Postback URL

Everything you need to know about Postback URLs, how to use them, where to use them and what you gain from using them.

A Postback URL is a kind of URL that an application server will call when a conversion occurs. Postback URLs are mostly used by affiliate marketers, since they usually don't have the option to add a tracking pixel on the merchant's "thank you" page.

In affiliate marketing, a Postback URL is generally called when a conversion is recorded by the affiliate network. When the Postback URL is called, it informs the affiliate marketer's tracking software about the conversion.

While Postback URLs are extremely important for digital marketers, it is not a topic that is well covered or well understood by the people that need it the most.

For this particular reason we decided to create this site where we will constantly add information and articles about Postback URLs.

Why affiliate marketers need to track conversions?

Affiliate marketers need to track conversions in order to be able to attribute conversions to their traffic sources, content or marketing channels.

What types of conversions can be tracked with postback urls?

  1. Conversions happening over the phone.

  2. Conversions happening in Affiliate Networks.

  3. Conversions happening in a payment system (stripe, paypal).

  4. Conversion happening in a mobile app.

  5. Recurring conversions from SaaS subscriptions.

What are the parties involved in the postback URL tracking method?

The postback tracking method always involved two parties:

The Marketer

The marketer does two things in the postback URL tracking method:

  1. The marketer sends the traffic to the advertiser.

  2. The marketer receives conversion information from the advertiser.

The Advertiser

The advertiser does two things in the postback URL tracking method:

  1. The advertiser records the traffic it receives from the marketer.

  2. The advertiser sends conversion data to the marketer's postback url.

How postback URL works?

In order for the postback tracking method to work, the marketer and the advertiser must use a common key that will allow them to transfer the tracking data.

The key is usually called the "Click ID", and it is generated by the tracking server during the click event.

The URL below is the affiliate link the marketer is sending traffic to.

https://your-affiliate-link.com?aid=2323&oid=1&subid={click_id}

a. During the click event, the affiliate tracking server substitutes the {click_id} token with an auto-generated and unique value like: qzJHbHkxYjTu1esKmBrAwg

https://your-affiliate-link.com?aid=2323&oid=1&subid=qzJHbHkxYjTu1esKmBrAwg

b. When the visitor lands on the advertiser landing page, the parameters from the URL are stored by the affiliate network's system.

c. Upon conversion, the affiliate network fires the Postback URL while passing the click_id and other parameters to the postback URL.

https://postbackurl.io?click_id=qzJHbHkxYjTu1esKmBrAwg&payout=10&brand=disney

d. When the postback URL is called, the tracking server records the event, and attributes the conversion to the initial click.

Postback URL parameters:

Depending on the affiliate tracking software you chose to implement, the postback URL parameters can vary and include additional data.

In our opinion, here are the most useful parameters to look for when selecting an affiliate tracking software.

  • Value: the conversion monetary value

  • Conversion Type: What type of event is being tracked - lead, registration, sale, install, recurring sale.

  • Product name: the name of the product that triggered the conversion. ex: disney

  • Transaction id: an internal reference sent by the affiliate network which can be used for to match, de-duplicate or investigate conversions in the affiliate network (this is not the clickid)

  • Click ID: the affiliate tracking software click_id used for tracking and attribution.

Example:

  • Tracking software: AnyTrack

  • Affiliate program: Grammarly (running on Tune)

https://t1.anytrack.io/IqbY3nLd/collect/grammarly?aff_click_id={aff_click_id}
&offer_id={offer_id}&offer_name={offer_name}&offer_ref={offer_ref}
&goal_id={goal_id}&affiliate_id={affiliate_id}&affiliate_name={affiliate_name}
&affiliate_ref={affiliate_ref}&source={source}&aff_sub={aff_sub}&aff_sub2=
{aff_sub2}&aff_sub3={aff_sub3}&aff_sub4={aff_sub4}&aff_sub5={aff_sub5}
&aff_unique1={aff_unique1}&aff_unique2={aff_unique2}&aff_unique3={aff_unique3}
&aff_unique4={aff_unique4}&aff_unique5={aff_unique5}&offer_url_id={offer_url_id}
&offer_file_id={offer_file_id}&file_name={file_name}&advertiser_id=
{advertiser_id}&advertiser_ref={advertiser_ref}&adv_sub={adv_sub}&
transaction_id={transaction_id}&sale_amount={sale_amount}&currency=
{currency}&payout={payout}&device_id={device_id}&session_ip={session_ip}&ip=
{ip}&datetime={datetime}

As you can see, there are plenty of parameters that can be passed back to the affiliate tracking software.