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Is a Higher Cookie Window Better for Your Brand’s Affiliate Program?

June 16, 2022

One of the critical components of an affiliate program is the cookie day window. While there are many different components of an affiliate program, the cookie day window is what decides how long someone who clicks your affiliate’s link has to make a purchase before it’s no longer counted as a sale for that affiliate.

That being said, is it better to have one that’s higher? Or better to have one that’s lower? Here’s everything you need to know about setting the cookie window for your brand’s affiliate program.

What Is a Cookie Window?

First things first, what is a cookie window? This is a metric that you can establish as part of your brand’s affiliate program that indicates how long a customer has to make a purchase before they’re no longer counted as a commission sale.

For example, if your affiliate cookie window is 30 days, when a customer clicks an affiliate link, they have up to 30 days to make a purchase for the purchase to count toward the affiliate’s commissions.

General Trends for Cookie Windows Overall

The most common trend is to see around a 30-day cookie window. Some brands may have much shorter windows, while some may have windows as long as a full year, but anywhere from 30-90 days is most common.

When to Create a Longer Cookie Window

Traditionally, affiliates have always wanted a longer cookie window, while brands have always wanted a shorter window. In fact, many affiliates will be wary of signing up for an affiliate program that has shorter than a 30-day cookie window, as they may feel like the company is trying to poach their commissions. On the other hand, brands are typically wary of a cookie window set any longer than 30 days, as they might worry that they’re paying unnecessary commissions to affiliates that they don’t need to pay.

However, it turns out that this might be something your brand is worried about unnecessarily. According to AMNavigator, around 85% of all affiliate sales are made same-day, immediately after clicking a link or just a few hours later. Only 1% of all affiliate sales take place after 15 days, with many of those sales taking place before day 45.

What does this mean for your brand? It means that you can set your cookie window essentially as long as you’d like. Sure, it can feel like you’re giving up more affiliate commissions, but the data shows that almost all of your affiliates’ commission purchases will come before the first week is up, with the vast majority happening in just a single day.

A longer cookie window will also make your affiliates feel like you care about them making a commission, which can improve your affiliate motivation and ensure your affiliates put in as much work as possible to create affiliate sales. Because a longer cookie window will likely have a negligible impact on how much commission you actually pay to your affiliates, it’s typically best to opt for the longer window.

Refersion’s Built-In Cookie Window

The default cookie window for newly-created offers at Refersion is 90 days. This is longer than most affiliate programs, which tend to offer 30 days, and that can create higher value for your affiliates, especially when it comes to affiliates that are actively looking for new marketing partners. Additionally, almost 65% of affiliates generate their traffic by blogging, and bloggers may need a slightly longer cookie tail to get their sales in.

A 90-day cookie window is a great way to bring in new affiliates, show your existing affiliates that you really care, and ensure that your affiliates don’t feel like you’re trying to steal commissions that they feel like “rightfully belong to them.” Reducing the number of unqualified sales showing up for your affiliates allows you to build motivation and create a better framework between you and your affiliates.

How to Change Cookie Windows for Your Business’s Affiliate Program

If you decide that you want a cookie window that’s different from what you’ve previously been doing, there are a few steps to take.

  • First of all, it may be a good idea to do a bit of research within your brand. Make sure your existing affiliates are excited about moving the affiliate program; this will probably be easy if you want to extend your cookie window past where it already is.
  • Next, change it within your affiliate management system. It’s often under the “Advanced Options” section.
  • Then, make sure you send out an email to your affiliate program letting them know that you’ve changed the cookie window. Highlight how this will help you and your affiliates.

Changing these cookie windows can be beneficial for all parties, but it’s important that you keep your affiliates in the loop about it.

The Bottom Line

Generally, you shouldn’t be concerned or scared about higher cookie windows. The vast majority of your affiliates’ purchases will come in within the first seven days, which means that a longer cookie window will simply provide more security to your affiliates.

In an industry where trust and communication is potentially the most important thing, a longer affiliate cookie window allows you to give your affiliates more security without really changing anything for your company.

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Written by

Ruthie Carey
Ruthie Carey