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The future of affiliate marketing in a crumbling cookie world, ET BrandEquity

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The future of affiliate marketing in a crumbling cookie world, ET BrandEquity

Image used for representative purpose (iStock)

Ratan Tata backed company Earnkaro is a website that offers users an opportunity to earn an income via affiliate marketing. With the third party cookie crumbling, Earnkaro is adopting local storage, a technology that stores data directly in the user’s browser. Local storage uses the capabilities of a user’s browser, to establish tracking mechanisms. This technique involves storing data on the user’s device to track interactions and transactions, operating independently from traditional cookie-based systems. It enables Earnkaro to accurately track when a transaction leads to cash flow to a partner site, by storing information about the transaction directly on the user’s device. Essentially in a browser, there are three types of storage – localStorage, sessionStorage and cookies. This is where first party, second party and third party data come from. Earnkaro also uses a technology called server to server integration – which it already has in place with its partner sites like Myntra, Nykaa and Flipkart.

“As we transition away from using cookies, we’re adopting a method known as server-to-server integration. Instead of relying on cookies to track purchases and activity, we monitor these transactions through a session that’s saved on the retailer’s server. Once a purchase is made, the transaction details are tracked and shared directly with the affiliates from the server, eliminating the need for third-party data sources,” says Rohan Bhargava, co-founder of Earnkaro and Cashkaro.

Earnkaro is 60% into implementing these technologies to prepare for a world where the third party cookie has crumbled. The main reason a cookie was needed is to solve for the challenge of marketing attribution challenge. Everytime someone visits a web link from a certain source, the cookie captures the source of traffic.

Addressing the attribution challenges in the absence of third-party cookies, Pradeep Kumaar, the CEO of NP Digital India, mentions the viability of contextual advertising and new tools like Google Fledge as potential alternatives for tracking engagement and behavior. “Contextual advertising and technologies like Google Fledge represent a new frontier for tracking user engagement in a privacy-conscious world,” he says.

What needs to happen at a technology level, for affiliate marketing to carry on smoothly is that the cookie needs to be replaced. “If anybody carries out a transaction, when the pixel fires right at the transaction stage, you identify who is the last click attribution – who’s the person with the last cookie. Obviously with the world we’re moving to, you can’t store third party cookies. We’re using local storage instead of the cookie for last click attribution,” says Bhargava.

Bhargava explains that another alternative is using a Mobile Measurement Partner (MMP), such as Branch or AppsFlyer, which is used to determine where a user’s last interaction came from before making a transaction, whether it’s Google, Facebook, or another source. MMPs are crucial for advertising in an in-app environment where cookies aren’t used. As we move towards a world without cookies, brands are incorporating MMPs’ software tools, known as SDKs (Software Development Kits), into their websites. SDKs provide the necessary tools to integrate with these MMPs, offering a unified view of where traffic is coming from. This approach ensures a consistent source of information, avoiding discrepancies between different data sources. According to Bhargava, using these technologies, the affiliate industry can smoothly transition to operating without cookies.

The world of affiliate marketing is bracing for a significant shift as Google prepares to phase out third-party cookies from its Chrome web browser by the third quarter of 2024. On January 04 2024, Google Chrome began its phase out of third party cookies from its browser to 1% of its users. With the removal of these cookies, marketers will need to find alternative ways to gather user data for targeted advertising and personalisation. For affiliates, who generally work on a ‘pay per performance basis’ – the challenge lies in tracking user journeys from an affiliate link to a purchase, which could potentially affect the accuracy of attributing sales to the correct affiliate.

The phase out of the third party cookie is largely driven by growing user concerns around privacy as well as regulations passed by other countries such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). GDPR was passed in the European Union in May 2018. Under this regulation, websites cannot store third party cookies without user consent. CCPA was passed in the same year and it mandates that websites must offer an opt-out option for users regarding cookies that sell personal information.

