing pages for one specific offer
And you get to do this without having to edit a single line of code.
With so much data available, you’ve just gotta test and retest. Be creative, check the stats and come up with the right conclusions!
As expected from a big tracking system solution, ThriveTracker has got reports with a high degree of information. Its tree reports structure is very clear and you can combine and analyze a large number of variables.
You’re able to group by Campaigns Created, Country, Carrier, Devices, Landing, Creative among other parameters.
For these combinations, you’ll be able to visualize stats as Clicks, Conversions, CTR, CR, Costs, Profits, among others.
These detailed reports are excellent for a full and complete analysis of your traffic which will allow each platform user to get the best of their campaign.
In other words, it’s a revenue booster!
As for other platforms, costs will always depend on the type of service you want to subscribe. If you don’t have problems setting up servers, the Self-Hosted service can be a solution. It costs 99$ per month but be aware of additional expenses arising from the number of events and database increase.
If you wanna really scale up, you may consider hiring a new staff member to handle all the technical problems which may come about.
If you prefer using a managed cloud service, you’ve got different prices, depending on the volumes you’ll send. The starting price is 299$ per month for 200k events per day.
However, the price will increase according to each of these volumes:
- 500k events per day 499$ per month
- 1M events per day 799$ per month
- 2M events per day 1 199$ per month
- 3M events per day 1 599$ per month
- 5M events per day 2 399$ per month
- 10M events per day 4 499$ per month
Yes, we know. It’s expensive but may be important for you to have. Don’t forget about the cloud service upgrades and the amount of work/expenses expected if you select the self-hosted service.
If you have low volumes, a self-hosted solution seems to be the most interesting but when you scale up the volumes, and take those extra expenses into account… that’s when you’ll probably end up going for the cloud service.
AdsBridge is one of the biggest tracking solutions in the market and it provides a number of advantages in comparison with other trackers.
It’s also one of the tracking solutions that large players prefer. We’re referring to affiliate networks which put their entire tracking game in this platform’s hands.
The platform also has an easy integration with some of its “trusted partners” which allows you do an integration in less than 5 minutes.
Integration and Capabilities
If you’re gonna invest money on a tracker, the service you’re gonna be paying for better be a well-established player with good partners in the industry!
Fortunately, AdsBridge is a good option due to the fact that it allows you to have direct integration with a number of its “Trusted Partners”.
These are basically well-established affiliate networks and traffic sources. You can do an S2S integration with them in less than 5 minutes.
What this means is that some of the dopest affiliate networks in the industry have partnered up with AdsBridge in order to make the integration much smoother.
Numbers, Numbers and More Numbers
Another thing you’ve gotta take into account is the way AdsBridge presents its actual “product”: the stats you’re actually looking to get from all the different tools, offers, traffic sources, etc, that you work with.
When it comes to this, AdsBridge is actually quite user-friendly since you can:
- Single out and check each different feature with clear cut ways on how they work, on the left side.
- You can group by Campaigns Created, Country, Carrier, Devices, Landing, Creative, among other parameters.
- You can also visualize stats as Clicks, Conversions, CTR, CR, Costs, Profits, among others.
The stats provided can be very detailed and will let you know where and which optimizations you should be doing quite fast. They’re constantly being updated, with rare delays of 2 minutes tops.
As we’ve mentioned before, the platform is quite user-friendly and this does help in the long run when you’ve got multiple campaigns running at the same time.
This is particularly useful if you’re an affiliate network that’s using this tracker, or someone with massive volumes overall in terms of campaigns.
Landing Pages & Split Testing for AdsBridge
Time to check a quote taken from the features page presented by the company running this tracker.
“Landing Page Builder & Hosting – Create your own landers hosted on our servers, or choose landing pages from our extensive library of templates. Customize them, split test, and improve in just a few clicks.”
What does this mean?
It means you can do split tests, create landing pages (AdsBridge even has templates for you to use in case you want to), customize, adjust, and improve them.
This is huge. It basically means you can split test different LPs and, even better, that you’ve got pre made templates you can then tweak and optimize “in just a few clicks”.
AdsBridge works on a cloud hosting system with its own servers. This system has both advantages and disadvantages.
The main advantage is the fact that it’s a more powerful system than Shared hosting, and resources are therefore sent to the end “user” (i.e. you) on a need-by-request basis right away.
This is great, because it provides the services you need while keeping costs down and it also means you’re not depending on actual physical hardware issues.
Here’s what you can read on the platform’s homepage: “no downloads, no additional settings, no extra spending on servers and hosting.”
The pricing of AdsBridge is neither too expensive nor too cheap.
Compared to other tracking solutions on the market, we reckon it’s slightly cheaper but it’s not something that’s gonna leave you shouting with joy, thinking about how superior AdsBridge is when compared with the other solutions available.
You can be billed monthly (as you can see in the image below) or annually and the price is slightly cheaper (15% discount) if you happen to be billed annually.
That being said, as your tracking needs grow, the platform does start to have its price advantage as a big plus, especially in its large scale “exclusive deals” solution, if you’re driving significant volumes of traffic.
There are networks which use this tracker every single day. This means the savings must be significant, indeed!
Super important: the first plan is very cheap. Even so, features such as the templates, detection of unique users, CPM cost models, auto optimizations, and “Trusted partner” affiliate networks integrations are unavailable.
This means that the second plan may be a better choice, if you’re looking to take advantage of awesome features while saving some cash.
