Mobile commerce has experienced exceptional growth over the past few years, driven by greater connectivity and superior devices being launched. This has sparked a shift in consumer behaviour and heightened the need for advertisers to begin to think mobile first. Our latest mobile stats indicate the share of traffic originating from a mobile device across the network is in excess of 30%. With almost half of this coming through smartphones, it is understandable for publishers to be concerned about mobile leakage.

Mobile Leakage

With the rise in m-commerce, more and more advertisers have launched mobile optimised sites. With a significant shift to mobile devices, they have been reasonably quick to ensure a smooth customer journey across these. One of the main challenges however has been ensuring that affiliate tracking is added to the mobile version of the site.

While it is now becoming the norm to include this as standard rather than merely an afterthought, there are still a number of advertisers that have failed to ensure this is in place. This is extremely concerning for publishers.

As consumers are now turning to smartphones not only to browse, but to purchase – an increasing amount of traffic they generate for the advertisers they promote originates from a smartphone. If a consumer purchases through a smartphone and affiliate tracking isn’t in place, the publisher will not be paid the commission they have rightfully earned.

Click to Call

As well as losing out on transactions that take place online through the mobile version of the site, there is also potential leakage when click to call comes in to play. One sector where this is particularly prevalent is insurance. A number of insurance providers have optimised their landing pages for mobile traffic but encourage the visitor to call for a quote.

A typical customer journey for completing an insurance quote on a smartphone is a fiddly process, it therefore makes sense for advertisers to encourage the visitor to call to complete the quote. Again, publishers will be concerned at a loss of commission unless there is a solution in place to track the conversion from the call centre.


It could be argued that a simple solution would be for publishers not to promote any advertiser that neglects to put affiliate tracking on their mobile site. The argument being that advertisers will lose out on sales through the channel so will be more inclined to prioritise adding this. However, in reality this may not be the case.Publishers want to provide the best service to their visitors and want to provide links to all of the top advertisers within the sector they promote.

Last year, Affiliate Window developed a solution for this to ensure publishers were rewarded for sales generated through smartphones. If the advertiser does not have affiliate tracking in place, a re-direct is put in place to force the visitor to the desktop version of the site where all sales will track. While this does not provide the greatest customer journey on a smartphone, it protects publishers from losing out on commission they have rightfully earned. This is seen as an interim measure while advertisers add mobile tracking to their sites.

As soon as tracking is added the redirect will be removed to ensure an optimised journey across smartphones with publishers safe in the knowledge any sales driven will be tracked.

Similarly, there are solutions within the market that can track phone calls through to a transaction. This will ensure that traffic a publisher has generated through a smartphone that goes on to convert through the call centre.

Closing the Loop

The development of mobile commerce has also seen advertisers harness the power of location based targeting. Prior to advertisers having mobile optimised sites, forward thinking publishers were at the forefront of helping close the loop between on and offline. Previously there was a very manual process in place to ensure publishers were correctly rewarded for the sales they generated.

As the mobile space has advanced, a number of retailers are now able to automatically report back on sales that have been driven in store and the publishers that generated them. While there was once a real problem for leakage, developments in technology have made this less of a concern for publishers.

While there are reasons publishers should be rightfully concerned about mobile leakage, networks are investing a significant amount of time and effort to ensure mobile sales are tracking correctly. Educating on the importance of mobile tracking coupled with solutions being put in place where tracking isn’t, certainly is helping to reduce leakage through mobile devices.

Matt Swan

Matt Swan


Matt Swan is a Client Strategist at Affiliate Window.