30% of Paisabazaar’s business comes from its affiliate marketing efforts, but Sachin Vashishtha, the chief marketing officer at Paisabazaar is not worried. “Affiliate marketing makes up a small part of our media mix spending. However, it’s worth noting that affiliates that rely on third party tools to capture convergence would be in trouble, with the demise of third party cookies, these tools would face challenges and so would affiliate marketers who use these tools,” he says.

Paisabazaar relies on first party cookies and data and does not encourage the use of third party tools. Vashishtha also mentions that Paisabazaar has server side attribution in place. Affiliate marketing campaigns for the brand are only limited to a few channels like email marketing.

“We are anyway advertising on platforms like Google and Facebook and that’s why we discourage affiliate campaigns on those platforms,” he says. He emphasises that in general, the brand’s reduced dependence on third party cookies and data means it will not be affected overall by the cookie phase out. He also stresses the importance of investing in robust data architecture and having a good CDP in place to try and capture as much data as possible using first party cookies. These platforms help create unified customer profiles from direct interactions, significantly reducing the dependency on third-party data.

In a world moving away from third-party cookies, affiliate marketers must explore fresh avenues for partnership with influencers and content creators. With influencers also dabbling in affiliate marketin, adapting strategies to maintain these collaborations becomes essential. “Most social media users are creators and influencers who focus on first party data. They can directly present to their audiences about a brand and can share the link and affiliates and marketers can make use of the data from that link,” says Kumaar.

Publishers will also have to figure out ways of diversifying traffic sources in the new cookie-less environment and according to Kumaar, the only way to do this is by creating more interactive and engaging content. Consent based marketing which builds trust between the consumer and the brand is the way forward as the third party cookie crumbles.

Kumaar also underscores the potential of deep learning and AI in maintaining hyper-personalised targeting capabilities through contextual advertising, similar to the precision previously enabled by third-party cookies. This advancement is beneficial for advertisers by facilitating more accurate campaign planning and audience targeting based on consumer behavior insights. “The integration of deep learning and AI with contextual advertising brings us closer to achieving the level of personalisation we had with third-party cookies,” Kumaar remarks.

  • Published On Mar 15, 2024 at 08:14 AM IST

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Red Lobster Speaks Out on ‘Misunderstood’ Bankruptcy Filing

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Red Lobster Speaks Out on 'Misunderstood' Bankruptcy Filing

It may be the end of an era for beloved seafood chain Red Lobster, which officially declared bankruptcy on Monday after months of speculation and dozens of abrupt restaurant closures.

Now, the company is speaking out to loyal customers — and investigating the role that its shrimp supplier may have played in its demise.

Related: Red Lobster Suddenly Shutters Dozens of Locations Without Warning Employees, Begins Auctioning Off Equipment

In a letter posted to social media, Red Lobster thanked customers for their nearly five decades of loyalty and assured the masses that the chain wasn’t going anywhere.

“Bankruptcy is a word that is often misunderstood. Filing for bankruptcy does not mean we are going out of business,” Red Lobster wrote. “In fact, it means just the opposite. It is a legal process that allows us to make changes to our business and our cost structure so that Red Lobster can continue as a stronger company going forward.”

Red Lobster noted that companies including Delta Airlines and Hertz “emerged stronger” after filing for Chapter 11 (Delta in September 2005, Hertz in May 2020) and found ways to bounce back.

“Birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and yes, weddings. We’ve been here for them all,” the chain penned. “Red Lobster is determined to be there for these moments for generations to come.”

Red Lobster’s downfall was a slow burn, primarily blamed on an $11 million loss in November 2023 due to the chain rollout of an “Endless Shrimp” promotion. The deal offered customers all the shrimp they could eat for $20, and it proved to be a bit too popular.

Last week, it was reported that stores had begun shuttering without warning around the country, with dozens auctioning off all of their furniture and equipment online and some employees claiming they were given no notice ahead of time.

In a filing on Sunday, Red Lobster CEO Jonathan Tibus called out former CEO Paul Kenny and Red Lobster’s seafood supplier and owner, Thai Union, regarding decisions made surrounding the “Endless Shrimp” promotion and that Red Lobster is “currently investigating the circumstances” around the decision to make the promotion permanent instead of limited-time.