It seems that this platform is somewhat biased towards affiliates who can drive a huge volume of traffic.
You can signup for Thrive here!
One of the most well-known self-hosted tracking platforms, FunnelFlux is the world’s only “visual tracker”.
It allows you to create, optimize and adjust campaigns using a purely visual interface, requiring you to use zero coding skills!
Integration and Initial Setup
FunnelFlux works on postback by an S2S basis and is quite similar to the other tracking systems as far as integration with affiliate networks goes.
That being said, one thing that does make this tracker stand out is the fact that – being self-hosted – the initial setup will require some technical skills which the team at FunnelFlux is happy to help with (if you make a payment for an additional fee of 49$).
Stats – The Quality
The stats provided by this tracker are amazing. First, you’ve got the ability to track by GEOs, Carriers, IPs, Operating Systems, among others. In total, you’ve got about 60 KPI you can use.
You’ve got Custom tracking fields, built in statistical Significance analysis.
The Powerful Statistics Engine and Funnel Heatmaps allow you to easily find bottlenecks or gold mines in a matter of seconds in a visually stimulating way.
The stats are constantly updated and can work with Affiliate and direct Vendor funnels. API integration is also possible.
Being self-hosted means you need to be sure your own server capacity can manage the volume of info you’re handling.
You also have what’s known as the “Lifetime Value of Leads” which allows you to see whether the leads you’re paying for have a good return for the investment you’re making.
More importantly, you’ve also got a Visual funnel builder which allows you to build and adjust the flows for the different campaigns you’re currently running.
Landing Pages & Split Testing
In this department, FunnelFlux is sort of a mixed bag. You have the ability to do split tests and you can use any kind of landing pages. That’s great, no doubt about it.
The “Visual Funnel Builder” makes the whole process very user-friendly as you don’t need any major technical skills to create the different flows for the different campaigns.
You’ll literally “drag” the different parameters according to your needs. In other words, once you have the Landing Pages, you’ll just need to connect them to the tracker and start using the interface to easily make the campaigns run how you want them to run!
There’s a catch, though!
FunnelFlux does not allow you to create Landing Pages. Yup. You’ve read it. Instead, you’ll need an external software to create your landers, which is a bit annoying.
Using a third party software can increase your costs by either licenses you need to pay for or just the additional time you have to waste going through the process.
Hosting & Security
FunnelFlux is a self-hosted tracker. What does this mean for you?
It means you’ll be responsible for finding the servers and physical structures needed to handle the info. At the same time, you’ll be paying the bill for those servers.
FunnelFlux is automatically updated, so you don’t need to do anything extra in order to get the latest version.
This does have the advantage of being a system you’ve created yourself which can be wicked in case you’ve got the resources to pay, someone to watch over it full time, and be a sort of in-house specialist in the matter.
On the other hand, it also means you need to increase your capacity, since your tracking needs increase. This basically means that the cost “advertised” as being very cheap is not the total cost of the entire infrastructure.
The main security threat is simple to grasp: in case you’re hacked, your entire system can be compromised which is less likely to happen on a cloud hosting system.
You need to ensure your hosting is well protected with backups in case issues arise.
It costs 99$ per month. However, you must understand that there are additional expenses popping up because of the number of events and the database increase.
You may find the base price for “unlimited tracking” appealing, but you need to plan for other expenses a self-hosted solution requires you to deal with.
If you wanna really scale up, you should consider hiring a new staff member to handle all the technical problems that may come your way.
You can also pay 99$ for help in the initial setup and installation of the tracker. Each license allows you to install one single instance of FunnelFlux. This means that subsequent installs have to be purchased separately.
Luckily, each subsequent install is sold for 49$ each, roughly half of the price of the first one.
Affiliate Trackers: Pricing Comparison
It’s tough to really know the actual price that each platform could cost, due to either discounts or simulated costs.
We simulated costs for each platform but advise you to go into detail about how much a server can cost for your traffic. We also suggest you get specialized personnel, in case you need it.
We’ve mainly computed prices based on packets, costs per event, and simulated server/technician costs (mainly for FunnelFlux). Some of the volumes will showcase obvious gaps due to the fact that there’s no info about the prices.
As soon as we got the values, we filled the plot with further info.
We then created the following plot:
This plot showcases that – for lower volumes – the prices are more similar than for larger volumes. This is mainly due to the complex problem of managing data.
Yes, it’s quite the tricky and elaborate thing to work with.
It’s clear that Voluum and ThriveTracker are the platforms with higher costs – something which is related to the service they handle. Don’t forget that these two platforms are connected to cloud services whereas FunnelFlux is just a self-hosted service.
Does this mean that self-hosted is the solution?
No! Self-hosted may be cheaper but it can quickly become expensive if you don’t know how to handle it. You have to consider the maintenance personnel, servers, features and latency speed, as these are very important factors.
Speed problems can really make you lose lots of revenue and – with cloud-service platforms – you’re always sure that the platform keeps you updated and you don’t have to worry about it.
Lower costs may cause lower revenues.
We both advise you to analyze the market, understand what your needs are, and try to adapt your strategy.
Trust these two affiliate marketing geniuses: we know that you’ll begin experiencing one platform. With time, though, you’ll scale up and try another one which is more suited to your specific needs.
We hope this article helped you, clarifying the positive/negative points of each affiliate tracking platform.
Just remember that there isn’t one perfect solution for everyone – only a solution which can fit your needs.