I realize recently that I was falling into the same trap that drove me crazy when I first started attempting to make money online last fall. Everywhere I went, people were talking in terms and acronyms that I did not understand in the least and had to spend tons of time researching what they all meant.
One was something called an affiliate cookie and many sites I looked at that had an affiliate program talked about how long their cookie duration. Same thing on forums, people bashed the Amazon affiliate program since the “cookie duration was so short.”
A cookie is a small data tidbit that websites can leave on your computer so they can identify you when you come back. It’s how most major sites such as Amazon, Google, Yahoo, and the like can tell that you have returned and auto fill some of your login information for you, or immediately present your account and recommendations in the case of Amazon.
An affiliate cookie is the same as a regular cookie, but instead of login information, it transfers information about your affiliate account to the site in question so that you can get credit for referring a customer to that site in the case they decide to buy something.
So your affiliate cookie duration is important as an affiliate marketer as cookies eventually time out and for all practical purposes evaporate off the persons computer that you referred to a site if they do not buy something right then and there.
Most affiliate programs have cookie durations in the 30-90 day range, where as a select few of the highest performing ones such as Amazon.com (the number one single affiliate program in the world) have a very short cookie duration, in Amazon’s case it’s a mere 24 hours before your cookie turns to smoke.
So does the cookie length really matter? Is a 60 day cookie really better than a 30 day cookie? I personally do not think so. Unless an affiliate offer represents a huge expense that a customer is going to research and hem and haw over, the likelihood of them returning on the same computer that your cookie is on and not having clicked on someone elses affiliate link after the clicked yours is slim.
You should be more concerned with the affiliate payout and number of conversions than anything else, since they translate more directly into actual cash in your pocket. The two largest affiliate programs on the planet have terrible cookie durations, with Amazon clocking in at a mere 24 hours, and eBay recently totally dropping their affiliate cookie duration and payout in favor of PPC payments (pay per click), yet they pay out far more yearly than any other affiliate program.
Focus more on making a sale to a customer RIGHT THEN and THERE, rather than hoping they somehow return to the site you advertised and buy with your cookie on their computer some weeks or months later.