Related: Endless Shrimp Deal Is Too Popular, Red Lobster Loses $11M

“I understand that Thai Union exercised an outsized influence on the Company’s shrimp purchasing,” Tibus wrote. “[Red Lobster is] exploring the impact of the control Thai Union exerted, in concert with Mr. Kenny and other Thai Union-affiliated entities and individuals, and whether actions taken in light of these parties’ varying interests were appropriate and consistent with applicable duties and obligations to Red Lobster.”

Thai Union completed its purchase of Red Lobster in 2020.



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UMass Dartmouth Commencement Speaker Gives Grads $1000 Each

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UMass Dartmouth Commencement Speaker Gives Grads $1000 Each

The best commencement speeches are often motivational and thought-provoking, leaving new graduates optimistic as they head into the “real world.”

But for the Class of 2024 at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, new grads walked away with more than just a wealth of knowledge — they left their ceremony with an extra $1,000 in their pockets.

Related: ‘There Is More To Life Than Work’: Bill Gates Delivers Emotional Message To Graduates About Learning To Take A Break

Last week, the founder and CEO of Granite Telecommunications, Robert Hale Jr., spoke to grads at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth about their futures and shared a story about a time when his business suffered a $1 billion loss in just one day to explain the importance of perseverance through failure.

“It’s okay to fail,” Hale told graduates. “Life will give you challenges and if you take those challenges you’ll fail from time to time — don’t worry about it … don’t fear failure, understand that it’s just part of the process, and if you use that fear of failure to motivate yourself, you’ll be better for it.”

Then, as he wrapped up, he shocked the audience by announcing he was giving each graduate graduate $1,000 — but there was a catch.

“These trying times have heightened the need for sharing, caring, and giving,” Hale told students. “Our community needs you and your generosity more than ever.”

The students were given two envelopes with $500 each — one was intended for the students to keep for themselves while the other was for them to give to someone else in need.

Related: Sheryl Sandberg’s Advice to Grads: Banish Self-Doubt, Dream Bigger and Lean In, Always

“As the degree conferral was about to begin, Hale came forward and let the graduates know he had one more bit of advice for them. He told the eager crowd that for him and his wife Karen, ‘the greatest joys we’ve had in our life have been the gift of giving,'” UMass Dartmouth said in a release. “Hale let the Class of 2024 know that the two large duffle bags being brought up on stage by security were packed with envelopes full of cash.”

There were roughly 1,200 students in UMass Dartmouth’s 2024 graduating class.

Hale’s current net worth is an estimated $5.4 billion.



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Stay Prepared on the Road with This $80 Tire Inflator

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Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Business travel is inherently risky because driving poses certain innate hazards. If you’re a business leader sending yourself, team members, or employees out on the road, the least you can do is equip them with the tools they need to operate as safely as possible and get out of a jam if they happen to run into one.

A great tool that’s designed to help fix flat tires, this HOTO Air Pump Pro Portable Air Compressor and Tire Inflator, is on sale for just $79.99 (reg. $119). Promised to be 85% faster than competitors, this four-preset air pump is made to be able to fill a tire in at most five minutes.

Running on a 12V pump motor, this fast-working pump features a powerful battery life that can charge as many as 15 under-inflated tires within a single charge. When you’re filling up, the pump also prevents you from overdoing things with its worry-free automatic stop that ceases operations when the proper inflation is met.

This fantastic tire pump can serve as a great safety tool for business travelers. It can also promote exercise and recreation when used to pump up sports balls and bike tires.

The versatility and quality of this small, compact device have added up to make it a hit amongst users and critics alike. It’s even earned a coveted nomination from MoMa Design.

Don’t forget that for a limited time only, this HOTO Air Pump Pro Portable Air Compressor and Tire Inflator is on sale for just $79.99 (reg. $119).

StackSocial prices subject to change.

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